Introducing Solids Through Baby-Led Weaning

by Lara on February 16, 2013

The following is my interpretation of baby-led weaning and is not intended to be medical advice. 


Baby-Led Weaning is a style of weaning (“weaning” in the British sense refers to starting your child on solids–not weaning entirely from breastmilk) that relies on your baby’s cues and abilities to guide the transition to solid foods.  With BLW, you actually wait until your child has the specific abilities required to feed themselves before starting solids. As these abilities develop, your child can eat more varied foods.  What I love about BLW is that your baby’s physical ability aligns with their physiological readiness. So, by the time your baby’s gut is truly ready for simple solids, he (or she, but I’ll stick with “he” for this post) can sit up and bring things to his mouth. The internal and external development align perfectly. By the time his system is ready for more intricate, complex foods, he will have developed the ability to hold and navigate a spoon, perfected the pincer grasp, etc.  Simply put, baby feeds himself what baby’s body is physiologically ready to handle.

Introducing Solids Through Baby-Led WeaningSourceIntroducing Solids Through Baby-Led Weaning


I have long known that I wanted to do baby-led weaning.  The idea of self-feeding to indicate readiness makes total sense to me.  Early research suggests that babies who are fed this way have more varied, healthier food preferences and lower incidences of obesity.  Self-feeding (as opposed to spoon-feeding) is a natural progression from breastfeeding because it allows your baby to self-regulate and be in control of when and how much he eats.  It it also said to improve hand-eye coordination, build self-confidence, and help to avoid food battles at the table.  There is even anecdotal evidence of babies rejecting foods to which they were later found to be allergic.  Fascinating!

Introducing Solids Through Baby Led WeaningSource: Click for larger image


A big part of BLW is waiting for baby to “tell” you when he is ready to start solids.  That is, you don’t just start spoon feeding mushed up food when your baby turns an arbitrary age.  The list below is a checklist of indicators of readiness for the introduction of any solids, not just for those following BLW.  In BLW, the primary indicator is when your baby literally reaches out, grabs the food on your plate, and puts it in his own mouth.

Why Delay Solids?Source


The book and this website have a lot of information on both the “why” and the “how.”  I highly recommend the book, as it explains everything more thoroughly than I am able to.  It isn’t complicated (with a few exceptions, baby just eats what you eat!), but it takes a lot of patience.

When I discuss BLW with other mothers, the main concern is always about gagging or chocking.  The book addresses this.  When you think about it, putting food in his own mouth is the best way for your baby to gauge how much food he can handle and how far back to place it.  The book says it is actually more likely for a baby that is spoon-fed to choke, since he isn’t as prepared for the food to in, and is therefore slower to learn how to maneuver it.

Our BLW Journey

…has recently begun!  I will write about its early stages in a follow-up post.

Other posts about BLW

Nourished Kitchen

The Art of Making a Baby

Simple Bites

Fit Mama Real Food

Cooking With My Kid

Cook Like a Champion

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Carey February 16, 2013 at 8:13 am

We did blw with Adam, and will be doing so with Dan too. I have my suspicions that dan will be a later starter than Adam though, since he puts very little in his mouth yet 🙂


Lara February 16, 2013 at 9:14 am

Carey, I thought you might have done 🙂 Any pointers are welcomed as we are just getting started! The mess is killing me but I’m sucking it up!


Heather Eats Almond Butter February 16, 2013 at 10:51 am

What mess? That’s what the dogs are for. 😉


Lara February 16, 2013 at 11:00 am

Ha! Good point Heabie 🙂


Heather @ Fit Mama Real Food February 16, 2013 at 8:26 am

Hooray, I’m so excited to hear how it’s going for you guys!


Lara February 16, 2013 at 9:14 am

Thanks Heather. I love seeing the meals you prepare for Hunter!


Jessie February 16, 2013 at 10:50 am

Yay! Such a fun (messy) time. You’ll have so much fun introducing G to your favorite foods! I hope it’s going well & can’t wait to read more about it. I recently tried to explain the concept to a friend w/a 7 mo old and she looked at me like I was nuts. I had to show her photos to prove it really works.


Lara February 16, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Haha! Yeah I get a lot of weird comments and eye rolls. To each their own!


Leah February 16, 2013 at 11:42 am

I did blw with Sophie and will be with Ella too.
Fun fact…my sister spoon fed her first purees and went with a modified blw with her second child. Her second is by far a less picky eater and will eat more than her first did at his age. I believe it works!


Lara February 16, 2013 at 12:50 pm

That’s so interesting and great to hear!


Stacy K. February 20, 2013 at 11:22 am

Do you know of anyone who is doing a modified version? I would love to do BLW, but being back at work makes it a little more difficult and G’s daycare is too nervous about helping facilitate it, I’d rather they not anyways.

I’m trying not to rush him into solids, but it’s such an exciting time. Do you have plans yet on introducing some mild spices? When I mentioned it to G’s ped she gave me such a strange look and said to hold off on spices for two years (same with peanut butter) but I feel she’s very traditional medicine.


Lara February 20, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Stacy, I was in no rush at all to do solids. Breastfeeding is so much easier and less messy! Sadly I could deny he was ready no longer.

I know a lot of people do a mix of purees and self-feeding. You can adapt it to make it work for you and your baby’s caregivers!

I am staying away from peanut butter but will definitely explore spices (while trying to limit salt). I think offering a variety of tastes is part of what makes the whole “baby eats what you eat” thing so cool!


Carey February 20, 2013 at 3:20 pm

@ stacy k: spices are fine, anything you eat, baby can eat once you get to the stage where baby is ready to eat (ie around 6 months Shen all the other bits fall into place), as is peanut butter, with the caveat that no one in your immediate family has known allergy or sensitivity to peanut or peanut products. It is easy to do a mixture of traditional weaning and blw, the only restriction I would put in place if I were mixing would be that you allow baby to decide when they have finished, rather than the “just one more spoon” or lets finish up what’s in the bowl” approach, since this is what teaches appetite control. If you override baby’s ability to self regulate, it may be lost for good.


Lara February 20, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Carey, I thought peanut butter was a big no-no because of the texture?


Carey February 20, 2013 at 3:46 pm

I gave Adam some on toast as one of his first proper breakfasts. It is a bit on the salty side, but the texture…….. Not sure why that’s a problem? Did you find something to suggest a problem? Maybe I just didn’t look at it enough, but Adam didn’t struggle with it at all. To be fair, there wasn’t much of it on the toast, but I wanted to get him familiar with our family foods early, so I went with a fairly literal interpretation of the Rapley book – they have what you have…….


Lara February 20, 2013 at 7:18 pm

I can’t remember exactly where but I’ve heard it a few times. I think something about the stickiness and getting caught in their throat, but I’m not sure. I can see it being fine melted onto warm toast. I’m glad it wasn’t a problem for you!


glidingcalm February 21, 2013 at 7:59 pm

this is fascinating and i loved reading the comments on this post too!

i also keep thinking of G with that avocado! adorable!


Wendy March 7, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Baby Led Weaning just makes so much sense – I don’t know why everybody is not doing it – maybe it is just the mess that puts people off?


Lara March 7, 2013 at 2:11 pm

I think so too, Wendy! I think it’s the mess and the fear of choking that puts people off.


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