What Are the Benefits of Baby-Led Weaning?
What is Baby-Led Weaning?
Baby-Led Weaning, often abbreviated to BLW, is an alternative method of weaning to the traditional spoon feeding method. It involves waiting until a baby is at least 6 months and then offering healthy finger foods for the baby to explore and feed themselves. The woman who made the method popular was Gill Rapely and her book Baby-Led Weaning is worth a read if you want more information or if you are thinking of trying Baby-Led Weaning.
For more information on getting started with Baby-Led Weaning click here.
Baby-Led Weaning is still quite new and is not practised in as big numbers as traditional weaning is but it is certainly gaining popularity and there is good reason. There are many benefits to Baby-Led Weaning over traditional weaning so I will divide them into three separate sections.
- Benefits for Parents
- Benefits for Baby’s Health
- Benefits for Baby’s Development
Benefits for Parents
1. You do not have to cook meals and endlessly puree food.
2. You will not spend money buying special baby food.
3. You do not have to sit and painstakingly feed your baby every mouthful of food.
4. This means you and your baby, and your whole family can eat together.
5. You only have to cook one meal for the whole family.
6. Your baby is likely to be a less fussy eater when they are a toddler.
7. Your baby is more likely to be able to use cutlery at a younger age.
8. Because you have waited until your baby is 6 months you do not have to stress out about what foods you can and cannot give- most foods are fine apart from honey, added sugar and salt. Cow’s milk can be used in cooking but not offered as a drink until your baby is 12 months.
9. You avoid mealtime battles as you allow your baby to eat what they want and choose when they have finished.
10. Eating out is easier- you don’t have to pack special food as your baby can share your food- as long as it is healthy of course!
Benefits for Baby’s Health
1.Your baby is less likely to suffer from childhood obesity- this is largely because BLW encourages self-regulation of hunger. Your baby eats as much as they want and then stops eating when they are full up.A spoon fed baby is often fed until the contents of the jar or bowl are all gone and the baby has no say in this.
2.Your baby is more likely to eat a varied diet when they are older- Baby-Led Weaning means a baby is introduced to real food from day one. That means they get to the real taste and texture of foods and are less likely to reject them later on.With traditional weaning you might find your baby loves courgette- as long as it is pureed and mixed with pear that is- when it comes to giving them real courgette they might not like it.
3.Because your baby will eat a bit less solid food than their spoon fed peers they are less likely to cut back milk feeds too early. As milk is the main source of nutrition until a baby is 12 months old this means your baby doesn’t miss out on vital nutrients
Benefits for Baby’s Development
1.Self-feeding helps to develop a baby’s hand eye coordination
2.Baby learns about shape, smell, colour and texture through being allowed to self-feed and explore their food
3.The act of chewing exercises the same facial muscles needed for speech thus helping your baby’s speech development
4.Sitting with the family to eat teaches the baby about social interactions, manners, turn-taking, speech and rules of conversation
5.Being involved with family mealtimes is enjoyable and helps your baby’s confidence grow
6.Self-feeding fosters your baby’s independence
7.Sharing meals together, at all ages, has been shown to reduce incidences of teenage drug use, alcohol use and pregnancy- a bit much to be worrying about now obviously but it’s good to know and also that BLW is good for your older children as well.
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Website looking at Baby-Led Weaning including recommended equipment, recipes, BLW in the News and much more
I have loved doing Baby-Led Weaning with my son. I don’t regret a minute of it and I am really starting to notice the positives all ready. After 2 months my baby is eating everything I give him and he isn’t wasting much like he was in the beginning. Don’t get me wrong I’ve had moments of doubt in the beginning. Especially with a few gagging incidents. Gagging still happens but I barely flinch now as I know he will sort it out himself- of course I am on hand if he needs my help but he never has done. I am amazed at how well he can feed himself with a spoon at such a young age and I have also noticed how much he is ‘speaking’ at 8 months – making all kinds of vowel sounds all the time. He is gaining weight and is a healthy and happy boy. I am confident that by the time my baby turns one he will not have had a single drop of baby food or food from a jar and I have Baby-Led Weaning to thank for that.
If you are interested in Baby Led Weaning and would like to find out how to get started click here.
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