Please explain to me the benefit of baby led weaning? Because I can't see the difference in the long term

(42 Posts)
rasputin Sun 30-Jun-13 11:23:20

The reason i want to understand is because my best friend is weaning this way and she is very militant about it (it also includes a no sugar until the child is 6 rule; is this a normal part of BLW?)

My 2 kids are older (so yes I am quite old!) and I breastfed both for ages,, then introduced some breast milk mixed with rice, let them taste it, moved on the pureeing fruit but always gave 'bits' of stuff for them to play with and explore. End result, they were weaned and have adventurous tastes etc.

Now my friend says this was wrong, I forced them with the rice puree stuff and her way is superior in the long term...

well this is what I don't get: her baby will be weaned eventually, just like mine were, so end result

both babies weaned, different pathway to the same result.

Or is there something I missing? does it give the child some extra, invisible benefits?

Because I am finding it hard to understand the strict attitude to something I was fairly laid back about when it doesn't gain anything.

This post is not meant to annoy BLW people, actually I just want to understand because my friend's explanation and website she sent me to didn't seem to give any concrete reasons as to why it is better.

If it is just a different way, that some people enjoy, why the militant attitude and dissing of the puree method. I don't mind how people wean their babies, it's a personal choice (and really not worth making a big deal about surely?) but my friend seems radicalised!

YoniBottsBumgina Sun 30-Jun-13 11:25:32

Err no banning sugar until 6 sounds bizarre. I think it's probably your friend who is taking BLW to a militant extreme rather than BLW itself being militant? It is just a different approach which works for some and not others. All babies are weaned in the end!

Caitycat Sun 30-Jun-13 11:28:17

The benefit I see to BLW is entirely my own! It means dd gets on with feeding herself and I can eat my own food! I haven't heard of the no sugar rule either.

Mycatistoosexy Sun 30-Jun-13 11:29:51

I don't think banning sugar til 6 is part of BLW at all.

The main benefit to me of BLW was that my DS actually ate something after two long months of refusing to eat off a spoon.

BLW advocates say that it helps babies get used to textures and improves hand to eye coordination etc etc

But each baby to their own thing really

SoupDragon Sun 30-Jun-13 11:32:35

It is just a different way.
The long-term outcome is exactly the same.

I assume that your friend is not giving her child fruit or milk as both contain sugars (fructose & lactose)?

PlateSpinningAtAllTimes Sun 30-Jun-13 11:33:14

Your friend sounds weird (and telling you you did it wrong- WTF? How rude!). The no sugar thing...her kids will have ishoos I expect.
I think the main benefit to BLW is it's easy and I'm lazy grin
Give em a bit of whatever you/other DC are eating, they amuse themselves with it, leaving you to eat/clean up in peace! No pureeing, freezing, gradually incorporating lumps etc.
The theory is that they learn to regulate their appetite better, thus less likely to be obese in future. However I think it's not for everyone and in reality most people probably do something in the middle.

SirChenjin Sun 30-Jun-13 11:33:21

There is no long term benefit, it's simply a choice of how you move from the milk to the solids stage and nothing more.

SoupDragon Sun 30-Jun-13 11:33:49

At the end of the day, if you wean in a way your baby is happy with, you are doing it right and it is led by the baby.

Florin Sun 30-Jun-13 11:35:42

My baby is blw but definitely has sugar. At his 1st birthday he was busy shoving large quantities of rainbow coloured covered in icing cake into his mouth! I believe in letting them have everything in moderation otherwise to big a thing is made of sugar.
I did blw as it was easy. While my friends were spending lots of their evenings making purée for the freezer I was just give our ds a bit of what we were eating. It is so much simpler in restaurants too as at 1 we just order ds something and he gets on with eating it himself while we eat ours instead of your food going cold while you spoon purée in to their mouth. However we do it for ease we are not militant about it. I would call our way of thinking as not making special food as for example if we cook fish pie or shepherds pie we spoon feed that to him and also his weetabix in the morning. I don't understand the banning of spoons.
I also don't believe the whole thing that blw regulate perfectly how much they eat. My ds can eat and eat and eat a rediculous amount of food (we have tested him on this!) so we have to portion control for him.

MorrisZapp Sun 30-Jun-13 11:36:30

I never really understood it either tbh. I know many people who used it and thought it was great so fair play to them, but personally I wouldn't like to have a cutlery free diet (wot, no soup? Yoghurt? Porridge?) and I didn't want DS to either.

madwomanacrosstheroad Sun 30-Jun-13 11:37:26

Having had five kids aged tetween 20 and three, i think there are fashions and fads and the idea is to find a happy medium. BLW without the tag was actually promoted years ago to help babys with hand eye coordination. My kids were always happy with some pureed food, some finger food.

maja00 Sun 30-Jun-13 11:42:51

I don't think it matters hugely in the long term. One benefit of starting with BLW is you can't wean "too soon" because the baby won't feed themselves til they're ready, so it does eliminate the "feeding a 3 month old barely solid food while they recline in a bouncer".

However, most people do a mixture of mush and finger foods quite sensibly.

Morris, what makes you think BLW has to be cutlery free or avoid porridge/yoghurt/soup? All BLW means is the baby exclusively feeds themself, it doesn't mean no cutlery or nothing sloppy - it's about who does the feeding not what food it is.

K8Middleton Sun 30-Jun-13 11:42:53

I think your friend would be militant whatever she decides. Some of what she has said is just plain rude.

Blw is giving finger foods and loaded spoons. No need to bother with purée or baby rice but you can if you want to. Spooning runny food like yoghurt is also fine. People get so het up about what's allowed. Anything you like! Just no honey, watch the salt and be careful with choking hazards like nuts and whole grapes.

I did blw or "weaning for lazy parents" with ds. It was really, really easy. Dd on the other hand won't really eat anything and is 8 months. I've tried everything except buying jars and pouches. I am snobby about jars and pouches as over priced, processed crap but if things continue as they are I will buy pouches.

My mantra? Do whatever works and where there's a choice take the least stressful option.

SignoraStronza Sun 30-Jun-13 11:45:05

I fell into blw because both of mine refused to take anything off a spoon - didn't realise initially that it was the latest 'thing'. Having then read a bit about it, seemed to make sense and it really appealed to my lazy side, as they could eat the same things (bar a bit of adjustment for salt etc) at the same time as us.

My nephew, who is 11 weeks older, was weaned the traditional way and SIL was too scared to give him anything to chew on in case he choked (gagged). She isalso terrified about mess! It all seemed like such a faff as he had to eat before everyone else (at one point being plonked on the set dinner table in a bumbo while our food overcooked and we all stood around hungry). He still is fed like a baby bird now at 15 months and had difficulty chewing anything.

I'm sure (being half French) that in time it won't make any difference and that he'll have impeccable table manners and palate that will far outshine both of minewink though.

rasputin Sun 30-Jun-13 11:48:14

Thanks for all the quick replies, that has helped clear up my confusion. Perhaps the no sugar thing is the main thing I can't understand (and there is still lactose and fructose sugar so really it is only processed sugar.)

Beamae Sun 30-Jun-13 11:53:06

I think the whole point of BLW is to be relaxed and not worry about how much they are eating, not eating, rubbing in their hair. It should be the opposite of militant. Some people find it easier because the baby just eats off their plate so they don't have to prepare separate meals or purees. Sometimes you have to sound a bit militant perhaps, to convince your well meaning MIL that you are right not to feed them baby rice at a couple of months old and that they are not starving to death because you haven't shoved a jar of food in them! grin

Beamae Sun 30-Jun-13 11:54:13

I think the whole point of BLW is to be relaxed and not worry about how much they are eating, not eating, rubbing in their hair. It should be the opposite of militant. Some people find it easier because the baby just eats off their plate so they don't have to prepare separate meals or purees. Sometimes you have to sound a bit militant perhaps, to convince your well meaning MIL that you are right not to feed them baby rice at a couple of months old and that they are not starving to death because you haven't shoved a jar of food in them! grin

barleysugar Sun 30-Jun-13 11:56:30

I personally hate the way some people believe its an either/or with weaning.

What is wrong with a few purees, a few mushes and a few finger foods?

Best of both worlds.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Sun 30-Jun-13 11:56:53

The no-sugar thing is entirely of your friends making and nothing to do with BLW (beyond the obvious don't let them eat cake 24/7). If you are interested in finding out more about why it is thought to be good for their development then the Gill Rapley book is a good read - but at the end of the day if by the age of 2 they are self feeding a variety of food it really doesn't matter how they get there.

A lot of people say that babies who are BLW eat a better variety of foods as toddlers as they tend to have tasted a wider variety of foods - which does make a bit of sense as purees tend to be several things mixed together so you don't taste each ingredient - so maybe there's something in it, but I know fussy kids who have been puree fed and fussy kids who have been BLW. It's not a clear advantage by any means.

Your friend just sounds a bit mean/bonkers!

MummyOfSunbeam Sun 30-Jun-13 12:02:59

I love blw (but that anti sugar until six thing sounds extreme to me and not part if it.)

There ARE allegedly some extra benefits to blw with some research evidence though I can't claim to have checked out all the refs etc. The claims include that it can reduce the power issues that sometimes gather around food/food anxiety/refusal etc. it also does get kids chewing much earlier on than the purée method does, and apparently that helps develop the muscles eventually used for talking (bf does that too in a different way). There is also apparently evidence it can reduce choking risks around age 8/9 mths when the gag reflex moves to the back if the mouth - blw babies have by that point got a lot if experience moving solid food around their mouths, so apparently are less likely to choke compared to mainly purée fed babies who didn't get that practice in while the gag reflex was located further forwards.

It also gives baby practice w motor coordination, pincer, etc. an education psychologist I know says it gives huge kinaesthetic benefits in the sane way as messy play - which of course it basically is smile

But regardless of the claims above , the reason I personally do blw is that dd loves it, I love it, it makes us all eat better as a family, and it is so easy and fun.

iwantanafternoonnap Sun 30-Jun-13 12:10:50

I did it because I was lazy and it improves eye/hand co-ordination. I think it is better but I also think you should do what's best for you and your baby.

Your friend sounds a pain!

MummyOfSunbeam Sun 30-Jun-13 12:11:57

In addition to 'finger foods and loaded spoons' you can just let baby scoop up handfuls of things. Dd was happily eating handfuls of lentils, risotto, quinoa, rice, you name it, from six months. I agree with the other posters it is all about relaxed and enjoyable adventurousness.

It is also much older than so called 'traditional weaning' - the structured staggered purée thing is really recent and tied in historically to the emergence of formula feeding and various misunderstandings about the (dis)advantages of baby rice at three months etc. the Rapley book has a v interesting section on weaning methods in the 20th century.

YoniBottsBumgina Sun 30-Jun-13 12:15:09

Yeah I'm pretty sure she's made up the no sugar thing. But no bother. He will discover Haribo before he is 2.

Glimmerberry Sun 30-Jun-13 12:16:20

Advocates say that children will be in more control with BLW, and not eat beyond satiety. That's been extrapolated to suggest they'll be less likely to be obese.

But anyone advocating an all or nothing extreme approach is probably a bit daft. You need to adapt to your own child. For some that'll be mixing and matching.

K8Middleton Sun 30-Jun-13 12:22:27

Yes more than finger foods and loaded spoons but that's a good shorthand. Ds used to like blueberries, peas and raisins. Dd at the same age likes... boob and chewing all the remote controls and phones in the house. She's definitely doing baby-led but not much of the weaning hmm grin

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