Baby Led Weaning vs Purées
Updated: Nov 20, 2020
Ok, so it’s not a competition but if you are in the process of choosing which route to take when introducing your little one to solid food it can be useful to see the pros and cons of each side. Let’s face it, with a baby requiring most of your attention there’s hardly time to go about ordering, reading and deciphering books on baby feeding alongside your normally daily flood of nappies, milk and tummy time! Here is a post to give you the round up.
Firstly, what is Baby-led Weaning (BLW)?
BLW is actually really simple to understand, the clue is in the name! Your baby leads the weaning process. That means your baby can take control of what they eat, how they eat and the amount they eat. There are a number of adjustments you need to make to the food you serve to enable baby to take control. Finger foods that are soft and easy to hold work best in the beginning, avoiding foods that are a high choking risk like nuts, grapes or other disc shapes.
Advantages to BLW
· Social Eating – because you don’t have to sit and feed your baby with a spoon they are able to eat at the same time as the rest of the family. Sitting at the table and watching others eat is a really valuable learning experience. Baby is also included in the conversation so they learn language skills and social cues like waiting for your turn to speak.
· Great if you are out of the house a lot – there is no need to spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing mountains of purée because baby eats what you eat! Buy yourself a sandwich at the store, pull out the tomato and rip off some bread to share.
· Exploration – Food is a massive sensory experience. We can taste, smell, hear, see and feel every food. Cook that food differently (roast it instead of boiling) and the sensory aspects change again. Exploring these different qualities of food through the senses is a really valuable learning experience for babies. Exploring food is the main goal of BLW. Research tells us the more children are exposed to a food, the more likely they are to try it.
Disadvantages to BLW
· It is not recommended to start BLW until baby is 6 months old so if your child is showing signs that they are ready for solid foods before then, you’d have to wait to start.
· Mess – as you can probably imagine, if baby is able to explore food at their own pleasure, it can get very messy indeed!
Introducing puréed food
With this approach you spoon feed your baby blended, smooth food and add more texture over time by leaving in lump, progressing to chopped food. By 6 months of age it is recommend to also offer finger foods alongside purée so baby has the opportunity to learn skills to feed themselves.
Advantages to purée
· Start early - If your baby is showing all the signs that they are ready to start solid food before the age of 6 months and you want to begin then purées are the starting point for you.
· Anxious about choking? – For those parents who are particularly concerned about gagging and choking, purées offer a reduced risk.
· Less mess – want to keep your dining area clean in the beginning? Purées are a slightly less messy option but don’t expect the floor to go untouched.
· Preparation – it can feel like you spend half your life in the kitchen with all the cooking, steaming and blending you need to do to ensure purées are prepped and ready.
· Baby eats alone – having to feed baby at the table while eating yourself can be tricky which means shared social eating can be a challenge.
Whichever approach you choose, there is no right or wrong answer. Look at your family situation and find the route that fits your lifestyle and goals best. In case you are a parent who would like to read more into introducing solid food I can recommended reading:
‘River Cottage Baby & Toddler Cookbook by Nikki Duffy’ – A nice explanation of both approaches paired with some great seasonal recipes
‘Baby-led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett’ – The bible of Baby-le weaning filled with everything you need to know!