Our experience of Baby Led Weaning First Foods

Our experience of Baby Led Weaning First Foods

Throughout my pregnancy with Miss M (baby no. 1) I spent a lot of time researching all the baby-related topics I could think of.  I’m a planner! I spent a lot of time in forums, chatting with other expectant and new parents about parenthood and particularly breast-feeding as I very much hoped to be able to breastfeed.  One topic that seemed to crop up often in the discussion about feeding babies was Baby Led Weaning First Foods.

Although the latter spoke for itself, I hadn’t heard of Baby Led Weaning, BLW, previously and spent some time researching it further.

Our experience of Baby Led Weaning First Foods - lovefrommim.com Baby Led Weaning by Gill Rapley Finger Foods Starting Solid Food with your Baby Baby's First Foods How to start solids with your baby

Gill Rapley coined the phrase ‘baby led weaning’ and the concept seemed to be that instead of giving your baby mashed up fruit and vegetables or other purees and spoon feeding them, you go straight on to them eating ‘proper’ food and learning to feed themselves.

The idea that I wouldn’t have to spend hours making and freezing baby mush, completely separately from the food me and Mr were eating was appealing in itself to me.  Then I read more about how it could help my baby developmentally too by leaning to pick up the food themselves, develop their pincer grip and learn to chew rather than just swallow.

Miss M came along and I breastfed her for 7 months (and a day…another story!) and at the 6 month point, we decided that she was showing all of the signs that she was ready to start with some solid food.  This included the death stare she gave us every time we ate anything ourselves – unless she was simply judging us of course.

We picked up a copy of Gill Rapley’s ‘Baby Led Weaning Cookbook’ which gave a really nice overview of the BLW concept, plus some recipes that would be nice for all of the family and nutritionally beneficial for Miss M.

And then the fun began!  By fun, I of course mean mess.  Baby Led Weaning is messy – but with the help of a garbage bag on the floor under her highchair and armed with many, many wipes, it really was a fun experience.

We started off with very soft food as she had no teeth to aid her chewing although, that said, we quickly discovered that her gums were more than strong enough to chomp through most food.

The first thing we did was give her banana and instead of mashing it into a puree, we cut it into 3 pieces, then peeled the skin off only half of it – so she could hold the part with skin in her hands and gnaw on the ‘exposed’ bit.

Well that was the plan, of course for the first couple of weeks most of the food we gave her was pushed around the highchair tray, pushed over the side of the high chair tray or smeared over her clothes/face/hair.

We also gave her slices of avocado (very slippy and slimy!), grapes, peas, cooked chunks of carrot and sweet potato from our dinner, pieces of buttered toast, and as she got better at keeping the food in her hands and finally consuming some, we could progress to giving her more and more of the food we were eating ourselves.

Our experience of Baby Led Weaning First Foods - lovefrommim.com Baby Led Weaning by Gill Rapley Finger Foods Starting Solid Food with your Baby Baby's First Foods How to start solids with your baby

At 6 months, we felt that whilst she was ready to start eating solids, they were not essential so it didn’t matter how much she consumed as she was getting all she needed nutritionally from the milk she had at that point.

From the beginning it was just a joy to watch her experiment with food, her little face lit up whenever we presented her with something to eat and it was great that we could get on with eating our own meal and sit around the table together instead of one of us having to stop eating to spoon feed her.

Of course there were many times we had to retrieve the food that she had propelled around the room but this got less and less as time went on.  In fact we were so surprised at how quickly she did progress and soon she was picking up and gripping food like a pro, eating every last bit and licking her little fingers at the end!

We definitely did have concerns before we started about the potential chance of chocking and we armed ourselves with a plan of what to do if she did experience this but it just didn’t happen.  If any food went in that she wanted out, she would gag a tiny bit to bring it forward.

Our confidence with this grew quickly but we always ensured that one of us was with her when she was eating and we watched her at all times.  Now she’s nearly 2 years old we are still with her when she eats as we always eat as a family (at least 1 parent or both of us) and Baby Led Weaning really helped set that up for us.

We didn’t skip the mush completely – there were the occasions when we were travelling long distances or eating at a place where we didn’t particularly want her to eat the food we were having and we did give her some pouches – I think these are awesome too, especially for on-the-go.  In the end you have to decide as a parent what is best for your baby and for you.

I’m not sure whether we can credit the BLW approach with her being completely un-picky when it comes to eating or whether her love for ALL food has simply been passed down from her Daddy but I do know that our lives have been made much easier by BLW and we will absolutely be trying this approach again with Baby no.2 when it’s ready.

At nearly 2 years old, Miss M’s favourite foods are banana, grapes, peas and carrots – she would choose them over anything else.  I hope that continues for a long time!

For another Mum’s experience of weaning – check Muddle Through Mama’s Guide to Weaning

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38 Comments

  1. 19th February 2015 / 10:36 pm

    Great post. We did baby led weaning too and it worked really well for us, although the first couple of weeks were a bit nail biting! It was just so lovely to all sit down as a family and eat the same thing, not to mention easier on the chef (me)! Our youngest has Down Syndrome and his motor skills weren’t sufficient at the time to enable full baby led weaning but it definitely helped with our choices of what to offer him and help him eat. We’re really lucky in that all our kids are good eaters and food isn’t stressful for us. I know it can be hugely for some children / families. I would just say to keep working away at it and enjoy each other.

    • 3rd March 2015 / 9:03 pm

      I remember feeling that too – confidence comes over time doesn’t it but it’s nerve wracking at first :)

  2. 22nd February 2015 / 8:06 am

    Such a special milestone stage. My daughter is now 1 and she is such a better eater than my son was. I think it’s because I was more cautious at the weaning stage with Harley. I wish I had been more relaxed and more baby led like I have with Lola, but I suppose you learn as you go! #sundaystars

    • 3rd March 2015 / 9:04 pm

      Ah you really do – it’s all a learning process and finding out what works :)

  3. 22nd February 2015 / 8:46 am

    Great post. We’ve just started the process of weaning our twins. They’ve not taken to puree very well and I’ve been tempted by BLW but I’m not sure I could handle double the mess!

    • 3rd March 2015 / 9:04 pm

      Thanks so much! It IS messy but not for too long – well not AS messy for too long! :)

  4. 22nd February 2015 / 1:09 pm

    I did a bit of both with the twins, and this worked great for me! I’m not a huge fan of having my little ones eating spaghetti off the tray with their faces! So this approached worked well for us. Glad you have a little one who eats well and who isn’t picky :) Jess x #sundaystars Thanks for linking up.

    • 3rd March 2015 / 9:05 pm

      Ha ha yes, you don’t want to save time feeding them only to spend more time cleaning up!

  5. 22nd February 2015 / 7:43 pm

    I was completely the opposite with mine, and did puree etc Mine still prefer curry/risotto/chilli etc now thank things they can pick up so maybe something to be said for eating now what they first had. Thanks for linking up to #sundaystars

    • 3rd March 2015 / 9:06 pm

      Oh definitely – I think the same :)

  6. 22nd February 2015 / 7:59 pm

    We did baby-led weaning with both our boys. I like it, it’s worked well for us, they both eat a variety of foods (lilttlest is only just one and still likes to throw everything off the table when he’s full!). It’s messy, but that’s a given whatever, kids need to learn how to eat themselves at some stage so may as well start young. I also think it’s great as I can eat my dinner while the baby can eat his, no need to let mine get cold while he spoon feeds! :) x

    • 3rd March 2015 / 9:07 pm

      Ha yes, a clear sign they’re finished is when the food becomes a toy!

  7. 23rd February 2015 / 10:13 am

    Great post. I did a bit of both with both my girls – they loved being able to pick up and eat food themselves but combining it with spoon feeding purees meant they ate a little more (particularly important for Jessica as she has a higher daily calorie requirement). They’re both fairly good eaters now – we have occasional picky moments but they pass quicker when I don’t react to them.

    • 3rd March 2015 / 9:08 pm

      Thanks so much! It’s so good to have both options isn’t it – you can tailor it to each child and their needs :)

  8. 23rd February 2015 / 11:02 am

    I’m definitely doing this this time round, I started late at 10 months first time round. I think its just easier!!

    • 3rd March 2015 / 9:09 pm

      That’s true – and I do think with a lot of babies you don’t necessarily have to start at 6 months :)

  9. 23rd February 2015 / 12:39 pm

    I wish I had persevered with more baby led weaning, although we did a fair bit there were times when I thought she hadn’t eaten enough so got the mush out! I will try harder with this one, it will be easier as A will already be eating ‘proper’ food!

    • 3rd March 2015 / 9:09 pm

      Oh yes see how you go – you have to do what works don’t you? :)

  10. 23rd February 2015 / 4:00 pm

    Very helpful post. I never planned to do baby led weaning. I thought it was just one of those dozens of semi-fashionable parenting philosophies. Yet, my daughter refused and still refuses to eat purees or anything that is given to her with a spoon. She decided to do baby led weaning and am now having to read up about it. #mummymonday

    • 3rd March 2015 / 9:11 pm

      Ah a couple of friends were in the same position as you – hope it’s going well for you now :)

  11. 23rd February 2015 / 6:14 pm

    Good and helpful post. We did baby led weaning with both however with the eldest we were far more careful with what we did. Interestingly though it’s my youngest that is more of a fussy eater. I do wonder if it was any influence to the fact that he was breastfed for an extensive amount of time. Who knows every kid is different. Still a great post!

    • 3rd March 2015 / 9:12 pm

      Thanks Martyn :) That’s so true, they’re all different and you have to do what works for them :)

    • 3rd March 2015 / 9:12 pm

      Thanks lady! She is pretty cute ha ha! :)

  12. 26th February 2015 / 11:32 am

    Good post and interesting to read your experiences so far. Our little one is 6 months so we’ve started weaning recently – we’re pretty chilled out about it, but I guess it is a mix of BLW and ‘normal’ with purree on spoons. We thought that there were loads of dos and dont’s, but we went to a really interesting talk at a local childrens centre and they basically said do what you want and feed what you want, just avoid honey. So, after that, we’ve just given her bits of whatever and it seems to be working! Good luck on your BLW journey.

    • 3rd March 2015 / 9:13 pm

      Thanks so much! That’s great advice, the best thing is being able to experiment and just see what works :)

  13. 26th February 2015 / 8:17 pm

    Such lovely memories; I must say I’m biased towards BLW though I also used pouches at different points in our food journey. I think it’s brill that you embrassed the mess; in hindsight I think I was a lot more cautious that I should have been. I hope your little one continues to be a good eater; and I hope I’m do BLW with more freedom next time round. Thanks for sharing. #brilliantblogposts

    • 3rd March 2015 / 9:14 pm

      Oh it is – happy days, we had a lot of fun! Thanks so much and yes, let’s see how we both get on with BLW next time! :)

  14. 27th February 2015 / 2:58 am

    I honestly think some babies know exactly what they want. I was planning on feeding her puréed food but little madam said no and preferred baby led weaning as well as breastfeeding for a year!

    • 3rd March 2015 / 9:14 pm

      Very true Joy – they want what they want :)

  15. 27th February 2015 / 2:58 pm

    Aww lovely photo’s. We did a mixture with Finlay, using pouches when out and about and will do the same with Ava, can’t wait to start doing it all again x

    • 3rd March 2015 / 9:15 pm

      Oh thank you! Pouches are a Godsend when you’re out and about aren’t they! :)

  16. 1st March 2015 / 10:45 pm

    Love this post. Although rewarding in the long run I found BLW quite frustrating at first. Watching Amelia take like twenty minutes pushing a piece of melon round her tray to eventually have a little suck on used to literally drain my energy haha! so we ended up doing a combination of blw and spoon fed. It worked for us and its worked out well. She pretty much eats anything jsut isn’t the hugest fan of fruit but loves veg so every cloud!! Feeding is just so much more relaxed these days, I think just follow your baby as they know what they want!:)

    Thankyou so much for linking up and hope to see you again tomorrow! Sorry I’m late this week has been crazy. Thanks again! #MummyMonday xx

    • 3rd March 2015 / 9:15 pm

      Thanks! Ha ha yes, it take them sooooo long in the beginning – half a day for 1 meal! At the same time, that keeps them busy :)

  17. 3rd March 2015 / 7:23 am

    BLW looks like so much fun I can’t wait to try it with my little one!

    • 3rd March 2015 / 9:16 pm

      Definitely give it a go – it’s so much fun – and just a litttttttle bit of mess ha ha! :)

  18. 27th October 2015 / 3:16 am

    Yay I found it ;) i’ve been reading through gill rapleys book too and i can’t wait to get started! looks like it worked well for you.

    • 27th October 2015 / 10:31 am

      It’s so much fun! A little bit messy – actually VERY messy! x

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