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MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Thu 04-Sep-14 11:37:01

Guest post: What you need to know about baby led weaning

When you're pregnant, the thought of reading 'beyond the birth' can be a bit intimidating. But - writes Bumpfest speaker Aitch - if you do want to consider your options for feeding, baby led weaning is well worth looking into.

Do read the post and share your experiences, and if you've an infant in the offing, check out Bumpfest - our one-day event dedicated to all things birth and-baby related.


Baby Led Weaning

Posted on: Thu 04-Sep-14 11:37:01


Lead photo

'They eat, and you coo, enjoying watching them enjoy themselves'

Back when I was pregnant for the first time, my good friend, herself a mother, solemnly told me: “If I can give you one piece of advice, it’s this… Read Past The Birth.”


“You've got all the books, right? And you're reading all the websites?”

Yep, and yep x 1,000.

She continued; “Read BEYOND the bit where you have the baby.”


The condition of being a parent, my friend explained, is very binary.

“One minute you don’t have a baby, the next minute you very much have one. And apart from the hospital auxiliary bringing you tea and toast and giving your downstairs a going-over with a damp flannel, the focus is very immediately off you and onto the newborn.”

“It is at that point,” she continued,”that you are supposed to know how to do EVERYTHING ABOUT BABIES, but if you at least know how to feed them and change their nappies that’s a start.”

Reader, I ignored her.

I did it for good reason, or so I thought. Truth was, I'd had a really crummy time getting pregnant and then an even harder time staying pregnant and the idea that finally we were going to pull it off was just a bit too unbelievable. I thought, rightly or wrongly, that imagining what lay beyond the labour would just jinx the whole endeavour.

So here's the thing.

You don't have to read past the bit where you have had the baby, honest you don't. You, right now, with your big tummy and your possible medium-sized fears, just have to do what you can do. But if you are the sort of person who does like to skip ahead to the exciting bit, or who likes to read up in advance and Have A Plan, then let me advise a little about the food thing.

One minute you don't have a baby, the next minute you very much have one. And apart from the hospital auxiliary bringing you tea and toast and giving your downstairs a going-over with a damp flannel, the focus is very immediately off you and onto the newborn.

Whether you crack the breastfeeding thing or don't (I didn't, not really), in six months’ time that little tiny scrap will be sitting up, or trying to, and will be ready to eat real food.

It's unimaginable, I know, but it will happen. And in the UK, it's called weaning.

Traditionally, weaning meant doing purées for a bit, because the advice was to start on food at 4 months, and then moving onto fistfuls of solid food. You'll know this already, because there you are in your old family photos, somewhere around 6 months of age, happily covered in spaghetti and cake. (Incidentally, still my favourite meal).

Now, because the recommendation on when to start weaning had moved from 4 months to 6 months, it turns out that you can skip the purées altogether and go straight to sensibly prepared solid food.

We call this Baby Led Weaning.

It's not new. People have been feeding their around- six-month-olds like this for ages, hence the cute old photos, but BLW become a bit of a ‘thing’ of late, as a contrast to the more conventional weaning story of purées and spooning. It's just an option that you might want to think about at some point in the next few months.

You will just give your baby real food, cut up into pieces about as long and thick as your pinkie finger. And they will just eat it. Very simple, really, and fun, just like all the best times with your child. They eat, and you coo, enjoying watching them enjoy themselves. You might take the odd picture and chat to the rest of your family and you will get to eat your own dinner while it is still hot. What's not to like?

But I'm not here to sell BLW to you, particularly if you’re still not ready to Read Beyond The Birth. But at some point, if you think BLW might be worth looking at further, we are here and here.

We will also be doing a bit of a chat at Bumpfest on the 27th of September, and will be happy to help anyone who needs it.

So good luck, everyone, with your births and beyond. Exciting times lie ahead.

If you could use some more insider info, come to Bumpfest, Mumsnet's one-day event dedicated to all things birth and baby-related. No fuss or fluff - just the expert advice you need. And a lovely lunch, treats and try-outs - plus a goody bag packed with lovely stuff for you and your newborn.

This post originally appeared on Aitch's blog Baby Led Weaning, which you can read here.

By Aitch

Twitter: @blwdotcom

Pointlessfan Thu 04-Sep-14 19:59:05

I'm so pleased I just read this. My baby is coming up to 6 months and we were very keen to try BLW, DD has already swiped a few things off my plate! We've both read the book and it totally suits our laid-back and slightly chaotic way of doing things.
Then today I met up with all my baby friends, their babies are about the same age and have all been having purees for a while. They all looked horrified when I said we hadn't given our baby any food yet and were planning to miss out puree completely. I've been feeling really negative since and doubting whether BLW would be a good idea, think I need to hear some positive stories, I don't know anyone who has done it.

DefiniteMaybe Thu 04-Sep-14 20:10:03

I did BLW with both of my dc. It was just the easier thing to do, apart from the mess of course!

Tusty Thu 04-Sep-14 20:11:11

@PointlessFan BLW is brilliant. Sod what everyone else is doing.

We started at 5.5m because N decided he was ready, and off we went. I went into it mainly because I couldn't be bothered with pureeing, and at that stage the advice was wean at 6 months anyway (not 4m - it always seems to be changing). So my NCT friends were doing pureeing and mine was having proper food. He was also using spoons from the start (preloaded porridge/weetabix/yoghurt), and although some children just play and explore the food (they say food is fun until one so there's nothing to worry about as long as they're still having their normal milk), mine scoffed everything in sight.

Apart from one scary gagging issue with a nectarine skin which I just tipped him upside down and it popped out, it was only a positive experience which I'd definitely recommend to others.

He was using using cutlery well by 13 months (spoon and fork), well ahead of his peers in our group.

Bryna Thu 04-Sep-14 20:12:25

Hi, I have 3 DC 10y, 8y and 8mths. The first one I did the traditional weaning (purees at 6mth) the second BLW (but it wasn't called that then, it was finger foods as she would not eat off a spoon!!) number three is on BLW, I must say it is fab, he just has suitable bits of whatever we're eating, unless it's warm up quick from freezer junk!! Then he'll have either a baby food pouch with some breadsticks, or humous, or various suitable bits! He has a very strong gag reflex(which panics DP) but he will gag on smooth foods too! So it's not a problem! Hope all this makes sense, any qs please ask!smile

Pointlessfan Thu 04-Sep-14 20:16:31

Thank you, I've just read a couple more threads on here that have reassured me too. Think I'm going to give it a go - she is getting very interested in what we are having!

Pointlessfan Thu 04-Sep-14 20:18:06

Do I have to wait until exactly 6 months? She's 23 weeks now. Sorry that's probably a stupid question!

slightlyglitterstained Thu 04-Sep-14 21:56:09

Pointlessfan No, you don't have to wait until the exact day - unless you want to put Broccoli Day in the calendar as a milestone of some sort. smile I did, and presented DS with a plate of perfectly steamed broccoli florets on Weaning Day.

He stuck one in his mouth, and made a face of pure disgust. I later learned that that was the New Food face and it doesn't actually mean he hates it.

AnythingNotEverything Thu 04-Sep-14 22:38:07

I love BLW. I'll be honest and say I've done some spoon feeding and loaded spoons too, but I'm so happy that we've pureed nothing! So many people still don't believe that it's unnecessary.

The other great thing about it, if because you can all eat the same food, you end up sharing and eating every meal together, which is a lovely way to teach a child about food and hopefully I still a healthy attitude.

I love it.

Pointlessfan Fri 05-Sep-14 08:15:29

Thank you for the encouragement - exactly what I needed. I love the idea of broccoli day! Think we might just start getting on with it tho.
Having a birthday takeaway later, she can start with that, right?? (joking!)

Moroney Sun 07-Sep-14 16:33:42

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Pointlessfan Sun 07-Sep-14 22:11:16

I love that the health event is supported by KFC and McDonalds!!

YokoUhOh Sun 07-Sep-14 22:33:31

Did BLW with DS, who is now 21 months and boshes anything. He barely makes any mess these days (started off very messy). Important to note that they start off eating not much at all and all the elderly rellies panic about baby 'not getting enough'. I usually find that citing the obesity epidemic puts them at a loss for words smile

Tonicandgin Sun 07-Sep-14 23:06:26

I'm doing BLW with my dc, who is 11 mths now. She literally eats everything in sight. BLW suited us because dd likes to be in control of what goes in her mouth (I'd feel exactly the same) and as such I've never liked the idea of spooning foods into her. I'd prefer for her to choose, explore foods and be in control of her intake herself.

However, I do know some baby's struggle with BLW as they are frustrated that they can't get the foods in their mouth at the rate they prefer. So with all these things, the right approach comes from the baby, IMO.

I have a theory around the 'new foods face' a baby pulls. When as adults we are presented with say, fish and chips, or an orange, our mouths can anticipate what they taste like (eg mouth waters) and almost prepare us for a sour/ sweet taste etc. As a baby doesn't know yet, they are surprised and have a weird reaction.

Madlizzy Sun 07-Sep-14 23:15:30

I bought the book for my niece to use with her daughter. It's brilliant. The baby eats anything and everything.

Pointlessfan Mon 08-Sep-14 08:43:25

DD has tried cucumber and banana this week. She has enjoyed them both and I think gnawing on cucumber sticks is soothing her teething gums. I've bought the BLW recipe book and some of the recipes in it look delicious so I'm excited about getting started now.

zinher Mon 08-Sep-14 14:08:24

My baby is 7 months and still can't sit unaided. I was trying to start on BLW , but have now started on purees as didn't want to wait anymore. She also chokes on any lumps. I am a bit dissapointed as I really like BLW.

FamiliesShareGerms Tue 09-Sep-14 19:15:00

Babies who start with purees can also have a wide and adventurous palate too...

MotorcycleMama Fri 12-Sep-14 15:55:14

zinher My 6 mo cannot yet sit up unaided yet, and I worry about choking too. He can sit in a high chair with a bit of propping up. I very much want to do BLW and have given him a number of foods, including cheese on toast and broccoli, both of which he loved. I gave him a stick of mango to try though and he evidently loved it, but ended up with two rather large pieces in his mouth at the same time, I panicked and removed them from his mouth and he was so cross!

Diditonev Thu 06-Nov-14 13:25:00

Ha ha, motorcycleMama, I vividly remember my baby getting so crossed if you tried to take his food away! Hope your baby is eating well nowsmile

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