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Baby-led Weaning: Your Guide on How to Wean a Baby

For every mother and their child, weaning will look a little different. Broadly speaking, weaning is the process of introducing solids into a baby’s diet, with the goal of eventually stopping breastfeeding. There are a few ways you can introduce solids to your little one, and it’s important to find the way that best suits the two of you. In this article, we explain what weaning can look like, how to find out what your baby needs, and how to wean a baby onto solids.

Weaning depends almost totally on what you and your baby are comfortable with. A traditional approach to weaning:

  • Starts on solids at four months;
  • Different foods are introduced on different weeks, with no meat until six months;
  • Start with food pureed at a silky smooth consistency, before you slowly move to lumpier textures with time.

If standing at the bench and pureeing for hours doesn’t appeal to you, don’t worry – baby led weaning (BLW) could be more up your alley.

What is Baby Led Weaning?

Baby led weaning (BLW) is a weaning method which has grown in popularity in recent years. With BLW:

  • First foods are introduced at six months;
  • You can offer soft finger foods that are easy to hold (eg. chopped avocado or sliced banana);
  • Your child chooses which foods they would like to eat, based on what you offer them.

Most foods can be introduced from six months – but check with your GP or child health nurse to find out which foods your baby shouldn’t eat in the first year.

Traditional Weaning vs BLW: Which is Better?

Traditional weaning or BLW – which is better? There’s no easy answer. The method you choose is up to you and your child. Trust your gut, knowing both approaches result in healthy, happy eaters who can enjoy a wide range of foods. Here are the main advantages and disadvantages:

Traditional WeaningBaby Led Weaning (BLW)
AdvantagesYou’re guided by the rules of traditional weaning, and don’t have to worry about whether you’re ‘doing it right’ You’re less likely to worry that your baby is choking or gagging (gagging is often mistaken for choking, and is a normal response to solid foods) Your baby may take to it instantly, enjoying first pureed foodsFood preparation is faster, as your child can often eat elements of what you eat rather than all that puree Your baby gains much enjoyment from their journey with food as early as six months Baby can feed themselves rather than with a spoon
DisadvantagesYou’ll spend a lot of time pureeing baby food You may want to fork out for a baby food maker, to make this process easier You may feel limited by the guidelines on what foods to introduce and whenWhen you start BLW, you may worry your baby is choking when they are in fact gagging (this is how they move too-big pieces of food to the front of their mouth in order to swallow) Food gets messy and ends up on the floor, leading to a lot of food waste – try using a sheet or old shower curtain, or try a product made for BLW

What Foods Does My Child Need?

As your child’s palate progresses, you can continue serving foods from previous months. Every baby is different, so don’t worry if your child is older. The role of breast milk is key up until the age of 12 months, and should be kept alongside whichever method of weaning you choose.

How Old is Your Child?

Baby Led Weaning – First Foods (From 6 Months)

If you’re wondering when to start weaning, six months is generally a great time to start. At this age, your baby is starting to need more nutrients and energy than what breast milk or infant formula alone can provide.

They’re Ready If…Foods for Around 6 Months – Traditional WeaningFoods for 6 Months – BLW
They have an increased appetite They’re reaching for food They can sit and hold their head up by themselves They no longer try to push food from their mouth with their tongue They can bite and swallow food They place toys or other items in their mouth and ‘chew’ They imitate your eating actions and have greater interest in the food you eatIron-rich foods: Iron-enriched infant cereals Puréed meat (fish, poultry, red meat, turkey) Purees: Avocado Banana Bean/green bean Butternut squash Melon Pea Peach Pumpkin Unsweetened apple or pear puree Hard cooked or mashed egg yolk with water Baby oatmeal Mashed sweet potato Plain yoghurt (whole milk) Single ingredient baby food*cut to finger-size or larger Iron-rich foods: Iron enriched infant cereals Puréed meat (including fish and poultry) Cooked tofu Legumes (beans and lentils) Ground beef (large piece), beef hamburger patty (sliced), steak, meatballs or lamb Egg: Hard cooked Omelette, sliced Toast: With mashed avocado With mashed sweet potato With peanut butter (small amount) With mashed hard cooked egg Smooth fruits: Roasted apple wedge Banana Mango Very ripe peach or pear slice Melon slices Watermelon Halved figs Avocado slices Vegetables: Beetroot (roasted or steamed) Cauliflower (roasted or steamed) Broccoli (roasted or steamed) Cucumber Green beans Roast sweet potato wedges Chicken Boneless salmon

For more tips and tricks, you can read our guide to feeding at 6 months.

Baby Led Weaning Foods From 7-9 Months

They’re Ready If…Foods to Offer – Traditional WeaningFoods to Offer – BLW
They are ‘exploring’ the food with their mouth and fingers (eg. holding their own spoon and feeding themselves)Purees: Beetroot Kiwi Pineapple Prune Strawberry Spinach Iron-rich foods: Iron-enriched infant cereals Puréed meat (fish, poultry, red meat, turkey) Dips: Guacamole Hummus Baby rice crackers Simple smoothies Mixed ingredient baby foods Fresh tomato puree or passata Rice CouscousVegetables: Brussels sprouts Wide mix of vegetables (cooked, diced, minced or mashed) Fruits: Kiwi Orange slices Pineapple slices Strawberry Ripe/lightly cooked banana or apple Avocado Pasta Rice Porridge Couscous Cheese: Grated cheddar Cottage cheese Cream cheese Cheese sauces Iron-rich foods: Red meat White meat Boneless fish Iron-enriched infant cereals Eggs (added to milky desserts or grated into other foods)

For more tips and tricks, you can read our guide to feeding at 7-9 months.

10-12 Months

They’re Ready If…Foods to Offer
They are showing interest in a variety of the foods your family eats They are eating three meals every day, as well as breastfeeds or formulaIron-enriched foods: Breakfast cereals Meat (or alternatives with an equal amount of iron eg. diced tofu) Fruits (diced): Banana Blueberries Raspberries Clementines Grains: Barley/wheat Pasta Muffins (diced, and moistened if necessary) Overnight oats or oatmeal Diced pancake (moistened if necessary) Rice Potato (mashed or roasted) Toast fingers Chia seed Flaxseed Millet Quinoa Meat: Diced meatballs Ground beef Ground turkey Chicked (shredded or ground) Salmon (diced) Tilapia (diced) Cheese (shredded, crumbled, cut in sticks): Cottage cheese Goat’s cheese Vegetables (cooked or fresh): Peas Fresh tomatoes Corn Beans (mashed) Plain yoghurt Custard

For more tips and tricks, you can read our guide to feeding at 10-12 months.

Food Safety & Preparation Tips

  • Don’t offer your baby food that they could choke on, and educate yourself on what to do if your baby chokes. Whether you’re taking a traditional or BLW approach, puree or cut all foods into small and manageable pieces.
  • When babies are at weaning age, their immune system is still developing. This means they are more likely to become ill from food that hasn’t been stored, cooked or reheated properly. You can read more about this here.

For more inspiration and information, take a look at our baby led weaning recipes. Wherever you are in the weaning process, there are recipes suitable for your child’s age group.

The information in this article is general in nature and it is always recommended you speak with a qualified health professional regarding introducing solids to your baby.

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