Monday, 4 August 2014

Baby Led Weaning-Our Experience

Why BLW-ing?
When it came to weaning I had heard a lot about the Baby Led Weaning method, where essentially baby learns how to eat at their own pace, eating what you eat as opposed to traditional purees and spoon feeding. The idea appealed to me primarily because I was very much baby-led through the first year of his life, I also wanted to make sure Henry was ready to wean and I didn't want him to become fussy with different textures of food- by offering him a range of different textures from the beginning I thought it might negate the fussy phase! It just seemed like a fun, natural way to wean at baby's own pace and in all fairness, a lot less hassle then blending purees for meals!

The NHS recommends you wait till around 6 months before weaning as it allows time for the digestive system to develop. It's thought that weaning before that can cause problems later on, such as allergies and type 1 diabetes, but I'm not too sure how common a problem that is. The following are the three signs you should look out for as a sign that that baby is ready to wean:

  1. They can stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady.
  2. They can co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so that they can look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth, all by themselves.
  3. They can swallow food. Babies who are not ready will push their food back out, so they get more round their face than they do in their mouths. (taken from the NHS website)

Henry could do all of this by 5 and a half months, and then when he grabbed a sweet potato off my plate and stuffed it in his mouth faster then I could blink,  I knew he was ready to start!

We started with just one meal a day to begin with, usually lunch time, and I'd offer him a few finger foods to try. We started with things like steamed broccoli, sweet potato fingers, soft carrots and fruits. There was a lot of sucking and gnawing in the beginning and not a lot of eating at all.
The first few months were definitely the hardest as it seemed like we weren't getting anywhere, however it does take time and patience and one thing I learned from the facebook support group was that I shouldn't worry and food before the age of 1 is just for fun-their main source of food up till 12 months should still be milk. It kind of became a little mantra to me when I started to worry or get frustrated at the lack of eating. 
We also introduced less finger foods and more meals which would be a little of whatever we were having-we usually make all our meals from scratch so we knew that we were filling Henry with good food from the start (with the occasional treat of course!)
We built it up to two meals a day by 8 months (lunch and dinner), and three meals a day by 9 months and gradually Henry began to consume more and more until by 12 months he was having three meals a day plus snacks and dramatically decreased his milk intake from 4 bottles to just 2 and then to 1 at 13 months. 

What about choking?
This question gets asked a lot and admittedly in the beginning I was terrified this would happen. I would watch him intently every meal as he sucked on a bit of broccoli. Of course, there were instances of gagging on occasion but it's important to realise gagging is not choking and is actually a natural reflex to get food back from the back of the mouth to the front. It also helped giving him things like grapes and sausages cut in half length ways or squashed to help minimise possible choking scenarios. 

  • Baby learns to eat at their own pace
  • Lot less hassle for Mum and Dad
  • When he started at the childminders at 12 months she said to me that she was shocked at how well he ate for his age, which made me feel so happy and proud to be BLW!
  • It's fun! I think there's a lot less pressure on baby and parents when the focus is more exploring foods then eating them
  • practicing fine motorskills
  • the mess and choking hazard, although those are issues with traditional weaning too
  • judgment from people not agreeing with it

Reading Material:
If you're interested in baby-led weaning and want to read about it, or find out more about it then we found these quite handy:

I loved, loved, loved the fact Henry was doing everything at his own pace too, it was so lovely to see him exploring all kinds of foods and developing a palate that means he'll give pretty much anything a go these days.
We did have an added complication of a dairy allergy so we have been seeing a dietician at the hospital in regards to weaning and support with that aspect (introduction and avoidance of milk in foods). 
Honestly, I think our experience was a really positive one. If we have another baby I'll definitely be doing BLWing again and I think I'll be a lot more relaxed about the process. Obviously the end goal with all methods of weaning is to transfer baby on to solid food and off formula or breastmilk, but I think I need to remember food before one is just for fun and there's no necessity that baby needs to be completely weaned ASAP, it's a gradual learning experience that will take time.

What are your thoughts on BLW-ing? 


  1. Great post Katy, loads of useful info in there!!!! That picture of Henry with the watermelon is beyond cute!!! X

    1. Aw, thank you Chantelle! He loved that watermelon, haha xx