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Baby-led weaning What's the fuss? Michaela Fox, freelance writer and blogger If your 6-month-old baby is eyeing off your food with great curiosity, you may be thinking about introducing solids into their diet. “At around 5-6 months babies tend to show an interest in picking up food and putting it into their mouths,” says Michelle Kelly, Midwifery Manager at Mater Health Services. “If they grab the toast out of your hand and start chewing on it, that’s a cue that they’re ready.” If your little one is showing these signs, you may consider baby-led weaning.

How does it work?

A word on weaning

What are the benefits of BLW?

The word weaning takes on different meanings in different countries. If you live in Australia, New Zealand or the United States, weaning refers to the process of stopping breast or formula feeding. But if you live in Britain, weaning means adding solid foods to a baby’s diet. For the purpose of this article “weaning” refers to offering foods other than just milk.

For babies with no underlying medical conditions, BLW has many benefits. It encourages shared and social eating as well as independence. Playing an active part in mealtimes can help make mealtimes more enjoyable. “It’s about not being too strict around baby’s food and meal times so they don’t associate food with being controlling or stressful,” explains Kelly. “Babies are often snackers so you don’t have to force a baby to eat a full bowl of food. They’ll eat when they’re hungry and eat to fullness.”

What is BLW? Baby Led Weaning (BLW) is an approach to introducing solids to babies from the start of weaning. BLW, quite simply, means letting your child feed themselves. It’s about skipping the purees and weaning spoons in favour of finger “table” food. Like breastfeeding on demand, BLW is a method that encourages baby to decide what, when and how much to eat. The advantage of weaning at around six months is that by then, children are generally developmentally capable of sitting in a high chair and feeding themselves. Self-feeding enables them to listen to their own appetite and choose what they want to eat. 12

BLW is an organic process that gradually evolves. “It’s about introducing different textures and flavours and not being restrictive,” explains Kelly. “The idea is that you don’t prepare food for the baby that’s completely different to what you’re eating,” she adds. Simply start by providing safe food options for your baby’s developmental stage. Sit your baby in the high chair and instead of pureeing food put something on their tray that’s on your plate.

It’s also important to relax, says Kelly. “Negative associations with food can begin in early infancy and childhood and may be associated with being too restrictive or too dogmatic about when meals need to be eaten.” Naturally, when you’re first introducing them to solids, they’ll need a little more input and supervision, says Kelly. “But the more it becomes expected that the baby eats with the family and doesn’t get too much attention, the more it becomes a way of life.” Another benefit of BLW is you don’t need to make mountains of purees, which can be time consuming and fiddly. Provided the parents’ diet is healthy, you can easily adapt your meals for your baby.

Profile for Kid Magazine

Kid Magazine Issue Twenty Five  

For mums who like style, pretty things and looking after themselves and their families. Go behind the blog with Chantelle from Fat Mum Slim...

Kid Magazine Issue Twenty Five  

For mums who like style, pretty things and looking after themselves and their families. Go behind the blog with Chantelle from Fat Mum Slim...