Learn the ins and outs of the meaning of “BLW,” or “baby-led weaning,” with tips for safety and allergy introduction.
The term “BLW” stands for “baby-led weaning”, the infant feeding method where we allow baby to take the lead on feeding themselves from an early age with appropriately prepared foods. As the style of feeding has grown in popularity, so has the idea that this is the “right” way to feed a baby.
It may help to remember that there are lots of ways to start solids and the only “right” one is the one that’s safe and works for your family.
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Baby-Led Weaning 6 Months
Introducing solids of any type is usually recommended around 6 months, or the time that baby is sitting mostly on their own and has good head control. This is also the time that the iron stores that babies are born with typically start to run out, so we can offer iron-rich foods to ensure baby has enough.
How to Introduce Your Baby To Potential Food Allergens
Whether starting baby on purees or with the BLW-style of feeding, the recommendation is to introduce common food allergens early and often—which multiple studies have shown can decrease food allergy risk.
(Food allergy rates have doubled over the past 10 years, so having a plan for potentially allergenic foods is really important.)
That means you’ll want to include them right from the start regularly, unless there are risk factors such as eczema or a family history of food allergies. Talk to your own pediatrician or allergist for information specific to your child.
Recipes that Include Common Food Allergens
We also try to include as many of these foods in our meals as we can through easy recipes including the ones below.
Baby-Led Weaning Safety Tips
Babies can eat a lot of foods, but not all of them, so there are some considerations to keep in mind when feeding any baby:
- The food should be easy to hold and easily squished between your fingers.
- Avoid foods that are choking hazards such as anything hard, round, chewy, or sticky.
- Always make sure baby is safely seated in a high chair and is upright, rather than leaning back or reclined.
- Avoid honey for babies under 12 months and avoid replacing formula or breastmilk with cow’s milk until over age 12 months.
- You can offer some of a puree on a preloaded spoon, then hand it over to baby to feed themselves. This allows them to have control, but expands the options for the types of foods you can feed.
Frequently Asked Questions
BLW stands for baby-led weaning or the style of infant feeding where baby takes the lead on picking up the food and putting it into their mouth.
The name grew in popularity after the publication of the book, Baby Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Food by UK author Gill Rapley a little over a decade ago.
To start, secure baby in their highchair and offer one food for them to explore at a time. You can find some favorite baby-led weaning first foods as well as BLW breakfast ideas to get you started.
It is usually recommended to start infants on solid foods, whether purees or BLW-style food, around 6 months.
Favorite Baby Led Weaning Recipes
For some of our favorite BLW recipes to try, head to my library of baby food recipes. Some go-to recipes include:
Best Tips for Success
- Be sure to follow basic safety tips for the preparation of food for baby-led weaning, including to serve foods that are easy for baby to hold—food the size of a finger or two is usually good—and that is easy to squish between your fingers.
- Plan to introduce potential food allergens early and feed them often.
- Include purees using preloaded spoons to increase the foods you have available for baby as you like.
- Find tips on Baby Feeding Schedules to plan your day.
- These Baby Led Weaning Breakfast Ideas may help get the first meal of the day on the highchair tray faster.
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