Is Baby Led Weaning Right For Our Family?

baby is feeding himself avocado and mom is helping him with baby led weaning
Piper Grabowski

Piper Grabowski

As an IBCLC, I get lots of questions about feeding in general. One of the most popular questions that I get once babies start to approach the age of introducing solids is “Is baby-led weaning right for our family?” Followed by, “Did you use baby-led weaning with your little one?”

I’m going to share our story of baby led weaning below, but first let’s help you to determine if baby led weaning is right for your family!

What Is Baby-Led Weaning?

Baby-led weaning (BLW) is a feeding approach that involves letting babies feed themselves with finger foods right from the beginning.

BLW has gained popularity in recent years as more parents are looking for a more natural and responsive way of introducing their babies to solid foods.

Benefits of Baby-Led Weaning

As an IBCLC, I consider BLW a positive feeding option that can benefit both babies and parents. Baby-led weaning:

  • promotes the development of fine motor skills
  • encourages the exploration of new tastes and textures
  • promotes a positive feeding relationship
  • can help to promote lifelong healthy eating habits.

Let’s take a look at how BLW can benefit both babies and parents

1. Helps Babies To Develop Their Hand-Eye Coordination and Fine Motor Skills

When babies are allowed to pick up and manipulate their own food, they learn to use their fingers and hands in a precise way. This is an essential skill that will benefit them throughout their lives, from learning to hold a pencil to tying their shoelaces.

2. Encourages Babies To Explore A Variety Of Tastes And Textures

When babies are exclusively spoon-fed, they are often limited to a small selection of pureed foods. However, when they are allowed to feed themselves, they are exposed to a wider range of textures and flavors. This can help to develop their palate and encourage them to become more adventurous eaters in the future.

3. Promotes A Positive Feeding Relationship Between Babies and Parents

When parents spoon-feed their babies, it can create a type of power dynamic where the parent is in control of the feeding process. This can lead to frustration if the baby refuses to eat. However, with BLW, the baby is in control of their own feeding and can stop when they are full. This can help to reduce mealtime stress and create a more enjoyable feeding experience for both parents and babies.

4. Helps To Promote Lifelong Healthy Eating Habits

When babies are allowed to self-regulate their food intake, they are less likely to overeat or be forced to finish a meal. This can help to prevent the development of unhealthy eating habits in the future.

5. Aids In Developing A Healthy Family Dynamic

BLW involves having the baby eating (developmentally appropriately prepared) family food at the family table. This gives them a sense of inclusion, and encourages them to try new foods and socially engage.

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Things To Consider Before Starting

If you are considering baby led weaning, make sure that your baby is:

✅ 6+ months old (adjusted age)

✅ Able to sit up and support their head independently

✅ Showing interest in/reaching out for foods

✅ Cleared by their pediatrician to start solids

It Was The Right Choice For Our Family!

I used baby-led weaning with my daughter. Based on my training, I knew the benefits of self-feeding and I wanted to share that with my girl.

Some of the foods we started with were avocado slices, steamed sweet potato and broccoli, and ground meat/slices of steak for her to suck on.

There was definitely some sitting on my hands because I worried about choking. With BLW she learned how to handle different-textured foods in her mouth, spit something out when needed, and chew it appropriately with her gums or teeth.

BLW made eating such an enjoyable thing – our family table became the best sensory table ever!

She is a toddler now and that should be a period of pickiness, but she loves all foods. I firmly believe that baby led weaning has helped her to enjoy proteins, fruits and VEGGIES!

If baby led weaning (or feeding in general) feels overwhelming, let’s set up an Ask Me Anything session and I’ll help you figure it all out!

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