Baby-led weaning (BLW) is a feeding approach that allows babies to feed themselves from the start of their weaning journey. Instead of spoon-feeding purees, BLW involves offering babies soft, appropriately-sized pieces of food that they can pick up and feed themselves. In this blog, we'll explore the benefits of BLW and provide tips for getting started.
What is Baby-Led Weaning?
Baby-led weaning involves introducing babies to a range of foods in their whole form, such as cooked vegetables, fruits, and proteins, and allowing them to feed themselves. This method is based on the idea that babies have a natural desire to explore and learn about food, and that they will develop their chewing and swallowing skills over time. BLW puts babies in control of their own food intake, promoting self-regulation and independence.
Benefits of Baby-Led Weaning
There are many benefits to BLW, including:
Improved oral motor skills: BLW encourages babies to chew and swallow their food, which can help develop their oral motor skills.
Greater food acceptance: Babies who are introduced to a variety of foods through BLW may be more willing to try new foods later in life.
Development of self-regulation: BLW allows babies to control their own food intake, which can help promote self-regulation and a healthy relationship with food.
Reduced risk of obesity: Research suggests that BLW may help reduce the risk of obesity in children by promoting self-regulation and allowing babies to choose how much they eat.
Getting Started with Baby-Led Weaning
Here are some tips for getting started with BLW:
Wait until your baby is developmentally ready: Your baby should be able to sit up unsupported and have good head and neck control before starting BLW. This usually happens around six months of age.
Offer age-appropriate foods: Offer softer, appropriately-sized pieces of food that your baby can easily pick up and bring to their mouth. Avoid foods that are choking hazards, such as popcorn, nuts, and grapes.
Let your baby lead: Allow your baby to explore and play with their food. They may not eat much at first, but this is normal.
Eat together: Join your baby at mealtimes and eat the same foods as your baby. This can help promote family bonding and encourage your baby to eat.
Be patient: BLW is a process, and it may take some time for your baby to get the hang of it. Be patient and supportive.
Safety Considerations for Baby-Led Weaning
When starting BLW, it's important to consider safety. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
Avoid choking hazards
Supervise your baby: Always supervise your baby during mealtimes and be prepared to respond if your baby starts choking.
Know the signs of choking: Learn the signs of choking and know how to respond. Take a first aid course if you're unsure.
Be aware of food allergies: Introduce one new food at a time and wait several days before introducing another new food. This can help you identify any food allergies or sensitivities.
Baby-led weaning is a safe and effective way to introduce your baby to solid foods. It promotes self-regulation, independence, and healthy eating habits. By following these tips and safety considerations, you can help ensure a successful and enjoyable BLW experience for you and your baby.