Baby Led Weaning: What It Is & How To Do It

Baby Led Weaning: What It Is & How To Do It

March 07, 2023

As your baby begins to demonstrate readiness skills for starting solids, offering them everyday food items that your family enjoys is a great way to set them up for a lifelong love of healthy food! Through the technique of Baby Led Weaning, your baby will naturally be able to explore the food that your family regularly eats at their own pace. Today we are going to uncover what exactly Baby Led Weaning is, how to implement, address common concerns and describe why it is so nutritionally beneficial for little tummies! 

Signs Your Baby Is Ready For Solids

If you are wondering how you can tell if your little one is ready to try solid food, here are a few signs that it might be time:

  • Grabbing at your food or plate while you are eating
  • Sitting up unassisted
  • Shows the ability to push solids out of their mouth using their tongue reflexes
  • Has developed some fine motor skills and is able to bring items to their mouth

If you have noticed these milestones while observing your baby, they just might be ready to try real food! While it is not necessary to introduce solids before the age of one, it can serve as a great stepping stone as your baby grows and develops a desire to eat what you are eating. 

What Is Baby Led Weaning & How To Implement It

The term Baby Led Weaning means allowing your baby to feed themselves. This method does not include feeding purees from a spoon. Instead, it involves carefully preparing food items that your baby serves to themself. How, you might ask!? Start by determining the healthy foods that your family enjoys at mealtime and prepare them especially for your baby to explore. We recommend starting with soft foods that are easy for your baby to mush in their gums. Food items such as bananas, avocado and cooked egg yolks are a great place to start! Cut these items into a size that would fit in your baby's hand comfortably. You will want to avoid cutting these items too tiny as that can make it tough for the baby to gum the food. Next, choose to hold the baby in your lap or place them in a high chair. Place the food items in front of them and allow them to try whatever they'd like. The idea here is to offer a variety of items that they can pick up independently and gnaw on. While it is crucial to supervise the process, avoid picking up food items and placing them into their mouth yourself. Allow them to determine what would comfortably fit. 

Addressing Common Concerns

You may be concerned about choking, and while that is always a very serious concern during any mealtime, it is helpful to understand that babies have a strong gag reflex that is located closer to the front of their mouths than that of adults. As babies grow, that relex moves closer to the back of the throat. This delay however makes Baby Led Weaning a great option as your baby will naturally use their tongue to thrust food out of their mouth before they attempt to swallow at this stage. As a safety precaution, it is important to avoid offering common choking hazards during Baby Led Weaning and always be vigilant. These hazards include, but are not limited to, hot dogs, grapes, cherry tomatoes, peanuts, popcorn, as well as foods that should be avoided in the first year such as honey, sugary items and strong spices.


Ensuring Proper Nutrition

While Baby Led Weaning is much more about the process of eating than it is about the quantity consumed, you may wonder if your little one is getting enough nutrition. Throughout the first year however, your baby will get all the nutrition they need from breastmilk or formula and solids are simply used to introduce a variety of tastes and help introduce the process of eating the foods that your family enjoys. If you are concerned about the amount of iron your baby is getting, whether on formula or breastmilk, you could offer foods such as squash, meat, egg yolks, sweet potatoes and beans, which are all naturally high in iron. If you are in need of a highly nutritional and organic formula option for your baby through their first year, be sure to check out these options that are available in a variety of stages: 
HiPP Organic Baby Formula Online | Buy HiPP Baby Food in the U.S. -
As your baby moves into toddlerhood and starts gaining more of their core nutrition from solid foods, this formula is a great choice for meeting the nutritional needs that are unique to the toddler age group: 
Holle Formula Stage 4 | Holle Stage 4 Organic Toddler Formula 1 Year+ -
Rest assured that as long as your child's care provider feels that their growth is on track, you can trust that they are getting enough nutrition.

Lifelong Benefits

The process of Baby Led Weaning helps set the stage for a lifelong love of healthy foods! Enabling your baby to try a variety of food at their own pace gives them control over their palate and helps them to try the items that look enticing to them. It also allows your family to introduce the foods you commonly eat together around the table at meal times. By taking note of your little one's readiness cues and allowing them to embrace solids when they are ready, you are helping to set the stage for healthy eating as they grow!

Is Baby Led Weaning a method you have tried? Let us know if so as well as if you have any questions or suggestions for yummy foods to introduce during mealtime!

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