Baby Led Weaning

There is a feature on Woman's hour about 'Baby led Weaning" at the moment.. What's that? well, Its about the baby starting solids when they are ready rather than spooning puree into their mouth. The way to "do" baby led weaning it seems is that at 6 months you lay out a range of finger foods for your baby to try in their high chair. 

Though I agree with the concept of Baby led weaning and have watched as my own children have introduced themselves to solids, I did not follow the method promoted in the programme 

Organisations like La Leche League (the breastfeeding organisation) have been saying for 50 years that babies wean at about 6 months. Not that they need to wean or that they should wean no, because it is something the baby does,not the mother! The baby - when he has access to food will start to pick it up and put it in his mouth (isn't that what babies are famous for?) at around 6 months. The main thing to ensure that the baby has access to food. If the mother is the carrying sling using kind she will probably have the baby on her lap whenever she is eating anyway so this whole process is pretty passive for the mother. The only thing to watch is that they don't grab anything they're not meant to have.

Its a shame that the style of baby led weaning that is being promoted is rather prescriptive - and not really very baby led at all, after all  it has to be the mother that decides that its time to buy the sweet potato and sit the baby in the high chair, and when will she do that in the "around 6 months" window? she could be preparing organic avocado's for weeks on end if she starts too early. 

The reason that a baby should lead the weaning process is that we have got used to introducing solids rather earlier than the baby is ready. not long ago it was as young as 4 months where to get the baby to swallow the food they had to have it liquidised so that the babies gagging reflex wasn't stopping them swallowing. Introducing solids at 4 months meant physically introducing food into the babies mouth and has lead to all sorts of allergies, and displaces the food that they are meant to have - mothers milk, the complete food for babies

The promoted way of doing baby led weaning (that the presenter felt that mothers would need "real confidence" to try )  leaves the concept open to criticism by health professionals. The dietitian guest on woman's hour was very concerned about the baby not receiving enough nutrition and saying that this method is not evidence based - she ended up reccomending combining baby led weaning ith spoon feeding - rather missing the point. 


Kiera Pedle said...

Astute observations!
It's incredible the amount of misinformation, that's passed off as "baby-led".

Simply introducing fingerfood, and insisting a child eat it, isn't baby led. It's important to watch for the infants cues, and respond.

Thanks for the article :)

Charndra at Part Time EC said...

Very good point, Keidle. I think so many people must have little confidence in that idea of observing the baby.

What I love about baby-led solids is how the baby manages their interest and intake; we simply offer a wide range; allowing them to avoid foods they may be sensitive to, naturally.

My 9 month old is eating this way - it is sooooo easy, plus the fact that he is breastfed to cue; I have no concerns over how hw is progressing. Though, I also DON'T go to clinics who say he 'should' be eating 3 meals a day, cutting feeds and so on...


My BLW experiences are at

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