Baby Led Weaning – How To Get Started (Mom Tested Tips)

With baby-led weaning, your kid is in charge. This mama shares tips that have helped along her personal journey!

Baby-led weaning or BLW is an approach to feed your baby solid food. In the BLW feeding approach, the babies – 

  • Eats food by themself, preferably with their hands and not with a spoon.
  • Eats same food as the family, with adjusted spice levels and no salt (< 1yr age)
  • Most importantly, decides how much & if he/she wants to eat. As parents, your job is ONLY to decide what and when the baby will eat. Do not spoon-feed the baby if the baby just plays or throws the food or barely eats. 

For babies, less than 1 year of age – If the baby demands food after the meal, offer Breast Milk (BM) / Formula Milk (FM), because till 12 months of BM/FM remains the primary source of nutrition, & solid food is complimentary. 

For babies above 1 year of age –  If the baby demands food after the meal, offer the same meal again or regular milk. 

How To Get Started With Baby-Led weaning?

Now that you know the basic rules of BLW and made up your mind to get your baby started on BLW, here is how you can help your baby become an independent eater – 

Ensure a good gap between milk & food. Don’t offer food too soon or too late. Babies reject solid food if they are too hungry or not hungry at all.

  • For babies, less than 1yr of age – Offer solid food 45mins after BM and 1.5hrs after FM. Of course, the time is approximate and may vary slightly as per your baby’s metabolism. Always feed BM/FM to the baby before solids to not drop milk feedings. BM/FM is the main nutrition till 1yr of age and promotes growth.
  • For babies above 1yr of age – follow your child’s hunger cues and offer food when ready. You can always reduce milk intake and offer solids. Liquids tend to fill up the tummy leaving little room for solids. If you are still breastfeeding you can go easy on the animal milk and offer a little bit as BM still offers a lot of calories and energy for your toddler and if the child has enough protein and calcium then you can offer less animal milk and more solids as a snack. By this time, most babies are on 3 meals and 1 or 2  snacks in a day.

Make sure the baby eats with the family – in whichever way the family eats, be it the dining table or floor. If there is no space constraint, invest in a good high chair with an adjustable footrest. A high chair grows with the baby and helps to build meal time discipline. Another alternative is a booster chair, but it does not grow with the baby. 

Offer baby finger foods, preferably similar-looking food as yours. Take the finger food from your plate and bring it to your mouth. Model how to eat, bite and chew. Baby will learn slowly and start mimicking you. It is very important to eat together.

Do not pressure the baby to eat. It is completely fine if the baby is just playing with the food because this is how they build positive relationships with food and learn about it. Any kind of interaction with food is progress.

Babies don’t need teeth to chew, their gums are pretty strong. Be prepared for gagging. Make yourself aware of gagging and choking. Parents often consider gagging as choking.

Anticipate the mess and be prepared for it. It’s a part of learning and will not stay for long.

End the meal if the baby becomes fussy or stops showing interest in food.

Try these tips and tell us if they work. Baby-led weaning will give your little one more independence and maybe even help her become a more adventurous eater. Just be sure to have your camera ready: The snapshots of those messy first meals will be priceless. 

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