I always thought I would be a pretty old school mom and try not to follow what all of these modern moms are doing these days. But when it was time for Lily to start eating solid foods… Baby-Led Weaning really caught my attention and I decided to give it a try.
What is Baby-Led Weaning?
Basically, when it’s time for your baby to start eating solids – you skip the purees and go straight to finger food. No little jars or pouches of mush, no food processors, and no spoon feeding.
You start with soft, easy to grab foods and let your little one go after it. According to What to Expect, baby-led weaning “allows babies to learn how to chew (or more accurately, gum) first, then swallow. It also prevents parents from pushing food, since babies are in control of how much they put into their mouths.”
Why did we choose Baby-Led Weaning?
I think the biggest advantage that appealed to my husband and I was the fact that we didn’t have to spoon feed her. We could just let her eat at her own pace while we ate ourselves, which also developed her independence.
But when the doctor first gave the go-ahead at 6 months, we actually started with purees. We were buying the expensive baby food, making our own, and patiently (somewhat) trying to feed her by the spoon.
That’s when I found information about baby-led weaning while browsing through Pinterest. It intrigued me, so I read some more about it.
How we got Started
I started with something super easy. These Plum Organics Little Teethers were a great way for Lily to practice holding her food, bringing it to her mouth, and taking bites.
Not to mention, she loved them! They kept her busy while I got things done, like cooking. They were also great for traveling. We always had one in the diaper bag for her to munch on at the store or at a restaurant.
Still one of Lily’s favorites and a very easy food to start with – bananas! If you leave part of the peel on it (like a push pop) it makes it easier for them to hold and take a bite. Then you peel more of it away as she eats it (which I needed to do in this picture).
It didn’t take her long at all and she was getting the hang of it. At just 7 months, we started giving her what we were eating (or at least soft versions of it). Like here, she has a mouth full of steamed broccoli when we were eating fish and veggies.
Cooked veggies cut into strips, small pieces of meat, bread, soft fruits… most of it is pretty self explanatory, but there’s tons of websites with all of the rules and pointers. Just type in baby-led weaning into Google or Pinterest and you’ll find so much information. There’s also some fun recipes out there – like these Pea Fritters!
One of the biggest helps for me when we were getting started was a Facebook group. This Baby Led Weaning for Beginners & Beyond Facebook group was such a great resource. Plus, the pictures and videos of babies eating are adorable!
I’ll admit, Alex and I didn’t follow the baby-led weaning “rules” like they say you should. We still spoon-fed her when we wanted to and assisted her when we didn’t want her to make a huge mess. Remember… I’m the in-the-middle mom!
The Down-side of Baby-Led Weaning
Which brings me to the cons. I don’t regret doing baby-led weaning in any way, but I’ll admit that it wasn’t always easy.
Choking & Gagging
First of all, it’s pretty darn terrifying when you first start. You’re constantly afraid she’s going to choke. Alex and I would give up for a day or two at first because Lily gagged one too many times.
All I can say, is trust your best judgement. Follow the rules on how to prepare the food, know how to perform the Heimlich on a baby, and be prepared for lots of gagging.
You’ll freak out every time, but the gagging is normal and it’s good for them to get the hang of it all. Again, read up on it all before you try it!
Another kicker… the mess! We use these Drip Catcher Bibs from Tommee Tippee. Lots of brands make them, and they are great for baby-led weaning!
We also have a highchair with a removable tray top. Even at 14 months, I still just serve Lily’s food on the tray and wash the whole thing after every meal. Once I got into the habit of hand washing it every meal, it really wasn’t that bad. Our highchair is a Graco Table2Table, and I love it – it’s easy to keep clean, it folds up, and it reclines.
Is Baby-Led Weaning right for you and your little one?
That is just something you have to answer for yourself. The most important thing is to do as much research as you can before you get started. Join the Facebook Group. Read articles on trusted websites like What to Expect. Maybe even talk to your pediatrician about it.
You can always do what we did – start with purees and work in the finger foods slowly.
I am 100 percent happy with the decision we made. Lily had 100 different foods by the time she was 10 months old! She is super independent at meal times. And she impresses complete strangers at restaurants with her neat eating skills.
At 14 months and only 6 teeth, Lily can eat everything that we eat (except the obvious crunchy/hard things). She’s even started to dip her food (she loves fries and ketchup)! I never have to worry about her when I put food on her tray.
I highly recommend giving it a try… and feel free to ask me any questions you might have!
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