Baby Food Be Gone: A Beginner’s Tips on Introducing Your Baby to Baby Led Weaning

How to feed your baby is one of the biggest decisions that new parents face. For us, the decision was initially simple: breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed. After the initial difficulties, I am proud to say that I have not only been able to exclusively feed my son this way, but I also enjoy it tremendously. Judging from the huge smiles that Baby exudes every time he lies down to nurse, I think he enjoys it tremendously too.

The World Health Organization says that the optimal way to feed an infant is six months of exclusive breastfeeding. When we reached this goal, we were ready to introduce Baby to some solid food in addition to his full breastfeeding schedule. I have to admit that we decided to start Baby on homemade baby food based on his age and not on visible signs of readiness. Signs of readiness for solids include sitting up well without support, losing the tongue thrust reflex, reaching for food and showing eagerness to take part in meals, and developing a pincer grasp where the baby can use her thumb and forefinger to pick things up. Baby was definitely not exhibiting all of these signs, but we ploughed ahead anyway.

Baby was initially reluctant to eat the purees, but he got into it for a couple of weeks. Then he suddenly went on strike. He only wanted to breastfeed and wanted nothing to do with the spoon or his baby food. I had been reading about Baby Led Weaning since pregnancy and it really interested me, but it also made me a bit nervous. When I realized Baby was done with baby food and was actually finally exhibiting all signs of readiness for solids at seven months, I decided to give Baby Led Weaning a try.

For a full description and instructions, check out: Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater. Basically, the baby joins the rest of the family at mealtimes, is offered regular food shaped in a way that is easily handled, and feeds himself what he wants. The idea is that babies learn about food naturally, learn to eat safely, and gain confidence as eaters.

Please don’t try this without first consulting the aforementioned book or a resource such as Baby Led Weaning. I am only sharing our personal experiences with Baby Led Weaning and not providing a tutorial, although I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

We officially started BLW a few weeks ago, and so far, it has been an amazing experience. We can’t get over how capable our little baby is! We just had to let go a little and give him the opportunity to learn on his own. (That’s probably a parenting lesson we’ll be learning over and over again for the next sixty or so years, right?)

If you’re interested in trying Baby Led Weaning, here are some tips on how to get started based on our experience so far:

  • If you have a teething baby, one of the best first foods you can offer her is a cold, hard stick of food. We used peeled mini cucumber sticks. Once your little one feels the soothing nature of the cucumbers on her swollen gums, she will be much more interested in putting that cucumber stick in her mouth again and again.
  • If you have homemade baby food in the house from first trying purees with your little one, it doesn’t have to go to waste. You can use it as a spread on many of the easy first foods. We have used pureed sweet potato and carrot as a spread on all of Baby’s favorite multigrain foods: toast, rice cake, and waffle. This is also an easy way to offer your baby varied tastes with one easily handled piece of food.
  • Don’t worry if your little one is not ingesting much food! If your child is taking part in meal time with you, handling a variety of foods, and exploring tastes, then he is accomplishing a lot! All you have to do is place the food options on your baby’s tray and let him take it from there. If your baby is still breastfed, then he is getting all of the nutrients he needs. Anything extra that he ingests through the Baby Led Weaning process is only icing on the cake.
  • Dipping is fun! Once your baby gets used to eating foods like carrot sticks, celery, and asparagus sticks, try putting out a bowl of various dips for her to explore. She will have a lot of fun dipping her veggies into hummus, yogurt dip, or melted cheese.
  • Your baby will do best with pieces of food that are about the size of his fist. If you find that some foods are too slippery, try coating them in something crunchy. For example, a banana can be coated in crushed Cheerios. This offers your baby an additional taste and will keep her little hands from slipping.

Enjoy the photo essay below of Baby’s first attempts at eating regular food. Note that he does not have teeth, and he has not choked or even gagged. He has displayed nothing but excitement, curiosity, and satisfaction in this process so far.

cucumber

1st food: Cucumber sticks

Rice Cake

2nd food: Unsalted multigrain rice cake

cucumber hummus

Cucumber dipped in hummus. Baby LOVES hummus!

toast with jam

Very clearly telling me he would like to move to his high chair to have multigrain toast with strawberry rhubarb jam!

toast with hummus

Multigrain toast with hummus for dinner.

how to eat a banana

Figuring out how to use the tray to balance a slippery banana. Smart boy!

baby banana

Don't even think about trying to take my banana!

Photo credits: Author

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This article has been edited from a previous version published at I Thought I Knew Mama.

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Statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products and/or information are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Readers are advised to do their own research and make decisions in partnership with their healthcare provider. If you are pregnant, are nursing, have a medical condition, or are taking any medication, please consult your physician. Nothing you read here should be relied upon to determine dietary changes, a medical diagnosis, or courses of treatment.

About The Author: Charise Rohm Nulsen

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Charise Rohm Nulsen is the proud mama of a son born in June 2010 and a baby girl born in May 2012. She is also the author of I Thought I Knew Mama where she blogs about the adventures of stay at home mamahood, natural parenting, and green & healthy living.

11 Responses to Baby Food Be Gone: A Beginner’s Tips on Introducing Your Baby to Baby Led Weaning

  1. Moorea  

    Thanks for this post! My daughter hated pureed baby food after the first month and we just began giving her whatever she wanted from our meals at 7 months, reasonably sized. I was confident in my ability to heimlech and she developed a quick and effective dislodge/cough mechanism and we have never had a scary moment. It is so anthropologically sound!
    She is a good eater of everything including all veggies now at 16 months. I doubt she will ever be a picky eater because she enjoyed multicultural foods, textures, spices and even some spicy tastes at a very early age.
    People tend to go from babyfoods to all sugar and carbs becuase they don’t know how to feed thier older babies/children.

  2. Adrianne

    Great blog! We are doing BLW as well, we never did the cereal or purees. He hates bananas but loves most other fruits, waffles, chicken and other veggies we’ve tried!

  3. Sylvia@MaMammalia

    For anyone considering BLW, I say go for it! BLW is one of those things I wish I had been more committed to when my son was younger (he’s 20 months now). I dabbled with it, but I also tried all the purees and typical baby food. What a waste of time, effort, and food! My son wasn’t really interested in food at all until he was over a year old (he’s a boob guy!). I think we both would have enjoyed ourselves more if we’d just stuck to BLW.

  4. Kristy

    I love baby led weaning. We did it with our son from the beginning, he now won’t be fed when others try, and will only use a loaded spoon with particular foods (yoghurt and ice-cream), everything else it’s hands in. It’s amazing, he even eats mashed potato with his hands and does it well.

    We started at 5 months because he was showing readiness.

    Now at just shy of 10 months he eats anything offered. I’ve never had to worry how much he is eating because he decides.

    He has never choked, and rarely gags. At first I was careful what I gave him because of choking risks, but now with the exception of whole nuts he can eat anything and the caution isn’t needed. Even raw pieces of apple are not a problem. He has clearly shown an ability to remove food from his mouth he can’t eat and only attempt to swallow what he has chewed.

  5. Colleen

    My daughter is 2 YO now and she insisted on BLW! All attempts to do purees were thwarted and then on the eve of turning 6mo, she wrenched a chicken leg out of my hand and gnawed away on it with gusto. As a family, we loved it. Dinner time became time for great joy and laughter as DD explored the world of food. Added benefits have included early proficiency with utensils (as we often would hand her a pre-loaded spoon in the early days) and a willingness to at least try most any food. She is picky about what vegetables she will eat, but most everything else is eaten with smiles. Have fun!!

  6. Janine  

    I have to add my link – Baby Led Weaning Blog. It even got recent approval from the author of the BLW book. :) I didn’t start the blog but have contributed some posts.

    My favorite thing about BLW is that it is so damn convenient. We can go anywhere without preparing anything. Combined with breastfeeding, my diaper bag is very light. Typically my 10 month old just eats off of my plate, which also helps me cut a few calories.

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