If everyone you know has gone down the more traditional puree/spoon-feeding route, you might need a bit of convincing about baby led weaning. Here’s what I like about it:
- Family meals – you might as well get used to me talking about family meals, because I’m a massive fan. Eating together as a family is at the heart of BLW.
- Ease – to me, BLW is just easier! No blenders (unless you use one normally), no special shopping trip for puree pouches, no ice cube trays. Just pick a few bits out of your family meals and you’re done! If you do make some new stuff for your baby (I’ve been known to bake the odd muffin or savoury flapjack), they tend to be nice for the whole family to eat.
- No stress at mealtimes – it’s not a battle to get food into your baby because BLW is all about trusting your baby to feed themselves. So you don’t need to keep track of how many spoonfuls they’ve had or fret if they aren’t in the mood today.
- Appetite regulation – in a world where obesity and poor diet are massive risks to our babies’ future health, anything that allows them to trust in and regulate their own appetite has to be a good thing.
- Real food – I’m a bit of a foodie and I love watching Eli munching away on real food, exploring all the different tastes and textures along with us. As a side note, if you traditionally wean it’s recommended not to stick on thin purees too long and to move onto mashed textures and finger foods as soon as your baby is ready, so they don’t develop aversions to texture. BLW introduces all these different textures from the get-go, which may help reduce pickiness later.
- Practicing their skills – picking up different types and sizes of foods allows babies to practice their fine motor skills at every meal while chewing helps develop the muscles they’ll use as they start talking.
- Safety – some people think BLW makes babies safer and less likely to choke, because they learn to chew before swallowing food (though when traditionally weaning you’re advised to give some soft finger foods from the start now, assuming you wait until six months, so this might not make much difference really).
- No mealtime battles – because you let your baby eat what they want (and conversely not eat if they don’t want to) there is no struggle to get food in your child and no need to trick or play games to get them to eat.
- Most importantly – it’s just fun!
For me, the only real disadvantage is that it’s messy (and it IS messy, there’s no arguing with that). Some people really like the spoon-feeding bit so may be sad to miss this out (this doesn’t bother me but my mum looks back fondly on that stage with my sister and I). You might find family or friends don’t understand BLW or even criticise your choice (time to develop a thick skin!).
Some babies are very slow to start eating properly, which can be very anxiety-provoking, but I know of traditionally weaned babies who have had very rocky starts to weaning too so I wouldn’t say this is a particular risk of BLW.