When my little girl reached four months old, she started showing interest in food. She would intently watch me and her dad pick up the cutlery, put food in our mouths, and chew. She was exclusively breastfed so I began to ask around at the office mom group when, how, and what they gave their babies when they turned sixth months. A good friend mentioned baby led weaning and her exact words were, “Pangtamad yun. You just give them bite-sized food of what you’re having, and you’re done!” It sparked my curiosity, and I read extensively on the topic. Here’s what you need to know!
Baby-led weaning (BLW) is “a method of adding complementary foods to a baby’s diet of breastmilk or formula. A method of food progression, BLW facilitates the development of age appropriate oral motor control, while maintaining eating as a positive, interactive experience. Baby-led weaning allows babies to control their solid food consumption by ‘self-feeding’ from the very beginning of their experiences with food. The term weaning should not be taken to imply giving up formula or breastmilk, but simply the introduction of foods other than formula or breastmilk.” In short, it’s your baby being allowed and encouraged to self feed finger foods instead of receiving purees on a spoon.
1. It lets your baby join the family at mealtimes.
The family that eats together, stays together! At our home, every meal is not just about the food, it’s our time to bond, tell stories, and check in with one another. Pulling up a high chair to the table allows your baby to be part of it all and to interact with everyone. And since the baby feeds herself, BLW lets you eat too, Mommy.
2. It’s much more convenient.
No purees, no mashing, no icecube trays, no food processor, no baby rice, or other weird mushy combos. It’s just you and your baby eating whatever healthy food that you enjoy. It’s that easy!
3. BLW helps babies learn and develop good eating habits.
Hand eye coordination, fine motor skills, sensory stimulation, recognising shapes, colors, textures, tastes, and learning flavor preferences are just a few things that babies learn through this experience. Also, there’s less likelihood of your baby being a picky eater, and she will know how to self-regulate as she is given the freedom to explore an array of different food.
It’s highly recommended to wait because a baby’s digestive system is still too immature before six months of age. Some babies may seem ready at five and a half months, while others may not be ready until eight months, so take into account all readiness signs (like sitting up without support, lost the tongue-thrust flex, willingness to chew even without teeth, etc.) for your individual children.
My baby started with soft cooked carrots, sweet potato, and broccoli. She also loved watermelon and sayote. Spaghetti was also a big hit. As a general rule, food should be soft enough to smash between your finger and thumb but large enough for baby to grasp. These first foods should be fresh fruits, soft cooked veggies, good carbs, and fat. Avoid potential choking hazards like grapes or cherries, allergens like egg whites or peanuts, and anything processed, salty, sugary, or unhealthy.
1. BLW is a supplement to milk, not a substitute. Your baby won’t probably even eat much at first.
2. Supervise and interact with your baby.
3. Expect a mess.
4. Expect that as with anything when your kid is in charge, it will be a slow process and that’s okay.
5. Enjoy the experience.
Happy baby-led weaning!
- Baby Centre. “Baby-led weaning.” Babycentre.co.uk. Date accessed September 2, 2018.
- Baby Led Weaning. “Baby Led Weaning: Growing Healthy Babies with Healthy Appetites.” Babyledweaning.com. Date accessed September 2, 2018.
- Dr. Phillips, Frankie. “What is Baby-led Weaning?” BBC Good Food. Date accessed September 2, 2018.
- Ramnarace, Cynthia. “Rethinking Baby Food: Baby-Led Weaning Basics.” Date accessed September 2, 2018.
- Wholesome Baby Food. “Baby Led Weaning–Starting solids with foods straight from the dinner table!” Momstatic. Date accessed September 2, 2018.
- Wikipedia. “Baby-led weaning.” Infant Feeding. Last edited August 1, 2018.