The Baby-Lead Weaning Mindset – Have you got it?

BLW lunch out

BiP enjoying lunch out with Mummy

I know I have been talking a lot about Baby-Led Weaning recently, I guess it’s because I have become a fan/obsessed (or a bit of both)! The one thing that has struck me is that it goes beyond food and nutrition; it’s a mindset. Some mothers have said “yeah we do a bit of spoon-feeding and a bit of BLW” which in all honesty doesn’t make much sense to me.

Today I stumbled upon a post about Why you can’t do BLW by halves which highlights the fundamental differences between BABY-Led Weaning (BLW) and PARENT-Led Weaning (PLW), the latter being spoon-feeding and finger foods. One thing that rings true to me is that you can’t do both.

So, what do I mean why I say the BLW Mindset? Since I love lists here we go:

  • The BLW Mindset is about allowing your baby to have absolute control over what they eat and how they eat it. As long as you offer a varied and healthy diet that is safe and manageable for them to eat the rest is up to them.
  • It is all about trusting your baby to know what they need of certain foods and how much.  There is no measuring with BLW – how much your baby eats is up to them, always.
  • Daily nutrition should not be the concern, instead weekly nutrition is the priority. If you ensure that your baby always has healthy options it does not matter if they don’t eat a combination of meat, vegetables and carbs in one sitting.
  • BLW starts with what YOU eat – it’s about how the whole family eats – not just your baby. You can’t expect your baby to be delighted with steamed veges whilst you are devouring a Big Mac meal in front of them.  You need to rethink how YOU eat as a family.
  • BLW is based on mutual trust between you and your baby; your baby trusts you to provide healthy food and you, in turn, need to trust your baby to know what to do with it. No coaxing, “helping”, games .. etc.
  • There is no food introduction schedule in BLW unless there is a family allergy. You do not need to wait 3 days between new foods, you don’t have to wait to introduce milk/wheat/dairy/egg whites … the list is endless… basically if there no family allergy issue and your baby shows all the signs of readiness – GO FOR IT!
  • If you have a treat or a desert you should let your baby try it – it is only fair – you are enjoying something so let them join in. Denying them this makes whatever you are eating forbidden and perhaps desirable in the future but can cause distrust between you and your baby – why is mummy letting me have everything but not that? The BLW Mindset includes the whole family – just make sure you don’t do it everyday!

So, that’s what I feel about the BLW Mindset. Have you go it?


103 thoughts on “The Baby-Lead Weaning Mindset – Have you got it?

  1. Janine

    I like the bit about dessert – I caught flack on a message board for letting my baby have a bit of brownie. I didn’t tell them that we also let him have bites of our frozen yogurt! I really don’t see why not. And it goes back to BLW making the whole family healthier – I don’t want to eat something that I ‘can’t’ give the baby a bite of!

    When I was pregnant we registered for a book of purees because it looked fun, but most of the recipes translate just as well into whole food combos. We have cubes of carrot puree in the freezer but I don’t thaw them anymore – I use them to chew on for teething!

    Oh, and the baby bowl and spoon set is in with his toys!

    1. mummyinprovence Post author

      I have no issue with giving BiP a taste – I certainly do not have desserts at home as a regular thing so if she has a taste when we do indulge it’s no big deal for anyone!

      I always apply the 80-20 rule … if 80% of our meals are as they should be the rest can be considered naughty! No one eats perfectly!

  2. Taleah

    P is just three months, but we’ve been seriously looking into BLW for the future. It just makes more SENSE than little jars of shelf stable food that never smell right. I’m loving following along on your journey!

    1. mummyinprovence Post author

      Thanks! If you have any questions please give me a shout! I love BLW!

  3. Rose Plummer

    I did babylead weaning with my first 3 kids without even realizing it. It just seemed natural to me. I much prefer it to the spoon feeding I had to do with my last baby.

    1. mummyinprovence Post author

      I do find BLW to be an instinctual thing to do. If you don’t mind me asking, why did you spoon feed your last baby?

      1. Rose Plummer

        She has low muscle tone and needed therapy. We were supposed to do specific exercises with feeding baby food to teach her to swallow correctly. She was aspirating and they were shocked she was as healthy as she was (the power of breast milk!). Personally feeding liquidy baby food seemed counter productive when she was supposed to have anything other than breastfeeding thickened. We still tried to do as much allowing her to try foods on her own as possible.

        1. mummyinprovence Post author

          Thanks for sharing – that is interesting as it was for a medical reason – I do hope she is ok now … she is very lucky to have you as her mummy 🙂

          1. Rose Plummer

            Thank you. She is doing very well and no longer needs leg braces to walk. It’s really amazing how fast she caught up once we got her in therapy. She is like an average child her age for the most part now. She loves trying new things. Her favorites right now are jalapeno cheddar cheese puffs and boudain. lol Not the healthiest by themselves but we offer plenty of healthy foods as well.

          2. mummyinprovence Post author

            That’s great! I love her favourite foods! She certainly has a diverse palate for a kid!

  4. Emma

    I have a friend who is calls herself a vegetarian, but she eats fish and seafood, it drives me nuts! But I have come to realise that the reason she says it is because its difficult to have to run through the list of what she eats and doesn’t eat everytime someone cooks for her (the correct term is “pescetarian but who would understand if she said that).

    Anyway my point is, if you are baby-led in that you are led by your baby into how much he eats, what he eats, how long he eats, you give him a little of what you if he wants it, you don’t coax or chase, you baby isn’t restrained in a chair so can move away whenever he wants, you don’t have nutritional plans or quantities and offer a range of textures and options to your baby as to how to get them to his mouth, and it turns out that sometimes he would prefer that you put the spoon in his mouth or you hold the piece of fruit and he guides your hand to his mouth then….what do you call that?

    Because I tick all the boxes in your list above but I spoon-feed my 8 month old purees while offering finger foods and preloaded spoons. I have found that thickly mashed REAL FOOD is much better for his reflux than too much finger food Being demand fed he is pretty good at communicating his preferences, when my baby is hungry he will cry and grab my hand until I feed him a few spoonfuls (after that he is happy to have a go with the pre-loaded spoons.)

    I use the term “baby-led” because I don’t have an alternative when I explain to someone else how they should help him eat, it isn’t parent-led and all that implies, although/ all parenting can be sometimes parent-led and sometimes baby-led, don’t you think? You ultimately have control over what your baby eats or doesn’t eat by way of the choices you offer.

    1. mummyinprovence Post author

      Thank you such an insightful comment. I do actually agree with you to a certain extend. Yes, if a baby wants you to hold something for them so they can eat it then they decided that not you. Right now BiP is trying to catch the preloaded spoon before I put it down for her signally she wants to be spoon fed which is a big change for me but it is all going hand in hand with her hitting milestones which always send things a bit haywire!

      I have no experience with reflux so I cannot comment on that. Whatever works.

      Yes, we may have ultimate control in the way that WE decide what they are offered but we do not decide what they eat. I may offer meat, potatoes, beans and broccoli plus pears and banana’s – that is not to say BiP will eat everything – she may just eat the banana and that is fine – THAT is baby-led.

      As far as highchairs are concerned, I always have BiP in a highchair otherwise I would be constantly covered in food and so would my house. If she get’s upset in the chair (which almost never happens) I take her out. I don’t want her to think that she can walk around eating – for me, BLW is as much about nutrition as the social aspect of it – BiP can’t socialise with us if she is on the floor (We don’t eat on the floor)

      I think it’s interesting how many BLW families there are who have different takes on the idea. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your insight!

      1. Emma

        Thanks for taking the time to reply, I totally agree with you that being baby-led is about a mindset which is why I wanted to point out that it is possible to be baby-led AND spoon feed your baby purees. You are quite right that the baby-led mindset isn’t just about the texture of the food, in my mind it is about giving your baby a level control over what happens in their life, eating being a part of that. It is entirely possibly to have a dialogue with a 6 month old baby (and younger) if you take the time to tune in to their body language.

        Since reflux is so common I wish there was some information about BLW with a reflux baby and again with food allergy worries. These things shouldn’t have to get in the way of listening to and communicating with your baby.

        Re: the highchair, I wasn’t meaning to imply that using them was bad, we do have one and I use it sometimes. But we live in the Middle East and perhaps that has influenced us as we DO eat on the floor (makes us sound like savages doesn’t it?), we have a perfectly lovely dining table which is rarely used as anything other than a desk :). I just wanted to give my wee guy every opportunity to say no to food because frankly, he almost never does, he seems to love everything (which seems weird when all my friends (PLW) are complaining about their kids spitting things out, refusing to eat etc) and since I am spoon-feeding him (by his choice) I worry about him taking too much and not wanting to breastfeed enough by day (he makes up for it at night). I use a drop cloth and if he moves away the meal is over, there is no crawling around the house eating etc.

        Thanks for a great blog!

  5. Jen

    We did a hybrid & everything worked out in the end. Daycare was not on board with us giving him whole foods. We started around 7 mos (started cereal 5 mos-ish for weight reasons) We started giving him large items & letting him work them himself and he was so far ahead of other babies in the end! He wanted to be wholly on table foods by about 9mos. One of my IRL friends has a baby 1 week younger and she had yet to give table foods. It was her second so I was surprised! Matthew was eating everything under the sun at that point! I would’ve loved to do FT BLW but it wasn’t in the cards for us. I am so happy that we did a hybrid, but I guess I could see how it’s confusing to the baby. Ours had no problems!

    1. mummyinprovence Post author

      In all honesty – whatever works. I do think that BLW is often taken to mean that a baby puts food into their mouth themselves when it really goes way beyond that. BiP would now never let me spoon feed her a full meal because we’ve never done it. I would personally argue that what you are doing is not BLW – its PLW (parent-led) which is a mix of spoon-feeding and finger foods. There is nothing wrong with either approach they are just different. By the sounds of things you have a great eater on your hands which means you are doing a great job mama!

  6. Kate

    I find this really interesting. Obviously the examples above show it’s possible to combine purees & finger foods and still be ‘baby led’. However a lot of the advice I’ve had from health visitors / friends seems to be more along the lines of ‘give baby some finger food to play with. It’ll distract her while you ram the purees into her mouth’. I find that really sad.

    We’ve been completely baby led so far. C has been trying to feed herself my food since she was 4.5 months, so I don’t think spoon feeding would’ve worked for us even if we’d wanted to! She just doesn’t have that kind of personality.

    I agree totally with your mindset list and would add ‘have confidence in yourself & trust in the process’. It’s still early days for us, but we’re having a great time so far. However I find the lack of understanding (let alone support) in the real world difficult. Even those who don’t tell me it’s dangerous don’t really get it. A friend recently watched C eat an entire tray of cucumber, asparagus, guacamole, rice cakes & yoghurt and then asked “when are you going to start giving her baby food?”. I find that lack of understand hard going sometimes. Especially coupled with the pressure of being told “you should be on three meals a day by now, you should be dropping milk feeds by now…” But I know ultimately that we’re doing the right thing.

    1. mummyinprovence Post author

      Sounds like you are doing a great job and what works for YOU and YOUR baby. That is key. The lack of understanding of BLW even when people see it happening is astounding – is it really that hard to grasp? Well, food and feeds do NOT seem to have a correlation in our house. BiP can chomp through masses of food 4-5 times a day and still ask for milk 5+ times a day! I go with it, she knows what she needs and she’s telling me!

      Thanks for a great insight into BLW in your life!


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