When I began feeding my son food for the first time, we started with purees. Then I heard about Baby-Led Weaning (BLW), and for my second, I’ll be jumping right into BLW and skipping the purees. If you are considering BLW, but scared to jump in, here are some suggestions to help ease you into the process.
First, a QUICK overview of what it is and isn’t. Baby-Led Weaning does NOT mean you have to discontinue nursing or providing formula (the title sometimes confuses people). Baby-Led Weaning involves feeding babies solid foods, similar to what you are eating (but of course cut down to an appropriate size for their age, and slightly adjusted). Some parents end up doing a mixture of purees and solid foods.
BLW promotes the philosophy of “you provide, they decide” meaning the parents provide the food, and the baby or toddler decides without pressure or bribing what they will eat. This means instead of spoon feeding, the baby is self-feeding and touching the food themselves. It’s messy, but it’s all part of the process of getting them comfortable with the food.
To a lot of parents, this seems overwhelming or scary. Here are some suggestions if you want to do BLW, but are apprehensive.
Take a Course or Read a Book
There are many great resources available to fill in all the gaps and questions you have on BLW. When we started the BLW process, I first read Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods. It gives a good overview of both the process and feeding philosophy.
Later, I purchased an online course through Feeding Littles. I am still working my way through it, but learning so much and getting great tips! Megan and Judy, the founders of Feeding Littles, do an excellent job of setting you up to feel comfortable with BLW. Follow them on Instagram (@feedinglittles) or subscribe to their newsletter to get ideas on BLW and consider if the course makes sense for you.
Join an Online BLW Group
Transitioning to feeding your little one to solids is a process. Other moms have great ideas to offer on what works for them, whether it be recipes or practical highchairs. The process can also be emotionally exhausting, and these groups can help encourage you along the way.
Prepare for the Mess!
When babies and toddlers are learning to eat, it simply will get messy. I, as my college roommates can attest, am the farthest thing from a neat freak, but this really is stressful for some folks. If you anticipate this as an issue, there is a lot of great gear out there you can invest in to ease your mind (bibs for instance with long sleeves, or floor mats to put under the highchair and protect your floors). Ultimately, maybe also prepare with some deep breaths and reminders that it won’t always be this messy.
Take A CPR Course
Many parents are scared of the possibility of choking when transitioning to solid foods. Taking a CPR course can help you feel prepared to recognize what choking looks like, how to respond, and the tops foods to avoid.
BLW doesn’t mean you feed your baby anything in any form – there are certain foods that should be provided with caution and served or prepared in a certain way. This is not something to be scared of, simply something to educate yourself on. Another great reason to take a course or read a book!
Initially I started BLW because I felt it was a good way to ensure my son was getting exposure to different tastes and textures to hopefully avoid a picky eater. What I’ve found is the BLW philosophy encourages a balanced and healthy relationship with food. Regardless of what route you take, there are great elements behind the method to consider incorporating into your family’s feeding philosophy.