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Recently updated on September 8th, 2023 at 08:11 am
Beginners guide for starting solids without spoon-feeding
At what age can you start baby-led weaning?
Weaning is a process of gradually introducing solid food to babies. Baby-led weaning, or BLW, is an alternative to traditional weaning that involves giving your baby finger-sized soft solid foods from the age of six months and letting them learn how to feed themselves.
The age at which you should start BLW depends on your child’s individual needs, but most parents start at six months.
In our case, I started my son’s traditional weaning at about 5-6 months and then transitioned to BLW at around 7 months.
Check out my Introduction to BLW post where I mention the “Early signs that baby is ready for solids”
How do you start baby-led weaning after purees?
From experience, I have to say that this part was fairly easy. I had already done my research on how to prepare the finger foods, but my main problem was my fear of him choking. At first, I was quite skeptical, but once I saw that he was handling the food very well, my fear slowly disappeared. Whenever he would put too much food in his mouth, he’ll gag – another thing you’ll have to get used to.
Before we gave up purees completely, I would still offer him a pureed meal, I just wanted to make sure he was satisfied. It took us about 1-2 weeks to completely give up on purees and do solely BLW.
What are the advantages of baby-led weaning?
- Understanding how to eat and how to chew
- Learn about foods, textures, tastes, and colors while playing
- Learning how to eat safely
- Being part of family meals & eating together
- Appetite control and better nutrition
- No mealtime battles
- It’s natural
- Less complicated meals
- Food Lover
- Eating out is easier
Related article: Find out what are the benefits of baby-led weaning
What are the disadvantages of baby-led weaning?
- Choking Hazards
- Not getting the right foods
Do I still offer breast milk or formula?
Yes, definitely! Your baby will still take most of the nutrients he needs from milk. No matter if it’s formula or breastmilk.
I remember that when we started with solids I used to nurse him either before or after he’s had his solid meal. Whenever I used to nurse him before his solid meal he would be calmer and more interested in his food.
Can I do both purees and baby-led weaning?
You may be wondering where you can spoon-feed and BLW at the same time – the short answer is “yes!”. For a short period of time, we did both purees and baby-led weaning. I think it’s always a good idea to spice things up when it comes to mealtimes. But of course, it’s up to you and how do you want to do things for yourself and your little one.
How do I stop my baby from choking on baby-led weaning?
- Let your baby eat on their own
- Watch your baby while they eat
- Use a proper high chair and make sure they sit up correctly and not leaning on their backs
- Don’t offer food in choking-hazard size
- Offer appropriate size, texture, and shape of food
- Don’t let your baby play with toys or watch TV during meals – this one’s super important!
List of foods to avoid
Here’s a list of foods to avoid offering to your baby at a very young age. Some are choking hazards and some are just foods that need to be avoided at least during a baby’s first year of life.
- Nuts – are a perfect choking hazard due to their shape.
- Fruits or veggies that have stones – such as cherries, olives
- Bony fish – it’s dangerous to even adults
- Hard pieces of food – such as croutons
- Drinks – coke, soda, tea, cow’s milk
- Artificial colorings, preservatives, and sweeteners
- Allergy triggers – check your family history on any food allergies. If someone in your family has an allergy to a certain food, chances are that your baby could be allergic to the same food. This isn’t a rule, but it’s always good to be safe.
Baby-led weaning recipe ideas
Here’s a list of the baby-led weaning recipes you can try for your little one:
- Breakfast Ideas for Baby Led Weaning
- Lunch & Dinner Ideas for Baby Led Weaning
- Deserts & Snack Ideas for Baby Led Weaning
Take a look at the recipes here – you’ll get 49 recipes your baby will love.
BLW Equipment and tools to make your life much easier
I know how hard it can be to choose the right products, therefore, here’s a list of the baby-led weaning must-haves, in my opinion, that will make your life a lot easier.
- High chair – make sure your baby is safe and secure.
- Towels and washcloths for wiping hands and spills from faces, bodies, clothes, and tables.
- Bibs that will catch food particles without being too difficult to clean off when they’re covered in food. And make sure it has an easy fastener like velcro so it won’t fall apart while your child is eating.
- Plates, bowls, and mats – these are optional, especially for BLW, but if you are like me and don’t want to put food straight on the table, these can be very handy.
- Splat mat – is a must – it’ll protect your floors and cleaning after meals will be much easier.
- Drinking cups
- Baby cutlery
- Food steamer
- Fruit and veggie slicers
- Muffin tray
- Books for BLW