What I have learned about: BLW [Part 1]

As the title suggests, we decided to go for baby led weaning (BLW) with Bea. I had so much to share about this particular topic that I’ve split it into 2 posts. Today is mainly our experience, and on Thursday I’ll be back with Part 2, sharing our essentials for BLW and tips. (And we have Erin’s fashion fix tomorrow if you’re not interested in weaning!)

My main concern with BLW was the emphasis that ‘food is fun before they’re one’ and reliance on continued milk feeds, while they (very) slowly increase their solid intake. At the time of weaning, I was going back to work in less than 2 months and was still feeding 5-6 or more times per day plus a dream feed. I decided I’d give it a month and if she still wasn’t taking much in, reconsider our options then.

Why did I go for BLW in the end? It just made sense to me. I read the book, and developmentally, it all made sense; why feed a baby purees when they can feed themselves? I felt I was relaxed enough to accept if she didn’t eat much because I was used to trusting her intake whilst breast feeding and I knew she was able to feed herself as EVERYTHING was already going straight into her mouth. She wasn’t quite sitting up when we started – as in, sitting unsupported in the middle of the floor, but was perfectly upright in her baby snug. It also appealed to my style of parenting. Within sensible limits of her having some structure, I prefer her fitting in with us. We eat out a lot (still) and it appealed to the lazy part of me, that I could just fed her the kinds of things we eat, ad hoc.

We started weaning 5 days before she was 6 months old. I had been determined to wait until 6 months exactly, despite the grandparents regular chimes of ‘she’s so ready for food!’ but when I did a bit of reading prior to starting, there is conflicting evidence about the benefits of postponing solids until 6 months (increased gut maturity, reduced risk of allergies…) against possible risks (one recent study found a 4 fold increased risk of diabetes if children were weaned before 4 months or after 6 months.) In the end it was simply convenient to start at the weekend so Pete could participate too.

In the very beginning my focus was on exposing her to as many tastes as possible. I didn’t restrict her to popular first tastes to babies (like sweet vegetables) and simply chose things that were convenient for her to eat – things that were naturally or could be made, stick shaped. One of the key ideas behind BLW is that babies feed themselves, which I found very limiting (babies of 6 months usually can only grasp stick shaped things and it takes weeks and months for them to develop the motor skills to pick things up with their fingers or grasp handfuls and release them into their mouth,) so we quickly introduced a weaning spoon which we preloaded and held out for her to take and put into her mouth herself. She was successful right from the beginning (as I knew she would be because of her tendency to put anything and everything straight into her mouth,) and that made things like weetabix, porridge and yogurt easy enough and moderately less messy.

Ah yes, the mess. I was warned BLW would be messy, so I was prepared for it and to be honest, I don’t think it has been that bad. We bought sleeved bibs (see below) and a piece of oilcloth tablecloth to cover our marble worktops. Apart from on herself, the majority of the mess is from dropping her spoon at the side of her seat or onto the floor and whatever is on it splashing off. I tend to eat with her (at least sitting with her,) so regularly spoon catch and keep a cloth handy to wipe up these spills as we go (because dried on weetabix is like cement, be warned!)

If you don’t have a baby or want to hear about nappies, you might want to skip this paragraph. 😉 Because I wanted to give Bea every opportunity to progress with weaning, we very quickly worked up to 3 meals a day, even if they were small. It took about a week before we started to see bits of food in Bea’s nappy (undigested) then after 2 weeks her nappies changed completely, confirming that she was taking a decent amount of food in. We are a month on now and she has dropped down to 4 milk feeds; One on waking, one around lunch after her morning nap, one after her afternoon nap, and one before bed.

So readers, I’d love to hear if you have anything to add here or if you have any questions for me. I’ll do my best to answer them. In the mean time, can anyone suggest a worktop height high chair that isn’t ridiculously expensive?



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18 thoughts on “What I have learned about: BLW [Part 1]

  1. I think the weaning spoon is a great idea, I did a mixture of baby-led and purees (although I know the BLW purists would say that I therefore did not do BLW but I can’t actually bring myself to care!) and I do think it is beneficial to introduce cutlery early on. Weetabix is a great breakfast food as it’s so thick and sticky so easy for babies to manage. We also progressed to 3 meals a day quite quickly, think after about a week or so. The main practical benefit to me of waiting till 6 months was that I could give him any food to try, rather than avoiding wheat or dairy etc.
    I will never forget the look on my son’s face when he produced his first solid poo! He looked so shocked and we had to help him by bringing his legs up to his chest. It’s a sad day when the non-smelly breastmilk poos come to an end.
    We definitely did something right, at almost 2.5 my son eats almost everything I give him including stir fry with noodles, mild curry, and he is mad on fruit and veg. Of course he also loves chocolate, crumpets, cheese, breadsticks and fish fingers 😉

  2. i started off with purees but soon moved to Blw when my daughter point blank refused a spoon. It was a slow start for us due to illness and stomach issues so took a gd couple of months before she was onto 3 meals. We also ate out a lot and it made things easy to just share my food with her. I do remember ordering her a side of broccoli and the waitress finding it quite odd! She was dairy free until one due to an intolerance so that did restrict what I could give her a fair bit but I managed to find alternatives to milk and butter which helped. She was great at trying new things and would would eat really well. Unfortunately now at 18 months she’s super fussy. I try not to stress about it though as she’s goes through phases!
    She’s always eaten either hands and hated a spoon even to feed herself so has mastered eating porridge without one! Luckily she’s just started using a spoon and a fork so they do get there in the end!

    It’s great when they begin to drop their feeds too you feel like you get into a real routine. I found fitting in naps food and feeds quite tricky!

    Sounds like you are having lots of fun which is the main thing. I also went with saying ‘food is fun before one’


  3. That spoon is brilliant! Wish I’d had one of those. Lobster clip on high chair was a lifesaver for us and might solve your worktop issues – fits into a changing bag, and will clip onto any surface (grandparents’, mates without kids, rental cottage, picnic tables in the great outdoors, restaurants with no/crappy high chair etc.). Also good when visiting little buddies as they can all sit around the table for tea. xxx

    • I’ve been put off the lobster clip on one as it’s fabric and i wondered if that would make it harder to clean… or keep clean should I say. I’m also a bit nervous of it not he marble worktop – I don’t trust the slab, even though Bea is a dot!

      • It’s pretty easy to wipe down but i know what you mean. I always ended up with a bit of kitchen roll over the lap for both mine (still doing it for young man who is more messy than his sis and nearly 2!) which caught most of what would have got smushed down the sides/in between legs, but I know what you mean – might not be for you. The lobster also has a plastic tray that fits on the front to protect your surface. I really liked this when out and about too as most restaurants seem to have those wooden high chairs with no tray and I was worried about putting food straight onto the table (due to both concern about unclean tables and embarrassment about making a mess on restaurants’ tables). Plus the standard wooden restaurant chairs don’t allow smaller kids to reach the tabletop when Bea’s age, I found. Can’t believe IKEA haven’t cottoned on to worktop-height highchairs, though! Good luck in your quest :). x

        • Hi, thanks Beck!
          I like that it has a tray – I didn’t realise that. I don’t mind making a mess in restaurants but you’re right about the height of those wooden ones being a bit useless. I do worry about putting food on the table and how clean it is – I’m not a clean freak but I don’t like the idea of the coating of chemicals its probably had with those spray cleaners waiting staff use to clean tables with a grubby cloth!

  4. Is it a special kind of spoon, Rebecca?

    We did a combination – starting on purees and now introducing more and more baby led meals at nearly 8 months, which Ewan is loving, so a spoon which is easier for him to use would be great.

  5. Bea is just too cute – those eyes.

    Glad that BLW has worked out so well for you.

    We started weaning Willow at 5 months (read some fairly compelling arguments for weaning earlier than 6 months), so we have gone the puree route – although she often spoons it in herself. She is loving it and can easily destroy about 200g of food a day….but shows no signs of dropping a feed?? Like you, I am going back to work next month and would really like to have cut down the number of feeds (not least because Willow has always point-blank refused a bottle). Could you explain a little bit how you dropped the feeds (which one first? led by Bea? something you managed or just an organic occurrence?).

    Can’t help on the highchair as we are still using the bumbo on top of the kitchen counter!!! Sooooooo tempted by the Stokke Tripp Trap but it feels needlessly extravagant?….Why do most highchairs look so grim and tacky though?!

    • Hi!
      I think reducing feeds has also coincided with a bit of a change in her routine. For some reason (and I don’t think it’s related to eating,) she seems to have dropped a nap too and unless it’s a bad day with 2 short naps, when she will go on to have a third, she generally has 2 long naps now and wants milk when she wakes. That’s pushed the feeds back as she sleeps longer now. So the schedule goes roughly like this (times vary):
      Wake up
      Milk feed

      I feed her on demand but I do deliberately let her go until she wants it. And she is catching on now that food = satisfying her hunger. So I try and make sure she has food when she needs it so she’s not falling back on milk. Another mum friend with a slightly older baby was trying to add in snacks to reduce the feeds too.

      For what it’s worth, my friend has a tripp trap and recommended it. She’s on her third child so feels although it was expensive, they’ve had their money’s worth.

      Hope that helps!

      • Ahhhhh I hope beyond hope that Wills is going to extend her infernal 45 min naps. She settles herself to sleep so that whole self soothing stuff is rubbish in my opinion – must just be a biological readiness to take chunky naps. Lucky you that Bea is napping longer now.

        Thanks so much for the info on the schedule. So helpful. As always.

        Look forward to reading the follow up post.


  6. We’ve just started this week and are going down the BLW route. We have the spoon and our biggest success so far was our little boy (6 months on Saturday) feeding himself yoghurt! He’s been quite reluctant to try anything else yet though. I’m trying not to make a big deal out of it and am just offering in the hope that eventually it will click. I do struggle to imagine having another set of things to fit into our days though!ook forward to reading your tips!
    Oh – and look at the IKEA antilop high chair. It’s quite high and can be used without the tray so you can tuck it under things.

    • It’s too low unfortunately Becks – we’ve bought one as a back up and for the dining room when we eat at the table.

      Well done with the yogurt – Bea still doesn’t help herself out of a pot or bowl, I’ve read some babies will use spoons or breadsticks etc as dippers but she hasn’t got that yet.
      Just keep trying. Bea is sometimes reluctant to eat for whatever reason and will sometimes not go for certain textures, then eat them at other times!

  7. We’ve just got a cossato noodle sups highchair – monster mash. Primarily because our original one has a really high tray and now Phoebe is trying to spoon feed herself from a bowl it wasn’t working where on the cossato one the tray is just above her lap. It has 6 height settings and goes higher than our table- we’ve only just got it out the box tonight but will try it in the kitchen and will Instagram a pic if it looks like it may be high enough for you x

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