Baby-led Weaning

About the Book

What is Baby-led weaning? - The benefits of Baby-led weaning - The secrets of success

The Top Ten benefits of Baby-led weaning

It’s enjoyable!

  • BLW babies look forward to eating; they enjoy learning about different foods and doing things for themselves
  • Playing an active part in mealtimes and being in control of what to eat, how much to eat and how fast to eat it make eating more enjoyable; the opposite can make mealtimes miserable
  • Being able to watch their child learn about food, without any pressure to ‘get her to eat’, means that mealtimes can be enjoyable for parents too

It’s natural

  • Babies follow their instincts to eat when they’re ready – just like any other baby animal
  • BLW uses the skills that all healthy babies are developing in the second half of their first year to help them to explore food at their own pace
  • BLW allows babies to follow their instincts to use their hands and their mouths to find out about all sorts of objects, including food

Learning to enjoy and trust food

  • With spoon-feeding all the tastes are puréed into one; BLW babies can discover different tastes and begin to learn how to recognise foods they like
  • BLW babies are keen to try new foods; they rarely become ‘picky’ eaters or suspicious of food as toddlers – probably because they are allowed to use their instincts to decide what to eat and what to leave
  • Enjoying a broad range of food is good for babies’ long-term nutrition as well as their enjoyment of eating

Learning to eat

  • BLW babies learn to manage different shapes and textures of food from the very beginning, so they quickly become skilled at dealing with a broad range of foods
  • Handling food himself and then putting it in his mouth helps a baby to work out how to manage foods of different sizes, shapes and textures
  • BLW babies learn how to move food around inside their mouths and how much they can safely put in; they tend to bite off small pieces to chew, whereas older babies who have been spoon fed often over-stuff their mouths when they are first allowed to feed themselves
  • Learning to chew effectively makes it more likely that babies will get all the nutrients they need – and it helps digestion too
  • Practising chewing as soon as they are ready helps babies to develop the facial muscles that will be needed as they learn to talk

Learning about their world

  • For babies, play is essential to learning; they learn about concepts such as less and more, size, shape, weight, texture and gravity just by ‘playing’ with their food
  • Because all their senses (sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste) are involved when they feed themselves, babies discover how to relate all these things together for a better understanding of the world around them

Reaching potential

  • BLW babies practise hand-eye coordination every time they use their fingers to take food to their mouths
  • Gripping foods of different sizes and textures several times a day improves babies’ dexterity
  • Allowing babies to do things for themselves helps them to learn and gives them confidence in their own abilities and judgement

Being part of family meals

  • Being included in family mealtimes, eating the same food and joining in the social time is fun for babies
  • Babies copy mealtime behaviour, so they naturally move on to using cutlery and adopt the table manners expected in their family
  • BLW babies learn about how different foods are eaten, how to share, wait their turn and how to make conversation
  • Sharing mealtimes has a positive impact on family relationships, social skills, language development and healthy eating

Developing healthy eating habits

  • Allowing babies to choose what to eat from a range of nutritious foods, to eat at their own pace, and to decide when they’ve had enough helps them to develop natural appetite control. This may be an important part of preventing food conflicts and obesity when they are older
  • Because they are involved in shared, healthy meals from the beginning, BLW babies are less likely to choose unhealthy foods when they are older (or to need separate ‘kids’ food’) and are therefore more likely to be better nourished, long term

Easier, less complicated meals

  • Puréeing food is time-consuming and fiddly, and can be expensive. With BLW, it just isn’t necessary. Provided the parents’ diet is healthy, they can easily adapt their meals for their baby
  • Eating out is easier too. BLW babies are used to eating round the table with adults and they enjoy ‘grown-up’ food – so families aren’t limited to restaurants with a ‘kids’ menu’
  • With BLW everyone eats together; the grown-ups don’t have to spoon-feed the baby while their own dinner goes cold and everyone is part of what’s going on

No mealtime battles

  • When there is no pressure on babies to eat, there is no opportunity for mealtimes to become a battleground, so problems such as food refusal and food phobias are much less likely
  • BLW respects babies’ decisions about what to eat (or not to eat) and when to stop eating, so there is no need for games (“Here comes the train!”) to try to fool a baby into accepting food she doesn’t want or to ‘trick’ toddlers into eating healthily
  • The whole family can enjoy stress-free meals together, meaning relaxed parents and happy children