Baby Led What? That’s what most people say to me when I tell them that’s the weaning approach I took with Mahari. It’s nothing new, solid research into the practice began around 20 years ago. It’s becoming more and more popular and I for one love it. In this post I’ll explain what it is and why I love it.
What is Baby Led Weaning?
It’s all in the title. BLW is weaning led by the child and not by the parent. Unlike the traditional weaning method whereby all baby food is pureed into one big bowl of mush and fed to your child on a spoon, BLW involves offering solid foods (usually soft boiled to begin with) to your child and allowing them to pick and eat at their own pace.
Finger foods such as carrot sticks, steamed apple sticks, banana, potato strips and toast strips are common first foods to offer with BLW. Most parents choose to start by introducing one meal a day and gradually over two or three weeks build up to three meals a day, in addition to breastmilk or formula of course. Once your child has progressed on to three sittings of solid food, you can start to offer your baby ‘meals’ that are age and stage appropriate, spaghetti bolognese, veggie burgers such as chickpea or quinoa, roast chicken and veg- the list could go on.
Why The Hype?
I love BLW for so many different reasons. The first being it exposes babies to a wider range of foods and therefore they are less likely to become fussy eaters. Mahari has tried a greater variety of food in a few short months than I had by age 20! Out of everything we’ve tried her with from carrots to cucumber, beef to sardines and everything in between, I’d say the only food I can confidently say she will not eat is broccoli, so she clearly takes after me!
In addition, it helps to develop their fine motor skills and pincer grip. On the first day of giving Mahari solids, she initially struggled to pick up her carrot sticks. By the third day. she was able to pick them up almost immediately with fairly good accuracy. Now she will pick at rice with her hands and feed it to herself. I was amazed at the speed of her development and progress. Check out my Baby Led Weaning Highlights on my Instagram page to see the progress that she made and to see examples of some of the meals she’s enjoyed so far.
Baby Led Weaning is an excellent sensory and developmental experience. It allows the child to experience and explore different textures, smells, colours and tastes that they wouldn’t usually experience with traditional weaning where everything is served in a pureed gloop. Mahari loves squishing her blueberries at breakfast time and has a whale of a time swinging spaghetti round and rolling it on her tray. To some I’m sure it just sounds like making lots of mess, but remember for babies everything is a new experience for them and they learn through play and experiences; meal times can most definitely be part of the learning process.
If your a busy mum like me, then I’d say you’ll probably find BLW convenient. Most of the recipes and meals that I cook for Mahari can be enjoyed by the whole family. I will often give her whatever I am planning to cook for hubby and I and just modify it to reduce the salt content. In BLW you can give babies herbs and spices and I’ve found that Mahari loves them. She loves chicken and rice, Italian meatballs, spicy bean curry, carrot and coriander mash, fish and chips, omelette, pretty much anything we eat, she eats. That’s great for me because when I first went back to work I honestly didn’t have time to cook meals, puree them, have a back up in case she didn’t want to eat it etc.
Where To Start
If you’re not sure yet what approach you’d like to take then I would definitely suggest doing some further research. One book I read was called ‘Weaning Made Easy by Dr Rana Conway’ this covered both pros and cons of traditional weaning and BLW. For more information on BLW and recipes I would highly recommend Gill Rapley’s books ‘Baby-led Weaning- Helping Your Baby To Love Good Food’ and ‘The Baby-led Weaning Cook Book’. The website friendlyfirstfoods.co.uk has great resources including this one which demonstrates how should safely cut and shape those first finger foods.
Let me know your experiences with weaning and follow my instagram account for recipe ideas and updates!
Desert Mama xxx