Baby Led Weaning

What is BLW, anyway? And what is it not..?

by Aitch

Right, this is coming totally off the top of my head, so forgive me. I will add, edit, fumble and apologise later if I’ve inadvertently stuffed something up…

Recently I’ve seen so many people fighting over what Baby Led Weaning actually means. Not on our own www.babyledweaning.com website, funnily enough, and not on our forum, both of which are havens of tolerance and gorgeousness dontchaknow, but Facebook seems to be aflame with accusations of ‘mummy martyrdom’ for not using spoons, purees, pouches and whatnot.

For what it’s worth, here’s my understanding of the two main types of weaning your lovely little milk-fed baby onto solid food, as lovingly practised by perfectly sensible parents the world over.

Baby Led Weaning
Child
self-feeds bits of ‘cutted up’ food from 6 months, as per the World Health Organisation guidelines. Milk on tap. Everyone happy.

Traditional Weaning (for want of a better expression) –
Parent makes purees, puts them on a spoon and gently and un-pushily feeds the child. The age might be as low as 4 months, because children can eat from a spoon from that age, but very often it’s at around 6 months as per the World Health Organisation guidelines. At some point, possibly even immediately, the parent lets the child self-feed as well, so that they’re having both finger food and puree. Milk on tap. Everyone happy.

Now, despite the equally blissful end result, these two methods are not the same.
The key thing is that in the BLW method, the parent just has to take a step back and let the child get on with it. The baby learns to chew first, and to spit out, and THEN to swallow food.

With the more traditional approach the baby is using everything that they’ve learned from taking in liquids to swallow the puree, while also tackling this new, and in some instances rather thrilling, experience of chewing and swallowing as well.

Is this mixing of spoon-fed puree and finger foods a problem?
Probably not.

Is it Baby Led Weaning, as described by Gill Rapley in her best-selling weaning book?
No, it is not.

Is that a problem?
No sirree, but it does mean that talking about doing ‘a mix of BLW and (spoon-fed) puree’ makes not a jot of sense. Unless you, for example, also think that you can be ‘a mix of vegetarian and carnivore’? Buddy, chum, old pal… you’re an omnivore, be happy.
Take what you want to take from the vegetarians and the meat-heads (she says, extending this unlikely comparison through all sorts of pain barriers) but don’t call the veggies mean names because they want to do something different to you. **

Let’s be clear, though. If you are weaning your child in a more traditional fashion you are MOST WELCOME to hang out here. Finger food recipes are finger food recipes, after all, babies are babies, and very few of us are getting a solid eight hours these days. Who amongst us wouldn’t benefit from a relaxing chat about the exact way to chop up a steamed carrot..?

And if you join us on the forum, we’re discussing much, much weirder things as well… everything from make-up to mooncups, very often both at the same time… Peace out, folks.

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**(This is where the comparison falls down horribly for me, I admit, as I regularly tease veggie pals about their laughably puny muscles. *prepares barbecue* *awaits flaming*)

Oh, and PS. If you want to explore all this in greater detail, here’s a link to a chat on this subject that we had on the forum a while back. Covers the pros and the cons, the ups and the downs… all that shizzle.

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