What is baby led weaning?

- Nicolas Belisle

You might have heard the term baby led weaning and ask yourself what is it and is it interesting. That’s a great question!

Baby led weaning is when your baby starts to eat solid food from the get go, instead of feeding your baby with a spoon and try to make him or her eat, you prepare a meal and the baby picks what he or she wants to eat. Obviously, food preparation must be safe in terms of temperature, food texture and stiffness and in terms of food size to help chewing and swallowing while minimizing choking risks.

The advantages of the baby led weaning approach

The philosophy behind the baby led weaning approach is that it’s easier for the parents because they supervise the baby’s eating process and they don’t have to spoon feed the baby. It’s also great for the baby because he or she gets to choose his or her food so it’s very interesting for autonomy, self-confidence, and leadership development. Moreover, he or she uses her hands to pick the food so it’s great for motor development.

The inconveniences of the baby led weaning approach

Like any approach, nothing is perfect. While this approach is great to develop the baby’s autonomy and self-affirmation through choices, parents need to be ok with the fact that the baby will eat at his or her pace and will surely create a mess. The first time that the baby eats solid food after being fed only with milk might also be scary for choking as it’s the first time that the baby eats solid food and he or she might never eat baby-food in sauce texture.

In this approach, parents need to be slow and they must be comfortable with the mess. If the parents are in a hurry, this technique will likely be difficult to implement.

Knowing that eating is a habit, it’s suggested to go all-in with the baby led weaning approach because once your baby learns it, he or she will likely refuse to be spoon-fed as he or she might perceive it as a setback and an insult. This scenario happens often.

Our opinion on the baby led weaning approach

If parents have the time and patience to do it, it’s a wonderful approach. It develops a sense of responsibility and self-affirmation very early and this will very likely be transposed in other aspects of your baby’s life.

While using this technique, the baby is more likely to develop leadership and it’s an earlier motivation to learn to copy what the parents are doing. For example, if the baby led weaning approach is adopted immediately when the baby starts eating solid, the next evolution will likely be that the baby will want to be implicated with:

  • Cooking as he or she will want to help to prepare his or her meal
  • Cleaning the dishes as he or she will want to help and do like adults
  • Clean the floor with a broom, especially if there’s food on the floor due to the baby led weaning approach.
  • Put garbage in the garbage can.

Obviously, if you want the eating process to be super clean and your schedule is extremely tight for numerous reasons, this technique might not be appropriate. In that case, if your baby goes to daycare, perhaps some places do use the baby led weaning approach for all of the advantages presented.

However, daycares that use the baby led weaning approach are few because the inconveniences of this approach are much more difficult with more than one baby. It’s even more difficult if some babies are spoon fed with baby food and others will eat solid food with their fingers…

In conclusion, the baby led weaning approach is great for food and it’s a good start to bring your baby to the slow and healthy food way of living. It’s also great to start a self-affirmation and leadership path. However, it necessitates a bigger implication terms of supervision, patience and acceptance of temporary messy situations but this is the essence of childcare!