Starting Solids: Baby Led Weaning

Aiden eating watermelon

Photo by Mike Aron Photography.

As discussed in my previous post Starting Solids: Purées we took a hybrid approach when it came to starting solids. At 4.5 months we started purées, and at six months we started baby led weaning (BLW). Baby led weaning is basically when you feed your baby whatever food you eat, but modified slightly. This post is about starting solids: baby led weaning.

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In order to prepare for baby led weaning I read the book Baby-led Weaning: Helping Your Baby To Love Good Food by Tracey Murkett and Gill Ripley. The book is helpful in describing why BLW works and tips for implementing. My only complaint, is that they really look down on purées, and make it seem like the only way a purée can be served is by shoving bland-one-flavor mush down baby’s throat. That is not the case, and we have had great success with a hybrid approach of Purées and real solid food! In addition to the book I also took a “starting solids” class at the local hospital — which was especially helpful because the instructor had a lot of anecdotal experiences, pictures and videos to share of local moms who have had success with BLW.

The biggest surprise to me in implementing baby led weaning is that you really can feed your baby whatever you are eating. At almost eight months, Aiden has eaten chicken, steak, beef, vegetables, fruits, bread and grains. I assumed that you could only start with specific foods, especially before teeth come in, but you don’t!

The other thing that was a bit misleading, is that in the early months of BLW, your baby might not actually swallow or digest anything. Aiden mostly just sucks the juice out of whatever he is eating, or gums it for a bit before it falls out of his mouth. That is OK, we subscribe to the motto of “food before one is just for fun.” Aiden still gets just about all of his nutrition from breast milk, and we only offer him real food AFTER a feeding. This is an advantage of the purées at this age — he can actually eat them.

IMAG3401We typically provide Aiden with real, solid food around lunch time and dinner time. We will give him some combination of a piece of chicken, fruit and/or vegetable. It’s usually part of whatever we are eating for dinner. Young babies do better with long strips of food (since their pincer grasp hasn’t developed yet). Using a crinkle cutter can help cut food into a manageable shape for baby. If we are eating out, we make sure to get some side dishes he can eat. This encourages him to learn social skills and distracts him and keeps him happy! We don’t worry very much about him choking because at this young age, if he get a piece of food that is too big, he has a reflex that will force them to spit it out (but we are familiar with baby CPR just in case).

We don’t really make specific things just for him yet. However, we are careful not to give him too much salt, dairy or sugar. We do have the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook so that we have some idea of recipes that would be appropriate for Aiden.  I also have lots of pinned recipe options. Pinterest is a great place to get BLW ideas.

The other thing we incorporated is water in a sippy cup. Aiden loves coconut water so we usually give him coconut water mixed with plain water in a cup. We haven’t quite found a sippy cup we like yet, so I will keep you posted. UPDATED: We found that the Camelbak Eddy water bottle works really well for a sippy cup!

Did you do baby led weaning? Do you have any BLW recipes? Do you have a favorite sippy cup? Please share in the comments below!

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About Melissa

Hi, I’m Melissa! I am a mama to my baby Aiden Milo (born November 2015), and a police wife to my husband Dan. I started this blog because, after having Aiden, I quickly learned that exhaustion and baby brain causes you to forget some of the er-lovely (sometimes horrible and sometimes wonderful) details related to the first several months of raising a baby. Considering we may have more kids in the future, I want to document everything we do, so we remember what worked the first time around, and hopefully help other first time mamas along the way!
  • I loved when my little ones started solids! Although, I do hate how messy it is…especially rice. Why is it they love the messiest foods! lol. My daughter had a dairy and soy intolerance which made it a little difficult at first, but we figured it out! I remember how my family would alway freak out if Everly or Colton would start gagging. I was always like just calm down and let them work it out. It so exciting to hear from other mamas and their journey with baby led weaning! Keep it up mama!! 🙂

    Amer/ http://www.everydyadame.com

    • Thank you! It is definitely a messy process, but so much fun. It’s always funny when people are like ‘is this too big’, and I am like no, he’s good, he will figure it out!

  • We are doing our own version of BLW too. That’s how we ended up finding out our baby was allergic to eggs, lol! Anyway, it’s definitely freeing to know we don’t have to buy him special food!

    • ughhh our little one is allergic to eggs too! It’s always something!! 🙁

    • That’s great (the BLW part, not the allergy). Did you guys have a pre-existing allergy? That’s my one little concern, if he is allergic to something, it might be hard to sort out what it is when he tries so many things!

  • We are also doing a solid/puree hybrid with our son, and started both at just about the exact same time. I have a blast watching Jack try something new for the first time, it’s so fun to watch him figure it out and get a new taste. I haven’t tried banana with the whole peel still on, as you have pictured. I’ll have to try that, since they are always so slippery! Another thing jack really likes are pancakes!!

    • I really love the hybrid approach! I am glad it works for you too. Aiden loves French toast, I will have to try pancakes 🙂

  • Thanks for this. We are just starting to introduce pureed foods now!

    • Good luck Mama! It’s so much fun 🙂 Did you see my purée post? There are lots of good recipes!

  • We did some BLW with my son and will with our daughter too. She just started solids this week and I love introducing new foods.

  • Thanks for sharing! I started feeding my daughter “what we eat” when she was 9 months old, and it is so much fun watching her explore new foods! I love the idea of coconut water in a sippy cup, I will definitely need to try because my baby girl (at 11 months) has yet to be comfortable drinking from a sippy cup.

    • Aiden doesn’t like water or the sippy cup, of course, he does love coconut water though so one out of two isn’t bad, right!?

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  • We love BLW its so simply and idea for our family. Our doggies of course loved it!

    Related Post: ezpz Mats For The Win!

    • Yes! I wish we had a dog — especially around dinner time! Also the ezpz mat is pretty amazing!

  • Wonderful job explaining BLW! We have used this method for my second little one, and are using it at the moment with our third babe, too. I wish I had known to introduce food in this manner with my first, too, but I suppose we do the best we can with what we know at the time.

    • Thank you!! I am glad to hear BLW has worked! I am realizing that being a parent is just a huge learning process.

  • “Food before one is just for fun!” Hilarious! How have I not heard of that before! Love it. We had a similar approach with my babies. Purees and then a modified version of what we were having!

    • Haha yes, I didn’t make it up, but I love saying it 🙂 I am glad you had a good experience with the puree/blw combo. I know a lot of people do one or the other, but I say, why not both!?

  • We did BLW with our son and loved it! It’s so much easier to give them exactly what you’re eating!

  • Mal

    Love this! Our little one is 4.5 months and we just started him on Poi (a weird hawaii thing lol) and rice cereal, and even with just that we are getting some raised eyebrows from people… mind ya business!! He loves it and is doing great 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!

    • Thank you! I’m glad your little one is doing well with the solids! So much fun 🙂 I will have to look up Poi, I’ve never heard of it!

  • With my first child I did basically purees. This one had no desire to stay with purees. So I’ve been doing a modified BLW, and its great. I just put things on her tray to eat, and she feeds herself (in fact she doesn’t like when I spoon feed her). Great info!