FIRST OFF, WHAT IS BABY-LED WEANING?
The BLW (Baby-led weaning) approach is introducing solids by letting your baby feed themselves with finger foods. No purées, no spoon-feeding. Most parents start the same time they would start solids, around 6 months when they are still getting most of their nutrients from breastmilk or formula.
The benefits? So. Many.
1. BABY-LED WEANING IS STIMULATING.
It can help build fine motor skills and coordination. Think of it as a high chair gym where your tiny human practices their pincer grasp, and how to use it to carry food from tray to mouth.
2. PROMOTES SAFETY.
By letting your tiny human feed themselves, they’re increasing dexterity and skillfulness eating solids, which arguably lowers their risk of choking than those undergoing a traditional approach.
3. SUPPORTS BETTER FOOD CHOICES.
When tiny humans can actually see what they’re eating, they can form positive associations through discovery. Think about it- wouldn’t you be more into broccoli if you could pick it up and play with it first?
4. ENCOURAGES NUTRIENT-DENSE FOOD.
This is a biggie. Purées are processed. Especially the ones found in the grocery store. Starting your tiny human on real unprocessed ingredients ensures they are getting nutrients in every bite—even if only some of it makes it into their mouth. Plus, they are seeing a variety of foods, rather than everything blended together.
There are so many more benefits to BLW, these barely scratch the surface.
Marissa Epstein, RDN, Associate Director of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Program
American Academy of Pediatrics Academy of Nutrition Dietitians
International Baby Led Weaning Network of Dietitians