bootstrap templates

What is Baby Led Weaning?

Baby led weaning (BLW) is a term attributed to Gill Rapley and it means a natural transition from a milk only diet to a diet that includes solid food. Generally, breastfed babies are accustomed to deciding how much milk they want to drink and so BLW is a very natural way for those babies to be introduced to solid food. However, BLW is not just limited to breastfed babies, formula fed babies can also be introduced to solid food via this gradual and spontaneous process. By introducing your baby to solids this way, your baby will have the opportunity to learn to control his or her own solid intake and to become more independent at mealtimes. Many families claim that BLW is often more convenient than traditional weaning because this process involves allowing baby to feed himself, leading to less meal time stress and fuss.

Like traditional weaning and according to World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations, baby led weaning is suitable from six months. Babies learn by copying and by observing family meal times. The baby can share the table with the rest of the family and can taste various foods as they so wish. This setting paves the way for a more natural means for baby to transition from milk to solids and it also encourages baby to grow their interest in different food in a way that meets his or her own personal needs.

Weaning is considered one of the spontaneous evolutionary stages of children's development, just like grabbing objects, pronouncing the first words or taking the first steps. The meal time becomes a fun and relaxing experience for the child: eating with hands, touching different textures and savouring new and different tastes.

What are the benefits of BLW?

BLW can potentially:
- Support the child's motor development e.g. their hand-eye coordination and chewing.
- Encourage independence
- Provides a stress-free alternative for meal times, for all the family, e.g. some babies refuse spoon feeds, but happily help themselves to finger food.
- Promotes a positive first experience of food for babies as they are the ones guiding the sensory experience, starting and stopping when they are comfortable and ready.
- Impact health: baby's regulate their own food intake and often have healthier preferences of food.

Rapley G, Murkett. Baby-Led Weaning. London: Vermilion; 2008. p. 1–256

What are the principals of BLW?

- The baby is offered his/her milk feed prior to meals as milk is still the main source of nutrition.
- The baby is allowed to decide how much he or she wants to eat.
- No spoon feeding. Pre-loaded spoons are okay, e.g. yogurt, cereal etc.
- The baby can reject food. The food can be offered again at a later date.
- The meals should not be hurried.
- Sips of water are offered with meals.
- Initially, soft fruits and vegetables are given. Harder foods are lightly cooked to make them soft enough to chew on.
- Foods with clear danger, such as nuts, are not offered.

When is my child ready for BLW? 
See our App for information

Will my baby choke?
See our App for information 

Further Information

Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett have published several resources on Baby-Led-Weaning. These resources are highly recommended by many parents and caregivers.
The World Health Organization offers recommendations on complementary feeding. To see these recommendations, click here.
Many parents also find experience sharing to be invaluable and one can find abundant information on the internet in the form of blogs and community forums.