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Baby led weaning

Baby led weaning
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In recent years there has been a growth in the trend of baby led weaning (BLW). Any mum or dad with a young baby and even those still pregnant, can’t have failed to see or hear the term being used. But what exactly does baby led weaning entail and what are the advantages?

What is baby led weaning?

Parents using this method bypass purees and go straight to solid food. Babies are offered a range of foods that they can help themselves to. At first, most children will just play with the food but this allows them to become familiar with it before they go on to lick, taste and eventually eat the food put in front of them. The idea is that babies learn to control their own appetites, eating only as much as they want.

When should we start baby led weaning?

NHS guidelines state that most babies are ready to be introduced to foods at around six months. Of course, all children reach milestones at different times so there is no definitive right answer to when you should start weaning. Signs that your baby might be ready to start trying solids include showing an interest in your food, being able to sit up unaided, having a good pincer grip and being able to pick up food and move it to the mouth. Some children gag when food is moving around their mouth but this is nothing to panic about, it is a sign that your baby’s reflexes are ready for solid foods.

Advantages of baby led weaning

BLW allows babies to pick up and explore foods before trying them. They can experience different textures, sizes and smells of food before placing them in their mouth. BLW methods can also make weaning more relaxing for both of you. Your baby will have fun mashing and squashing food while you are left free to enjoy your own meal while it’s still hot. Plus, if you give the baby some of what you’re having, you won’t have to spend time making purees as well as a family meal and you’ll find you all eat healthier. It has also been noted that children who have BLW become less fussy eaters in childhood.

Baby led weaning

Disadvantages of baby led weaning

As you’d probably imagine, BLW can be a very messy affair! Use a mess mat under high chairs and keep some wipes or muslin cloths handy for spillages. Plenty of food will end up on the floor so you’ll have a lot of waste. Many dieticians say that babies should be offered a range of textures, including mashed or pureed food, and that offering these will also help your baby take in nutrients if she doesn’t eat much of the finger foods.

Tips for baby led weaning

  • Don’t attempt BLW until your baby shows signs of being ready.
  • Serve large chunks of ‘finger foods’ that your baby can easily grasp.
  • Take your time. Your baby will still be getting nutrients from her milk so don’t panic if she doesn’t eat much at first.
  • Offer a variety of healthy food types.
  • Eat at the same time as your baby and offer the same food as the rest of the family is eating.
  • Avoid foods that children might choke on or foods that are highly allergenic.

 

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About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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