The following information is based on the author’s personal experience and research found in the Baby Led Weaning books. This post contains affiliate links.
Do you ever look at some healthy recipes that claim to be kid friendly and think “How do they get their kid to eat that??” Is the potential for having a picky eater your worst nightmare? I have 3 words for you. Baby Led Weaning.
As parents, I think for all of us, all we really want is to do the best and most healthy job we can for our littles. Teaching them to eat solid food is one such thing, and a BIG one at that. With so many people freely and abundantly expressing their very strong opinions on all things baby, it can leave a new parent or even experienced ones with a lot of questions and confusion.
There aren’t many foods my husband and I don’t like. My biggest worry when reaching this stage was “What if she’s a picky eater? I don’t know what I’ll do if that happens”. Baby Led Weaning was seriously the answer to that prayer. It is the sole reason, I feel, that my child is so adventurous with food.
Introducing Solid Foods
There are 2 main ways to introduce solids to your baby. The traditional way is to start with purees around 4 months and then gradually start giving the less processed versions of foods. This way also follows a food schedule of certain ages to introduce certain foods.
This can often lead to a lot of frustration for both parents and baby. Some babies don’t like the texture or they want to hold the spoon which leads to “spoon fights”, for example. Parents are having to make 2 separate meals, one for themselves, and one for baby. Baby Led Weaning is a fantastic alternative if you’re running into these issues.
Be sure to check out my kid approved recipes! These are all recipes my baby girl ate while we were going through the baby led weaning process.
What Is Baby Led Weaning?
Baby Led Weaning is simply giving your baby real food as you would eat it, when they show all recommended the signs of readiness. This usually happens around 6 months. Signs such as being able to sit on their own, and loss of the tongue thrust reflex, for example.
Instead of a set food schedule, baby gets to try almost anything (with, of course, the exception of Honey, Sugar, and Salt). Baby eats what you eat but instead of pureeing all their food, you cut it into sizes that they can hold and cook to a certain softness depending on their age and development.
Are Purees Allowed During Baby Led Weaning?
Technically…no. Not unless you, the parent, are eating a puree as part of your meal. We found a way around this, and do smoothies most days. We do all kinds of smoothies…green smoothies, veggie smoothies, traditional fruit smoothie. Smoothie bowls for breakfast. We love them.
The Benefits of Baby Led Weaning:
Baby Led Weaning is the method that we’ve chosen to stick with for our family. I can tell you first hand the benefits of it.
- Babies get used to the full range of textures and flavors
- It helps families, as a whole, eat healthier on a daily basis.
- Babies learn to use their mouth and tongue properly for eating at an earlier age which also will help prevent choking
- Babies feel like part of the family at meal times
- Helps with motor skills by learning to use utensils earlier on
- Less stress for parents on having to prepare or shop for separate baby foods.
- There is no mealtime “fights” – their curiosity leads them
- Less pickiness
You might also enjoy: 9 Ways To Get Kids To Eat Healthy Food (and be happy about it!!)
The Downsides of Baby Led Weaning:
Of course with anything there are downsides, BUT, from my own experience, the positives FAR outweigh the negatives.
- In the beginning there WILL be gagging, which can sometimes look like choking. I’ll admit it’s a little scary until you can tell the two apart.
- Choking does happen to some on rare occasion. Parents should educate themselves on what to do just in case. Ours has never choked and she is nearly 2 years old at this time. But, I watched ALL THE VIDEOS on youtube for what to do and it did wonders for my peace of mind.
- However THIS ARTICLE shares the results of a study done by the American Academy of Pediatrics states that Baby Led Weaning did NOT result in a higher risk for choking compared to the traditional method.
- The mess – The beginning has a lot of clean up. It gets better with time….but at least you get to pick up whole pieces of food instead of smeared mush.
- Everyone else’s opinions: People that aren’t familiar with this method, while well meaning, will express their fears on the matter. Frankly, it’s not helpful and can be frustrating to deal with until YOU are more comfortable with the process.
Remember. It IS a method. There are guidelines. It is not just giving your babies food as you would eat it.
The Baby Led Weaning Books
I highly recommend the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook. It is the original Baby Led Weaning book. The first half the book is all the guidelines, and the last half the book is recipes. It is an easy read that leaves very few, if any, questions by the time you’ve finished it. I have tried many of the recipes and we all enjoyed them.
The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook: 130 Recipes That Will Help Your Baby Learn to Eat Solid Foods_and That the Whole Family Will Enjoy
There is a second book. However, after reading it I feel that it didn’t further answer potential questions or explain the method any better. It also had infinitely more testimonials which wasn’t necessary.
If Baby Led Weaning is something that you feel is a good option for your family Baby Led Weaning Cookbook is an excellent read. This IS a method that we practice in our home and have had great success with it. Baby Cold Texan is an enthusiastic and adventurous eater because of this method. I can’t speak highly enough of it.
In certain special cases Baby Led Weaning many not be the best choice. If you have any concerns, be sure to run it by your pediatrician first.
If you have any questions regarding our experience with Baby Led Weaning, I will be happy to answer them.