How To Do Baby Led Weaning (And Why You’d Want To)

Baby led weaning was still emerging as a philosophy for feeding baby when Griffin was born (even though baby-led weaning was around much longer than Gerber purées!) And to be honest, I was scared and didn’t feel comfortable with the practice. With the birth of my second child, Paloma, I was much more confident and busy so the idea of mashing up foods and/or making purées didn’t appeal to me! Too much extra work! I decided to again experiment with babyled weaning and was amazed how much more natural it felt. I also discovered that baby led weaning is not a new concept, and many mothers have been introducing solids in finger food form instinctively.

Before we start – a special gift for you

Here’s an exclusive one-pager of the Top 25 Food Ideas for Baby-Led Weaning that we made just for readers of this post! Click here to get it!

There are no studies to support purées as a first food

In fact, purées only became the norm at a time when doctors were advocating introducing solids at 4 months (which we now know is too early for proper digestion and can lead to allergies). I actually have experience with this. With both of my babies, I introduced a little egg yolk at 4 months and both of them developed hives! I stopped immediately and re-introduced at 6-7 months with no problems. I really believe that a baby’s digestive system is way too immature to introduce solid foods before 6 months. Therefore, baby led weaning is a natural choice for introducing solids.

What is baby led weaning (or BLW)?

First coined by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett in their book Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods, Baby-led weaning is an approach to introducing solid food where baby is allowed and encouraged to self-feed solid finger foods instead of receiving purées via spoon. For those of us in the US, baby led feeding may be a better term as BLW is not about weaning babies off breastmilk or formula, but is weaning them onto solids. (Although, anytime we introduce food, we are in a sense starting the weaning process, as baby will naturally start to decline her breast milk consumption. But with BLW, the baby is in charge.) BLW babies:

  • Are encouraged to join the family at mealtime and self-feed appropriate finger foods.
  • Choose what, how much, and how quickly to eat.
  • Are given the freedom to explore new tastes and textures without the pressure to eat a set amount or a specific food.
  • Continue to nurse (or receive a bottle) just as often. Solids are to compliment milk, and baby is trusted to know when to increase solid feedings and decrease milk (usually later in the first year).

BLW as a continuation of breastfeeding

We all know that breast milk is best for baby, but breastfeeding is also a natural start to BLW. Baby is introduced to the flavors from mother’s diet in her breast milk. This early introduction to food tastes often increases baby’s acceptance of those foods later on. Breastfeeding is also baby’s first lesson in self regulation, which is one benefit of BLW. However, this doesn’t mean that a formula fed baby won’t benefit from a BLW approach to introducing solids. BLW can work well for any family.

When is baby ready?

Experts agree that solids should be delayed until the middle of the first year of life. This is when baby’s digestive system is mature. Some babies may seem ready at 5 ½ months, while others may not be ready until 8 months of age. It’s important to take into account ALL readiness signs for each individual child. As always, consult your child’s pediatrician if you are unsure or have questions. Signs of readiness include:

  • Baby can sit up well without support.
  • Baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex (automatically pushing solids out of mouth with tongue).
  • Baby has developed the fine motor skills to self feed. Development of a pincer grasp (baby picks up food between thumb and forefinger, not palm and fingers) typically happens at around 6 months, but sometimes as late at 1 year.
  • Baby is willing to chew, even if he has few or no teeth.
  • Baby shows interest in participating at mealtime, and may try to grab food from your plate and put it in his mouth.

What are the benefits of baby led feeding?

It’s easier

  • Purées are time consuming. It’s much easier to adjust what the adults are eating to suit baby instead of having to get out the blender or potato masher.
  • BLW babies aren’t pressured into eating. They are trusted to know when, what, and how much they need to eat. Therefore, there is less stress and everyone can enjoy mealtime. (No more airplane spoons 🙂 )
  • Babies feed themselves, so you can eat at the same time! Baby led weaning gives moms the chance to relax and eat themselves.

Baby develops good eating habits

  • Baby (continues to) learn self regulation, which may set the child up for a healthier BMI in the future according to this study.
  • Self selection of food has even been shown to increase weight in underweight babies, therefore supporting a healthy weight in most babies.
  • Since BLW babies experience a wide range of healthy foods early on, they may be more likely to continue to enjoy those foods later in life.

It’s educational

  • Babies learn to safely handle food (they learn to chew THEN swallow)
  • Babies learn to manage different textures, tastes, sizes, and shapes of food.
  • Babies get lots of hand eye and fine motor practice by learning to grasp food and move it to their mouth.
  • Babies learn best by observing and copying. Eating meals together (and eating similar foods) gives her many opportunities to learn about food.

How to get started with baby led weaning?

The great thing about baby led weaning is that you really don’t need much to get started. The first thing you need is a safe place for baby to sit. A highchair is a great choice, but a parents lap is just as good (remember, baby should be able to sit up unassisted at this point). The next thing you need is healthy, appropriate finger foods (covered below). A BLW baby is offered a variety of healthy whole finger foods (as well as a small amount of water) to choose from and explore. Follow your baby’s cues. Begin offering solids once a day, and gradually increase as the child shows he wants or needs more. Baby-led weaning families are encouraged to make family mealtime a habit. One reason is that baby learns best by observation and imitation. When everyone eats together and eats the same food, baby feels included, and mealtime is a fun experience rather than a battle. If eating meals together doesn’t work for your family, consider eating a snack while baby has his meal.

What foods can I feed my baby?

Baby’s first foods should be a selection of fresh fruits, soft cooked vegetables, healthy carbohydrates, and fats. Think soft and easy to gum and swallow. When given a variety to choose from, baby will naturally choose the foods that meet her nutritional needs.

Baby led weaning BLW finger foods carrots apple Mama Natural

Baby Led Weaning First Foods

Some great first finger foods for baby are:

  • Avocados
  • Banana
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Soft cooked apples
  • Soft cooked carrots, green beans, zucchini, and beets
  • Very ripe peaches and pears, plums, and melon
  • Pumpkin
  • Green beans with the skins removed
  • Egg yolk
  • Meat or poultry
  • Liver
  • Slices of sprouted bread, cooked pasta, brown rice (Some decide to wait until molars come through before introducing grains. Wheat is recommended to be avoided until later in the first year.)

Baby Led Weaning foods to avoid:

Some of these are common sense (popcorn for baby?!) but some good reminders when practicing baby led weaning.

  • High choking risk foods like: grapes, cherry/grape tomatoes, nuts, whole hot dogs. (You can find a full list here.)
  • Allergic foods like: gluten, egg whites, nuts (peanuts), seafood, and citrus, especially if you have family history of sensitivity
  • Added table salt* or sugar
  • Unhealthy and processed foods like: chips, popcorn, sugar-containing foods, breakfast cereals, gum, and hard candy.
  • Honey
  • Stimulants: like chocolate or sugar

* Small amounts of high mineral sea salt can be added with the approval of physician

Baby Led Weaning Safety

There are obvious safety concerns with introducing solids to your baby. Assuming that baby has shown signs of readiness and can sit up unassisted, it’s then important for parents to be vigilant and never leave baby alone when eating. It’s equally important that only baby put food into her own mouth.

Won’t my baby choke?

Choking is a real concern with any supplemental feeding, which is why close supervision is necessary. That said, there needs to be a distinction between gagging – which is a safety mechanism that safeguards against choking by bringing large pieces of food forward to be chewed – and real choking. As baby grows, the place in her mouth that triggers the gag reflex moves further back towards the throat. According to Rapley, this is one reason why baby led weaning is valuable, because baby learns to chew and swallow when this reflex is still very close to the front of the mouth. Of course, for all parents, understanding the signs of choking and knowing how to respond is very important. Here is online education… but better yet, contact your local hospital or community center to find classes.

Will my baby get enough to eat?

Breastmilk (or formula) will make up the majority of baby’s nutrition from 6-12 months of age. The main purpose of solids in the first year is to introduce baby to new tastes and textures while teaching her to chew and swallow food. If baby is gaining normally and thriving, then she is getting enough to eat. Baby-led solid feeding trusts that baby knows when she is hungry, when she is full, and what she needs to meet her nutritional needs. If she is struggling with low weight, you can certainly add in some smoothies, purées, or extra fats like avocado and butter. That’s the beauty of baby led weaning. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Work with your physician to determine what is best.

Will my baby get enough iron without iron-fortified baby cereal?

Yes, if she is breastfed. The iron in breastmilk is absorbed at a percentage of 50-70% while the iron in iron-fortified cereal is absorbed at a rate of 4-10%.  According to Kellymom.com, “Healthy, full-term infants who are breastfed exclusively for periods of 6-9 months have been shown to maintain normal hemoglobin values and normal iron stores.”Breast milk is actually a perfectly sufficient source of iron.”

I would add letting your child’s umbilical cord pulse and wait to clamp for at least 3 minutes after birth helps tremendously since the baby gets 1/3 of his blood supply back! It also probably helps if a breastfeeding mama consumes her placenta and eats red meat a few times a week to replenish her stores.

Formula fed babies may also get enough iron from iron rich finger foods such as:

  • Meat & poultry (especially beef and liver)
  • Winter squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Sea vegetables
  • Greens
  • Beans
  • Egg yolks

If there is a concern about baby’s iron level, have it tested before supplementing.

Tips for BLW (baby-led weaning)

  • Hunger can create an unhappy experience for everyone. Be sure to nurse or bottle feed baby up to an hour before offering solids so that his tummy isn’t empty.
  • Forget about expectations and let it be a learning experience. Baby probably won’t eat much at first, and that’s ok!
  • Realize that it may be a slow process. Babies can take a longer time when they’re in charge. As they get the hang of it, feeding time will be quicker.
  • It will be messy. Many parents find a naked baby is easiest to clean up afterwards.
  • Don’t serve small pieces of food but instead serve pieces of food large enough for baby to grasp easily. Some families find cutting food with a crinkle cutter or rolling pieces of food in oat flour can make pieces easier for baby to hold.
  • If food can be smashed between your finger and thumb, it’s probably appropriate for baby.
  • Don’t put more than a few pieces of food on the highchair tray or table at once, so baby won’t get overwhelmed (or have as much to throw!)

Progress Not Perfection

Keep in mind that you can always do a hybrid approach to feeding. Super soft foods like avocado and sweet potato might be better served with a spoon. Let your child play and try to feed herself using the utensil. You’d be surprised just how well she can imitate you! Some moms let baby gnaw on soft pear slices, but prefer to spoon feed foods like puréed meat or bone broth. I know some parents who make smoothies, which a baby can drink through a straw if the family is on the go. Just know that you can experiment with feeding approaches that work best for your family and lifestyle. (Although it’s best to probably stick with a few set routines so your baby doesn’t get confused.)

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How about YOU?

Did or do you practice baby-led weaning? Or do a combination of feeding tactics? Share with us in the comments below!

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102 Comments

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  1. Maybe because there are some foods that should be introduced later? Like egg yolks at 7 months, not 4!! I don’t know why you would offer egg yolks as one of first foods.. You start with something that’s not likely to cause an allergic reaction: white potato, carrots, bananas, pumpkin….

  2. As a NICU nurse the cord should be clamped after 1 minute. There have not been any studies (meta-analysis which are the ones used to support new treatments, etc) to support waiting longer. No blood is leached from the baby during the birthing process and subsequently needing extra time to be replaced. The additional blood is broken down and increases the risk of jaundice (components of broken down rbcs include bilirubin) and requiring treatment for that (neoblue lights which would keep the baby and mommy from adequate skin to skin time and delay bonding).

  3. Thank you for writing this informative post about Baby-led Weaning! As a dietitian & BLW mama of 3, I have a new book out called “The Parents’ Guide to Baby-led Weaning.” Genevieve, if you would like a copy to review or give-away, let me know and the publisher will send one over!

  4. Both my children were breast fed, got no solid food until they were six months old, and got very little jarred baby food. My youngest daughter is a registered dietician and has finally blessed me with a grandchild. They are introducing me to the “baby led weaning,” concept which I find super! I am also an osteopathic family physician who still delivers babies and takes care of whole families.
    A few comments.
    Consuming the placenta? I don’t think so. No matter how “natural” and “organic” we try to live, all of us contain DDT’s, radiation, PCB’s, ad infinitum in our fat and organs. And allowing a cord to completely pulse out before cutting is a good way to end up with a baby under bili lights. New neonatal guidelines are to cut the cord about a minute after birth and that seems to be a good compromise to me.
    As to when to start solid foods? Look at other mammals. They begin eating solid foods when they get teeth. Average age to teeth in humans is 9 months old, some sooner, some later. The most rapidly developing system in kids up to two years old is the nervous system, which requires fat and protein; i.e., breast milk, formula if you must. There is absolutely no reason to start a baby on solids before 6 months. There is good research to show that beginning babies on simple carbohydrates (the ubiquitous rice cereal) increases risk of type I diabetes. Babies who are chubby because of breast milk seldom go on to be obese adults. Babies who are chubby because of practically force-fed formula or inappropriate solid foods become obese children and adults at high risk of type II diabetes.
    The other thing I have found true is that as soon as friends and relatives know you have started solid food, they can’t wait to give them chocolate, cookies, ice cream, pop, etc.
    What is needed is common sense. If a food is a poor nutritional choice for an adult, don’t give it to your kid (and don’t eat it yourself). If a baby is getting a goodly supply of breast milk (formula if you must) they don’t need things like eggs and meat until later. Work on healthy complex carbs and fats and just have fun.

  5. I appreciate a differing perspective on an issue, but I get bothered when I see cherry picking of peer-reviewed evidence to justify one’s position (you mention a lack of studies justifying the use of purees as a starter food, but then later on suggest that placenta consumption likely restores maternal iron stores postpartum, which no studies have explored). I am also curious as to why you started your first child on egg yolks before 6 months old, as everything I’m reading suggests avocado, mushed banana (not egg) between 4-6 months.

  6. Get over yourself.

  7. I just wrote about my first adventures in baby-led weaning. I was VERY skeptical about it at first, but I do agree it’s a great way for baby to explore and try new things. I think I’m more for the natural way of letting happen though, vs. mandate everything baby eats has to be finger foods. For me, mushing food for baby ahead of time and feeding him is way easier, faster and less messy than trying to figure out foods for him to eat himself, wait for him to figure out eating them and then clean up all the mess he made in the process. Plus his mealtime doesn’t really coincide with ours, nor can he eat everything we eat. It’s fun to watch them start out though, and I do think it has it’s pluses! https://eemmllee.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/baby-led-mess-making/

  8. Wow 😳 you’re a weirdo

  9. That is so rude and unnecessary to say!

  10. Is this a real comment? How rude are you!?

  11. I tried blw with my first, but she wouldn’t even play with the food. It just sat there on the tray. However, she absolutely loved the puréed baby food jars and the spoon was fun for her. It was less time consuming, less messy, and less expensive because the jars are covered under assistance but fruit and vegetables are not. I wish I could do it if I had a bunch of extra money for produce items. All I know is my oldest is the least picky child I know and will eat almost everything put in front of her. My youngest seems to be following in her footsteps because she wouldn’t put anything in her mouth when I gave her some items. She only tried the banana, a teeny tiny bit and she started choking. So I’m just giving up the whole idea. She’s also not sitting upright all on her own even though she’s six months. Really not sure how to go about it at this point.

    • Seems like baby’s not ready if they aren’t sitting up unaided, hitting the 6 month mark doesn’t mean they are definitely ready it varies for each baby. I would read through the signs of readiness and wait a bit to try again 🙂

  12. Great post, but you must be careful on what sources you take your information from. You report that starting your infant at 4 months can lead to allergies and digestive issues, but if you are up to date on current evidence, early introduction of high risk foods can actually prevent allergies. I have not read, however, the effects of digestion.

    • She’s right about not introducing solids before 6 months, but her information about allergenic foods is outdated.

      • No, there’s no definitive evidence to completely avoid solids between 4-6 months. Every baby is different – solids cannot be relied upon to supplement or even nutritionally sustain at this age. But there’s nothing stating its mild introduction is detrimental.

    • I might be wrong but I read it as don’t give babies sensitive food before they are 6 months old.

      • Be careful about the facts you post. A lot of baby led weaning advocates discount a lot of medical recommendations for no other reason other than it’s incongruent to their method. There is validity in medical opinions around the topic. Your response with regards to allergies is particularly concerning about the validity of any of your information. Just because you read something, doesn’t make it so. Be cautious about information you provide that can affect the well being of children.

        • While blw is not a new concept I think we need to really seek out as much information we can from a cross section of professionals if we are ever in doubt.

    • I completely agree with her on everything. I started my baby on pasture raised non gmo egg yolks at 4 months old and she had a horrible time with that. She started projectile vomiting after a week immediately after feeding and developed excema. We stopped feeding her egg yolks obviously but waited to start solids at 8 months old. I agree with the food allergens as well. Our family is gluten free, dairy free and nut free.

  13. I just started BLW for my 10-month old’s baby.

    Can I still feed him with porridge or continue with BLW?

    Thank you.

  14. Hi! Thanks for the article. Our babe is 5.5 months and EBF. I wanted to wait as long as possible to introduce solids as I don’t want to wean get off of breastmilk. She isn’t sitting up alone yet, but shows a huge interest in food lately. Today I let her have a tiny taste of my banana and she loves it. Any tips for introducing but not replacing ? I guess it’s a gamble that is led by her but at the same time I would rather she gets breastmilk than all of the potentially GMO pesticide foods out there. (We eat organic GMO free as much as possible)

    • Yes. Nurse your baby before giving them food.

  15. Have you read any of the new studies… They are now saying the opposite. Introducing foods between 4-6 months reduces risk of allergies. What are your thoughts?

    • Interesting. I have actually read that delaying solids until 6 months help maintain the baby’s virgin gut, thus, eliminates risk for the baby to have allergies and some other problems. Would you mind sharing a link to that study? 🙂

      • Our pediatric allergist explained this to my husband and I. Our son is anaphylactic to milk so we had him tested for allergens and discussed food recommendations. He said that non exposure of reduced exposure to known high allergy foods will in fact not reduce risk. If a child is going to have an allergen, they will have it regardless of so called early exposure. He did advise not introducing things that I only occasionally eat (I.e. Fish, tree nuts, eggs) because they are known high allergens for some and we don’t want an anaphylactic kiddo trying those until around two. But, if he has those allergies, he already has them and won’t “develop” them from exposure. Exposure only increases the body’s defense (histamine) during repeated exposure.

        • There are many allergies that one can develop after exposure. For example, those anaphylactic to latex often have issues whem consuming banana. Some children will have these allergies regardless, but there is ample evidence to suggest exposure via food or environment early on can have a profound impact on allergy development in children.

      • I am not able to find any peer-reviewed studies reporting your claim. Can you share your citations? A common issue is that nutritional studies are often plagued with a number of biases and are often poorly designed (small samples, cross-sectional, etc.) Still, it makes as much sense to use the 6 month marker for all babies for eating solids as it does expecting your child to walk right at 12 months, to speak at 15 months, and to eliminate on a potty at 24 months on the dot.

    • The world health organizational and multiple other pediatric agencies does not reccomend introducing solids until 6 months.

  16. Hi Genevieve! I loved all of the scientific information your provided in your article so I linked it in a blog post I wrote about my personal experience with baby-led weaning. I also included a video that you might find as fascinating as I did. Your insight plus this video is what caused me to practice baby-led weaning to begin with. Blessings!

    • May I please have a link to your blog you’re mentioning? Thank you.

  17. I’m surprised you say no egg white, nuts and Ther allergens. My doctor and naturopath recommended that regardless of family history with allergies (although if you have allergies to watch more closely for reaction) but that early introduction of allergens was the best way to PREVENT allergies!

    • That is the new recommendations! They are saying that early exposure is better 🙂 we are not limiting anything but the obvious and honey!

  18. Hey there! My daughter is almost 7 months old. I started introducing puréed veggies at 5 months and she loved everything! I was so happy that she wasn’t a picky eater, but then things took a turn. Now she hates everything and gags to the point she almost throws up. I am thinking she doesn’t like the texture of puréed food. I tried avocado in slices and a banana in one of the mesh feeders and she gagged with both of those. She definitely has interest in eating as she gets very excited for our meal time routine. I just don’t know what to do to get her over the gagging issue. Any suggestions? Something else kind of random, she threw up two times once after eating carrots and another after sweet potatoes (each throw up incident being 12 days apart). I’m not sure if it was just a little spit up that triggered her gag reflex or if she might be allergic to orange foods (if that could even be a thing). Has anyone ever heard of a baby having issues with orange foods?

    • Same thing happened to my LO. Still having the same problems. 8 months now and still not eating or not able to swallow because of gaggin. Mine throws up sometimes because of the gagging. I sometimes try to feed puréed food. But no luck. He won’t swallow at all. Does it get better after a month or so?

    • Mine gagged on everything, even soft solids, till about ten months old. Suddenly, at nearly eleven months, he doesn’t want to eat anything unless we’re eating it, too! It will come.

    • I had the same problem with my son when he was about 7.5 months old. He gagged and suffered projectile vomiting about a few times a week that went on for a couple of weeks. It was terrifying. I lost sleep and cried about it each time it happened. I learned to feed him slowly and be more mindful of how much he eats. (Over feeding can cause vomiting, just in case u didn’t know..)

      He’s almost 10 months old now and hasnt gagged/vomited for at least a month now. Could be just a problem that happens as they start to eat more solid food? I hope your son outgrows it soon…

  19. Hi my sister and I are from the UK. I did baby led weaning with my daughter and found it worked amazingly. My sister saw the success I had so she weaned her second using BLW as did I with my second. We feel so passionately about it we started blogging about BLW a year ago and haven’t looked back – we want to get the message out there as we find that a lot of people have still never heard of it and think puree is the only option!
    If it’s ok I’ll add the link http://www.minimunchclub.com/

  20. This is not necessarily a BLW question, but my 8 month old is now formula fed 🙁 and I don’t know what to do about diary. Doctors all say just switch to diary when they are 1. I’ve found very little information out there (besides mainstream advice) on what the best thing is to do. My first nursed till he was 2 so it wasn’t ever something I had to worry about. There’s the raw vs pasteurized consideration and if homemade nut or coconut milk is best. Any thoughts? And yes, I know breast milk is best, but sadly it is not an option.

    • I watched a few documetaries on health that said humans are the only species that drink another mammals milk. My son was allergic, so we went to soy and almond milk after 1.

    • We love whole organic goat milk in our family! Much easier to digest than cow’s milk. I cook with it and my toddler gets about 16 oz of it daily.

      Do you research before considering soy milk as a viable option. Soy contains phytoestrogens which can adversely affect normal hormone function, particularly in development, and is one of the most genetically modified foods in existence. Almonds are also notoriously “GMO” and will not offer the protein present in goat milk. Goat milk has the closest protein composition to breastmilk, as well!

      • I would be much more concerned with the ACTUAL estrogen and hormones from another mammals breastmilk. Milk is not something that is needed. If you are concerned about protein intake I would go with a fortified soy milk. While most soy is genetically modified that soy is then given to the cows you are drinking milk from. All soy milks I have purchased have been non-gmo. Not because I chose but because that is the only option I have ever seen.

    • Hi! Try goats milk! Did you know there is only a 3% difference to mamas breastmilk?! Here is a link to the goats milk I use. https://www.mtcapra.com/ref/crystalamezcua/
      Baby stopped breastfeeding on her own at 6 months so we had to supplement. Didn’t want a lab made formula so I explored other options.
      Baby is happy and healthy, LOVES her goats milk!

    • If you are worried about the quality of formula look up Holle and HiPP brands of formula. They are the healthiest and best sourced you can get. They are made in Germany I believe and many parent in Europe use them. I’m in the US but can still order it. I’m still using breastmilk for my 4.5 month old but we have used the formula a couple times when my milk supply was lower. Good luck!

    • It is very important to continue with the formula until your baby is at least 1. There are extra nutrients and vitamins added to the formula that can not be found in milk.

      After he or she is 1, its impt that they use whole milk or an alternative with enough fats in it…nut milks are lacking in fat. Soy milk, despite its misgivings, is a much btr alternative to dairy than nut milks if you are unwilling to do whole milk. but if your baby has no issues with dairy, organic whole milk is the way to go.

  21. My almost 7 month old just mushes the food around on his tray in delight and doesn’t attempt to bring it to his mouth. When I have put a spoonful of mashed avocado,banana or carrot in his mouth he makes disgusted faces gags and even vomited with the carrot. This is when I decided to back off and offer him only large soft pieces he can pick up himself. My question is do I continue giving it to him everyday for what feels like just a sensory exercise or wait a few weeks and try again?
    One thing he has liked is a few sips of homemade chicken bone broth. He is also obsessed with drinking water out of my glass.

    • My LO plays with the food too. Won’t even try to eat. I’ve been struggling for 2 months now. He is 8 months now. I want to know if they eventually eat. What did you do to make your LO eat? Did you find anything your baby would swallow?

  22. I’ve been using a mix of puréed and well cooked chunks.. Started her on purées at 4months because my husband kept teying to feed hoer chips pretzels etc. 🙄😒 didn’t seem to understand how they might b hard for her to eat.. I fugured it would stop him from pushing solids and help him differentiate baby food from adult food but over time I started sharing things in a more solid form such as chunks of cooked green beans and carrots and she was doing great! At 6 months I tried stage 2 purées and she kept coughing and gagging because she would suck all the juice out and the have a gummed up clump in her mouth.. So I still give her purées when in a hurry and to help her eat alittle more but otherwise I just give her well cooked little pieces of whatever were having for supper if it’s not spicy or processed.. Otherwise I just steam a carrot.. We have issues with spoons too because she wants to play with it and bang it on the table and if I give her chunks she just smoothed it between her fingers and smears it on her table so I hold out the peices for her if she wants to eat it she opens her mouth and leans forward if she’s done eating she glances up at it then goes back to playing.. It just seems to work for us.. If anyone has suggestions to keep her from squishing and playing with the chunks please share.. She won’t eat them if she gets to play with them.. She just smushes and smears

  23. Hi,
    Just found your website while looking for info. / tips on weaning my baby in this method. Found the information very useful. I’m just starting with my 7 m.o. (started off with purees but would like to switch) and am having a hard time feeding him veggies! Doc said he needs lots of iron so we really need to focus on greens (green beans -frozen, so they’re not the long “fresh” type-, spinach, etc.) and meat! Tried giving him green beans but he never stuck any in his mouth! Do you have any tips that will help me with my conundrum?

  24. WIth baby 1 we did a lot of purees and porridge type food. She is two now and the pickiest eater ever. She wont touch veggies anymore. My 10 month old has been 99% BLW from the beginning mainly because who has the time to puree with two littles… and she is the BEST eater. She’ll eat anything but fish so far. I still don’t give her large chunks- I cut it up- but dinner time is so much less stressful even if it’s messier. I wish I’d done both this way but I eat a lot healthier now so it’s easier to give her what we’re having and not worry like I did with baby 1.

  25. Hi, Wondered if I should offer my baby the food in his hand or should I leave it on his high chair tray and wait for him to pick it up? He’s just over 6 months and has been ebf up until now.

  26. I introduced purée foods at 4 months per my pediatrician recommendation, but only small amounts 1-2 teaspoons 2-3 times a day. Starting introducing finger foods at 6 – 7 months very slowly after my babies were sitting up and cutting teeth. By 9 months, they are great eaters, will pretty much eat anything I give them and have never shown any signs of allergies. So, I guess you could call mine a combination approach. I love the fact that I can feed them many different textures and temperatures of food. Gives me flexibility.

    • And twin Momma we now know that early introduction of foods does not “cause” allergies, and may actually prevent them…so good for you!

  27. My son just turned one. And has the worst gag reflex. He’s been eating purées but it doesn’t matter what texture if there’s too big a chunk or chunky really at all he gags and throws up. I keep trying new solids everyday but end up having to go back to purées for him to actually get anything. It’s very stressful. I would love any kind of suggestions to try. We’ve been adding the baby oatmeal cereal to the purées since he was 6 months and started eating just to make sure he’s not getting it completely smooth but even if there’s too much cereal in it (and its too thick) he gags and throws up. Then of course doesn’t want to eat anything else. He’s even just licked a piece of toast and gagged. It’s the craziest thing. Our peditrician said he’ll get it eventually but it’s so hard because he’s already a year and not wanting solid food.

    • Hi ally,
      That sounds significant. You may want to inquire with the Dr about getting a referral to get an evaluation done by an Occupational Therapist, someone with training in feeding therapy, in order to rule out whether he has a sensory processing issue. I’m a pediatric OT and sounds like he has oral aversions to textures…

      • Speech and language pathologists are experts in swallowing and feeding disorders. They deal with everything from the lips to the throat.

        • Thank you!!!! As a speech and language pathologist, I get tired of the misinformation out here on blogs and websitea. Speech therapists are THE trained professionals to assess oral motor functioning, oral sensory function, and swallowing. OTs have recently been added to the mix because of a shortage of SLPs. Not because it is their area of expertise.

          • I am a Physical Therapist that has worked in many rehab settings and I have to second that speech therapists are the best trained for oral mechanics.

    • you could ask your pediatrician for a referral for speech or occupational therapy if it continues. Some kids, especially if they were premature, have sensory issues where they will only accept certain textures. A speech or occupational therapist can help you address the issue. I’m a pediatric physical therapist and I’ve seen a surprising amount of kids with sensory issues.

      • Thank you for sharing Lindsey. Great points!

    • If you’re still having trouble, I highly recommend trying Gripe Water or something to calm his tummy. :-/ Gripe Water has been our solution to a lot around here. Everything from Colic to Acid Reflux (which did actually result in the little one that I nanny throwing up after every bottle or after being breast fed on the rare occasion she would actually try to feed from her Mom), as well as the upset tummy from Constipation. Regardless, if he is still throwing up, please make sure you’re giving him plenty of pedialyte. Good luck with your little guy!!!

    • Did he have reflux? This happened to my oldest and it ended up being his reflux that was bothering him. We put him back on his meds and it helped tremendously

  28. Hi everyone! I am very thankful for this site. My baby girl has been showing an obvious interest in foods for a few weeks and I’ve been undecided on how to start. At her 4 month checkup Dr said we could introduce avocado, bananas, etc in te next month if she seemed ready. OE does not sit up by herself without leaning but that girl will roll, kick, thrust her way towards Daddy’s plate ( bad daddy eats on the couch) to get that dinner! I decided to let her have a taste of avocado at 17 weeks and she barely lost any, shoving the spoon in her mouth. I had to keep her from gagging herself. Since everything I read said to finely purée foods I didn’t realize I could let her act on the impulse to grab something and put it in her mouth without my “help.” She got very angry one evening when we were eating a chicken, tomato and yogurt curry so I let he taste a tiny piece of tomato and she gummed for a second then swallowed it immediately. I felt bad for not letting her have more in fear if a tummy ache! OE loves bananas but spits out the bigger chunks so I do mush and let her lead the spoon. If she acts like she wants to eat I let her put it in her mouth. I put the spoon or piece of food in front if her and if she grabs it and opens up Yay Baby! She is not yet 5 months but is sure to let me know if she wants something other than breast! She has two older step-siblings and between watching the 4 of us eat, does not want to be left out! Everything Ive read doesn’t talk about babies her age but she has shown me she wants to be apart of the food experience and I’m carefully letting her explore. BTW she hates baby cereal and From what I’ve learned it is completely unnecessary. I can’t wait to put some foods in front of her and watch her choose and feed herself now that I know it’s okay- Thanks!

  29. My son is 8 months old now and he is on purees since 4 months. After I saw how my friend’s son, 12 months old handling and eating solid food without purees, I was impressed. I wanted to train my son too. I let him tried apple. He knows how to use hand to grab and put in his mouth, he knows how to chew but he doesn’t know the piece is too big to swallow. So he gets gagging every time he eat solid food. I guess he is too used to swallow purees. Is it too late to train him BLW method? Any body having the same problem? Please advise.

    • Having the same issue

  30. My son just turned 8 months and he hates being fed from a spoon. We started with solids when he was 5 months. I’ve started with mehtod lately but its a mess. He loves eating the same food he hated with spoon. I am a little bit concerned because he is only in the 25 percentile and in this period is not gaining to much weight. I both breast feed and formula my baby.

  31. I’ve been doing BLW from the start and bub’s now 9 months and refuses to eat from a spoon. He’s always clamped his mouth shut when I try so I just let him feed himself for the past 3 mths. But now cereal, yogurt and even travelling seems too hard now because he insists on feeding himself and making a massive mess! Any tips?
    Ps I don’t mind the mess it’s just not practical in airports and on planes.

  32. I had never heard of this concept until tonight when I looked up ways to help my baby eat baby food. She is ebf and won’t take a pumped bottle or eat purees which seems a problem because I start work tomorrow. However she loves food, real food, she chews and swallows all sorts of things from my plate just in her own. She will even grab the spoon from you if you try to feed her anything with the spoon and try it herself before throwing it in disgust. I was very worried about her at first but now I’m positive I’ll be able to keep her fed. I only work in 4 hour shifts so she’ll only be without breast milk for 5 hours max a day. Do you think that is reasonable at 6 months? Or do you have a suggestion to help me keep her fed while I return to work? Keep in mind this job is an unfortunate necessity for me and this is not how I planned to parent. Not that is not a valid and respectable choice, just not one I planned on making =/ might be why I’m so worried about her.

    • You can try giving her a sippy cup instead of a bottle. Likely at sux months she wont take a bottle if she hasn’t already.

    • I work 4 hour shifts and I feed my baby before I go and then pump once while away, then feed again when I get home. . My husband does dinners with the kids to we started doing baby led weaning, it’s working out great!

  33. My son is 11 months old and absolutely loves to eat (all day long, anything he can get his hands on). We did a combo of purees and finger foods but recently he does not want the purees. Yet I feel like he isn’t getting enough and a healthy variety with just finger foods. He also never seems to get full. Expample: he ate 2 apples for breakfast with little dropped and screamed when I didn’t have more to give him. So my question is #1 do I allow him to continue to eat even in fear of him getting a belly ache? #2 how far can I go with what he eats at this age/stage? (Can he eat things like chicken or do I need to stick with your main couple of fruit and veggies?)
    one more thing… does anyone have recipe suggestions

  34. Hi, I have been working on BLW since my daughter was 8 mo. Now she is 15 mo and has not gained any weight because she is not force fed like most babies. Do you have any recipies or advice for me?? I am sure i am not the only one with a baby that eats like a bird..

    • That’s why I always do a combo of BLW and spoon feeding. Some kids can’t get enough nutrition or calories with just BLW.

  35. Thank you for sharing these tips. I started out with mashed bananas and than caught in to BLW… Although it is quite messy and baby barely eats it. It’s been fun to watch him learn how to deal with foods. I have a 6.5 month old. Planning on giving him broccoli tomorrow. Wish us luck!

  36. We are going to do a combo of purees and BLW with my lo, who just turned six months. I was wondering what type of utensils and/or dishes you like? I’m interested in non plastic or at least plastic sans toxins.

  37. We loved the idea of BLW but it wasn’t right for us. My little one loves mushed up foods. She was exclusively BF to 6 months then we began with some purées, tried BLW many times and she choked to much and didn’t eat very much, by around 11 months she naturally stated eating more foods like eggs, avocado,etc. we loved making soups which we sort of saw as a middle ground between BLW and purées only, we made great lentils, bean broths and veggie mixes – it’s all soft to swallow and full of different spices and tastes. Now at 16 months she still likes soups and eats a huge variety of foods. We had lots of friends do BLW but it just was not right for our family this go around. Thanks for the article! xo

  38. I started with mushed baby foods at five months. I didn’t even know about BLW. Then one day she took a broccoli from my plate. I let her have it at waited at bated breath. I was so surprised that she chewed, even with no teeth. Then I read this post. Now its a whole new world. I am still just enamored every day with how well she can eat. She can even spoon feed herself at 7 months. When I was pureeing her food I literally would stay up till 1 or 2 in the morning. Ugh. But now I simply sit and share what I am eating. I never have to worry about the preparation. The mess is something else I have to wash her highchair cover nightly, but its so worth it and wayyy easier then mushing a weeks worth of food!! Thank you so very much!!!

  39. I love the BWL concept and will try going this way plus a little mash with our son who is currently 5months 2 weeks and EBF at the moment. My question is about introducing single foods. I’ve been told it’s a good idea to introduce one food at a time in the morning to a observe any reactions at the beginning. Does this apply to BLW also ? Or do you give them a few things to choose from, from the get go ? Thanks for the fabulous post !

    • I think it would probably be best to do 1 food at a time. I’m not very patient so I put a few options out there. If your child is more allergic, it would be especially important to introduce 1 food at a time.

      • Thanks Genevieve we are going to start him tomorrow. He’s So ready. He grabbed a salad leaf tonight and gave it a gnaw. I’ll offer up a bit of banana and acocado on the high hair tomorrow. My baby is growing up !

    • Thanks for asking this question!! I’ve been wondering this!

  40. We’ve been doing BLW with our daughter for the last 3 weeks now. Really hard to get into the mindset of not worrying how much she is eating but starting to relax more now. She’s tried so many different foods already. Our IKEA highchair is great to clean and I’d highly recommend it. The only things we use a spoon for are yoghurt, porridge and soup but even then she holds it too.

    • What is the name of your ikea highchair? I definitely want an easy to clean one! Thanks!

      • ANTILOP…its only $19.99 LOVE IT!!!

  41. I wanted to do BLW with my sons but both had medically diagnosed issues with feeding and actually required purees well into their second/third year of life. DS1 is 4 now and still prefers mush while DS2 can’t swallow unless it’s mush.

  42. I really wanted to do BLW with no purees- I absolutely love the concept. And even though I know there is a difference between gagging and choking, i couldn’t bare to watch my son gag. I was stressing myself out watching him eat. My hands were shaking with fear at one point as I was watching him- and then I thought– “why am I doing this to myself?!? This is supposed to be fun!” So our way of compromising has been purees at 6 months, transitioning to chunkier purees at 7 and 8 months. We’re basically waiting for his pincer grasp to become more refined to where he can eventually pick up tiny pieces of table food. I still let him hold his spoon at certain points during the feeding as I feed him purees. And we include him during family meals. He’s doing fine with it. Just wish I wasn’t such a chicken because i would have loved to have skipped purees altogether.

    • I love your process. You need to honor what you feel comfortable. I do a combo of BLW and purees with Paloma and it’s working well.

      • I really appreciate that you are so honest and empathetic Genevieve! I’ve already been stressing myself out whether complete BLW will work when we start solids in about a month! Did you start solids right at 6 months with Paloma? What was her first food? Was it a purée or a BLW appropriate solid? I have so many questions!

        • I let her lick a little avocado and butter when she was around 5 months old. I would just give her a little taste on a spoon and she was in charge of putting it in her mouth.

          Since then, I do a combo. Soft peeled pears and peaches in slices, same with avocado (although it’s a little slippery!) and let her have fun and she does eat a good amount of. I also have done some avocado/banana mash and she loves eating that with a spoon. I usually feed her half and then she plays with the rest. She turns her head if she isn’t interested so I’m still letting her be in charge 🙂

          • I also begin with purees and work up to chunkier solids and so on. Geneveive, I remember you had a video on why you were not doing BLW with Griffin, do you still feel the same way about it? I had the same views with my first and have continued with my second. We do also bring bebe to the table during family meal times and he gets fed at the same time all of the rest of us do.

  43. My sons first food was salmon eggs – yep, caviar! Super nutritious, and he loved to play with them. We have done small triangles of steak, which my son loves so much he’ll gnaw on them and then suck them dry. We’ve also done purees. One set-back I have is letting him put his own food in his mouth and be messy. I know it’s okay to be messy as a baby, but practically speaking, it’s hard for me to be okay with the extra work of cleaning up his high chair. It’s a really dumb design; it has all kinds of unnecessary nooks and crannies for nasty baby food to get stuck into. Okay mama, let it go! Don’t mind me, I’m in process. 🙂

    • I HEAR YOU! It can be a major mess. I joke to my husband that a good “diet” would be watching a baby feed herself/himself. LOL! It kinda grosses me out. I know. I know. It’s totally my issue but the mess can be hard. I’m getting better at it the second time around. Now, I find it a little more cute 🙂

    • I have four children and rarely let them play/mess with food. It always went from me to their mouth or it was something none goofy that they could eat themselves. I just can’t handle the mess. The oldest is 8 now and it hasn’t seemed to have affected any of them negatively. I EBF for 7 to 8 months with all but my first. I’ve never really done baby led feeding. Honestly I just feed them when they’re hungry. I never thought about what or how to do it.

  44. I’m so glad you mentioned Iron concerns. I EBF for 1 year and people frequently ask me, do you supplement with iron? I don’t because I really feel like BM is a superior food…I just started my one-year old on finger foods and he’s been having so much fun with it. If we have something like a casserole, I stick it in a manual food grinder with a little bone broth and spoon feed him. It is so easy! No pureeing necessary. I even take my food grinder to restaurants if we’re eating out. Thanks for the in-depth article!

  45. Thank you for this article! One thing that really helped me was YouTube-ing (?–ha!) videos of babies gagging versus choking. Although I specialize in pediatric feeding and swallowing, it’s still scary to see your own child gagging. We started with only solid foods but now we give solid foods and puree some of the foods she eats–it’s easier to know she is actually full versus waiting 45 minutes for her to eat squash, apple, corn, etc. I think it’s great to give her solids of the purees she’s eating 🙂 Thanks for raising awareness of BLW!

    • Great combo! I agree. Sometimes I want to get the calories in quicker.

  46. I’m just wondering, how do you give egg yolk to the baby? Hard-boiled?

    • I either hard-boil them and cut them up (try not to boil the heck out of them, i.e., make them turn green…) or scramble just the yolks in coconut oil.

2 Pingbacks


  1. […] From the Mama Natural Blog, Signs of Readiness for Food: […]

  2. […] Baby led weaning is all about skipping the baby purees and letting baby try table foods.  I took this approach with my son Bumble Bee and it seemed to work out perfectly!  You can read more about baby led weaning here. […]

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