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Tips for Baby-led Weaning

Jill Castle, MS, RDN
January 3, 2019 . 2 min read

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

Sources:

  • 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.
    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.
    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.
    American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding
  • 2012
  • Policy statement: Breastfeeding and the use of human milk
  • Pediatrics
  • 129, e827-e841.
    Dietary Reference Intakes
  • Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies.
    Rapley G
  • and Murkett T
  • Baby-Led Weaning: Helping Your Baby Love Good Food
  • Vermillion: London, UK, 2008.
    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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