Our baby led weaning journey started at 6 months with Olivia, but I had been researching it long before she was even born. I want to start by saying, how everyone feeds their baby is their preference, these are just our reasons we decided to start with BLW and why it’s worked for us.
I was stuck between making my own purées and BLW for a few reasons, but mainly because the mainstream thing to do is purée. We were led to believe that purees are the only way to go, but then I started hearing horror stories about baby food jars, therefore we knew no matter what, we would be making Olivia’s food.
It was a bit discouraging that our pediatrician was unfamiliar with Baby Led Weaning but I knew in this case that the research was on me. Peds can’t keep up with every updated recommendation- sidetone, research every.single.thing. for yourself. The AAP updates recommendations often.
Something else to keep in mind is that Olivia was exclusively breastfed. I’m confident she was getting nutrients from breastmilk and additional food would not replace any of her milk meals.
Once Olivia showed all signs of readiness- sitting up on her own, great head control, reach out to grab things effectively, making chewing movements and was interested in watching us eat, we started the process.
Her first meal was on Thanksgiving so we started with mashed potatoes and gravy, and sweet potatoes. She was very unsure about the process and didn’t seem very impressed by the ability to eat, so I wasn’t sure how this would go. Thankfully, this first experience didn’t discourage us to keep trying. After maybe 3 days of giving her steamed veggies and avocado, she was a pro and started loving food.
Over a 3 week span, we slowly started to introduce more things and realized that she would eat anything we put in front of her- crackers, fish, fries, pizza, any steamed vegetables, etc. I was so happy to see the progress and honestly surprised with how quickly she took to it. I have had conversations with several “baby led weaning” moms and every single one has had a similar experience, even months later and their kids still love eating.
At a year and a half, Olivia is getting a little pickier with what she wants to eat. Which is likely because she knows there is more out there besides basic steamed vegetables, which I would fight if I was constantly served those too. She loves to dip into Chick-fil-a sauce, enjoys spices on everything, and can get down with seafood. I love seeing how excited she is for a meal and would recommend baby led weaning to everyone!
Why we Tried Baby Led Weaning:
1-We can eat together! We have family dinner at the table every night and eat at the same time. We don’t take turns feeding Olivia so the dinner is much less stressful and very calm.
2- She eats what we eat. We don’t worry about bringing food for her when we go out, and we don’t have to cook her anything separate. She will also eat what we don’t eat, like when I pick the mushrooms or cucumbers out of my meal, she will devour them for me.
3- She quickly mastered the pincher grasp. After a few weeks she really understood the mechanism of picking up food and feeding herself. This was helpful for all sorts of things outside of eating as well.
4- She decided how hungry we was. She could continue eating, ask for more or stop whenever she had enough. There is no pressure for her to continue eating if she is full.
While we loved this process and think it’s worth a try for everyone, I highly recommend being easy on yourself as a parent. BLW won’t work for every baby- and that is okay! Mealtime ends up being a little longer and sometimes messier, also a little scary while babes learn their gag reflex, but giving it a try won’t hurt!
I’m happy to talk more about our Baby Led Weaning process, everything we did and the foods we started with- let me know if you want to hear more!