Going Green: Baby-Led Weaning

Okay, so this isn’t really a Going Green post, but since it fits in with the idea of eating fresh, eating organic, I’ll add it to the series.

Have you heard of Baby-Led Weaning? It’s a new, well actually, old idea on introducing solid foods to infants. Way before we had baby spoons and Cuisinarts, babies learned to eat ‘adult food’ by handling, sniffing, tasting, gumming and squishing whatever they were introduced to.

That means big chunks of food for babies to ‘palm’ (since most don’t yet have a pincher grasp by 6 months) and play with. Big chunks might include a strip of toast, a slice of peach or a large chunk of chicken. Any food cut long enough that they can both grasp it in their fist and gnaw on it.

Some of Liv’s favorites? Sliced peaches, pears and apples (sometimes raw, sometimes a little cooked or stewed), strips of roasted carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, squash (roast all of the above with a little salt, pepper & olive oil – let cool), diced plums, blueberries, apricots (small pieces to practice grasping), hunks of chicken, pork, beef, ribs (really!) and sliced bread (loves it toasted), cornbread, avocado and eggs.

At this point she’s still 100% breastfed, so the quantity she takes in is up to her.

BLW means skipping pureed and mashed foods for ‘table foods’, or basically whatever the family is eating for dinner. We decided to experiment with the concept (no extra work pureeing everything? the opportunity for Liv to pick and choose her foods – and hopefully grow to love our dinners – herself? sounds great) and introduced Liv to roasted carrots and Italian broccoli (you know, the long kind that looks a bit like an asparagus) at about 6 months. She’s checking out sliced plouts (plum + apricot = yum) and cornbread above.

I still cut up food that is of choking size (such as these little blueberries which she devours) so she can feed herself.

No, she’s not really pointing :). Liv’s been practicing her hand eye coordination to get that pincher grasp (thumb and forefinger) down – all while playing with her food.

The one downfall? It’s so messy!!

As you can imagine, if baby gets to control where the food goes, it goes everywhere. Thankfully our yellow lab, Bodie, is quick to catch most of the chunks that go tumbling off of her tray!

You have to get used to the idea that about 2/3 of the food that you first introduce will be wasted and in piles on the floor. Slowly that number drops and slowly babies begin to consume more of the food itself.

I think Liv might even love the clean up part just as much as the eating part.

We love it. BLW means I get to put a few choices of food in front of her and she gets to feed herself. I can eat lunch, make dinner or otherwise work with her right next to me. If you’re interested in learning more, Google ‘Baby-Led Weaning’, there are a ton of great blogs and resources out there – including this book.

It’s a great option but we’re not strictly BLW and we also don’t discount purees for when they’re best, such as when we’re traveling (once Liv knows we’re eating she insists on being involved, so there’s no just waiting for a later time in the day to feed her). While out at restaurants we feed her right off of our plate but offer bite sized pieces of beef tenderloin or potatoes so that she doesn’t need to grasp everything (because let’s face it, sometimes a crazy mess of food in every direction just won’t fly).

What we do love is that she gets to participate in our meals! And she totally digs it.

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  1. says

    My sister did BLW with my niece and it worked out great. Her favorites ended up being black beans (work great in a snack cup) and Brussels sprouts.

  2. Catherine says

    We have been doing BLW with our daughter for a while now. She will be turning 1 in 2 weeks and is a GREAT eater!!

    Ever since we started, Léa actively participates in all of our meals! And she is offered the same things we are eating (with a few exceptions..)

    We did get a lot of questions in the beginning as it was something new to our family and friends.. Our parents were a little worried first, but it didn’t take them too long to appreciate it as much as us.. Everyone is so amazed by how well she eats, and how she is not picky at all! She will try EVERYTHING!

    I found this method to be very handy when traveling and eating out!! We don’t have to carry around a bunch of containers with baby food… We do however have to pick up a lot of food on the floor!!

    The good news… I’ve concinced some of my friends who have kids to give it a try with their next babies!!

    • Morgan says

      Hi Catherine,
      So good to hear your experience! Yes, agreed on picking up so much off the floor at restaurants – We offer her chunks to munch on since usually there’s not a tray on the highchair but I’m always under the table picking up pieces so the poor bus boys don’t have so much work to do! :) and Liv is a great eater too! Tries everything.


  3. says

    This is basically the method we used too (at the advice of our 60 year old pediatrician!) and my oldest will be turning 17 next week. All 3 of my boys are great eaters and never have been picky. Our doctor’s philosophy was that food shouldn’t become a battleground, but rather a social time that the family can enjoy together. He also stressed that children will not starve themselves – they will eat what you give them if they are hungy – so there isn’t a need to turn into a short order cook. Sadly, he passed away when my youngest was only 2… I wish I had been able to hear his advice on raising teenagers!

    • Morgan says

      Hi Alice,
      You are the second to mention an older pediatrician offering the same advice – I’m convinced that it’s a way of feeding children that’s bound to return! This is much wisdom in old age :). Thanks for your comment!


  4. says

    Thanks for posting about this. I have heard a lot of good things about BLW and I think it’s a great idea. Although when I ask people about it, they think it sounds weird, like Why don’t you just give them bland stuff out of a jar? How boring for a new eater? My baby is only 3 months now, but it won’t be long before he is eating solids and I think this is the way we will go too!
    Thanks again for sharing your experience with BLW!

  5. Kristin says

    We have three teenage children who were all given the same food that the rest of the family was eating – per the recommendation of our 60 year old, very wise pediatrician. Our kids were always the less picky, more open eaters. I have never had to cook special meals or offer substitutions and I have never spent any extra time making special baby food meals. I used that time to play with them instead!

    • Morgan says

      I love hearing stories like that! That’s great :). Thanks for your comment and I hope that Liv will be just as adventurous.


  6. says

    I was so excited to read your post! I have always been interested in BLW and whenever I ask any moms about it they look at me like I am crazy! I am going to get the book and read up on it because it sounds great and it looks like you have one beautiful, happy baby!!

    • Morgan says

      Thanks, Linsey! I highlry recommend the book – if not for a short read to see if it’s for you or not. There are also several great blogs out there dedicated solely to BLW by BLW moms!


  7. says

    We are doing BLW (a bit modified) and think it’s fabulous. Penny loves to play and squish, and I love all the things you do! No tedious pureeing, Penny learns to love what we love and become an independent eater. She has trouble with meat though- she can’t really get it down, so I’ve been making mashed beans to get her some protein. And I do give her some spoon foods like applesauce & yogurt, but I let her hold the spoon, and she does really well with it.

    • Morgan says

      Hi Elle,
      I agree, applesauce and yogurt with little hands is too much :), we spoon feed Liv those items too. And in terms of protein and iron, sometimes I add fortified baby cereal to her oatmeal or other pureed veggies. It’s great to not have to be constantly making baby food! Though I do usually once a week to make a few meals for the road.


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