Baby-Led Weaning for Beginners- What, When & How

Baby-Led Weaning for New parents Part 2

In my earlier post, I wrote about my first experience on baby led weaning as new parents. In this blog I want to cover the basics of the same.

1) What is Baby-Led Weaning?
Baby-Led Weaning is a method of introducing solids in form of finger foods to baby and babies learn to feed themselves

“The principle of baby-led weaning is based on the way babies develop and the skills that appear naturally in their first year. If parents give their baby opportunity to handle food at about the right time, she will intinctively start to feed herself when she is ready. For most babies, this happens around six months old, which is the same age when the World Health Organization recommends that babies should start on solid foods. The baby then progress at her own pace, cutting down her milk feedings when she is ready.” – The Baby – Led Weaning Cookbook by Gill Rapley, PhD and Tracey Murkett

2) What to expect when you start Baby- Led Weaning

a) Gag – In layman’s language, your baby’s food pipe is really small and swallowing is a new concept to her. So, don’t be scared when you see your baby gagging over food for the first time. It is them learning how to swallow.

“When baby gags, food that isn’t ready to be swallowed is pushed forward in retching movement to prevent it getting to the back of throat. In a baby, the gag reflex is very sensitive, so it is activated more easily than in an adult, with the “trigger point” much further down the mouth.” – The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook by Gill Rapley, PhD and Tracey Murkett

I also realised it later that it is more difficult for parents to watch, then it is for babies to go through. Initially, they might gag once or twice but eventually, they will master the art and you will be really happy and proud to see them reach this milestone. A small tip, when baby is trying new foods he or she is constantly maintaining eye contact with their parents. Try and smile or give encouraging reactions. If you look scared, baby is bound to be scared.

2) Mess: Messy, messier, messiest. Initially, my little one would pick up food. Examine it, crush it in his hands, smear on his face, hair, ears and then his clothes. If there still something left it was dropped on the floor (Only if I could lose weight from picking stuff up, I would be giving JLO run for her money… hahaha). In short, it’s going to be messy. Best is to remove baby’s clothes while feeding them. At least, save on some extra laundry (**wink**). Lol. Oh and yes!!! Don’t forget to keep your phone or camera near by. Those amazing life time memories are just few seconds away.

3) When to start Baby-Led Weaning?

My son’s pediatrician gave us a green light for baby-led weaing when he turned 4 months but honestly, I wasnt comfortable doing it till the time my baby was 6 months plus.

I could only go ahead with it without any apprehensions when he was able to sit on the high chair on his own. My husband always says that mom knows it best when their baby is ready. Mother’s instincts are hardly wong. So, follow your instincts as well. It is not just baby who has to be ready for this milestone, as a mom even you have to be mentally ready.

Another sign which you should observe is “Has your baby started eyeing your food or started grabing food from your plate?”. This is a loud and clear signal from the baby that I am ready for more and new adventures, when it comes to food. I am a big supporter of breast milk or formula feeding, which I feel should be main food for baby for at least till one year but when baby starts showing interest in other foods, it is their way of showing they are ready for more.

Baby-led weaning is great way to teach babies chew on their foods as well instead of just swallowing, which they otherwise miss to learn on purees. Chewing food is the foundation of good eating habit at a very early stage. Besides, if your baby is teething, he or she will really enjoy gnawing on apple or carrot, which are natural teethers.

4) How to do Baby-Led Weaning?

Things must for baby-led weaning:

1) High chair – Baby will be able to join you while you are eating and will enjoy to have some sort of freedom in movement, while eating food and also develop the sense of being part of the pack.

2) Silicon bibs with pockets: Like I mentioned earlier baby-led weaning is fun but equally messy. These bibs dont let food fall on baby’s lap.

Once you have these two things, sit down in front of the baby and start slow. Cutting food in form of finger food is the best way to go about it. It makes it easier for babies to hold them and take them to their mouth.

You can saute or steam veggies and fruits, what ever you want to give your baby. If you are starting solids, it is best to give one food in one day, just to watch if your baby is allergic to any food or not.

5) Things to keep in mind while Baby-Led Weaning

One of my expectations was that my baby will be by my side during all three major meals breakfast, lunch and dinner. And, my son will have his routine similar to mine or i will be able to manage it better. Baby led weaning is not a way to manage your baby’s routine. It is just a way to introduce solids and quench their curosity about other foods. Their main diet is still breast milk or formula and mom, you will have to work out your way around their schedule. This is a transition phase and baby should be in control of how much solids she wants to eat or not.

Another important fact is, baby-lead weaning is more time consuming than purée feeds. Baby can turn meal time in to play time or fun time. They would want to explore their food and play with it as well. So, make sure when you are sitting down to feed your baby there is nothing else on your mind and your to do list will have to wait.

The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook by Gill Rapley, PhD and Tracey Murkett, is an amazing book. Please note, I am not getting any commission to promote this book. When there was no way of getting complete information on baby led weaning, this book became my knight in shining armor and guided me through this difficult phase. Plus this particular book has more than 100 receipes from initial foods to full meals. Reading this book is a must if you are new to baby led weaning or you are first time parents.

(Disclaimer: I would like to clearly state that I am neither a medical expert nor a nutritionist. All the information in this blog is my personal experience and excerpts that I have taken from my favorite book on Baby Led Weaning)

Mum Mum Ma – Loving Mommyhood 🙂

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25 replies »

  1. Such a great post! We didn’t do BLW with our first but did with our 2nd and she is such a great eater!

  2. I like the concept of baby led weaning. Personally I stopped breast feeding when my daughter developed teeth and started biting. She certainly led her way by showing she was ready for solids!

  3. I love this. Very informative and this is my time doing this with my new son. I started him at 7 months and he sometimes forgets to chew and will just swallow. He loves avacodos.

  4. Going to forward this to my sister who is about to really start to wean her daughter, so far it has been pretty hard for her.

  5. This is awesome advice for BLW. I didn’t do it for my two littles, because of my husband. If we have another though I will definitely be doing it!

  6. I wished I had known with my kids the gag part, and not to confuse it with choking. It made me so nervous. Thank you for writing this

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