Baby led weaning (or BLW) is simply letting baby feed themselves solid foods, alongside their regular milk diet.
BLW focuses on allowing your baby to learn about food at their own pace, respecting their choices in how much, when and even how to eat. Your baby is in control of their eating experience. This means no spoon feeding, rewarding, pleading for ‘one more bite’, or other methods that parents may use to ‘lead’ mealtimes. BLW is all about self-guided feeding, to build a positive experience at meal times. BLW is a fantastic way to spark a child's life-long healthy attitude toward food, nutrition, and their own appetite. Learn more about the benefits of baby led weaning.
What kind of food?
Think finger food. No need for pureed mush, no need for baby rice. For starters, try soft cooked veg, tender meats, whole soft fruits, etc. The key is that the food is easy to pick up and hold (so size matters), easy to chew (or gum!), and age appropriate. Read our guide to baby led weaning foods to find out more. And remember that “food before one is just for fun” - milk will continue to be baby’s primary nutritional source at this time.
When should I introduce solids?
Around 6 months. But every baby is different, so the key is to look for signs that your baby is ready - your child can sit up on their own, bring food to their own mouth, chew without choking, etc. Learn more about the signs your baby is ready for solids.
But is it safe?
It is. Babies learn to manipulate real food in their mouths and develop chewing motions earlier this way. The food you’ll offer is just right for this mouth movement. But what about choking? This is always the biggest concern, and quite right too. Read more about baby led weaning and choking.
So what's my role then?
You provide nutritious, age-appropriate food at regular intervals, eventually working up to a meal routine where baby joins the rest of the family at every meal. You can also provide assistance where baby asks, and as always, be ever-present and mindful of their safety. Your role of housekeeper will be increased as well, as BLW guarantees that you’re in for a mess!
Looking for more about BLW? Try these books: