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    Parents guide

    Home ›› BLW 101: Tips on How to Start Baby-Led Weaning 
    Home ›› BLW 101: Tips on How to Start Baby-Led Weaning 

    What is baby-led weaning and when can you start it?

     

    6 min. read

     

    One of the biggest (and most fun) milestones that your baby will experience in his or her first year is starting to eat solid foods like a grown-up. If this is your first baby, you might be unsure where to begin. There are lots of different approaches out there, but one you may have heard of is the child-led weaning method, also known as baby-led weaning (BLW).
     

    BLW offers lots of advantages so we’ll lay out the essentials, including how to start baby-led weaning and a few baby-led weaning ideas to help make this adjustment a great experience for both you and your baby. As always, remember to consult with your child’s doctor for any questions you may have.

    What is BLW?

     

    So, ‘what is baby-led weaning?’ It’s simple really. As its name suggests, BLW lets your baby take a more active role in the change from drinking only breast milk or formula to adding in solid foods. Your baby ‘leads the way’!

     

    Puréed food and spoon-feeding is skipped entirely and your baby starts straight with table foods. (The name is a bit misleading in that your baby doesn’t actually ‘wean’ from breast or formula milk. Rather, these complementary foods are added into your little one’s breast milk or formula diet).

     

    In a nutshell, baby-led weaning calls for your baby to self-feed – as opposed to you spoon-feeding him or her. Do keep in mind that the foods you’re introducing to your baby should be soft to help prevent choking (such as thoroughly cooked vegetables or soft fruits).

    What does BLW mean in terms of benefits?

     

    It’s thought that when babies are introduced to table foods early on, they have a wider acceptance of different food textures and a variety of foods. Baby-led weaning is also considered one of the easier, more natural ways to introduce solid foods to babies, since it requires no extra food preparation and allows your baby to enjoy meal times with the entire family.

     

    • Here are some more benefits that the child-led weaning approach offers your baby: 1
    • Full control of eating
    • Motor skill development
    • Self-regulated eating
    • Decreased risk of obesogenic behaviors (habits that may encourage being overweight)

     

    Interested in trying the BLW approach? Let’s move onto how to start!

    When to start baby-led weaning

     

    It’s recommended that you wait until your baby is at least six months before introducing solid foods with BLW. Baby-led weaning at six months is the ideal time, since most babies at that age can sit up without support and have good control of their neck, head, and motor skills. 2

     

    Although the general recommendation for introducing solid foods to your baby in puréed form is between four to six months, it’s best to play it safe and wait until your infant is six months before giving him or her solids through baby-led weaning.

    How to start baby-led weaning

     

    Let’s discuss some baby-led weaning ideas to help make this new change positive for you and your little one. Below are a few steps and tips on how to start baby-led weaning: 1, 2

    1. Sit your baby at the table

     

    One of the benefits of baby-led weaning is that your little one can take part in family meals. Start by sitting your baby down with you at the table during meal times. This will allow your baby to better learn and observe normal eating habits.

    2. Give your baby finger-food portions

     

    Although your baby will be skipping puréed foods through child-led weaning, you’ll still need to ensure that the food is small and soft enough to help prevent choking. Cut your baby’s foods into finger-food portions so that he or she can easily grasp it to self-feed.

     

    Remember to check that the food is soft enough for your baby to easily chew and swallow. Foods such as mashed potatoes, beans, and well-cooked pastas and rice are all great options to introduce to your little one.

     

    For more baby-led weaning ideas and recipes, consider this soup-maker for creating delicious and healthy soups. You’ll discover new ways to prepare vegetables, fruits and meats with healthy, homemade recipes that the entire family can enjoy.

    3. Have a cup of water ready

     

    Once your child starts baby-led weaning, he or she will also start drinking independently. Try a straw cup with a one-piece silicone spout. It allows your baby to easily drink by applying only a little pressure to the spout to encourage liquid flow.

    4. Anticipate the mess!

     

    When you’re learning how to start baby-led weaning, accept that dinner time is about to become much messier! As your baby learns the ins and outs of grasping food and self-feeding, spills will be a normal occurrence, as will cute splotches of food all over your baby’s cheeks.

    5. Continue breast or bottle feeding

     

    Lastly, remember that just because it is called ‘baby-led weaning,’ it doesn’t mean you should stop breastfeeding or bottle feeding. When your child starts baby-led weaning at six months, think of it as a time in which he or she is becoming acquainted with new foods, textures and tastes. Do continue to breast or bottle feed to ensure that he or she is getting all the necessary nutrients in that first year of life.
     

    When the time does arrive that you and your baby are ready to start weaning from breastfeeding, you can learn all about when and how to stop here.

    Now that you understand what BLW is and you’re equipped with some different baby-led weaning ideas to introduce table foods to your child, you can start enjoying meals all together. It may be slightly messier, but this is all part of the exciting feeding journey that you and your baby get to experience together.

    What you need

    Philips Avent

    Straw Cups

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      Philips Avent Straw Cups

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      Allows healthy oral development*

      The Philips Avent My bendy straw cup with a contoured shape is the ideal choice for growing, active toddlers and allows healthy oral development.* Recommended by dentists* and developed with experts to make it our best straw cup possible. See all benefits

      Philips shop price
      Suggested retail price: $8.99

      Allows healthy oral development*

      The Philips Avent My bendy straw cup with a contoured shape is the ideal choice for growing, active toddlers and allows healthy oral development.* Recommended by dentists* and developed with experts to make it our best straw cup possible. See all benefits

    • Allows healthy oral development*

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    Allows healthy oral development*

    The Philips Avent My bendy straw cup with a contoured shape is the ideal choice for growing, active toddlers and allows healthy oral development.* Recommended by dentists* and developed with experts to make it our best straw cup possible. See all benefits

    Philips shop price
    Suggested retail price: $8.99

    Allows healthy oral development*

    The Philips Avent My bendy straw cup with a contoured shape is the ideal choice for growing, active toddlers and allows healthy oral development.* Recommended by dentists* and developed with experts to make it our best straw cup possible. See all benefits

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    You might like

    1 Contemporary Pediatrics - Baby-led weaning: Introducing complementary foods in infancy

    2 U.S. National Library of Medicine - Baby-Led Weaning: The Evidence to Date & The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) - A Baby-Led Approach to Eating Solids and Risk of Choking