How to Start Baby-Led Weaning: Where and How to Feed Baby

Baby eating in a high chair.

How to Start Baby-Led Weaning: Where and How to Feed Baby

1. Make sure your baby is upright and safe in a high chair or on your lap.

This is very important to prevent choking. As BLW can be quite messy, I would highly recommend a high chair! We have the Stokke Tripp Trapp chair, baby set and tray, which have been awesome. A bib with a sizable pouch to catch falling food, like the Baby Bjorn bibs, is also extremely useful!

2. Introduce water in a straw cup at meals.

Initially, you will have to slowly squeeze the liquid up through the straw into your baby’s mouth, and most of it will still dribble out. Rather quickly, however, he will learn how to suck out of the straw, and in no time, he will do it all by himself! My son used to take his cup, tuck it into the pouch in his bib, and drink with joy and pride.

3. Keep the focus on playing and experimenting, especially in the first few months.

Mealtimes are for learning and experimenting, and not necessarily for eating. Your baby will continue to get all of his nourishment from breastmilk or formula, so there’s no need to worry about how much he is—or isn’t—eating.

4. In the first few months, offer pieces of food that are stick- or wedge-shaped and at least two inches long: half to hold and half to munch on.

Teeth are not required because babies can use their very strong gums to mash foods in their mouth. Although my son didn’t have his first two teeth until after he was seven months old, he never had any issues eating from six months on!

5. Check that the food is not too hot by testing a mouthful (which is more reliable than using your finger).

6. Make sure that your baby is the one who decides what goes into his mouth.

Talk to him about the different foods, naming them and describing their colors and textures. Put food within easy reach (on his high chair tray or the tabletop) and let him explore, initially offering a small selection of foods so that he doesn’t feel overwhelmed. In my son’s first few months of BLW, I put three to four pieces of different kinds of food at a time on his tray (with more available in case he wanted it).

7. Don’t guide your baby’s hands, nor help or rush him.

Some babies can be discouraged from trying foods if parents (or others) interfere with their experience and make them feel self-conscious or under pressure. Try not to pay too much attention to your baby while he’s eating. Even though you may be eager to watch closely, he won’t feel comfortable being stared at. Just treat him like any other meal companion. Do not rush him, wipe his face mid-meal, start cleaning up mid-meal, praise or scold attempts at eating, or help him get food in his mouth. Let him do his thing! (Do not interfere unless he is actually choking, not simply gagging.)

In sum, mealtimes with your baby should be a normal, enjoyable, everyday activity. All that he needs to develop skills and confidence is your quiet support and the rewards of handling and eating food. Try to eat with him and include him whenever possible, offering him plenty of opportunities to imitate you, practice his new skills, and enjoy social mealtimes.

Managing Expectations

Remember that your baby is learning and having fun. “A clean plate” is not the goal—and never should be. It’s important for your baby to eat only as much as he wants and needs. Babies are brilliant self-regulators and can be trusted to manage their intake. Accordingly, don’t expect your baby to eat much food at first. Remember that he doesn’t suddenly need extra food just because he is now six months old!

Many babies eat very little for the first few months, as they are just exploring food with their lips and tongue; they won’t chew or swallow much. They are still learning how to do it. (For my son, this was true for the first month or so, and then his intake really ramped up!) As your baby discovers that food tastes good, he will begin to chew and then swallow. He will figure it out in his own time.

Expect some (okay, a lot of) mess! Think about how to dress your baby and how to protect the area around him so that dealing with the mess isn’t stressful and dropped food can be safely handed back. If you have a dog, he or she can be very helpful with cleaning up the floor! Some people use mats like this one to protect the floor and many (myself included) strip their baby down to his diaper for meals at home.

Have fun!

Works Cited:
Rapley, Gill, and Murkett, Tracey. Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods and Helping Your Baby Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater. The Experiment, New York: 2008, 2010.
About the Author /

Sarah Bederman is the writer and creator of Gastromommy, a blog designed to inspire fellow parents in making their little ones into future foodies. With baby-led weaning (BLW) as its foundation, Gastromommy empowers parents to skip purées and make whole, delicious, healthful food for babies, kids and ultimately, the whole family.

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Even though things may be more difficult now to offer help, still try to be the friend you wished you had when your babies were newborns to your friends and loved ones. ❤️ Things you can do:⁠
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Daddy Chronicles: Breastfeeding 💙⁠ by @chroni Daddy Chronicles: Breastfeeding 💙⁠
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I've been asked so many questions by men about fatherhood. So I figured I'd drop some knowledge on my fellow Dads and soon-to-be-Dads. Here's what it looks like for the first few weeks or months after your child is born. Yup. If mom breastfeeds they pretty much are tucked like this and at times you'll wonder "what is there for me to do?" Here are my top 5 tips for any Dad after your child is born.⁠
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1️⃣ For night feedings. When mom wakes up in the middle of the night, you get up and ask if she needs any help or water. The truth is most of the time she will say no but just the fact that you offered will go far.⁠
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2️⃣ Ask mom if she can pump and then pick 1 feeding that you will always do. Mom will take on almost everything and will burn herself out if you let her. At times you may have to force her to rest without worrying about the baby. This is an easy way to do that without a fight.⁠
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3️⃣ Don't put a time limit on how long mom breastfeeds the baby. It's not just about feeding your child it's about them bonding as well. I know everyone has a different length of time they will breastfeed and as a Dad, it's hard to fully understand. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT try and rush this process. It's not our place and it's not safe. You will open yourself up to a fight you can't win.⁠
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4️⃣ Be patient. I know as a Dad the first few weeks we are equally excited and yet not as important. Your time will come faster than you know. Babies grow fast and the stronger and bigger they get the more Daddy Time will be coming your way.⁠
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5️⃣ Paternity leave! If you have it TAKE IT. The early stages of a child's life are not just for moms to enjoy. I know as men making the money especially after having a baby it's hard, but trust me. You can always make money but there are no instant replays in life. It doesn't make you more of a man to not take the leave. It's equally as important that you as a Dad get to be a part of the early development of your child. ⁠
If someone needs this info tag them ❤️⁠
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Absolutely love these tips from @chroniclesofdaddy. 🙌
7 Postpartum Yoga Poses That Strengthen Your Body 7 Postpartum Yoga Poses That Strengthen Your Body After Baby 🧘‍♀️⁠
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The postpartum period, or period of recovery that takes place after a mother gives birth, is an important time for mothers to take care of themselves. 🥰 Typically, if you’re less than 6 weeks postpartum you don’t want to put any pressure on your core muscles. Also, your body’s levels of relaxin, the hormone that loosens joints to prepare for childbirth, is elevated for 3-6 months after childbirth, and longer if you are breastfeeding. All this means is: take these postpartum yoga poses slowly and stretch yourself gently. No gymnastics here or pushing beyond what is comfortable.⁠
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