Searching online in your social media platform of choice, will undoubtedly bring about Baby Led Weaning (or BLW ) posts in your feed. BLW is where solids and easy to eat foods are introduced to your littles rather than strictly spoon-fed purees. While this method may be new to social platforms, it’s been around for quite some time. It’s been gaining popularity amongst dietitians, caregivers, and pediatricians alike. The whole idea behind BLW is that your little will learn to grow at their own pace. Food is no different !
If you ask your parents how your feeding routine was, they’d probably say they spoon fed you. Traditionally, littles at around 6 months will start to have spoon fed purees introduced to their diets. Slowly working their way to different textures, until eventually hitting solids. With baby led weaning parents and caregivers can start with a variety of baby friendly solids, right from the start.
These foods can include whole pieces of food, or purees. The main point is that our little one is in control. The main idea here, is that baby led weaning allows for infants to develop a sense of moderation, self regulation, and self sufficiency
So Who Does What Now ?
Some experts prefer the term baby led feeding to avoid confusion. BLW is not the removal of breast milk from a diet. But rather, solids are added to complement your baby’s breast milk. This allows our littles to explore food options at their own pace, while not getting too fussy about all the new foods and textures in front of them. Many infant feeding experts like Gill Rapley, believe that baby led weaning promotes the division of responsibility. Parents control the when and where, and your littles control the rest!
The most important thing to remember here is that we create a positive meal time environment, then we worry about how much of every bit our little one decided to eat.
The Benefits of BLW
The reason the introduction of solids by around the 6 month marker exists, is because breastmilk or formula alone just can’t adequately provide nutrients like iron and zinc. A deficiency in both of these can cause impaired motor and cognitive developments, impared growth, and immune system troubles.
Eating whole foods through baby led weaning has the potential to contain super nutrient dense meals in comparison to their commercial counterparts.
One of the most massive advantages baby led weaning grants is that allows babies to have greater control of their dexterity. As they learn to self feed they will start to develop better hand-eye coordination. This will inevitably lead to less micromanaging from parents ! YAAAY PARENTS !
Littles who were raised with baby led weaning are also less likely to be picky eaters as they were exposed to many different foods, textures, and flavors in their formative years. With some studies linking picky eaters to texture based problems. Tackling these issues early helps increase the chance of a diverse palate.
Self regulation helps reduce binge eating, and this is one of the longest effects the baby led weaning community hopes to instill in their littles. We constantly speak about the importance of a balanced diet for adults, or the lack of their existence. Why not do the same for our littles? Some studies have found that BLW infants had a lower risk of childhood and adult obesity due to the fact they could practice self regulation from a young age. As a result they become more aware they are full later on!