My seven month old son is a hearty eater. Anyone can tell that by looking at him, but you won’t find a single jar of baby food in our cabinets. He’s eaten table food pretty much from the time he started solids. It just made sense that he would eat what we ate as a family.
At first, I thought I would just puree whatever the family was eating and give it to him as a homemade baby food but I didn’t own a blender and never got around to buying one because I couldn’t find a good used one and new ones were expensive. So instead, I gave him pieces of regular table food to try. Come to find out, this has a name- baby led weaning.
Baby led weaning is allowing your baby to try foods on their own by self feeding when they begin to show interest in eating. For most babies this happens around six months old.
Baby led weaning has been working great for us. Here’s why:
We don’t have to buy baby food. No cabinet full of glass jars or plastic containers for us. We don’t have to plan for a different set of food purchases for Baby since he eats the same thing we do. Since babies only eat a little bit, this is cutting money from our grocery bill.
It’s easy. We just give him small portions of what we eat so there’s no extra prep time for his food. We don’t need to purée it or prep it in any additional way other than making sure cooked food is cooled enough.
It’s healthy and safe. Babies are less likely to overeat if they are feeding themselves. They are also less likely to choke since they are putting the food in their mouth themselves. They are exposed to a variety of foods at an early age. Some research suggests that this makes them less likely to be picky eaters and to develop food allergies although it is generally advised by most pediatrician so to wait on certain common allergenic foods such as egg whites and peanut butter. I also love that I know exactly what he’s eating. When I give him whole fruits, vegetables, meat and eggs, I know that the only additives are what I put in it. When we eat clean, Baby does too.
Hes learning to eat table food from the beginning. There is no transition period between baby food and table food because table food is already happening and he loves it! He’s already pretty good at gumming up most of what we give him and spitting out what doesn’t work for him. 😄 And he doesn’t even have a single tooth yet.
Here are some things to keep in mind while using baby led weaning (or blw as some abbreviate it) First, this kind of weaning is not about quiting nursing or bottles. It’s about learning to eat food so that a decrease in feedings will happen as food intake naturally increases over time. Babies should never be taken off of breast or bottle before at least 12 months old because their digestive systems are not prepared to handle cows milk and they still need the calories and nutrients from breast or bottle until then. Next, don’t try to put the food into the baby’s mouth. The idea of them feeding themselves is not only to practice self feeding but that baby learns what they can take into their mouth. If it gags them, they can spit it out, but they may not be able to if you put it too far back in their mouth. Also, keep in mind that a baby may not like a food you offer and that is okay. You can try again late. They say it can take up to 20 times trying a food before a baby will accept it. I didn’t think my son like tomatoes but we kept including fresh tomato slices on his tray whenever we ate tomatoes and after about a dozen tries he seems to enjoy them. Finally, as mentioned before, be careful when introducing foods that people tend to be allergic to. Do your own research and use your own discretion.
Did you do baby led weaning with your little one? Curious to try it? Here is a link to a good resource on blw for those who are interested.