Oh, how time flies! In the blink of an eye, your baby has mastered head control, they’re suddenly sitting up on their own, and that jaw movement has become pretty impressive. By achieving these gross motor milestones, your little one is showing you that it’s time to try solid foods!
But before you start stocking up on a variety of purees and a lifetime supply of paper towels, you should know that there’s an alternative approach to starting babies on solids. Baby Led Weaning (BLW) is when babies skip over the spoon-fed stage and move straight to feeding themselves. Instead of beginning with purees, they’re served safe solid foods that they can pick up and eat on their own, such as a roasted potato wedge or a slice of melon.
Why Some Parents are Choosing Baby Led Weaning
While this method has been used for many years in various countries around the world, it’s just beginning to take off in the United States. Maryann Christofas, Pediatric Registered Dietician, explains that more parents are trying this method because, “it’s a fun, easy way to introduce solids and provide your baby with a foundation to become an adventurous, independent eater. It allows your baby to practice fine motor skills, learn to eat when hungry and stop when full, and become exposed to a wide variety of textures. Using this method can also help prevent picky eating.” You can even rest easy knowing that your baby will still be getting most of their nutrients from breastmilk or formula, so there’s no need to urge them to finish a meal.
One of the key components of this approach is to give babies control over their eating. Beyond learning the motor movements for self-feeding, we also want our children to learn how to have a good relationship with food. With the high rates of childhood obesity and easy access to sugary and processed foods, it’s important to explore methods that can build a foundation of healthy eating and portion control – and BLW does that because little ones decide when they are full.
Parents and caregivers who have used the BLW approach also report that a wonderful, sometimes unexpected benefit of the method is being able to sit and enjoy a meal together with their child. Instead of spoon-feeding your baby first, then moving onto your own meal, BLW presents an opportunity for families to share meals together, which has a whole host of benefits on its own.
Learn More About Baby Led Weaning
If you’re interested in learning more about BLW, we can help! The BabySparks program provides online classes on BLW that can help you decide if this method for introducing solids is right for you and your child. Taught by pediatric registered dieticians, these classes teach you how to tell if your baby is ready, how to choose the right foods, and important safety tips to help you feel comfortable and confident moving forward with it.