If you and your baby are about to embark on the journey to solid foods, you may have heard people talk about baby led weaning (BLW).
This is an alternative option to the traditional baby purees – where food is cooked and then blended until smooth.
With baby led weaning you would encourage baby to pick up and eat whole foods, such as a stick of lightly steamed carrot rather than being spoon-fed some pureed carrot.
Benefits of baby lead weaning

Benefits Of BLW

  • You can save time: there’s no need to prepare food and puree it for baby. They can simply join in with family meal times, as they will eat what you are having.
  • The theory is that BLW encourages baby to learn to eat food of different textures from an early age, rather than everything being smooth. Some babies find textured food hard to swallow as they get older as they are used to smooth foods.
  • If you are interested in trying BLW, it can be something that you simply offer as well as purees. You don’t have to decide to work strictly one way or the other, simply do what works for you and your family.

How Do I Try BLW?

  • Offer your baby some age appropriate foods and let them try to eat it. Ideally offer them things that they can easily handle, such as a broccoli spear (rather than say, peas, which require a pincer grip).
  • At first baby may just play around with the food, throw it about, and smear it all over the high chair. But that’s part of learning how to eat, so try not to worry too much.
  • Continue offering their regular breastmilk or formula along with the food. It is normal that once solids are introduced, the amount of milk your baby drinks can decrease.
  • You can also offer some water from a sippy cup while they are eating. Only give small sips so that they don’t fill up on water.

Down Sides To BLW

  • Mess is a big part of BLW, so prepare yourself by setting baby up with bibs (the plastic ones that catch fallen food are great) and perhaps a spill mat on the floor.
  • There is also quite often a lot of waste, as food is regularly dropped on the floor or perhaps not eaten.
  • You don’t always know exactly how much your baby is eating, unlike with purees where you can see how much they’ve eaten from the bowl. So long as your baby doesn’t seem hungry, and is sleeping well, you can be confident that they are getting enough to eat. If in doubt you could always try offering them some lightly mashed foods from a spoon as well as their finger foods.
  • Many parents worry that their baby could choke on finger foods at such an early age. This is a normal concern and also applies to babies having puree. Remember never to leave your baby alone when they are eating, and if they appear to be choking you can pat them on the back to try and dislodge the food.
  • Speak with your child health nurse if you would like more advice on starting solids or if your baby has any special needs.

Examples of BLW Food

  • Chicken drumstick
  • Toast fingers
  • Scrambled egg
  • Carrot sticks (steamed)
  • Apple chunks (lightly steamed at first)
  • Watermelon fingers
  • Strawberries
  • Cheese cut into sticks
  • Pasta spirals or shells
  • Baked meatballs (made from mince)
  • Cauliflower floret (lightly steamed)
  • Avocado cut into long strips
  • Cucumber wedges, skin removed if they prefer
  • Baked sweet potato wedges
  • Capsicum cut into strips or chunks
  • Banana chunks
  • Pears cut into wedges (no need to steam)
  • Zucchini cut into chunks (lightly steamed)
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