Baby-led weaning (or BLW in short) is a weaning method that is trending in the U.S nowadays. It is especially popular among young parents looking for a more natural and family-friendly way of serving solids. In this method, instead of weaning your baby by usual spoon-feeding, you will let your baby take charge of the work themself. So to help you have a better look at this method, here is our guide for Baby-led weaning.
What is Baby-led Weaning?
Baby-lead weaning or BLW is a method of weaning bab that are popularized in England and New Zealand. It became popular as with the publication of the book Baby-Led Weaning, by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett in 2008. A short time later, BLW has spread and been used popularly all over the wall.
BLW is different from the traditional weaning method by skipping spoon-feeding purees. Instead, your baby on feed themselves fingers foods right from the start of the weaning process. In this method, your baby will have all the decisions on what food they will eat first, when they will stop eating, and how they will put the foods in their mouth. The role of parents in the BLW method is not to decide and control everything like when spoon-feeding a baby. Instead, your role here is only to provide nutritious and appropriate foods for the baby’s skills. However, you still have to ensure your baby’s safety as well as eliminate their bad behaviors while eating.
The Benefits of the BLW method
This is a more interesting, more natural feeding method for children, helps them discover and trust food, and learn how to eat safely. In the BLW, by letting your baby take charge of feeding themself, it will boost their motor development naturally. Baby-led weaning supports the development of hand-eye coordination by in the process of choosing foods, pick them up, and put the foods in their mouth. Unlike eating purees, your baby will eat finger foods which will help them develop their chewing skills They will also get their reflexes and dexterity boosted in the process of BLW.
It is believed that baby-led weaning will have a lasting effect on a baby’s food preferences, thereby forming their eating habits later. Furthermore, your baby will be able to discover different texture, colors, aroma, and taste when then eating by themselves. It’s also an early and very important step for your baby to learn self-regulation, which means learning to stop eating when they feel full.
Baby-led weaning is not only benefiting your baby but also yourself as well. You won’t have to spend a quite big amount of money on little jars or spending all day to cook and blend food for your baby. Joining family meals will strengthen the bonds between your baby and other family members even further on the other hand. On the other hand, babies will learn their skills by mimic the behavior and habits of adults. Therefore, the communication of everyone in the family can affect the baby’s development directly.
When should you start Baby-Led Weaning for Your Baby
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that the baby should start weaning at around 6 months of age. In the first 6 months, milk is the best source of nutrition for your baby. Even when they reach 12 months, milk is still the main source of nutrition for their development. If your baby is in the first 6 months, their digestive system may not be able to absorb foods that are harder to digest than breastmilk or formula. So they will hardly get nutrition from food. Therefore, you should let your baby start BLW when they reach 6 – 9 months of age. At this period, your baby should be able to sit in a high chair without assistance from you. Make sure that your baby now has good neck strength, and be able to move food to the back of their mouth with up and down jaw movements.
Tips For BLW
If you are about to let your baby star Baby-led weaning, here are some tips for you:
– You should choose foods that suit your baby’s preferences but make sure that they still provide your baby with the essential nutrient.
– Your baby is not able to digest all the hard foods at first. So you should choose food according to your child’s age and cook it thoroughly to ensure your baby’s body can absorb the nutrients.
– Make sure that you cut the food in smaller, stick-shaped size so it will be easier for your baby to eat.
– Don’t choose food that is salty or has strong spices. These foods including canned food, fast foods, eggs yolk, or other cereal grains. As mentioned, your baby’s digestive system is still weak, and not completed, so they will not be able to digest all these foods yet.
– Remember that breast milk or formula will continue to be your baby’s biggest source of nutrition until they reach 10 – 12 months of age. So try to combine breastfeeding your baby and baby-led weaning.
Is Baby-Led Weaning Safe?
Although it is believed and used worldwide, there is no proper study that evaluates and redefine the benefits of BLW. In fact, some believe that there are potential risks in this method. In the BLW weaning method, your baby will be respected for their taste and behavior. Therefore, your baby only eats the foods they like. This can lead to a deficiency of some nutrients in the baby’s diet such as iron or different vitamins. On the other hand, your baby are can be free to eat the way they want, so there are chances that they may choke on food. However, reports show that one-third of BLW babies choked when they eat, at least once, but they can spit out the stuck food in there without any support.
There you go, now you have our guide for Baby-led weaning. Do you have any weaning recipes that your baby loved? Please share it with us and other mothers in the comments!