Baby led weaning (BLW). It’s new and yet we have been doing it for centuries. It’s brave and yet tested. It takes patience and that’s parenting anyway. It’s logical and yet you need to trust only your baby.
Baby led weaning means allowing the baby to feed themselves right from when they are ready for solids, approximately the 6 month mark. Starting with purees, to foods shaped like a finger, to foods shaped like a small cube. Essentially the baby learns to eat with repeated practice. Baby eats involving all his senses. Baby eats what we eat with slight modifications. Overtime, as they are exposed to the wide variety of foods, they develop a healthy eating habit, can feed themselves, to what they want and how much they want. The parents role is limited to what and when to offer. How much and how to eat is left to the baby.
Check out Baby led weaning book for details.
So is BLW the best? Should you feel happy if you follow it and guilty if you don’t? Are you robbing your child of independence and setting up a bad relationship with food otherwise?
This is a question that many new moms are faced with. No one, absolutely no one, wants to raise a baby with a poor relationship to food, a picky eater. What we all have are the best intentions.
But that doesn’t mean baby led weaning is THE correct approach to weaning. It is a methodology that is very empowering for the baby. But feeding a small child is a two way process. It involves the baby and the parent. Although BLW can be empowering for the parent, it may not be the case always. It might in fact lead to increased anxiety, worry. That in turn, reflects on the baby.
How can we decide then?
Ask yourself these questions.
Are you a very anxious parent, constantly worrying about the child, what they do, how much they eat? Some anxiety is warranted. But is this all you think about? Then you are an anxious parent.
Then you need to learn to relinquish control. You need to trust yourself and the baby. That doesn’t happen overnight. You need practice. That’s where BLW can help. The initial few days may be incredibly hard. Take support to help you stop projecting. To stop you from insisting the baby. To monitor you and assure you that the baby is doing fine. Once, you get comfortable, as the baby’s skill improves, you’ll find your anxiety reducing. Feeding with anxiety can lead to insistence even when the baby is clearly communicating otherwise. This can lead to complex issues like spoon aversion, picky eating that are hard to reverse. Take help and try BLW. It’s what might be best for both.
Are you a parent plagued by underconfidence? Questioning your every decision, looking for approval? Try BLW the same way and for the same reasons as anxious parents.
Are you a confident parent, who can trust yourself and trust the baby. Do you follow your baby’s cues and respond appropriately without projecting your expectations? Then you can do whatever you feel comfortable with. Traditional spoon feeding or BLW. There is nothing wrong with traditional weaning. We only need to be careful about two things. Follow the baby’s cues and do not insist. Else it can lead to spoon aversion. Don’t stay on the same foods and textures for long. Progress to table foods and textures as you observe your baby to handle it. This can avoid picky eating.
There are other external factors like family support which I will cover in another post.
Does this guide help? What approach did you follow and why? How did it go for you? Let’s talk about that!