Introducing Solids With Baby Led Weaning

baby led weaning

Both the World Health Organization and the American Academy Of Pediatrics recommend exclusively breastfeeding your infant for the first six months. As you approach this milestone, you’re probably thinking about introducing solids to baby. There are two ‘schools of thought’ regarding the the addition of complementary foods. Feeding milled cereals and puréed foods by spoon is the traditional approach. Another way to offer solids is through Baby Led Weaning (BLW).  This style encourages baby to feed herself and skip the spoon, completely. The following is a guide to help you learn about, and decide if, a baby-led approach is right for your family.

What is Baby Led Weaning?

BLW is a theory originated by Gill Rapley, a British health nurse. The word ‘weaning’ is the UK equivalent of Americans saying ‘starting solids’.  With BLW, you forgo spoon feeding, a parent initiated method, and trust your baby to nourish herself, a baby initiated approach

When is my baby ready to feed herself?

Spoon feeding is so popular and almost unchallenged in our culture. Many families choose to introduce solids prior to six months.  Before this age, babies are not developmentally ready to feed themselves. With BLW, you wait until baby is developmentally ready to eat. When your infant reaches the following milestones, she is ready to start exploring food:

  • is at least six months of age
  • has lost the tongue thrust reflex
  • can sit with little or no assistance
  • reaches and bring objects to her mouth accurately
  • shows focused interest in food and your eating

Why choose BLW?

It’s progressive and instinctual! A baby initiated approach to food is an extension of breastfeeding. A healthy, full-term baby can feed herself as soon as she is born. Baby tells you when she is hungry, she nurses at her pace, and knows when she is full. BLW builds on this philosophy and applies it to complementary foods. This style is also easier. Your baby enjoys the foods you cook for the entire family.  There is no need to prepare separate recipes for you infant.

How safe is BLW?

‘I am worried my baby will choke on food!’ The BLW philosophy makes sense in theory, but many parents are nervous to try this approach for fear of choking. BLW is as safe, or safer than traditional spoon feeding. As long as your baby is ready to feed herself, as listed above, she can engage in BLW.

baby led weaning info
What food should baby eat?

For safety, foods should be served in large chunks that baby can easily grasp in hand. These are a good start:

  • Soft fruits cut in big pieces – bananas, peaches, ripe melon, avocado
  • Steamed vegetables – sweet potato, summer squash, pumpkin, broccoli
  • Buttered toast cut in slices
  • Omelette
  • Pasta
  • Mini muffins
  • Steamed fish
  • Well cooked steak

Here are an additional 100+ foods and recipes to enjoy.
To learn more about Baby Led Weaning, check out Rapley’s series of books.

What Do I Wear Now That I’m Breastfeeding?

breastfeeding attire

Now that you’ve gotten this breastfeeding thing figured out, you may be trying to find the best things to wear for comfort, access and you may be worrying about coverage. Here’s a round-up list of some crowd favorite breastfeeding attire.

The key is layering! Each layer serves a purpose.

1) A well-fitting bra. This is ESSENTIAL. Don’t just make whatever cheap, half-functional nursing bra you can find work. This is a commitment and your breasts deserve to be supported for the foreseeable future! Also, keep in mind that for most women, it’s best to stick with a non-underwire option, at least in the beginning, so you’re avoiding any unnecessary pressure on your milk ducts.

First, get a good, in-person bra fitting. Some local options include, Necessary Secrets in Greenspring Station, Lingerie Lingerie at Kenilworth, and Nordstrom at Towson Town Center where they can make any bra into a nursing bra for you by sending it off.

Some favorite brands you’ll find while there include Cake, Anita and Elomi.

2) Nursing tanks. These offer support and shape all around, and are convenient as they open and close as you unlatch or latch the bra for feedings/pumping. An overwhelmingly popular favorite here is the Bravado nursing tank. Many local moms report they got 2-4 tanks in basic colors and wear them daily. Other brands include the Undercover Mama, and Cake lingerie tanks.

3) The top layer. Here, you can wear a breastfeeding-specific top or dress, a v-neck or other top. If you go with a non-breastfeeding specific top, it’s easy to do the “one up, one down” with a nursing tank underneath covering your belly and back.  You just pull up the top layer enough to access the latch on the tank.  You can always just pull your breast up and over in a v- neck, too.

Favorite breastfeeding-specific brands include Milk Nursing Wear, Latched Mama, and Momzelle Breastfeeding Apparel.  A non-breastfeeding-specific dress that some have raved about is the Lands End Fit and Flare dress. A personal favorite, is this hoodie from target that has a great side-split for easy access.

A Mama’s Mailbox nursing apparel subscription is a really fun option and great way to build a versatile, stylish breastfeeding/pumping wardrobe.

4) The scarf. Finally, toss on a lightweight scarf or infinity scarf as we head into cooler weather. These provide a nice distraction for baby to play with and can allow discreet breastfeeding, providing enough coverage that many may not even know you’re feeding your baby. Bonus, they’ll add some style too.

Now that you’ve built your layers, go out and breastfeed feeling comfortable and confident!