I have two very different experiences of weaning my children.  When my Teen was weaning 16 years ago, the advice was so different as I’m sure you can imagine.  The advice can change from one baby to the next, but in 16 years you might as well be speaking a different language!

 

My Teen had rice from about 16 weeks.  If you had a hungrier baby, it wasn’t unheard of to start at 12 weeks.  I’m not going to pretend I remember the finer details, but my Teen was fully weaned from breast milk by 6 months.  I was disappointed about this  at the time, and apart of me still is.  I’d really wanted to maintain at least one feed a day, but he just didn’t need it and my supply dried up.  Food was clearly enough for him, and it doesn’t appear to have done all 6 foot of him any harm.  One things for sure, he’s rarely ill!

 

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So now we know a baby can survive on milk alone until around 6 months.  This in itself revolutionises weaning, before you even get to the Baby Led part.  You just have a bit more flexibility, which can only help.

 

So, Baby Led Weaning, is this also a revolution.  I was definitely curious to find out more,  it seemed to be the in thing anyway.  I signed up for the weaning workshop at the local Health Centre, who gave balanced advice on all the weaning methods, spoon feeding, BLW or a combination of both.  Calling it BLW in itself seemed a little emotive, to me anyway.  Is this a clever marketing ploy?  Maybe?  It doesn’t quite give rise to the same emotions as ‘Self Feeding’, does it?  I bought the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook for ideas and advice to see if it would help us.  When I received it, I was pretty horrified to read this comment from the Guardian on the back:

 

‘It sounds like common sense: after all, would you want to be strapped into a high chair and force fed spoon after spoon of bland vegetables?’

 

I still thought I’d give it a go.  BLW was devised by a Health Visitor, studies seemed to support it, and the logic appeared sound.  I wasn’t going to rule out spoon feeding, as it did seem appropriate in some circumstances.  We’ve been putting food in our babies mouths since time began.  In the animal kingdom it’s the norm, so I really didn’t feel the need to jump on the BLW band wagon completely.

 

It became quite apparent on the Baby Circuit  that Baby Led Weaning was creating a divide amongst the Mummy’s.  The idea of putting a spoon in a baby’s mouth had become ‘cruel’.  Comments like ‘Why would you do such a thing?’ were normal. These Mummy’s had definitely bought the book! If you gave a child a spoonful of food you were scowled at!  It seemed to be the new breast vs bottle debate.

 

Princess and I gave it a go.  We honestly didn’t get on with it.  She gagged a lot, I panicked a lot.  I really didn’t see how this was going to improve her relationship with food.  We mostly  used a spoon, but I kept giving her food to ‘play’ with along the way.  Getting used to textures and smells in this way seems to have been the most useful thing we took from BLW as she does seem to enjoy a wider range of foods than my son did (and does now!).

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I’m neither for or against BLW particularly.  If it works for you then great.  All my Mummy instincts go into overdrive when a baby starts gagging, so I doubt I’ll ever fully embrace it.  I did learn some things from it that I found helpful, but I will pick up a spoon as well.  I’ve always found babies are quite clear when they have had enough, or don’t like something. I’ve never managed to force feed a baby yet!

 

I’m always interested to hear what you think, comments are great!

19 COMMENTS

  1. What a great post, I always have felt pressure since Archie was born to be strictly BLW’ed and when he became a very hungry baby we decided to wean him at 4 months- obviously spoon feeding then. Now we do spoon feed but we also have finger foods and he enjoys playing and messing around with it but not much ends up in his tummy! Even last week we we’re having lunch in a Weatherspoons and Archie was sitting in a high chair having some puree I actually heard a lady walking past say that “spoon feeding babies should be banned!!!” I very nearly turned and let rip. Each baby is so different and they are more than capable even at 4 months of showing when they have had enough of something or spitting it back in my face if they don’t like it. Sorry for such a long comment. xx

    • Thanks so much for your comment, I was a bit worried about posting tbh. That comment was awful. Commenting on how people feed their children should be banned! Baby’s know exactly what they are doing when it comes to eating, that’s what baby led should really mean!

  2. Interesting post! It’s amazing the things people come up with to create divisions in parenting! Both spoon and finger feeding are entirely natural and I (and most parents I know) did a bit of both… My boy is now at the age when he’s most happy using the spoon or fork himself, but I’ve never shied away from spooning it in myself! 🙂 thanks for a good read! Kx

  3. Hi!

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I can understand why you were a little bit unsure about posting because I feel as if BLW competitiveness is becoming the new breastfeeding competitiveness. I love the idea of BLW but I see why people think it’s a bit scary. I weaned my baby at 22 weeks with a bit of mashed this & that and when she got to 26 weeks I thought “Be brave!!!” and tried to let her self-feed as much and often as possible. But at the same time, we have always spoon fed certain things (mostly things that I wouldn’t eat with my hands, so would’ve expect her to) and for that reason I know committed BLWers wouldn’t include me in their gang.

    Since having a baby, I’ve found that certain camps can be a bit all or nothing. I’m a bit more “bit of both” (I breast and formula fed until G was 40wks).

    Live and let live I say!

    x

  4. Interesting. I’m doing a bit of both but mostly spoon feeding. When I asked my hv about blw she said government advice is spoon feed so that is all she can recommend. I was definitely given the impression blw is a fad to be ignored! Though I do like elements of it!
    mydaysni recently posted…The Best Toy for a Wee BoyMy Profile

  5. I really liked this post. Obviously how you feed your baby is up to the individual parent but as a first time mummy I went for BLW as in my head it made sense. We started at 5.5 months, a little earlier then recommended but he was showing all the signs of being ready-grabbing food off my plate, sitting up unaided and with good hand eye co-ordination which apparently co-inside with the gut maturing.

    We started on one meal a day and offered broccoli, sweet potato and things that were easy to grip-there was a whole lot of sucking to begin with and not a lot of eating, however with time he gradually began to eat more and more at his own pace which I loved to see. He ate whatever we were eating-no need for jars, purees or any extra effort on our part. He did gag, but gagging is actually a good thing-gagging means the reflexes are there to stop the food going further to the back of the throat and ending up in choking. Obviously it’s still worrying but I would watch over him very carefully and he always managed to get the food out of his mouth.

    Now at 13 months he is a fantastic eater, as I’ve returned to university he now goes to a childminders and she has told me that she was astonished at how well he eats for his age which I was really pleased about as it justified it for me, in a way. He’s not fussy with food either (yet). So for my BLWing has been great for us and I’m glad we suck with it 🙂
    Katy B recently posted…Henry’s Birth StoryMy Profile

    • Thanks for your great comment, and reading my post. It’s good to hear the success stories too, as I know it really works for some babies.

  6. An interesting post – I think you’re right the baby-led v. ‘traditional’ weaning is becoming the new breast v. bottle debate. Toby is almost 8 months old and to be honest we’re doing a bit of a mixture. I don’t make purees – Toby just has what we’re having but I do help him to eat it sometimes, either by holding things for him to take a bite or by spoon feeding for things like yoghurt and porridge. He can get the spoon in his mouth by himself if I hand it to him but I’m too worried about him flinging food all over the room to let him do it himself all the time! I think, as with all things baby, that all babies are different and as long as they are getting the nutrition they need whether from milk or solids (however they end up in their mouths) then you know what’s best for your own child.
    Sarah recently posted…Going self-hosted – why should I do it?My Profile

    • Thanks for taking the time to read my post. I absolutely agree with you, parents know what’s best for their own babies.

  7. I really wanted to BLW however J loved it but after allergy problems it has become a nightmare as its such a faff to find stuff he can have. Not easy like BLW should be. We do a mixture now really. He is good at drinking from a cup though so ill give BLW credit where its due.

  8. A great post. I have a 2.5 yo boy and an 8 month old girl. My son was born 12 weeks early and the advice was to still wean at six months.. well… he wasn’t even able to sit up at this stage let alone lead his own weaning! So it had to be purees all the way. He weaned like a dream and is a most fabulous eater.

    My daughter was born at term and so I was excited I could do things like they were advised and was looking forward to BLW… well… what a bloomin nightmare. She barely eats a thing! She’s so strongwilled (don’t know where she’s got that from ;-)) She hates being fed from a spoon too so there’s just no winning really. A mixture of both is what appears to be working for us… but it isn’t as carefree as I’d imagined or as is implied by all the ‘professionals’… not to mention MESSY!!!
    Kelly recently posted…A Life Without Limits…My Profile

    • Thanks for your comment and reading my post. If a child is going to be fussy or strong willed, I doubt the weaning technique plays as much as a part as everyone is led to believe. There are so many factors in the mix. Zx

  9. My eldest is now 8 and we did a mixture of both BLW and spoon feeding. Hopping by via #Weekendbloghop

  10. Great thought-provoking post. I don’t tend to use the term baby-led weaning personally – I tend to just refer to Sophie eating finger foods. I’ve tried to do a mixture of both with my children. With Jessica, I was intending to do BLW but the dietician advised against solely BLW as she needs more calories due to her heart condition. In the end, she was mostly spoon-fed and has generally been quite a good eater on the whole. Sophie has probably had more finger foods which are easier in some respects when trying to sort out two children at the dinner table and is very independent – she will only let me spoon feed her small amounts. I find it a little frustrating at times as the vast majority of what Sophie is offered ends up on the floor and all over her and sometimes it doesn’t seem that very much makes it into her mouth compared to when she was willing to be spoon fed. She also wakes more for night feeds than Jessica did which of course might be just her being a different baby and having different needs but there is part of me that wonders if she just doesn’t eat enough during the day and then tries to make up for this at night.

    I haven’t generally come across too much of a polarised view with BLW vs spoon-feeding but it does make me sad that people can be so judgemental about how others choose to feed their babies. Ultimately the vast majority of us are just trying to do the best we can and different approaches work for different people.
    Louise recently posted…Mealtimes with small childrenMy Profile

  11. A great post. We are just weaning our boy and had the same thoughts and experiences. There are definitely some very passionate (opinionated) parents out there. I think it’s important to go with your instinct and do what works for you and your baby. Look forward to reading more of your posts.

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