Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Baby Led Weaning

Little R has been eating solids since she was six months old. I decided to do Baby Led Weaning. This means that you just offer your child whatever you're eating (bread, meat, cooked vegetables), skipping purees altogether. Then the child feeds herself (or doesn't, depending on their mood at the time): in other words, the child is completely in control of the eating process. She eats until she's done, with no pressure one way or the other.

I decided on baby led weaning partly out of laziness (because having to prepare special meals sounded like a lot of trouble; also, since we eat out so often, it would have been highly inconvenient), and partly because I am kind of a hippie parent and liked the idea of little R being able to make her own decisions about food. I was an incredibly picky eater as a child (as in, I only ate about 15 foods), mostly because food became an intense battleground between me and my mother (who just wanted me to eat, but I was stubborn and wanted to be in control). I hoped that doing baby led weaning would take the pressure off and set little R up to have a more healthy relationship with food than I did.

So far it's been totally awesome. She ate very little at first, but over time she figured out how to chew, swallow, and use her fingers to pick up food. Now, I can just give her a big piece of bread and she will rip little pieces off it and daintily put them in her mouth. I never had to buy or make purees, as from the first she has just eaten what we do, which makes things easier for travel, eating out, or for food preparation in general. Because she's been used to eating a great variety of food from the beginning, so far she is a great eater without any dislikes (except spicy food).

It makes meals simpler too. Little R sits in her chair and feeds herself, so I am free to chat with B and eat my own food at my leisure. And because she's in charge, meals are never a battleground of wills: she eats at her own pace, in her own way, and that makes her happy.

Things that aren't so great: it makes a huge mess, because sometimes little R feels like throwing her food on the floor instead of eating it. Also, when she eats anything with sauce, she becomes covered in it as she is still somewhat clumsy (and she eats with her hands, so of course they become completely coated in whatever she's eating). The other drawback is that little R is so used to feeding herself now that she won't eat off a spoon (because she isn't dexterous enough to feed herself with one): she only will consent to be fed if the food is really good, like ice cream or mango pudding. This refusal makes it impossible for her to eat soups or other liquid food.

On the whole, though, it's been really wonderful, and I would absolutely recommend baby led weaning to anyone.


  1. I love this idea! I had read about it somewhere and I was wondering how people actually liked doing it. I always thought it was a great way to introduce healthy real foods into a baby's diet. I will definitely look into this more for when we have children!

  2. We loved baby led weaning our son...the biggest issue for us was that he would be really hungry and so we would end up feeding him some mush first so he could satiate his hunger quickly, and then tossing him a pork chop. Of course, at some point, I was cussing the BLW approach because if I didn't cup up a piece of fill-in-the-blank for him and he tossed it on the floor the whole thing was a loss (not at our house - I'm fully supportive of just picking it up off the floor and giving it back to him...just in a restaurant that's a bit ickier. Also, now that he's older, it is a bit weird for him to just be gnawing on a whole slab of steak, so we end up cutting it anyway...but aside from those issues, it was a great way to introduce him to eating solids!

  3. My babe is just over 6 months, and we're getting ready to start solids, and I have been battling internally about whether to do BLW or traditional feeding or something in between. One question for you - did little R ever choke on anything? If you recall, what were the first foods you gave her? Thanks for sharing your experience and the input!

    1. She never actually choked (as in, stopped breathing or anything dangerous). Sometimes she would start coughing or swallow something too big, but she was always able to just spit it out and keep eating. She never seemed distressed by these experiences. I only let her eat sitting up in her high chair though, which I think helps as then she can focus better.

      The first thing she ate was a taro bun (taro is kind of like sweet potato, but purple). I quickly just started giving her whatever we ate, as I found she was really good at pacing/regulating herself (if it was too hard or awkward to eat, she'd just ignore it). The first month or two were just about exploration anyway; she really didn't actually swallow much. Hope this helps!

    2. Yes it does; thanks so much! We're going to get started this weekend - fun lies ahead!