Baby Led Weaning

Baby Led Weaning FAQ

Hello all, Aitch here. Again.
This is an excellent FAQ on baby led weaning which was submitted and I think compiled by Patricia Exley for the Yahoo message group. I have asked on there how to get in touch with her to ask her permission to reprint it, but no-one answered so I left it alone. Anyway, imagine my surprise when I am idly typing in baby led weaning to Google (to see how high up we are, don'tcha know) and there it is, posted as some sort of file sharing thingie. So I take it that means it's okay for me to post it here as well, which is great, because it is full of wonderful insights.

This FAQ
covers some of the more frequently asked questions on the Baby-Led Weaning
Yahoo group.  The group is made up of
(mostly) mothers who are trying this method of feeding with their babies, and
who give each other mutual support.  This
FAQ is not intended to be or replace any weaning guidelines or medical

What do you
mean by baby-led weaning?

Within this group
we basically mean letting baby decide when to wean on to solid food (and
ultimately off the breast).  This
approach generally involves letting baby self-feed, avoiding spoon-feeding mush
and purees, and presenting baby with as much “real” family food as
possible.  Throughout this process,
breastmilk is offered as often as baby wants, as this continues to be the main
source of nutrition for quite some time.

When is my
baby ready to start solids?

From about 6
months, and certainly not before 4 months (World Health Organization and UK
Department of Health guidelines).

(second choice formula milk) should be a baby's only food until six months. It
seems that too-early exposure to foods other than breastmilk increases the risk
of developing a whole range of illnesses in childhood and adulthood.

Baby should be
able to sit up, to avoid choking on food.

Don't put food
into the baby's mouth – let him/her do this for themselves.  Most babies are ready to do this at about 6

Solids at this
stage are for exploring taste and texture.

Offer some water
with solids.

Should I worry
about weight gain?

provides most of the calories and nutrition until about one year old.  Solid food (e.g. Baby rice and vegetables) is
not as nutrient-dense as breastmilk. 
Many babies seem incapable of digesting food until much later than 6
months, as evidenced by chunks of food passing out undigested into their

The weight curves
used by health professionals are drawn up for bottle-fed babies.  Breast-fed babies tend to gain weight more
slowly once they get to about 6 months.

My baby
doesn't seem to be eating much.

Many of the
babies in this group only took to eating solids with any real seriousness when
they were around 12 months old.

Should I be
concerned about choking?

Many of the
babies have had slight 'gagging' reactions in the early days, but this seems to
have been a normal part of the learning process and is quite distinct from
choking.  Gagging seems to show that the
baby has the ability to move food back to the front of his mouth when he
doesn't want to swallow it.  It's
important that baby is sitting upright when he's eating.  This way anything that baby cannot swallow
will fall forwards (out of the mouth) rather than backwards (into the throat).

Should I be
worried about iron?

Babies are also
born with a store of iron that begins to diminish at 6 months and this could
start to affect them at around 9m so iron is the one thing they do actually
need to have extra to breastmilk after 8-9 months old.

Iron can be found
in lots of food, such as red meat, green vegetables, lentils, etc.  And they will still be getting iron from
breastmilk – which is far more readily absorbed than any iron in solid food.

Ideas for first foods:

The best things
seem to be things that are easiest to keep hold of while the baby is exploring
it, for example broccoli with a decent stem on to act as a handle.

Fruit and

Meat and Fish

Make sure lumps
of meat are big enough for baby to grasp and chew – baby will spit out the
membranes, but swallow the juice.

Finger food

The important
thing to do is double your quantity, half to mush up and throw on floor, half
to eat!

Foods to avoid


Dry cereals.

Strips of toast

Porridge (if you
can stand the mess!)


Cheese omlette,
cut into strips.

Cheese on toast

Cucumber, celery,
avocado and tomatoes.

Dinner ideas:

Pasta with grated
cheese or sauce.



Fish cakes or
fish fingers.


Sequence of adding solid foods for the allergic infant)