Your Top Three Baby-Led Weaning Questions Answered
I once heard about a couple who was practicing Baby-Led Weaning with their child. The mother, who had suggested they use this method, overheard her partner telling someone that they were introducing solids with “baby linguini,” and she was confused because a) they hadn’t had any pasta yet, and b) what was “baby” linguini, anyway?
But then it dawned on her that her partner thought that was the name of the method, and this (hilarious) story reminded me that for many, Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) is still a very new concept.
Side note: “Baby Linguini” would be a great band name. I digress.
So, let’s answer your top three BLW questions right here, right now:
What is BLW?
Baby Led Weaning is just that—baby-led weaning: your baby leads the way in weaning to solids by feeding themselves from the very beginning. There are no jars of pureed baby food or spoons equipped with airplane noises, and while some purees are a welcomed mess from time to time, the majority of your baby’s food probably won’t be mush because they will be eating what you are eating. Although, your baby will manage to make mush out of the food you offer. In short, BLW is allowing your baby to discover and enjoy food at their own pace and gradually replace milk or formula.
How do I know when to start?
Every baby is different and you should always consult your trusted medical provider, but there are a few standard guidelines and milestones that should be met prior to beginning BLW:
Your baby should be at least 6 months old.
They should be able to sit unsupported.
They should be starting to develop a pincer grasp, i.e. trying to pick things up between their thumb and forefinger.
They should no longer have the tongue thrust reflex; if they’re automatically pushing things out of their mouths with that pesky little tongue, they aren’t ready just yet!
They should be interested in food.
What should I feed my baby?
The best thing about BLW is you really don’t have to fret about what to feed your baby—they eat what you eat. You will want to avoid salt and their food will need to be cut into suitably- sized pieces, and on the softer side, but other than that it’s really fuss-free! A few first foods that parents like to start out with are:
Carrots (cooked, obvs)
Sweet Potato (ditto)
You can branch out from there, but those foods are a great place to start!
As with anything “new” that comes on the baby scene, I get a lot of questions from curious clients and even friends about what it is, how it works, why people do it, and so on. And because people are already really comfortable with traditional weaning (purees and spoon- feeding), there is a lot of concern that BLW is too complicated, so why even bother?
But the truth is, BLW is actually not all that new: before purees came on the scene, this is how a lot of babies learned to eat.
It’s also not all that hard, so if it’s something you’re curious about, don’t let the fear of overwhelm deter you! Consider this your BLW “quick-start” guide. For more in depth information, check out the book that started it all, Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods-and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater.