A lot of new parents are wondering what the big deal is with baby-led weaning. What does it entail? And how do you do it? Well, this post should help clear things up for you…
What exactly is baby-led weaning?
BLW focuses on skipping the thin and runny puree stage of baby feeding and not feeding your baby with a spoon. It calls for parents to offer their babies age appropriate foods that are soft-cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces that are small enough for babies to manage. In short, baby-led weaning is about allowing your baby to feed him or herself.
When can baby-led weaning start?
Solid foods shouldn’t be introduced into your baby’s diet before he or she is six months of age. Which is around the time when the digestive system is mature enough to handle ‘real’ food. Signs of readiness for solids include:
- Baby sits up unassisted
- Your baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex
- Baby has the necessary fine motor skills he or she needs to self-feed
- Your baby is willing to chew (with the very few teeth he has)
- Baby looks interested in participating in mealtimes and tries to grab food from your plate
What are the benefits of baby-led weaning?
It’s easier – Purees take a lot of time to put together. Plus when your baby feeds himself, he’ll know when and how much to eat. You also don’t have to pretend that the spoon is an airplane. Which saves you countless hours of humiliation and bribing acts. Plus there’s the idea that while your baby is feeding herself, you’ll have time to enjoy your own meal before it resembles a freezer meal.
It teaches babies good eating habits – Babies learn to self-regulate if they feed themselves. They also have the opportunity of selecting which foods they love most. And because they’re exposed to a wider range of foods from early on in their lives, they’ll continue to enjoy those foods later on in their lives, which leads to great eating habits.
It’s educational – When babies feed themselves, they learn how to safely handle (chew and then swallow) food. They also learn more about managing different textures, shapes, sizes, and tastes of food. They’ll benefit from the fine motor practice and the hand-eye-coordination skills they’re picking up as they continue to self-feed, and because they’re enjoying their meals with you, they’ll have a lot of great opportunities to learn more about food and its health benefits.