Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Baby Led Weaning

Have you heard of this? I first heard of it while pregnant with Bremy and when I read up on it, I realized I did know several moms who were practicing this method of feeding, but probably didn't know there was a title, controversy or much information about it.

I've always been very anti-rice cereal. I'm not sure where that idea got into my head, but I've always found it very strange that it's the staple food introduced to baby. To me it lacks nutrition  and only serves to fill up the baby. My mom asked why I was so anti so I actually looked it up and it turns out that there are many articles and doctors who agree. To me it just seemed like crap food. I wouldn't feed my dog that! Side note: we are crazy about what we feed our dog and did a ton of research on dog foods once we brought Maverick home.

Anyway, my strange self imposed "no rice cereal" craze led me to find the growing trend to let babies feed themselves from the beginning. The actual name of this method is called Baby Led Weaning. The idea is that you skip the baby foods and purees and feed your child solid foods that you yourself would eat, in appropriate portions and let them explore and feed it to themselves. The recommendation is not to cut up the food in minuscule pieces, but to let them actually eat and feel the textures of foods. Many websites list a lot of fruits and vegetables that are soft and appropriate like cooked broccoli, carrots, bananas and avocado. The recommendation is that you do not feed the food to your baby with a spoon, but let them handle the food themselves. The controversy is that it's a choking hazard, but there is no proof that it's more of a hazard than baby food, under appropriate supervision. I actually found information that spoon fed babies are more likely to choke, as they are basically being force fed, while BLW babies are totally in control. It is recommended that baby led weaning doesn't begin until 6 months, when your baby can sit up and actually move the food from their tray to their mouth.

The big positives to me was that babies who are fed this way, tend to end up being less picky eaters and also develop a healthier relationship with food and hunger. As someone who has constantly struggled with weight, I want to do what I can to promote a healthy relationship with food and I'm glad that there is research to support the BLW approach creates better lifetime health.

I know this isn't something that we will be experimenting with for many more months, but I've learned that this is just another topic that is going to cause debate among family and friends. I introduced the idea to B last week and read the basic concept to him. He was totally disturbed and said, "we are not handing our baby a chicken wing!" I showed him some examples of foods that are appropriate and told him he would see, it would work. I think I've at least planted the seed for him to consider it and hopefully feel comfortable with it by the time she's at this stage.

The topic came up while out to dinner with friends and I could tell they didn't know what to think. I think they thought we were kidding. Again-it's really no one's business and since I have not tried it yet, I don't feel comfortable defending it tooth and nail. This couple has three kids, and I know they did the typical rice cereal and baby foods, so I could tell they thought I was a freak. Luckily the topic changed quickly.

As with cloth diapers, this seems like another area where going against the grain will raise some eyebrows.


  1. I didn't use rice cereal for either of my babies- it can cause extreme constipation. As far as the baby led weaning, a lot depends on your baby. My daughter pretty much followed the baby led weaning. My son, however, had extreme food sensory issues and had baby food well over 1 year. You'll know whats right when you get there! If you do baby food, I strongly recommend making your own!

  2. I expected a lot more push back/criticism with BLW but was pleasantly surprised. Most people either didn't realize that we were out of the ordinary or thought it was some cool new thing. WAY less controversial than those crazy cloth diapers ;)

  3. When Kara was very little, I handled and held her differently based on thoughts related to object relations theories in psych. Nobody knew what I was doing and didn't know the difference. As long as your child is gaining weight, meeting their developmental milestones, and is happy who cares what you do in the privacy of your home. There's no single right way to raise a baby. Find what speaks to you.

  4. Thanks all for your comments! I'm trying to remember that nothing is set in stone until she's here and we see what works for us. I'll be publishing it here, but of course no no one else needs to know what we think is best :)

  5. Did you know we did this? We loved it! Loved it! It has been the best thing for our family but everyone has to make their own decisions. Our family who thought we were crazy at the beginning have told us that they thought so but now they are totally behind us. Enjoy the journey and if you want any resources/have any questions about it feel free to ask. Kelly