The feeding approach known as "baby led weaning" or "BLW" for short is a type of infant feeding that allows them to feed themselves from 6 months of age. The food is offered in finger-sized chunks and is smooth and easy to grind between their fingers. In this way, the food sits comfortably in the hand but has a low risk of choking. One of the many reasons people increasingly choose this type of diet is simply that it is easy. It also allows your baby to be in control of what goes into his mouth, which sets a good precedent for making him eat intuitively right from the start.
When to Start Baby-Led Weaning?
Your baby is probably ready to start baby-led weaning when he or she must be sitting up on their own and have good head control at around six months at minimum.
Benefits of Baby-Led Weaning
- Since everyone eats the same food at the same time, BLW promotes family meals.
- By 6 months of age, the baby has been practicing hand-to-mouth skills for months and now it’s time to utilize these skills with food because it’s known that self-feeding encourages a developmentally-appropriate progression of skills. Your child has watched family members feed themselves and now can try it, too
- BLW enables the baby to eat the appropriate amount of food and not learn over-eating.
- It is so important to help your baby learn to tolerate multiple textures and feelings on their hands as self-feeding offers a sensory-rich eating experience that promotes tactile and messy play.
- It not just promotes development of body awareness (location of mouth, location of gag reflex) but also allows babies to "map" their own mouth so they are familiar with where food goes when eating.
- Sitting at the table with family helps your baby develop social, language, visual, and postural control skills but BLW is easier!
- Your baby eats what the family eats (with a few considerations). There's no need to buy special foods or baby food makers as parents can focus on the whole family - and their own food - at mealtime.
Tips to start Baby Led Weaning:
- Understand the gag reflex. Gagging is different from choking though and is most often a sign that a baby is learning to move food around in their mouths—and to get it out of their mouths, which is a skill you want them to have!
- Brush up on the basics of how to know when a baby is ready to start solids. (Go back to the top of this post for the signs to look for.)
- Set them up for success with a highchair that allows them to sit up straight and has foot support.
- Sit with them as you offer food.
- Check your own expectations of what will happen and simply allow your baby to take the lead.
- Start with one new food a day or every few days.
- Vary the textures of foods you offer to start exposing the baby to many right from the start.
- Offer water in an open cup or sipper cup.
Baby Led Weaning Essentials:
- High chair: One that is easy to clean. Expect a lot of mess with baby led weaning. So it’s best to have an easy to manage chair. Here are few recommendations:
- SYGA High Chair for Babies- It comes with a Portable Foldable Safety Booster Dining Seat. The double feeding tray folds down to easily get your child into and out of the chair. It takes less than a minute to convert from high chair to toddler chair and back. It’s really easy to wipe and keep clean, which means fewer germs for the baby. And no need to worry about stains any more! The one-hand removable dining tray is made of environmental PP material and will do no harm to the baby.
- Ikea Antilop Highchair with Tray,Safety Belt (Blue)- A highchair makes it easier for small children to sit at the same table as adults, which helps them develop social and eating skills. Easy to disassemble and carry along. The raised edges prevent spills from landing on the floor. We know that children's skin is extra sensitive, but not to worry. This product has been tested, approved and is completely free from substances that may harm your child's skin or health.
- Feeding plates: Buy plates and bowls with a suction bottom. Babies end up throwing the bowl on the floor and suction bottom is a real effort saver. Here are few recommendations:
- Sustainable Luxury made with organic bamboo and food grade silicone our bamboo series are a natural and healthy choice of weaning. This bamboo suction plate is inspired by the ‘healthy portion plate’ concept and it has 3 perfectly portioned compartments for balanced meals.
- Beaba Baby Silicone Suction Plate is made with platinum grade silicone which is a very resistant material, soft to the touch and unbreakable. Non slip suction base helps prevent from tipping or slipping off the surface and avoids incidents. Easy to clean by hand and safe to use in the microwave and dishwasher. It is non-Toxic; BPA, lead and phthalate free.
- Bibs: It’s going to get messy when your little one will dive in the plate full of food but bibs can be a life saver. Some affordable bibs are linked below:
- Choose these if you're looking for Quick dry and waterproof bibs for your little one. These practical and handy bibs help to prevent baby's clothes from any spills or stains. It's simple and convenient design gives the perfect fit and makes it easy to take on and off.
- SYGA bibs come in waterproof silicone style with a pocket in front to collect the spilled food.
- Philips Avent Classic Soft Spout Cup- It has a soft silicone spout for easy drinking, All parts are dishwasher safe for convenience, and has Rippled container shape for steady grip.
- Philips Avent Straw Cup- It is made up of BPA free materials and its Integrated anti-leak valve and flip top design prevent spills. Lower straw is bent for easy drinking till the last sip. It promotes healthy oral development.