Is it just me, or is the first time feeding your baby solid foods utterly terrifying? My pediatrician (also a mom) recommended baby-led weaning…but did people really give their precious babies huge chunks of REAL food like this? How crazy. The short answer is…yes! But I would have never tried this approach without hearing such praise from other moms who had tried it, so this article is all about why I love it, in case it inspires you to make the leap.

Baby-led weaning (BLW) is an approach to introducing solids and weaning from the breast or bottle in which baby feeds himself independently. Babies pick up developmentally-appropriate sizes of food and eat on their own, at the table with the family. Moms who were encouraging me to try BLW told me their children would “eat anything now” and that it was “scary at first but super easy after that,” so we went for it!

I won’t go into the “how” of BLW, there are so many amazing resources out there to guide parents to doing it correctly and safely, here I just want to present the “why.” Why is this something you might want to try with your babies?

So solely as a mom who is trying to grow a healthy baby human, here are my top 10 reasons why I chose BLW for Baby Russell:

  1. It is SO easy. With baby-led weaning, there are no special meals just for baby; no expensive baby food makers, food products or baby “snacks”; no puree step; no cleaning out blenders – just preparing some real, fresh food that you can also eat…which we need to do anyway… which brings me to my next point –
  2. It’s healthy for the whole family. Thinking through how best to serve my child a healthy meal that I can also eat has us all eating healthier. A diet void of added salt, sugar, and processed foods is good for EVERYONE, not just babies, so subscribing to the BLW life is really a win for the whole fam. Instead of thinking, “What can I puree for baby today,” the question is “What are we eating for lunch and how can we make it so it’s healthy and appropriate for the whole family?”
  3. He is excited about real, whole foods. With BLW, he got started with real, whole foods immediately. His first food after the banana he stole from me was a local strawberry, it was so soft and delicious, with magical amounts of flavor. It piqued his curiosity and he was IN- he would try anything. His second food was steamed broccoli, and so on. And he’s still a huge fan of these foods almost a year later.
  4. It is versatile. In a pinch and need to feed baby a pouch? A family member wants to spoon feed? Joining a friend for dinner that has some extra pureed peas? All of this is still totally golden for the BLW babe. Again – life is so easy when baby will eat whatever and goes with the flow.
  1. It’s just as safe as traditional spoon-feeding. Research shows the BLW approach is just as safe, and my mom gut tells me it feels much safer having baby in control. I think about how I would feel. – Someone else is putting something in your mouth. How far back is it? Where is it in your mouth? Can you control the quantity and how to swallow it? It seems a little invasive and disorienting to me. BLW puts the control with the baby and they know how much they can manage and successfully chew. And yes it is definitely a learning process, but it’s not something we can learn for them, they have to learn by doing.
  2. My hands are free so I can eat. Sorry, I’m hungry too. While I am right there of course in case he needs me, I am also trying to eat my food. Baby feeding himself independently also allows him to watch me eat and learn how we do things so he can try it himself.
  1. He develops so many other skills while he is eating. Isn’t it so cool watching your baby do new things? It’s like every day they are learning and growing, and with BLW their new eating skills are constantly evolving. Their scooping hand, pincer grasp, chewing, swallowing, all of that is being constantly tested and developed. It’s fun to see and so good for them.
  2. It’s empowering. This approach does require us to give up some control and put it in the tiny hands of our baby, but I believe that’s good for both of us : ) I can see his wheels turning – He is choosing what he wants to eat and when, learning and following his own hunger and satiety cues, and there is no power struggle here. Last night I put a plate in front of him and he literally tried to dump the whole thing in the floor. Lovely. I moved it aside, got my own bowl and started eating, and what do you know… he asked for it back and we both became members of the clean plate club.
  1. I know exactly what is in his food. Packaged baby food….what is this? Can we see inside? Are the labels right? Maybe. Mostly what I see online about baby food are super terrifying recalls due to legit potential of poisoning. These toxins are in addition to tons of added, unnecessary sugar (which some may also deem a toxin for baby). When grandma brings us broccoli from her garden, I know it’s safe for my family. I can SEE where it came from, literally. When we buy hamburger meat from our farmer friend, I feel great about feeding it to my baby because they feed it to theirs. The cow was just chillin’ in their yard. All of these jars and pouches, even the deluxe ones, can be great in a pinch, but they are not something I want to rely on – because they are SO expensive and again, what is in them? I’m not sure.
  2. He’s now an independent eater who loves food. I’m so thrilled he will join those kids that will “eat anything.” He doesn’t eat when he’s not hungry, but when he is, he loves such a huge variety of foods that I don’t feel stressed at meal time, wondering if he’s getting the right nutrition.

I hope this inspires you to check out baby-led weaning, my favorite course was Katie Ferraro’s, and I checked up on the Solid Starts app at every meal especially in the beginning. The resources are out there, and Chick & Sprout is always here if you need some more inspiration and motivation!

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