5 Reasons to Try Baby Led Weaning

baby surrounded by vegetables

When you start feeding baby solids, there’s often a lot of purée involved. But in the world of baby led weaning (BLW), “The mush stops here!” That means no baby food as you know it. No purée. No making purée. No stressing about steaming before making the purée. No ice cube trays filled with purée defrosting on your kitchen counter or in your microwave. No. No. No.

In weaning, the world is full of big chunks. Yes! Big chunks of sweet potato to mush in little hands and smear all over little faces, and sometimes even into little mouths. There are big florets of tantalizingly textured broccoli. A whole banana to nurse on.

It can be a little bit frightening to veer so much from the traditional, but people who do it love it, and say that it can do these five things for your babe, and more:

  1. Teaches and improves hand-eye coordination. We all know there is nothing so inspiring as a big chunk of food, and this inspiration will teach them to put their hands where they want them to go.
  2. Helps your baby to be a happier eater. The mystery mush coming at them from your spoon won’t surprise them, and being in charge is fun!
  3. Lets babies be part of the family dinner. They’ll be eating independently, just like everyone else at the table. Big smiles 🙂
  4. Real food gives babies an invitation to explore. When a baby first starts eating, more than 75% of his or her calories still come from breast milk and/or formula. Moms worry that the little one must eat enough solids to give them nutrition, but it just isn’t so. Food in the beginning is mainly about exploration and learning, discovering textures and temperatures, and noticing colors and shapes.
  5. You’ll be more cheerful, since you won’t be slaving away at a mush grinder after your little one is finally asleep for the night.

It would be imprudent, and impossible, to think about doing any of this without talking about gagging, choking, and the fear of choking. Please know that the baby led weaning people are not crazy. The reason they say it works is that babies have a very developed gag reflex, and any food that goes too far back on their tongue will be brought forward again, by gagging. It’s definitely not pleasant to watch, but it’s also not choking. Foods that are considered chokables, like blueberries and grapes are cut up small.  And super hard foods like raw carrots are saved for when the little ones finally get teeth.

In full disclosure, I had a hard time diving completely into the ocean of weaning. The gagging freaked me out a bit too much and I like butternut squash puree! So I decided to go with the best of both worlds: fun times gnawing on apple cores, and and a spot in the time honored acquisition of mush, bright orange silky mush, to be inserted lovingly, by me, with a spoon. Until of course she grabbed that spoon away and landed it all in her hair.

For more info on BLW, check out the book Baby-Led Weaning.

What do you think? Are you going for it with baby led-weaning or not so much?