Baby led weaning is precisely what the name implies - weaning led by your baby. Rather than spooning soggy purees into their chops when you as a parent think that your baby must be ready to introduce solids into their diet, you wait. You wait for their instinct, and until your baby shows signs that they are ready to eat solid food.
Some believe that a baby will instinctively know that their gut has matured enough to handle more than milk, and so at this stage they will start to reach out at your plate, and take much more interest in your meals.
BLW is not simply introducing finger foods after you've already weaned on jars and purees. With BLW you skip the liquidized food stage, and jump to the finger foods. You cannot baby led wean once you've already weaned a baby onto pureed foods.
Some recommend the 'banana challenge' to start off baby led weaning. At the stage that your baby is able to pick up, hold and feed themselves a chunk of banana, then they are ready.
Has your baby passed the banana challenge? Then here are some ideas of foods that you can now start to introduce:
- Cooked sticks of carrot - easy to grab, soft to chew.
- Roasted vegetables like sweet potato, courgettes, potatoes, butternut squash. Delicious, nutritious and easily mushed between gums.
- Slices or chunks of avocado, peaches, pears, melon and cucumber. Yummy to suck, and full of vitamins.
- Kiwi fruit
- Cooked pasta, fun to feel and explore, and easy to munch on.
- Cheese, cut into sticks. Easy to hold, and soft to eat.
- Pieces of cooked fish and meat - start with something like salmon and chicken that are not too chewy and break up easily in the mouth.
- Low sugar and salt breakfast cereals, like Weetabix. Watch out when it comes out the other end, mind. It can be a little grainy and sticky!
- Chopped hard-boiled eggs. A great source of protein, and easy to pick up and eat.
Your baby will pick up and play with their food. They will squish it in their hands, they will explore it's texture, they will throw it, they will rub it on their face - it's all part of the learning curve, so don't worry. Weaning is messy business, so make sure that you're prepared with a splash mat and a decent bib to catch those inevitable spills!