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Is Baby-led Weaning Right For Your Family?

July 20, 2012

Baby-led weaning (BLW) is a practice that got its start in Europe and has quickly caught fire in the U.S. When their babies reach the age of six months, parents who practice BLW begin to introduce finger foods of a size and texture appropriate or their baby’s age, and allow their babies to feed themselves, instead of spoon-feeding cereals and purees.

Experts who tout BLW advise families to begin introducing foods only when a baby can sit up by himself, and advocate a gradual introduction of soft foods in small bite sizes, in order to prevent gagging. Some of the first foods that BLW parents try are overcooked pasta, scrambled eggs, and soft fruits. Cutting foods into long strips helps babies whose pincer grips haven’t developed yet to pick up their food. Parents place their baby’s food in front of them on a table, and allow their baby to choose which foods to pick up and eat. Because this is a phase of experimentation for a baby, breastfeeding or formula feeding carries on as usual until a BLW baby begins to eat larger, more substantial meals.

Are you interested in trying BLW? Some of the positive aspects include:

BLW exposes your baby to a variety of foods right from the start, developing their taste for different flavors and their tolerance for a multitude of textures.

Your baby can eat at the table with you, during dinnertime. Instead of fitting in two mealtimes in the evenings, you and your family can eat dinner while your baby slowly works his way through the various foods in front of him.

Many BLW parents say that their children develop healthy eating habits when they start out with BLW, which allows them to pace themselves while eating and discover different tastes and textures on their own.

BLW is not for every family. You may want to stick with traditional jars and purees if:

Your baby has developmental delays which make it difficult for him to sit up straight or manipulate small items with his hands.

Your baby has allergies to various foods and his diet needs to be carefully controlled.

You can’t deal with the mess. Mealtime for babies is always a messy affair, but BLW means little pieces of food on the table, on the floor, and probably in your baby’s clothes and hair as well!

Your family doesn’t have healthy eating habits. If your family regularly eats processed and fatty foods, it’s probably best to feed your baby purees in those early months, with wholesome and nutritious ingredients.

Consider your baby’s needs and your family’s mealtime dynamics before you decide whether BLW is for you. And check out this informational PDF to learn more about the BLW methodology, benefits, and safety precautions.


Photography courtesy of Flickr.

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