As a new mom, one of the things I dreaded during my baby’s first year was introducing solid foods. I had terrible memories of feeding my younger brothers jars of mysterious mush: I hated the smell of what those jars held, I hated trying to coax the little boys’ mouths open to feed it to them; I would not have tasted their food if you paid me, and I did my utmost to keep that slime off my hands.
So when my daughter was about 5 months and we had some friends visiting us with their son I was immediately intrigued that they didn’t pull out a separate jar of food for the baby, but rather fed him from their own plates. When we asked what he normally eats they said, “Oh, he just eats whatever we eat now.”
Later that week I googled, “baby eats what we eat” and found many articles and blogs about this thing called BLW, which stands for Baby Led Weaning. Baby Led Weaning is the method of introducing food where the baby feeds himself. With BLW, instead of spooning purees into the baby’s mouth, you give them soft foods that they can pick up themselves, put in their own mouth, and chew/gum into a form that they can swallow.
So I read and read, and the more I learned, the more I liked the concept of BLW. Here’s what hooked me:
- The baby learns to chew food before swallowing it.
- The baby gets to explore the food with other senses before being asked to swallow it.
- The baby gets practice with hand-eye coordination.
- The baby can choose to stop eating when they’ve had enough instead of being persuaded to eat just one more bite.
- The rest of the family gets to eat together with the baby; no one has to postpone their own meal to spoon-feed the baby.
- The baby gets to eat together with the rest of the family, so meal times can be a time of social engagement.
- No special equipment is needed.
- Less preparation time as the baby can basically eat the same foods in the same form as the rest of the family (just with less seasoning and cooked a little longer in some cases).
- And for me personally, I hate purees, so with BLW I don’t have to make purees, clean purees off the highchair, buy purees, or feed purees to my child.
To be fair, there were some negative aspects that I experienced while letting my daughter self-feed:
- It can get messy
- Even if you’re totally confident that your child can handle the food you’re giving him in the form you choose to give it, you might get odd looks or criticisms from other moms, in-laws, etc.
Now, if you go do a web search of BLW for yourself, you will find that there is a lot of debate about whether or not the method is safe. Many of the moms who cry “DANGER” have very valid concerns, so I hope you’ll read my next article about how to do BLW in a way that’s safe and healthy for your child.