Baby Led Weaning

Growing healthy babies with healthy appetites

What would it take to convince you to try Baby-Led Weaning?

No. I’m keeping the spoon. You may conduct your ridiculous experiment when I am finished.

A guarantee that they’ll be Good Eaters(TM) at the age of four?

Nope, can’t do it. I mean, they probably will be good enough eaters, but they’ll still be pesky human beings, prone to changes in taste and challenging boundaries. But you’ll trust them to come good, because you’ve seen them hoover up broccoli.
You, my friends, will have Faith.

A guarantee that they will not gag or choke?

As above, I’m afraid. Gagging’s great, it’s a safety mechanism, and while it sounds barf-a-rrific, it’s such a cunning way of moving food shapes around a little that you will marvel (once again) at how clever and wonderful your child is.
Choking? Not fun. Rare, though. I had two babies, one of them choked once, and it was on a bit of apple that I just knew I shouldn’t have let someone give her but I was scared to look a prat. Lesson learned, Mother, don’t be scared to look like a prat in front of your friends. Fortunately I’d done my sensible parents’ Infant Resus course and the baby was fine with a bit of a whack on the back. She, naturally, was unbothered, and I had to wrestle the apple from her pudgy fists before it went straight back in.

So, what will convince you to do Baby-Led Weaning? *drum roll*

It’s a little experiment. Very simple. (Not altogether enjoyable.)

Simply sit in front of your beloved tomorrow night, and have them cut up your food into pieces and feed them to you. Mebbe mash ’em up a bit, even, get all those flavours nicely mixed. MAYBE even whizz them up a bit, if you’re feeling racy.
Serve on a spoon, not a fork.
Now, see if they get the portioning right – is your mouth unpleasantly full, or half-empty? Do they feed you slowly, so that you are begging them for more (with your eyes, hush now, no speaking, you’re a baby. Furious yelling will be fine). Or is it so fast that you worry you can’t swallow the first bite before the second and third hove into view? And what if you don’t like the dinner but your partner or friend can’t abide waste? Eeeer. Open wide…

Try it, and see what you think. Don’t forget to finish with a lemon-scented wipe to the lips! Think of it as dessert!

And if that doesn’t convince you to let your baby have a bash at self-feeding, nothing will.

Which is Fine. At the very least the experiment will likely have made you a better spoon-feeder, and that sort of understanding and care can only be good for our babies, no matter which weaning method we choose.


(many thanks to margaux for the lovely pics)

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38 Responses to “What would it take to convince you to try Baby-Led Weaning?”

  1. jess says:

    Just tried our first bit of BLW tonight at dinner – avocado and banana. Nothing really got in the mouth, but she had a great time mashing stuff up!

    • Aitch says:

      So glad you all enjoyed it. Some people put breadcrumbs on bananas and avocado, to make it possible to grip them. Mine weren’t at all good at holding slippy food, it was like that scene in Pretty Woman when the lobster flies up to the ceiling… so well done her for even getting to mash them.

  2. Martina says:

    God, the idea of DH spoon feeding me. Bleurgh. You’ve convinced me! ;)

  3. Claire says:

    You know what convinced me? Someone gave me a baby purée recipe book. And it sounded like a lot of faffing around! Plus, it didn’t make sense to me that you’d purée a chicken stew.

    • Aitch says:

      I may have mentioned this before once or thrice, but round about when dd1 was five months i was given for my birthday, FOR MY BIRTHDAY, a certain shoulder-padded puree lady’s cookbooks. I mean, really. Did i mention they were a present to me, for my BIRTHDAY?

  4. ches says:

    Well, my first child broke an heirloom highchair I’d carried from Africa to America trying to avoid a spoon and BLW was a sanity-preserver, knowing my job was merely to offer food he could safely ear and let him decide when he was ready. (Around 13 more, by the way.) The second child is much more agreeable, so his first food (which went nowhere near his lips but nevertheless amused him for 20 odd minutes) was rice noodles because I wanted to eat my Pad Thai. People recoil in horror, but seriously, please explain the mechanics of how rice noodles can block an airway. What’s that? Oh right, too soft, wrong shape, easy to pull back out with their long string. Gotcha.

  5. ches says:


  6. Aitch says:

    your son EARED his food? :O

  7. ches says:

    Oh yes, BLW is all about experimentation. And really, compared to the diaper scrutiny, it certainly wasn’t the weirdest thing going on.

  8. Milla says:

    I’ve ben blw for a while now and what I really want out of it is for my son to grow up with a healthy attitude to food: to know when he’s full and stop eating; to see good as an enjoyable physical experience, not an emotional crutch or control issue; to trust his own judgement.

    Oid course now he’s 12 months he’s given up feeding himself and sits there with his mouth open waiting to have it placed in his mouth, but hey, at least that’s his decision!

    And I found slices of mango with skin still on were excellent starter foods. And roasted sweet potato wedges.

  9. Scotrail says:

    Although this will forever be preaching to the choir somewhat, I think those are pretty good arguments! Did you see that recent study saying that although 30% of BLW mothers (low n) experienced at least one episode of choking, they weren’t worried about it. So I’m starting to think weaning choice is somewhat personality determined -low neuroticism ==> BLW. Coincidentally, the majority of choking incidences reported by those mothers involved apple.. So perhaps take note of Disney’s Snow White and hold off on le pommes!

    By the way, our daughter is now almost two, and a very varied eater still. My parents constantly praise her for being “good” at the table (that is, sitting still while entertaining them by smearing food all over her face). Thank you, BLW forum!

    • Aitch says:

      i’m not sure i did see that study, my mum’s not been well so i’ve been thoroughly not paying attention to matters BLW. Do you have a link?

      • Scotrail says:

        I didn’t read anything beyond the abstract, it looks like a fairly informal study. I mainly remembered it because I found the apple info entertaining.. 21 m and no choking! But I’m allergic to apple so that reduces the risk hugely, I guess :op

        Cameron, Sonya Lynne, Anne-Louise Mary Heath, and Rachael Waring Taylor. “Healthcare professionals’ and mothers’ knowledge of, attitudes to and experiences with, Baby-Led Weaning: a content analysis study.” BMJ open 2.6 (2012).

      • ” Although choking can be very serious, all mothers who reported choking (n=6/20) reported that the infant independently dealt with the choking by expelling the food from their mouth through coughing and mothers did not have to intervene with first aid.” Therefore none of them actually choked in they way it is normally referred to on this site. Coughing on food is not uncommon in people of all ages and is just a baby learning to deal with food.

        It also states that 15/20 parents spoon fed their children sometimes – “Mothers reported doing this to avoid mess, to increase iron intake by spoon-feeding iron-fortified infant cereal, or to increase energy intake” I am not judging people who do this but I am surprised that 75% of their study, claiming to BLW, spoon fed for these reasons.

      • ” Although they generally embraced BLW techniques, many also reported using a small amount of spoon-feeding. This suggests that, in practice, many parents following a BLW approach are probably somewhere along the continuum of some spoon-feeding to total self-feeding, albeit much more at the latter end. ”
        Apparently the writers also doubted whether the parents were BLW or doing puree with finger foods. Obviously this has been debated at length on the forum and know that many parents use the approaches side by side.

      • Aitch says:

        It says that spoon feeding was done rarely and usually in response to illness, so I’m not sure you can conclude that it was puree with finger foods, really.

        I’d not seen that report before – I find the patronising attitude of the health professionals in that report genuinely shocking. And these are opinions offered on the basis that half of them hadn’t even heard of BLW, never mind seen it in action. Really, HPs must think that we are all competitive idiots.

        Also, this choking thing, at 30%. It says not one of the babies needed intervention, they all dealt with it themselves, so I guess that’s why no-one was worried about it, if they could see the babies were coughing it up by themselves. Bloody raw apple, though, it’s the food of the devil, i tell you.

        “Mothers were aware choking was a common criticism of BLW, and although most reported that choking did not occur, 30% (n=6/20) reported one or more episodes. Although choking can be very serious, all mothers who reported choking (n=6/20) reported that the infant independently dealt with the choking by expelling the food from their mouth through coughing and mothers did not have to intervene with first aid. All mothers who could recall the food that was responsible (n=4/6) reported that raw apple was the food their infant had choked on.”

      • I only meant the 2 mothers at the bottom who were recommending a mix of both. I am not calling for a ban on spoons!

        I also found the health professionals shockingly judgmental and ill-informed – I don’t think they had much real experience of BLW babies.

      • julian says:

        “the infant independently dealt with the choking by expelling the food from their mouth through coughing”
        –> Sounds like gagging to me

  10. SarklePetal says:

    30% seems quite a high number Scotrail – I haven’t seen that research either, would be interested.

    Great post Aitch, I do like to be given a good laugh along with my weaning musings :-D

    There will always be some parents with a no-way attitude to BLW, but I reckon for those who are interested but nervous, or where one partner is for and one is against, the BEST way to convince them to give it a go is to join your Forum and get bombarded with advice from those who know their onions. Or broccoli. Whatever. Keep up the good work!

    • Aitch says:

      They’re such a good bunch (of onions) on the forum, aren’t they? The site is very lucky to have them (and you).

    • JB says:

      30% doesn’t seem like a terribly high number when you realise they are talking about gagging… In fact, 30% seems quite low! My children fell over occasionally while learning to walk and I see gagging as a similar thing. I guess the learning to walk equivalent to choking would be falling down the stairs – every time they went near the stairs, I was there to guide/catch and whenever they ate I was there too (often having bits of my own dinner swiped).

      My eldest had her worst gag on apple too – the only food that my mum was scared about me offering!

      • Aitch says:

        These mothers… they know a thing or two. I was wondering if they were talking about gagging too, i definitely think that a choke requires some action on the part of the parent.

  11. Scozzie says:

    I didn’t need convincing, but this would have been a fantastic idea to deal with my mother-in-law!!

  12. Allowing my child to experiment with food, regulate his food, express preferences (not one look of surprise = yuck) and join in with family meals. Why would I not choose BLW?! Oh, and like Claire and many on the forum have said, it’s so much easier. I’m lazy and want to eat my dinner when it’s still warm! Abigail x

  13. Kate says:

    I started BLW because I couldn’t see why I would feed my baby something that I wouldn’t eat myself. I happily eat spaghetti bolognese for example, but let’s think about putting that into a blender… hmmm, suddenly not so appetising eh?

    Oh yes, and I’m a bit slack too, and one of my least favourite household jobs is cleaning the blender/food processor!

    On a serious note, concerned friends have said to me ‘but how do you know how much he’s eating?’ Fair point – he seems to end most meals wearing the food I gave him – but I now reply that I know EXACTLY how much he’s eaten: just the amount he wants and needs! I can’t bear this feeding on schedule – some days I eat constantly, and some days… er, OK, I usually eat constantly, but my point is that some days I want lunch at 12 and some days I don’t get round to it until 2:30. Some days I’ll just have a piece of toast, other days I’ll fill my face, it just depends how I feel, and why shouldn’t a baby be the same? I trust him to eat as much as he needs.

  14. Cathy says:

    Spending weekends pureeing food? No, thanks! Being able to go out and about without having to worry about what I’m going to feed the kid? Yes, please!

  15. Beth says:

    I made one batch of purees once. I used about 6 pears and ended up with one ice-cube tray full of very watery-looking meh. It took me about half an hour and I grazed my knuckles on the scritchy thing I was mushing them on.

    Compare: take pear, chop, throw onto the highchair tray. For added fun, use the IKEA apple slicer/corer thing (though not like DH does, with the corer thing on the worktop, blades facing up, while he pushes the apple down through it – he likes to live dangerously).

    Baby picks up pear! Baby looks at pear! Baby delightfully nibbles on pear and makes funny faces! Baby chucks pear on floor! Cat sniffs at pear! (Have you ever seen a cat eating broccoli? It’s like crack to them).

    It’s loads of fun. And your knuckles remain intact.

  16. Crumpet's Mum says:

    I decided to do BLW because a couple of friends before me had and it seemed to make sense. Crumpet’s now 20 months and doing brilliantly with her spoon and fork skills, although still regularly decides that yoghurt is better eaten by hand! We really don’t have much mess either. Only a couple of gagging episodes early on, one of which was on a gingerbread man that had an over 12 months recommendation when she was only 8 months – silly Mummy! I would definitely do BLW again and recommend it as a means of weaning. So much more enjoyable than trying to get a baby to eat purée and less stressful when you give the baby control. They get the majority of their nutrition from milk anyway so no point stressing about food.

  17. julian says:

    I sometimes wish I had a super one-liner to get people interested. I try telling other parents (as they watch our 10 month old chewing on a drumstick): ‘You don’t have to spoonfeed. We never spoonfed our children.’
    But usually they just kind of look at me weird…

    It’s sometimes frustrating to see other children – not being able to chew properly, running around and needing extensive coaxing… The other day, I saw a 3+ year old being spoonfed mushy rice while he played on the iPhone…

    Spoonfeeding seems like such a freaking hassle. A couple of weeks ago we had to spoonfeed said 10-month old (in a restaurant, no bib, noodle soup…). It was really annoying as he kept looking around to check out the place and so on. Don’t know how people keep it up for so long.

  18. Ali says:

    Well we’ve done blwing because it makes sense. The only thing that made me doubt myself was the bloody hv who obviously had no clue at all about blwing. “How old is lo?” “5 months”, “ooo you’d better get cracking then, don’t want to miss the boat!”
    We always knew really it was the right thing, but it was completely confirmed when hearing from a friend how she and her dh had been out for lunch with friends and they had to go out into the garden to distract their ds with a windchime so they could shovel the puree in! I just thought, how horrible.

  19. Debra says:

    I can’t believe I have only just found this website. I read the book whilst I was pregnant and loved how simple and fun it made weaning sound. My son is now 2 and we have a very food happy toddler. I get so annoyed when I listen to people struggling with weaning and complaining about how hard it is to make purees! Why are they even making purees? I just can’t understand why we aren’t all following Baby Lead Weaning. There was a couple of doubting moments along the way (due to other people’s opinions) but I am so pleased I stuck with it and it proved the right method for us.

  20. Sarah says:

    I did BLW purely by accident because it felt natural to me. I would get frustrated with my daughter taking the spoon away to do it herself, so I quit spoon-feeding her. I gave her a spoon and let her tackle oatmeal, yogurt and applesauce, and she was a pro by a year. My second baby never got to even try to take the spoon away. I didn’t have the time or energy to feed both of my girls and myself all the time. Plus, the time that the girls were feeding themselves was time that I could enjoy my coffee or clean the kitchen while they messed it up. Now I have three kids, all with excellent fine motor skills, and they are all good eaters.

    • Aitch says:

      Brilliant news. It’s funny, isn’t it, the way that people assume that all children will want to do puree. In truth, it’s simply not the case, and BLW definitely offers mums who don’t like being spoon-fed an alternative. (and very often it’s an alternative that they’ve done before even knowing there is such a thing as BLW).

  21. Naomi says:

    I am doing BLW. Like so many others have already said, it makes sense!
    And saves time, and your baby is part of the meal, and it’s a learning experience!
    My one hang up does continue to be the choking. A few people have commented that if I’m so paranoid about choking, then why don’t I just puree? To me, the benefits far outweigh my fear. I’m learning to let my DS work it out for himself and learning to trust him in the process. I think the experience is adding to his sense of self-esteem, definitely his sense of independence. Motor skills, etc., are all bonus.
    I’ve learned what to do in case of an emergency, and I watch him closely as he eats. I think I’ll be avoiding apple for a while, though. :)

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