Being Dad Family Parenting

Baby led weaning – the next step on from breastfeeding

baby led weaning
Avatar photo
Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Choo Choo trains and aeroplanes are out, baby led weaning is in, but what is it?

Forget spending endless hours trying to get your baby to eat from a spoon, it seems they are taking things into their own hands. Literally. Baby led weaning in the latest way to feed your child. Or as the name suggests, letting your baby feed themselves. This means no more purees, food processors or strange fruit and veg combos. Whatever you want to eat, your baby will want it too.

How does it work? 

Babies naturally reach for food at around six months. By this age, children are developmentally capable of feeding themselves proper food, which for parents means no more mush. If you hand them food in suitably-sized pieces, they will then eat the food they like and leave the stuff they don’t. Simple.

If you’re worried this could stop your baby from breastfeeding or take formula, that’s not the case. It’s not about weaning babies off breastmilk or formula, it’s about weaning them onto solid food. When a baby is breastfeeding, they are introduce to food tastes through breastmilk. So baby led weaning is considered to be the next developmental stage and because breastfeeding is considered a baby’s first lesson in self regulation, it sets them up to be able to feed themselves. However, this doesn’t mean a formula-fed baby won’t adapt to the weaning process. Baby led weaning allows any little one to explore new tastes and textures, but removes the pressure of eating a set amount of food.

baby led weaning

mess really is best

When should you start?

You need to take into account your baby’s readiness for the process. Some babies are ready to start the weaning process from as little as five and a half months. Others aren’t ready till they reach eight months. There are ways to know if your baby is ready or not. Firstly, if your baby can sit up well on their own and if they have lost their tongue-thrust reflex, they can started the weaning process. Soon, you’ll have to start moving your plate away from your baby so they don’t steal your chips.

Benefits of baby led weaning

  1. time saving
    When you think about the amount of time you spend making purées and blending stuff to mush, you will probably have a couple of hours on the clock. Baby led weaning saves you this time, and means you can spend more time bonding with your child.
  2. trust issues
    You are also trusting your baby to know how much they need to eat and when they need it. This will reduce the amount of stress you experience as a parent at mealtimes. It also means you can eat at the same time as your baby, so no more staggered mealtimes.
  3. education for the nation
    Baby led weaning allows your child to understand which foods they like and which they don’t from a young age. It also allows them the opportunity to manage different textures and improves their motor skills by learning to grasp food and move it to their month.

It’s not going to be an easy task to begin with and it may be a slow process, but your baby will start to take things into their own hands.

Take your time and experiment with what your baby likes. You’ll be learning just as much as they are.