Last updated on July 4th, 2017 at 03:17 pm
Baby-Led Weaning uses no baby food, no spoons, no feeding. Using BLW means that our boys now eat everything, have increased dexterity, and stop when they’re full.
It’s important to me to teach my boys to make good, healthy choices. Similarly, one of the things that stresses me out most is the idea of fighting with my kids over food. I don’t want them to just eat chicken nuggets and mac & cheese. I want them to love a variety of foods. I want to make only one meal for our whole family, not separate meals for me and Ryan and individual meals for the boys because they won’t eat what I cook.
Enter baby-led weaning (BLW).
I’d heard of BLW from friends who loved the method of feeding their babies. No baby food. No purees. No slowly introducing foods. Baby eats what mom and dad eat (within reason) from day one, around six months old. It sounded perfect for us. First, I am lazy. Let’s be real. I didn’t want to make my own baby food. I didn’t want to spend nap times cooking and pureeing and freezing. I didn’t want to spoon-feed twins.
Then we had my friend Carolyn, her husband Jason, and their 1 1/2 year old over before Christmas last year. They brought Chinese food and Ryan and I were fascinated by how their BLW daughter ate pretty much everything that was on her tray. Her dexterity in picking up small pieces of rice and slippery noodles was incredible. And she was so happy.
We were in! On Christmas day (around six months adjusted age), our boys had their first foods—cucumber spears and slices of naan (we eat Indian food on Christmas). And they haven’t looked back since. Warning: many cute photos of my babies covered in food ahead!
If you’re thinking of trying BLW, here are ten ways that baby-led weaning has freakin’ rocked our world. Remember, my boys just turned one. We’ve already had so much success with them so far that I hope it will continue!
1. It’s freakin’ easy.
Like I said above, I didn’t want to deal with everything that goes into spoon-feeding baby food to a child. BLW is so much easier. Here’s some food. Eat it yourself. Clean up. They eat what we eat, so I rarely make a different meal for them. It’s so easy!
2. It’s freakin’ cheaper.
Baby food is expensive, yo. Those packets of fruit and vegetable slurry are like a buck and a half a pop. It’s so much cheaper to just feed the boys what we are eating.
3. Our boys eat freaking’ everything.
While they sometimes take a bit to warm up to a food, my boys are NOT picky. Here’s a sample of things they’ve eaten in the last month: salsa verde enchiladas, red quinoa, black beans, string cheese, baked salmon with dill, broccoli, carrots, water chestnuts, lasagna, greek yogurt, sweet potatoes, blackened cod, baked chicken, a hamburger, corn on the cob, grilled cheese, and asparagus. (The only thing that has been outright rejected was Callum’s birthday cupcake. I’m not sure he’s my kid.)
4. The boys freakin’ enjoy eating.
Food is FUN! They love exploring the textures of food with their hands and mouth. They are almost always happy at the table. (Unless we’re not getting food to them fast enough! They are hungry little men.) Oh, and we totally enjoy watching them. They are so entertaining when they are eating!
5. The boys are a freakin’ part of our meal.
While it doesn’t always happen, we try to have our meals with the boys. I usually eat eggs in the morning with them, and we try to eat as a family for dinner together. Lunch is hit or miss, but we try. We don’t feed them and then eat our dinner separately. We all eat together. It gives us a chance to pray before our meal as family, and to talk with the boys about the food they are eating (we talk a lot to them about tastes, textures, color, etc.). We’re teaching them that family time at the table together is valuable to us.
6. They freakin’ clear stuck food.
One of the biggest reasons people avoid BLW is because they are afraid their baby will choke. It’s definitely something that has crossed my mind more than once when one of the boys has gagged on something. But gagging is not choking. Every single thing they’ve gagged on, they’ve managed to clear themselves (usually followed by a huge grin). They are learning to chew, then swallow. With purees, it’s swallow then later learn to chew. The choking hazard can actually be greater when you introduce solids to a baby after the’ve already learned to swallow whatever you put in their mouths.
7. People’s reactions are freakin’ awesome.
Okay, this really isn’t a benefit of BLW, per se, but man it is fun to watch people react to two tiny guys chowing down big time on whatever is put in front of them. Baby with a pork chop? Bring it.
8. So far, no freakin’ allergies.
New research suggests that introducing foods to kids at a younger age actually lowers rates of food allergies. In years past, moms waited to introduce “allergy” foods, but we decided to give it a shot early. Our boys have had eggs, wheat, peanuts (in the form of Bamba), almond butter, strawberries, shellfish, dairy of all sorts, and soy (tofu). No allergies. No reactions. I know this is different for every child and allergies can develop later, but it was good to get an all-clear on these foods for now.
9. They will learn to appreciate different foods (I freakin’ hope).
When everything is a puree, it’s hard for babies to distinguish different foods, and often they develop issues with textures once solid food is introduced. I am hoping that BLW will give our boys an appreciation for all types of food as they get older. We’re going to start a garden next year so the boys can join me in growing some of the food we eat. And since I know they already like zucchini, it’ll be great to go cut one off the vine and make it for them fresh.
10. It’s freakin’ messy.
Okay Cori, how can this be a benefit?! Well, first of all, spoon feeding can be messy in its own right. But having such messy meals has made me less OCD about the mess. I see them loving and enjoying eating and it makes the mess worth it. I think if I was trying to spoon feed, I would spend so much time frustrated that food was getting everywhere. Now it’s just par for the course. And we have a dog on clean-up duty. UPDATE: The boys are now 18 months old and everything above still applies. And even better, they are MUCH less messy than they used to be! UPDATE: They are now two years old and are using silverware and it’s even better!)
That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to BLW. It really has been a totally fun and easy way to get our kids to eat everything. I also highly recommend the book Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods—and Helping Your Baby Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater.
Have questions about BLW? I’m happy to share more about our experience in the comments!