Put down your steamer and blender, because baby led-weaning will take the guess work out of feeding your little one. No longer do you have to spend hours in the kitchen preparing purees for your baby, only for them to turn up their nose and refuse to eat. You can now feed them straight from the dinner table with the baby-led weaning (BLW) strategy.
Babies should be at least 6 months old, able to sit up unassisted and be able to grasp and hold foods before you try the BLW method.
The hands-off approach does not mean you give them their plate and walk away. There are still some foods that you will want to be involved in like apple-sauce and when they get older, yogurt. It's important to note that they may not be able to get all the nutrients they need with the table food right away. So give them that pork chop to chew on, but take some of the food, process it and mix it with other ingredient for a different texture.
There are fewer incidents of choking with BLW because the baby is in control of what goes in their mouth. Unlike spoon-feeding purees, the baby can add more or spit out if they have too much in their mouth. *If they get too ambitious, they may still gag, but it's actually a great way to teach them how to control their bodies and regulate themselves. It's important to note what food you are giving them to reduce the risk of choking. As long as you offer safe foods, your baby's gums are quite capable of breaking down soft foods.
You can try different tools to make BLW an easier transition. I used the Munchkin Food Feeders in the beginning and filled them with fruit for baby to suck on. Watermelon was a great way to use them in the summer. They were easy to clean with a mesh netting that you could easily -wash with soap.
I also used the Munchkin Miracle 360-Degree Trainer cup filled with water at each meal to wash down her food.
Continue to the next page for meal suggestions for baby-led weaning.
The hardest thing in the beginning was deciding what to make. I can say after 6 months + of baby-led weaning, as a family we eat far better than we did before, because I always have baby in mind when I am cooking.
Here are some of the dishes I prepared for her:
Bananas and peanut butter on toast is a hit breakfast item in my house! The peanut butter gives great protein while the sweetness of the bananas guarantees the plate will get cleaned every time.
I always try to plate each meal to include a protein, a vegetable and occasionally a starch. She usually gets fruit for snacks, so I don't worry about that during mealtime. This plate of dark meat chicken (more nutrients for baby than white meat), steamed broccoli and potatoes is a delicious balance.
Who says no to mom's meatloaf? Not my girl! I just cut it into small chunks that she can work her way through and peas are an easy vegetable to pick up and eat with her fingers. She still eats them one at a time and it's adorable.
Who doesn't like pasta? Paired with some shrimp this is a great balance. Our dinner that night was shrimp and pea Alfredo spaghetti, so I just gave her all the components without the sauce. It's really nice not to have to make a special meal just for the little one.
We alternate between broccoli and cauliflower and they are an equal hit in my house. We buy them frozen and just steam and serve. Doesn't get much easier than that!
While baby-led weaning may be right for some family, it's not a one-size fits all. You know your baby better than anyone, do so what you feel is best when feeding your little one.