Baby led weaning is the process of letting your baby take the lead when it comes to eating solids, but what age do you start baby led weaning? We have this answer and more as we chat about when to start baby led weaning.
When to Start Baby Led Weaning
One of the things when it comes to BLW is to know when to start baby led weaning. This can be determined by several factors which we will cover. Before starting baby led weaning you will want to know what is BLW and if it is right for you and your baby? Reading about the advantages of BLW can help you determine this as well as various baby led weaning tips. Once you have decided BLW is right for you and your baby the next step is figuring out the best baby led weaning age for your child.
Before you start baby led weaning
One of the most important things to remember about BLW is that your baby’s primary source of nutrients still should be from breastmilk or formula. Baby led weaning is not all about making sure they are full, it is more about learning to explore new tastes, textures, and learning to self-feed. For that reason, it is important to continue breast/bottle feeding until your baby is at least 1 or what your pediatrician recommends.
Something you may consider is following a baby led weaning schedule, to make sure you give your baby breastmilk/formula before offering them BLW foods to ensure they are first and foremost getting the nutrients their body needs.
How do you know when baby is ready to start baby led weaning?
There are several different signs that will let you know when to start baby led weaning.
- Baby can sit up with little/no support
- Loss of the tongue-thrust reflex (when they push food out of their mouth with their tongue)
- Baby is showing interest in food (watching you eat, opening mouth, tracking food)
- Baby is able to pick up a small item with her pointer finger and thumb and put it in her mouth
Your baby doesn’t have to be showing every sign in order to be ready for solids. If you feel like they’re ready to give it a try and they are showing some of the readiness signs, go for it!
What Age Do You Start Baby Led Weaning?
Maybe you aren’t quite sure when to start baby led weaning, I was the same way! The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting solids around 6 months of age. This is a great age to start baby led weaning. This stage is really just an intro to real food and is not about the calories. At this age, they can use their gums to mush the soft foods and start learning how to open and close their jaw in a chewing motion.
At 6 months, you can focus on giving them one or two meals a day, but of course, breast/bottle feeding for most of their nutrition that they need.. If you want to offer them BLW finger foods throughout the day at other times, feel free to do so!
The foods you give baby at this age should be soft foods and should be cut into strips or crinkle cuts that your baby will be able to hold in their hands. We have some great baby led weaning food ideas if you get stuck coming up with ideas.
A good guideline is to cut food big enough to fit in your baby’s fist with a little bit sticking out for them to put in their mouth.
Things like avocado slices, soft fresh fruit, cooked veggies and oatmeal are all great options. Remember not to give foods with added sugar, salt or honey until they are at least 12 months old.
Around 7-8 months, baby is learning to move food from side to side in their mouth, allowing them to start learning how to really chew, which becomes a really fun baby led weaning age because you get to introduce more things to them and start feeding them a little more often.
At this Baby led weaning age, you can offer them 2 or 3 meals a day. Milk is still their primary source of nutrients but the goal is to eventually transition them to be eating three meals a day, just like us!
You can start to introduce your baby to food like toast fingers and chicken. Of course, always consult your doctor if you have concerns about different foods for your baby.
You can also try introducing your baby to baby led weaning utensils at this age as their motor skills are becoming more and more developed. As you notice an increase in their ability to handle things with their hands that is a good indication of when to start baby led weaning.
At 9-12 months, your baby has most likely mastered the pincer grasp and can now get most of their food from the tray to their mouths! They also have a better control of the food once in their mouths. You have noticed that more food is moving to their mouth thanks to that newly mastered pincer grasp!
At this baby led weaning age, you can offer them 3 meals a day. Whenever you eat, offer them something to eat as well!
You may have also noticed a decrease in their milk consumption and are finding that your baby is more interested in what you are eating and what’s on the table. This is perfectly normal
Between 9 and 12 months of age would be a great time to start introducing dairy products to your baby’s menu. Some good dairy products to start off with would be cottage cheese, yogurt, and cubed cheese.
With the mastering of the pincer grip, you will notice how easy it is now for their fingers to pick up smaller foods and they are very confident and independent when it comes to feeding themselves.
Just because they seem to be getting the hang of self-feeding doesn’t mean they are pros! Be sure to always be with your baby while they are eating.
What age do you plan to start baby led weaning? Share in the comments with other moms and dads!
Are you in the Market for Great Baby Led Weaning Products? Check these Baby Led Weaning Products Out!
There are more great articles in our baby led weaning series! Check out these BLW posts:
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Michele is a Family Life Educator with her degree in marriage and family studies. She is a mom to 5 kids and loves helping others strengthen their families! When she is not blogging she is spending time with her family and running around drinking Diet Coke trying to get everything done!