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

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

(Giggles at mini-K8Middleton's resourceful electronics focused blw!)

Theas18 Sun 30-Jun-13 12:32:44

the didn't outcome that ifs sometimes suggested if that you end up with a child arranged into an adult diet.because they eat is pretty much always " real food", so end up eating normal stuff rather that the kiddified transition food type stuff . however I'm sure that depends what you freed after all.

eg my friend blw 3 yr old eats lots of things her big kids won't touch ( they are preteen/ tween) egprawns, salami chili, curry etc

AppleYumYum Sun 30-Jun-13 12:38:36

We've done BLW with ds, he's 13 months now it's worked out really well as he'll give anything a go, loves all foods, even curry, whereas my sister's little girl at 2 refuses to ever eat fruit, vegetables etc, must be beige or spag bol. But maybe he'd always have been like that? Another friend's ds the same age as mine, she is terrified of giving anything not puréed still, and is used to spooning in a certain amount of food (which if he has finger food he wouldn't eat that much so she worries) so her ds will spit out anything with even a tiny bit of texture or that needs a bit of chewing. Although another friend did a bit of both and he eats like a trouper, so I think as long as you give finger foods at the same time so they get used to it and chewing then it all works out fine. Best benefit like others said it's so easy and you can eat at the same time, they watch you and copy you too. You just need to trust their gag reflex which is very sensitive and try not to be guilt tripped by the baby food company weaning stages as it is a very different way of doing things. Also they use the saying 'food under 1 is just for fun' and play attitude too, so not to worry if they only eat a little, most nutrients and energy are still from milk until then.

Scientific rationale I suppose is along the lines of self regulating appetite and over feeding, later obesity and type 2 diabetes etc. I don't know if it is true or not. They say with breast feeding a baby drinks what they need, the milk comes in let downs, the message to say they're full reaches them and they stop sucking and milk stops immediately. So they learn to self regulate. Whereas bottle feeding (including expressed milk) the teat keeps filling and milk coming out even if they stop sucking, the message to say they are full is not reached right away, so they drink extra, so like the next day after a big Christmas dinner, your tummy is stretched and it takes more to feel full the next time and so on.

So BLW is supposed to be an extension of breast feeding in that the baby decides how much to eat and when they've had enough, whereas spoon feeding purée you can shovel it in. Although I am not sure if that is right, you can't make a baby eat if they don't want anymore, they clamp that mouth shut and turn their head away! Unless it is sweet, then like me my ds has a separate dessert stomach! smile.

CharlieBlanche Sun 30-Jun-13 13:14:56

I did BLW because I have twins and it was easier as neither of them had to wait. They don't eat any differently now than their friends (5 yo). Actually there are several things (like curry) that they ate at 2 that won't eat now.

The only thing I notice different from friends children who went down a more trafitional route is that mine are a bit better at sitting at the table for a long while with the family. This might be because BLW advocates children eating with the family and as a result they have learned to sit for longer or it might be that I am stricter about table manners. It's hard to say.

Re the no sugar thing, I would nod and smile and wait to see how she is going to handle party invitations...


Chunderella Sun 30-Jun-13 15:01:42

There are a lot of claims about what is the 'best' way, not really any evidence. It's just about finding what suits your individual baby. There's nothing that works universally, be it purees, BLW or anything inbetween. Hence radicalisation is idiotic, regardless of approach. I'm wary of extrapolating my own experience to everyone, but I think a significant minority if not the majority borrow a bit from all approaches!

gastrognome Sun 30-Jun-13 15:16:29

I did BLW for both my daughters. DD1 (5) is now, quite picky and would sit and be fed by me if she could get away with it at every mealtime. DD2 (2.5) will give most things a try, hates being fed and digs in to her meals with hands, fork, spoon, chopsticks or any other available implement.

I think the benefits for me in the short term were the total lack of stress or hassle about mealtimes, no pureeing, variety of foods that they ate when weaning.

In the long term, both girls eat solid food so I suppose that's a result, and they don't have any "issues" around food or mealtimes that I can ascertain, but I suspect that we could have achieved the same result via traditional weaning methods.

Having said all that I am still glad we went the BLW route, not only as a time saver but also because it helped me to be very relaxed about mealtimes, not worry about gagging, and let them explore food in their own way.

One last thing it is worth pointing out (sorry if repeating something others have said) is that BLW does not simply equal finger foods. It's about putting manageable portions in front of baby and letting them decide what to eat, how much, and in what way. Basically it is a hands off approach for parents, but hands on for kids.

Oh, and the best friend sounds like she has got totally carried away.

KingRollo Sun 30-Jun-13 15:31:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DoodleAlley Sun 30-Jun-13 15:41:10

I think extremes of either isn't healthy.

We had to do purées due to DS reflux and strong gagging instinct. Otherwise he wouldn't have got protein into him in sufficient quantities. I've known other people who have only done jarred purées, which doesn't seek ideal but you do what you need to.

I've seen excellent BLW children and also the worst eater I know is currently being BLW and survives on entirely
Processed solid foods - cornflakes, raisins, crackers, white bread and ham.

I think as a parent no matter what you do the emphasis should be on good nutrition and variety.

You can do good and bad versions of both!

Chunderella Sun 30-Jun-13 16:22:43

I actually suspect that eating is like sleeping where babies are concerned. That is, some of them love it and take to it and would do so regardless of parental techniques used and choices made. And some of them just don't fancy it whatever you do!

Xmasbaby11 Sun 30-Jun-13 19:43:16

I think it's just about what works with your baby. I tried BLW with DD but she just wasn't interested. She's just not one of those babies who puts things into her mouth and either played with it or ignored it. It took until she was at least 1 before she would let anything solid into her mouth, even though she had plenty of teeth by then.

Friends who tried BLW had great results and I would definitely try it with DD2!

MiaowTheCat Thu 04-Jul-13 19:19:42

Militant BLWers are becoming an extension of the mummy wars - the next chapter. The one who told me, because I was going the more traditional weaning puree route, that I was "forcing food down my child's throat" being a delightful specimen of womankind.

I just did weaning - pick-upable stuff got picked up, occasionally un-pickupable stuff gets attempted to be picked up (we had an epic battle with some uncooperative jelly the other day), stuff goes on spoon, on floor, on dog, in dog. Had to do puree and spoon initially as because of her prematurity - she simply didn't have the motor skills to self-feed but was desperately eager for solid foods (and we waited till about 1 week before 6 months, on a ridiculous sized bottle feed, hungry baby milk and still a starving hungry baby with weight gain going on a far steeper curve than I was comfortable with) and she took to them with absolute gusto - when she was at the point of being able and interested to take the lead more - she did so... surely THAT part is truly being "baby-led"

DD1 also had absolutely no teeth till 13 1/2 months (when she cut five in one very very very very very very fucking long week) and some stuff just was beyond her ability (or boredom threshold) to gum to death!

grannyof3 Thu 31-Oct-13 21:18:09

I weaned my two "children" 64 years ago. Nothing much has changed since then except the fruit and veg that was offered was seasonal and locally grown. BLW is making someone a lot of money yet its been around forever. Myself and all my friends put finger foods in front of our babies and let our babies feed themselves. What we also did was feed them with a spoon too.Yes the baby rice and pureed pear was sloppy and we always let them put their fingers in the bowl so they could help themselves at the same time. It seems to me to be a much better way of introducing foods than going from liquid to crunchy. I think BLW is a bit of a cop out for parents that don't have the time or possibly the energy to spend time preparing their baby's meals. Both my girls are slim, they care about what they put in their bodies. Lets stop pretending BLW is anything other than a new name for something that has been going on for hundreds of years. Do we imagine for one minute the Victorians had blenders-nah reckon there would have been a few lumps !!!

SatinSandals Thu 31-Oct-13 21:49:00

As granny says people always did it, they were just laid back and did a mix and didn't have a misleading label. The baby has the choice if 'take it or leave it' the way they always have. The only benefit that I can see is that it does away with commercial jars. It makes no difference whatsoever in the long term. The aim is to get them to eat family meals and how you get to that point really doesn't matter, it is so short.
Having a balanced diet is the important thing and not labelling food as 'good' or 'bad'. Keeping off sugar until 6 yrs is a sure way to make it highly desirable! I don't think she realises how difficult it will be unless she isolates her child.

SatinSandals Thu 31-Oct-13 21:53:02

It is laughable that anyone thinks you can force purées down a baby's throat, they clearly haven't tried it!

SatinSandals Thu 31-Oct-13 22:16:56

However I wouldn't argue with the friend, smile and nod.

Brugmansia Sat 02-Nov-13 15:34:14

The appeal for me with BLW is partly because it feels like a return to what people always have done. It only seems like a new fad because the norm has become weaning based on baby rice, purees and special baby food. I don't think anyone is making any money out of it either, seeing as the whole principle is that you don't need to have anything special and you just give babies normal food. On the other hand, lots of money is clearly made out of the puree type route, with all the different jars of food, pouches, special baby snacks and Annabel Karmel style meal plans and products.

It's not a cop out either. You don't need to faff around stewing fruit and making purees, but then I've seen enough parents who are doing the puree route who seem to rely pretty much entirely on prepared jars and pouches anyway. One reason I like BLW is because I really like food and cooking anyway and I'm enjoying making food for DS that will give him a balanced diet and that he can feed himself relatively easily.

Finickynotfussy Sun 03-Nov-13 22:16:01

I don't get how BLW is for lazy people as when I tried it I ended up cleaning the floor a great deal more! At least with purees and so on I can whisk the bowl away when DD gets that glint of 'hmm could that fly?'

However, now she is crawling she is trying to BLW onto cat food anyway grin.

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