What does baby-led weaning, or BLW, mean?
Updated on October 28, 2018
The term baby-led weaning, or BLW, appeared over the past years, and it designates another way of giving solid foods to a baby. It’s an approach, not a technique. This feeding method consists of offering pieces of food to the baby early in life. This should be at the table, getting them used to touch, to reach for it, to bring it to their mouth by themselves, to explore different textures and meet their own appetite needs.
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The concept ignores purées as normally it includes less than 10% of purées or foods given with a spoon. This means that this approach does not completely exclude purées, but only as needed. The child fees themselves by grabbing pieces of food with their fingers, pinching them and then bringing them to their mouth.
Six points provide an overview of BLW: the food is offered in pieces, the meals are balanced and similar to the rest of the family, the development of skills is based on the baby’s pace, the signs of hunger and satiety guide quantities, the meals are taken as a family and the baby eats alone without help.
This approach comes from New Zealand and the UK, but here in Canada, we do not have in-depth data about the topic. The province of Alberta and New Zealand do not recommend BLW.
To date, Health Canada and the Canadian Association of Pediatrists state that the baby can take small pieces of food starting from 9 months of age, but no earlier than that. There is not a lot of research that documents baby-led weaning. Social networks are part of parents’ information sources and they are rarely credible, safe and good to use. However, the BLISS study, published in 2015, suggests a modified baby led weaning approach that suggests a mix of pieces of food with the addition of purées to properly meet the baby’s needs until they can eat like their parents.
Some health professionals, such as occupational therapists, can explain to you how purées can help the baby’s tongue movement to learn how to accept different textures to better handle pieces of food that they have to chew and then swallow.
To continue reading, go to the entry Reasons Stated by Parents to Start Baby Led Weaning.