Baby Led Weaning
Jenna Righter

What is Baby-Led Weaning?

Baby Led Weaning
Jenna Righter

What is Baby-Led Weaning?

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Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) is when babies, typically 6 months and older, are allowed to feed themselves using their hands instead of the traditional approach of a parent spoon-feeding a child with puréed foods. This approach puts the baby in charge of their own food intake and can control their eating pace. 

Babies learn to self-feed and self-regulate food consumption. BLW does not mean purées cannot be or are never offered! Babies can be offered pre-loaded purées on a spoon and learn to use the utensil with their hands.

Baby led weaning is more about practice and allowing for a slower wean off breast milk or formula. Breast milk or formula should continue to be the primary source of nutrition until at least 1 year of age.

How to know when your child is ready

Discussing developmental readiness with your child’s pediatrician can always be a helpful place to start. In addition, look for the following signs:

  1. Baby can sit up on their own
  2. Baby has good head and neck control
  3. Baby is interested in food
  4. Baby no longer has a tongue thrust reflex (they don’t immediately push food back out of their mouths)
  5. Baby is typically around 6 months of age

Common Starter Foods

Choose soft foods or cooked foods that your baby can squish between fingers. Naturally soft foods, like fresh fruit (banana or avocado) or strips of cooked vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes, are popular starter foods. Avoid choking hazards like whole nuts, thick nut kinds of butter, raisins, leafy greens, raw produce, hot dogs, or popcorn.  Make sure you inform your pediatrician if you are going to try BLW.

Benefits of Baby-Led Weaning for Your Child

  1. Babies become more responsive to their hunger and fullness cues
  2. Improved fine motor skills, such as grasping and oral development, including chewing
  3. Decreased chance of being overweight/obese later in life
  4. Independence for your baby because they are in charge
  5. Baby is eating the same foods as their family
  6. More enjoyable mealtimes
  7. It is less expensive

About the Author

My motto – Food is meant to be nourishing- physically, mentally and emotionally. I strive to help my clients find this delicate balance and ditch the diet mentality. Learning to enjoy ALL of the foods you eat and savoring every bite is key to being present and living a healthy life! My “why” – I fortunately grew up in a home where my mom cooked our meals from scratch and we lived down the road from my grandma, who had a large garden and black-raspberry bushes. Every year, we were able to help plant, harvest, eat and can the fresh produce. Being able to learn about where quality food comes from and get hands on cooking experience starting at a young age has really impacted my relationship with food and I love helping people get more comfortable in their own kitchen, including children! I’ve always enjoyed helping clients who have been diagnosed with autoimmune diseases, but when I found myself struggling with several new autoimmune diagnoses post-pregnancy, it has become more near and dear to my heart! Through dietary changes that have been appropriate for me (and some modern medicine), I’ve now been in these client’s shoes and become even more passionate about helping these clients find what works best for their bodies and their lifestyle. My credentials – A bachelor’s of science in human nutrition from The Ohio State University and a graduate in certificate of dietetics from IUPUI. I am a certified lactation counselor and a certified LEAP therapist (food sensitivities).

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