Decisions Decisions: Baby Led Weaning V.S. Spoon Feeding

Fern's first food.

The day after Fern turned 5-months-old we let her taste her first food – a baby carrot that my husband held while she gummed away.  She was pretty stoked about it, but aside from that,  I hadn’t really given a whole lot of thought to offering her foods.  It had just seemed kind of far away in the distance and I was so focused on getting the hang of breastfeeding that it just never really crossed my mind.  But, now that she’s five and a half months old I figured it was probably time to start thinking about it.

I started doing a bit of perusing on the internet about solid foods and came across the idea of Baby-Led Weaning.  I’m sure many of you have heard of this concept, but it was news to me.  The basic idea of BLW (Baby-Led Weaning) is that the process of weaning baby from a milk diet to solid food can be approached by allowing a baby to control their own food intake by self-feeding from the start.  There is no spoon feeding, no purees, just real food.

If you’re anything like, me your first reaction to this idea might be, “What the what?!”

Read more after the jump!

You might wonder, “How can a baby eat food that hasn’t been pureed, they don’t even have teeth, won’t they choke?”  Well, from what I’ve read, babies are unable to move food from the front of the mouth to the back until they’ve learned how to chew and they don’t learn to chew until they’ve learned to grasp objects and put them in their mouth.  Because of this, a baby’s development is right on track with their ability to handle food.

Those who practice BLW basically just offer their baby foods that they are eating cut into large enough (read: non-choking-hazard-sized) pieces and let them have at it…once they’re showing the signs of readiness (sitting unassisted and showing interest in food – even grabbing for it) that is.  In this way babies are allowed to explore foods at their own pace.  Everyone who’s tried it seems to love it and appreciated that it eliminated the challenging transition between food textures (i.e. smooth to lumpy).

I’m still a little wary of the whole thing, as choking is one of my greatest fears in life – I can’t even swallow pills, but the idea intrigues me and I’m giving it some consideration.  I’m all about letting Fern explore the world on her own terms as much as possible (which you may have noticed in post about her floor bed sleeping arrangements) so this is in line with that philosophy, but I’m not sure I’m laid back enough for this.

Have any of you tried Baby-Led Weaning?  What was your experience and do you have any suggestions for getting started?  Help!


Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook, or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble.

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