Having seen my friend in action with her first baby, I decided that we would give Baby Led Weaning (BLW) a go. I found it so interesting to let the baby take the lead, and I was really impressed by the independence & capability of this still tiny creature!
I did some research in the lead up to the 6 month milestone, joined the obligatory Facebook group, which to be honest wrecked my head, but did help give me an idea of what was to come.
Then we got stuck in.
It was a steep learning curve, but I enjoyed watching the little man play with his food & examine it scientifically before having a lick & maybe even a taste.
The pudgy little hands & stumpy fingers grabbing & squishing were just the cutest things to watch. I have an embarassing amount of photos of videos of those early days with me gooing & gaaing like a fool in the background!
What I loved about the BLW process was the fact that it was literally baby led. Just give them the food & let them find their way with it. Parents get so bothered about how little they actually eat at the start but that is also the beauty of it. The baby figures out in his own time how eating works.
They need time to learn how to grab & pick up, how to get food from fist to mouth, how to manipulate the food in their mouths to taste it, and eventually learn to swallow & eat. BLW is more than just eating, it’s learning a new life skill.
I offered bits of everything I could think of from the get go. Most things were played with & thrown. Some favourites jumped out pretty early on like raspberries, banana, things that could be tasted easily without needing to be actually eaten.
Before long he was picking up blueberries & cheerios & loving his new life with food.
A lot of parents are scared to try BLW because of the choking hazard. But after doing BLW with both boys I can say choking is the least of the work. We had one potential choking episode with the first but it was purely my own fault, I gave him a piece of burger that was too hard for him, it just wasn’t suitable. He got it back up quickly and it did frighten the life out of me but it also made me more aware of not getting complacent with what you give them, even as they grow more capable.
We had lots of gagging with both boys. The gagging vs choking debate can be a fiery one but there are some great infographics explaining the difference between both, and once you get to grips with that it definitely helps you to relax. Gagging is basically when the food begins to go back into the throat, babies reflexes are much more sensitive than adults so their gag reflex triggers more easily & more often. It doesn’t mean they are in difficulty & if given the chance they can easily sort themselves out.
The grandparents had a harder time dealing with the gagging etc than we did… They weren’t overly convinced at the start because it was a completely radical approach to weaning in their eyes but after a few months they were all equally impressed at how well the boys were able to feed themselves & how much they did actually eat.
They learned how to use cutlery after a few months, and one of my favourite aspects of BLW is being able to sit down & all eat together, rather than feeding the baby separately, or feeding them while your own dinner goes cold!
BLW was a lot less work and expense for me compared to what I saw spoonfeeding parents doing. I didn’t buy anything special for the boys, just adapted what were already eating. I didn’t have to go pureeing, blending, pre-cooking multiple meals for the weeks etc. I just made meals & for the most part we just shared. There are some adaptations along the way of course, but nothing too taxing.
Out & about BLW was a godsend. Both boys would happily knaw away at an apple in the trolley while I did the shopping. They could eat finger food snacks while I sat & had a coffee. It was just so handy. I could order something small off a menu & let them have a go at it while we had lunch. They were fed & happy & so was I! No coffee going cold while I had to feed the baby/toddler… win win!
Now having said all of this wonderful stuff about BLW there is one downside…
Oh man the mess…
If you strongly object to mess pretty much all over your kitchen then BLW is not for you. Some say it’s fine, just keep the vacuum cleaner handy…
In my experience a power washer would be more suitable…!
But it didn’t bother me too much, it was just part of the deal & I was ok with that. A gather up & a wipe down twice a day & it was all under control.
So that’s me & my take on Baby Led Weaning in all its glory. If you are parent to a small baby and looking ahead at your weaning journey then I definitely reccommend reading into it all & seeing if it’s for you. It’s a lovely process of growth & development. You just need patience & time… and a good kitchen spray!