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Thinking of baby-led weaning? Here are some amazing benefits of baby-led weaning (true and tested by us) that are going to follow your child and have a big impact on their lives in the long term.
Deciding how you wean your baby off breastfeeding can be a little overwhelming. I know this from experience. I’ve been there and I can assure you that once you start it’s not that terrifying.
Everything I share today is true and “tested” by us. Like I said earlier, these are all the things I’ve seen in him ever since we transitioned to BLW. I say “transitioned” because we started with the classic spoon-feeding method at around 5 months and then continued with BLW from 7 months, but with occasional spoon feeding (especially for soups).
How to start Baby led weaning series
- How to start baby-led weaning? | Introduction to BLW
- 10 Benefits of Baby Led Weaning | Pros & Cons of BLW (this one)
- Baby-Led Weaning Essentials
- Best First Foods for Baby Led Weaning
- 49 Easy Baby Led Weaning Recipes
In this Article
- What are the benefits of baby-led weaning?
- 1. Understanding how to eat and how to chew
- 2. Learn about foods, textures, tastes, and colors while playing
- 3. Learning how to eat safely
- 4. Being part of family meals & eating together
- 5. Appetite control and better nutrition
- 6. No mealtime battles
- 7. It’s natural
- 8. Less complicated meals
- 9. Food Lover
- 10. Eating out is easier
- 1. Understanding how to eat and how to chew
- What are the cons of baby-led weaning?
What are the benefits of baby-led weaning?
2020 update – my son is nearly 3 years old now and I wanted to say that I definitely saw the benefits of baby-led weaning in the long term too. If I was to do it all over again, I would definitely choose BLW.
1. Understanding how to eat and how to chew
I am so amazed by how well he managed to learn to handle food, eat, and chew. Those first few weeks were all about exploring, looking, and touching the food. Now, weeks later, he’s totally capable to eat on his own and chew properly.
You probably would think that babies aren’t able to chew food because they don’t have teeth. Allow me to contradict this: babies are able to chew soft foods; those gums are pretty strong. Of course, he won’t be able to chew a raw carrot for example.
That’s why for BLW you have to soften everything beforehand. This could be either steaming or boiling.
He’s even able to pick up a pea using two fingers. How cool is that?!
2. Learn about foods, textures, tastes, and colors while playing
Playing is how babies learn about everything. So eating for them at a very young age is still playing. This is probably one of the best things – being able to learn about different types of food, colors, and tastes. Also, it’s a great way for your baby to learn how flavors work together.
Your baby will be able to recognize certain fruit or veggie just by saying its name.
My baby loves bananas and whenever he sees them somewhere he makes a certain sound letting me know that he would like to have some.
This isn’t the case with the traditional spoon-feeding where everything gets mixed together and all the flavors are lost.
3. Learning how to eat safely
Here is a very important benefit for your baby. Not only he has to learn how much food to put into his mouth but he also has to learn what is edible or chewable and what isn’t.
This is when the “gag” reflex comes in handy. Not sure what “gag” is? See full explanation on BabyCenter.
4. Being part of family meals & eating together
This is my favorite. I love that we can eat all together as a family. It’s also very beneficial for your baby.
He observes and he then later puts into practice whatever he sees during your mealtimes. Babies are known that they like to mimic everything parents do. This is no different.
5. Appetite control and better nutrition
When I used to spoon feed the little one I never knew how much food to offer him. I know that usually babies give clear signs when they are full, but for some reason, I didn’t see any.
But with BLW this is not a problem. He can eat as much as he likes, he knows when he’s full which is just perfect.
Being able to feed on his own also gives him the liberty of choosing whatever flavors or type’s food he likes and wants to eat.
6. No mealtime battles
Once in a while I am still spoon feeding my baby. Not too often though. I don’t like the fact that I have to “battle” with him during mealtimes.
With BLW there is no such thing. You put food on baby’s table and then he does the rest in his own rhythm.
I always eat together with him and we never finish at the same time. His mealtimes are somewhere between 30 to 60 mins.
7. It’s natural
We all know that babies put everything in their mouths. Therefore eating is not different at all. Babies use their hands to put food into their mouths. It’s simple as that.
Plus, we all eat with our hands sometimes. Why can’t babies do it as well?
I am almost certain that “baby-led weaning” goes way back into history. Now it has a name so that’s why it “looks” new. You will find more information on this subject in Baby-Led Weaning by Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett.
8. Less complicated meals
Cooking different meals for you, your partner and your baby can be very time-consuming. With BLW this is no longer necessary.
Your baby can eat whatever you are eating. You do have to take into consideration what are you eating – healthy meals only. You don’t want to feed your baby junk food, lots of fried foods, etc.
9. Food Lover
Your baby can become easily a food lover. With BLW he won’t be a fussy or picky eater after he gets older. He will learn about all those different types of food and he will actually enjoy food and eating.
I hear many parents that they have certain issues with their kids when it comes to eating.
10. Eating out is easier
We haven’t experienced this a lot, but we’ve been out with him a few times and it was very easy.
You don’t have to take all your purees with you and you don’t have to figure out a way to heat your baby’s meal.
What are the cons of baby-led weaning?
There are a few disadvantages when it comes to BLW. But I found it necessary to include them as well. Not everything is perfect, am I right?
Mess is the biggest disadvantage when it comes to BLW. Food will get everywhere and I really mean it.
There are some ways to combat this, but there’s not much you can do on this. You just have to be patient and hope that it will get better.
It will get better in time after your little one learns how to eat and make less mess.
Here are some of our anti mess measures:
- Have something underneath your baby’s high chair (like a shower curtain)
- At the beginning we’ve used cover-all bibs (long-sleeve), this will prevent your baby’s sleeves from getting dirty (food stains can be tough to remove), but food will still end up on your baby’s lap
- Use waterproof bibs (they are easier to clean)
- Long, waterproof and with pocket, bibs have helped us a lot – we’ve got them from George Asda (UK), but there are so many other options on Amazon. We had something similar to these ones.
- Get your baby naked for mealtimes – this is perfect for those warm days.
A quick tip: the longer the bib the easier it is for you to loop it underneath your baby’s highchair. This way you can easily protect his clothes during meal times. Our highchair table comes with a long plastic barrier. I am not sure whether this feature comes with all highchairs, but I definitely saw it on others.
I wrote a review of our highchair and you can check it out here.
2. Choking Hazards
If food isn’t offered correctly, your baby might choke. What I mean by this is the size, shape, or hardness.
For my baby, the “perfect” size was exactly like a piece of french-fry. But if you desire a “safer” size, use your index finger as a guide.
You also want to watch out for those foods that can easily become choking hazards for your little one. I have a list of them in my previous article – “How to start baby led weaning?” Feel free to check it out if you wish a more in-depth explanation.
3. Not getting the right foods
This is all about getting the right level of vitamins and nutrients into your baby’s body. This is extremely important for your baby’s health.
There’s a chance that breastfed babies won’t receive all the necessary vitamins and nutrients. Even though breastmilk is still beneficial after the 6-month mark, your child might need to get some vitamins and nutrients from food.
Studies say that with BLW there is a higher chance that your baby won’t get enough of these nutrients. This is because the baby might not eat enough or might not be offered the right type of food.
These are the top 10 benefits of baby-led weaning that “convinced” me to start BLW. As the time passed, I started seeing all these benefits.
Of course, there are lots more benefits to it, but like I said at the beginning of the article these were the ones that I’ve noticed at my little one. So I know from experience that these work and are true.
I know there are lots and lots of opinions about BLW so definitely do your research before you decide. And if you’re still not clear if this is something that fits you and your baby, I would suggest to at least try it out for a couple of days.
That’s what I did too. I was soooo skeptical and wasn’t sure if it would be the right fit for us. But I am so happy that I decided to try it.