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Baby-led weaning is a child-centered approach to feeding and transitioning from breastfeeding to a solid food diet. Allowing baby to set the pace — eat when hungry and stop when full — is a responsive feeding approach, one that has been positively associated with healthy eating and body weight.

If you choose to use a BLW approach to feeding your baby, follow these tips to ensure safety and success:

  • Exclusively breast-feed your baby for the first six months.
  • Continue breast milk (preferable) or formula for at least the second six months of life. No regular cow’s milk or milk alternatives until after a year of age, and then whole fat sources should be used until age two.
  • Make sure baby shows developmental-readiness for solid food by sitting upright without props or assistance, reaching for food, or showing other signs of interest.
  • Feed your baby the food your family eats (soft-cooked, well-cooked or cut into graspable pieces).
  • Offer a variety of foods from all the food groups. Don’t rely on starchy foods like crackers, breads and cereals.
  • Understand the unique and important nutrient needs of your baby, including iron, zinc, vitamin D, total fat, and DHA.
  • Let baby regulate his or her eating.
  • Watch for signs of choking.

Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, December 2018

Takeaways

  • Baby-led weaning allows babies to set the pace of when they transition to a solid food diet.
  • Baby-led weaning has proven to lead to healthy eating habits.
  • BLW means exclusively breastfeeding your baby for their first 6 months of life.
  • To practice BLW, be sure to feed your baby what your family eats.

References

  1. Brown A, Lee M. Maternal control of child feeding during the weaning period: differences between mothers following a baby-led or standard weaning approach. Maternal & Child Health. 2011; 8: 1265-71.
  2. Brown A, Lee M. An exploration of experiences of mothers following a baby-led weaning style: Developmental readiness for complementary foods. Maternal & Child Nutr. 2013; 2: 233-43.
  3. Townsend E and Pitchford N. Baby knows best? The impact of weaning style on food preferences and body mass index in early childhood in a case-controlled sample. BMJ Open. 2012; 2: e000298.
  4. American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding. 2012. Policy statement: Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics. 129, e827-e841.
  5. Dietary Reference Intakes. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies.
  6. Rapley G. and Murkett T. Baby-Led Weaning: Helping Your Baby Love Good Food. Vermillion: London, UK, 2008.
  7. Castle J. and Jacobsen M. Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA, 2013.

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