As parents, we make any number of decisions each day. Some are big and consequential. Others are small and temporary. But, chances are, when you have a 4- to 6-month-old baby, the question of how you are going to feed them will feel mighty pressing.
Just a generation ago, this wasn’t something that parents commonly grappled with. Babies were simply fed purees with spoons. If Mom or Dad was really ambitious, maybe the food would be homemade. But ever since the book Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods hit shelves in 2010, more and more parents have been opting to go about this “new” way of feeding their growing babies.
The term Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) itself is a bit of a misnomer, as it isn’t actually (at least initially) about weaning a baby off of breastmilk or formula. Rather, it describes the gradual process of introducing new solid foods to their diet.
The biggest difference between BLW and puree-diets is that true BLW is done without spoons - until baby is the one who is able to use one to feed themselves. Instead, little ones are encouraged to pick up, explore and gnaw on foods offered to them on their high chair tray all by themselves. While supervised by the parent, the control over how much, what to eat and the pace to eat it with is up to baby.
Typically, parents start BLW by offering semi-soft foods such as steamed sweet potatoes, avocado or bananas—but then can progress rather quickly to other options, such as meat or other things commonly found on parents’ own dinner plates.
One of the prevailing goals with BLW is that it will help children learn how to be in better control of their appetites and be less picky about foods. One of the perceived downsides of BLW for many parents is how daunting it can be to give your little baby full control over what they are eating - and the truth is that gagging (distinct from choking) is common with BLW. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, however, there is no overall increase to choking risk when BLW is done correctly. And, in fact, although BLW babies gag more at six months, they gag less than babies who began with purees by eight months.
This is all to say that, like anything with parenting, deciding how to feed your baby is an individual choice that warrants consideration. But, with knowledge and preparation, it can and will be a fun milestone for everyone in the family.
Kids2 provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Be sure to ask your Pediatrician if baby led weaning is right for your child before starting.