baby led weaning

What is baby led weaning?grace

Baby led weaning quite simply is self feeding.  It means allowing your child to feed themselves from the very beginning of their experiences with food.  At meal times, your child eats at the same time as the rest of the family and is offered the same food.  Baby led weaning is all about exploring, experiencing and enjoying nutritious and delicious family meals from the very first taste of solids.

Please note; the term ‘weaning’ doesn’t mean giving up milk feeds (formula or breast milk) it simple refers to the introduction of foods other than milk.

Benefits of baby led weaning

  • Allows bub to explore the taste, texture, colour and smell of food
  • Meal times are an enjoyable family experience
  • Helps to develop bubs hand-eye coordination
  • Establishes great eating habits as bub is allowed to eat as much as she/he needs, in their own time
  • Mealtime battles are far less likely
  • Encourages confidence
  • No need for cooking two different meals for the family, saves time and money
  • Eating with loved ones develops and encourages strong family bonds

When to start?

The World Health Organisation recommends the introduction of solids at 6 months of age.  At 6 months of age children start to develop the skills that enable them to instinctively start to feed themselves.  Signs that your baby is ready to start self feeding include;

  • sitting up with little or no support
  • being able to reach out and grab things effectively
  • being able to take objects to their mouth quickly and with accuracy
  • able to make gnawing & chewing movements

grace5How to get started?

When your baby is developmentally ready for the introduction of solids start by including your baby in family meal times and offer food in pieces that are easy for your baby to pick up and handle.  Your baby will start to ferry the food to their mouth where they will gnaw, nibble, chew and swallow pieces.  There is no need for anyone to ‘feed’ the baby.  It is completely up to your baby how much he/she eats and how fast.  Your baby will continue to have milk feeds (whether breast milk or formula) whenever he/she wants them.

Wonderful recipes to get started with:

pea fritters pea fritters

sweetcorn fritters sweetcorn fritters

pea, ricotta and herb rollini pea, ricotta and herb rollini

raspberry pikelets raspberry pikelets

crispy chicken strips, sweet potato wedges & tomato salad crispy chicken strips, sweet potato wedges & tomato salad

combo

22 thoughts on “baby led weaning

  1. Ahhhh. I love BLW. We have just started with my sweet girl, and it’s encouraging to see the pictures of your daughter. It can be so frustrating. Some days she hoes in, and loves having a go of everything. But more often than not she just throws it all on the floor, and grizzles until I give her some cherry tomatoes (which she loves!).
    It will get better!! It has to! :)

    • Oh we totally have days like that too! I have found Miss G. loses her appetite when she is teething badly:-( It can be so frustrating but seeing her really enjoy and love her food most days makes it all worth it! Oh and she adores cherry tomatoes also! One little tip: I have found sitting down to eat alongside Grace helps a lot. When we enjoy food together she eats wit a lot more enthusiasm and mimics everything I do hehehe. So cute:-) Good luck and keep me posted! I’d love to know how your little girl goes!

      • I always eat my meals with her. She’s only just 6 months, so I’m not expecting her to be eating heaps. We’re on a big car trip today and we stopped for lunch not long ago. She seemed much more interested because we were all sitting on a rug in the park eating together. Maybe I need to take breakfast and lunchtime out of the house.

      • Yeah Grace loves eating outdoors too. Some days I pop a blanket on the balcony and we eat lunch out there. She loves it. Hey I just discovered your blog…what a wonderful idea to incorporate motherhood and being a midwife. Oh and your birth story was great, I love reading posts that are raw and real. You’re a great writer and Macie is just beautiful. Being a midwife must be such a beautiful profession. You do amazing work. Keep up with the blogging, you’re onto a great idea! Mothers will absolutely love you:-) Have a wonderful weekend & please stay in touch I’d love to know how you go with blw. X

  2. Q: did you worry about choking with your wee one? Baby Lexie turns 6 months this week, we’ve been pureeing her foods to start. Did you mash up whatever you were eating to start with?

    • Hi Jen! A lot of mama’s and papa’s beginning baby led weaning worry about choking, I know I did so I did a bit of research to arm myself with as much information as possible and I suggest you do too. There are some amazing sites (check out my resources page) that have some fantastic info that will give you more confidence if baby led weaning is something you choose to do. However, to begin I offered food to Miss G. that was chip sized, i.e. rectangle and large enough for her to grip easily and nibble on. I also ensured the food was soft enough, i.e. able to be squished between my thumb and index finger. Obviously I sat with her at every meal time and ate too, I found she would watch me and mimic what I did. I also researched the difference between gagging and choking. Choking is an obstruction in the wind pipe and is silent. Gagging is when food moves around the mouth and hits the gag reflex and there is noise involved. Also gagging is pretty normal. Bubs can pretty much have any type of food other than honey, or foods with salt or too much sugar. I discovered blw because Grace refused mashed foods and being spoon fed. I am so glad we did, six months on Miss G. loves her food and will eat pretty much anything! I know beginning baby led weaning can be daunting but my advice would be to do some research, read all about it, check out my baby led weaning page, getting started page and resources page. I always say to mama’s the best recipe to get started with is fritters! I have made pea fritters, sweet corn, sweet potato, carrot etc etc for Miss G. and she loved them, especially when we first started. They’re really easy for the little ones to pick up and eat and they’re jam packed full of vegetables. I hope this has helped you! Good luck and please report back I’d love to know how you go! Kayla x

  3. Hi Kayla
    A friend recommended your site to me, and I absolutely love it. As a speech pathologist who works with neonates & bubs with feeding problems, I thought I’d be following the standard introduction of solids but my little one had different ideas. So after lots of reading around and discussions we’ve embarked on a mixture of blw & assisted spoon feeding (as in I load the spoon & she sometimes gets it in her mouth). Your site is a great resource & I love the recipes – feeling very inspired, especially when my parents and my in-laws see how much she loves feeding herself and really enjoying the food. Now I just have to cope with no appetite when teething & some picky periods where I find myself offering her a buffet (bad habit I know!)
    Thanks again, Kimberley

    • Hi Kimberley!

      Thank you! I am so happy to hear you and your little one are enjoying my site and recipes. It seems we both have independent little bubba’s! Grace, just like your little one, certainly had other ideas about spoon feeding. Little Miss refused to be spoon fed and pursed her lips so tight not one morsel of food made it past! It was such a stressful couple of weeks so I was so relieved to discover baby led weaning. Self feeding, she is a completely different bubby at meal times! I am so happy your little girl loves blw too! And it’s wonderful to watch them really enjoy their food isn’t it! As I type, Miss G is walking around the lounge room happily nibbling away on a peach! Getting peach juice everywhere though. Ahh the mess never ends lol.

      I experience the same ‘no appetite’ issue with Grace when teething. She just cut two molars so that past couple of weeks have been awful. In pain, her appetite is nonexistent and I do find I get a little stressed when I feel she hasn’t eaten enough. Luckily it doesn’t last long and once the tooth has cut and she is feeling better her appetite returns with a vengeance and she happily makes up for the lost eating opportunities. During the really bad days I often pop fruit (blueberries, raspberries and wedges of apple) into the freezer for a good half hour or so and then offer them to Grace. The cool hard fruit on her gums is a great relief for her and she loves it.

      Thanks for touching base and saying hello! Please stay in touch, I’d love to know how you and your little one continue to go!

      Thanks, Kayla x

  4. Hi Kimberley,
    Someone recommended I look at your page and I’m glad I have already! My little girl has just turned 11 ,oaths and I’ve noticed the last few weeks she is changing with how she wants to eat. Sophie is really enjoying eating with her hands and feeding herself so I want to encourage this. My first question would be where do I start? I made the majority of her foods for her previously with yummy home made sauces and veges but I think she is bored of that now. Any suggestions???
    Thanks so much

    • Hi Melissa!

      Welcome:-) I am so happy you found my page! Like you, my little one was becoming quite the fuss pot so I decided to take the baby led weaning route and now I post the recipes on my site that have been a hit at our place to help other mamas. Its so fantastic that you’re encouraging your bub to self feed, I find when Grace is in charge of her eating she is much happier and eats a lot more too.

      OK. So where to start! When we first began our blw journey I was so confused about the types of foods Grace could eat. After a little research I discovered she can basically eat anything except honey, salt and foods containing too much sugar. With this in mind I did a little cooking experimentation and found Grace really enjoyed vegetable fritters. So I made batches with zucchini, sweet corn, sweet potato, pea etc etc. The shape of the fritters as well as their texture make them really easy for little hands to pick up and nibble on. Also, they’re chock full of vegetables and couldn’t be simpler to prepare.

      I also found Grace loved frittatas (and my impossible pie recipe), so I would make up a big frittata full of vegetables, bake, then serve in finger length portions. Another great lunch or snack idea Grace adored were vegetable wedges. I basically take a whole heap of vegetables, chop into finger length rectangle shapes, drizzle with a little olive oil and bake for a good half hour or so. The vege wedges are easy for the kids to eat and store in an airtight container in the fridge for a good 2-3 days.

      And for a great ‘on the go’ snack (or breakfast) I like to whip up batches of sugar-free wholemeal muffins chock full of fresh fruit. Grace loves them and they’re so easy to make. Also, left over muffins can be popped into the freezer for another day.

      If you jump on the recipe page of my site, you’ll find all of the above mentioned recipes. They’re all super simple, because like you, I am super busy with Grace and don’t have the time to mess about with complicated recipes. I hope this has helped:-) Happy cooking and please report back I would love to know how your little one goes! X

  5. I absolutely love this! I pinned your post for later and hope to continue researching and experimenting with BLW as my little nugget grows and develops! She’s super interested in everything that my husband and I pick up to each so this will be an exciting new adventure with her for sure! Thanks so much for the tips and recipes! =)

  6. Love, love, love your site. My little guy is just over 6 months and really starting to get into BLW – we had Moroccan chicken tonight and he loved it! Me however, I’m still a nervous Nelly – even after all my research and and that at every meal he shows me that he can totally do this, gagging and all. Luckily hubs is as calm as can be. I briefly considered doing purees but I just know that I won’t regret this so keep pushing through… it has after all only been a week and hello, tonight he had chicken!!! Thanks for all the inspiration… fantastic stuff!!

    • Hi! My pleasure! Oh I am so so so happy your little one enjoyed the Moroccan chicken! And I totally understand your nervousness, I was much the same in the beginning too. It’s just part of being a mama. But they great thing is as your little one hones his eating style/technique, gagging will become a less and less common. Happy cooking!!! X

  7. My wee one (10mo) will only really eat what she can put in her mouth herself. Loves throwing food overboard without even trying it (although if its new she will almost always try it); and what she will eat one day she turns her nose up at the next!
    Food times can be frustrating especially breakfast time which she has suddenly decided she doesnt want to eat anything at all.
    So glad I found your website to add to her finger foods. Any ideas and recipes for meat?
    Thanks in advance :)

    • Oh I am so happy to hear you’ve found some ideas on my site! Coming up with meals that the little ones will enjoy can sometimes be quite the challenge! My little girl loves hot chicken cakes, baked meatballs, greek inspired lamb meatballs and sesame crusted chicken cakes. They’re really tasty and fun for her to eat. All of the recipes can be found on the recipes page of my site. Happy cooking and please report back, I’d love to know how you and your little one go! X

  8. Thank you for sharing! I made the mistake of not doing BLW with my first and he is the PICKIEST eater ever! We have just started BLW with our second and my biggest question is giving foods that have multiple ingredients (i.e. Veggie fritters). Since there is a 4 day rule to look for reactions, did you give the ingredients on their own for 4 days each then feel comfortable mixing them together in fritter form or just jump all in?
    Most BLW sites I’ve looked at encourage the 3-4 day rule but all recipes are multi-ingredient ones so I get a little confused. :) Thank you!!

    • Hi! I am so happy you’re enjoying my site! I have found there are so many different rules for introducing foods, it seems each government/country has their own guidelines so its hard to recommend a hard and fast rule. I spoke to my Dr and she advised us the only reason the 3-4 day rule exists is to make it easier to diagnose a reaction. I.e. if you give your child 1 food type for 3-4 days and they have a reaction you know exactly what it was, there is no need to go through the process of elimination. For me, there was no way in the world my daughter Grace would eat the same thing 3-4 days in a row. Plus we have no food allergies in our family. Its probably best for you to speak to your GP and discuss your family allergy history and what is the best method for introducing foods with your little one. I hope this has helped. Happy cooking and please report back, I’d love to know how your little one goes! X

  9. Hello, I’ve just stumbled across your lovely website after doing some research into baby led weaning. My little Reuben has just turned 6 months but has been eating puréed food since he was 4 months after being advised to wean early by the health visitor. He refuses to eat mashed food but will eat finger foods and your recipes have really inspired me to head down the blw route! Can’t wait to get cooking :) x

  10. Hi there,
    I love ur site. Great ideas for my 13month old son. I want to make the Banana & Choc muffins and wondering what yoghurt you use?

    Thank u xx

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