Not long after Caleb was born, I discovered the idea of Baby Led Weaning (BLW). BLW is what it sounds like – letting the child feed themselves about the time they reach 6 months and are showing interest in food. For Caleb, he started showing interest in food at about 4 months, but we held off for the most part offering him anything.
The biggest takeaway here is “weaning”. In the United States, weaning is considered to be leading a baby off of breast milk while the United Kingdom, weaning is more so where you simply add complementary foods to the child’s diet. After all, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire. The World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.
I fell in love with the approach even if the rest of my family isn’t quite sold. The biggest concern that they’ve expressed is choking. I remember the first time my mom watched Caleb feed himself. She quickly told me to stop because she couldn’t handle watching him do it. There is a HUGE difference between gagging and choking however. I know it is hard watching Caleb struggle but as long as I stay calm, he stays calm.
Baby Led Weaning can help a child develop into a good eater. If they eat it, they eat it, if not, they don’t. You don’t force them to eat it. You allow them to explore and feed themselves. It’s meant to be fun, after all and it is fun. And messy. Soooo messy. You can make them little special treats (like my Healthy Baby Muffin Bites) or you can feed them what you eat, just making sure that they are sized appropriately. They are exposed to new textures and tastes, and learn to chew first and then swallow (versus swallow first and then chew like with purees).
I do give Caleb some pureed items on occasion just to give him that sort of texture (which some purists believe that any puree means that you are not doing BLW) but for the most part, I go with the Baby Led Weaning approach. Follow my Instagram for pictures of some of what I feed him or check back on the blog soon for a “What Caleb Ate” post!