Six Reasons to Love Baby-led Weaning

veggie-sticksInspired by my best friend’s success with Baby-Led Weaning this is the method I chose when Caterpillar was six months old. Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett are the go-to experts on the technique and their books helped me so much at the beginning of the weaning journey.

This post is the first of a two-parter, in the second I’ll share my favourite recipes from Gill and Tracey’s The Baby-led Weaning Cookbook as well as my favourite on-the-go snacks for recently weaned babies.  But first off, why choose baby-led weaning?

It’s easier 

I’ve never once had to use a food processor to make Caterpillar’s meals and anything that means less work is a bonus in my book. With Baby-led Weaning (BLW) there are no purées, no liquidising, no freezing and defrosting ice cube trays.

It’s (potentially!) cheaper 

I pause here because it’s probably not cheaper than making your own purées but it is definitely cheaper than buying jarred foods or specific baby meals.

It’s more social

Once BLW was partly established, nine times out of ten Caterpillar ate the same as Hubs and I.  Some people are fearful of giving their children foods with strong flavours such as mature cheese or curries and chilli con carne but we cook a lot with herbs, spices and other big flavours and never found it was a problem. Obviously I didn’t give him a curry that would blow his head off (apart from once accidentally but that’s another story!) but a wide range of milder spices went down really well.

Because Caterpillar was sharing our meals it made it much more social, and also really helped when eating out as he could have some of our dinner (assuming it wasn’t processed) and we didn’t have to worry about bringing separate foods out with us and asking the staff to heat them up.

It makes more sense and is better for baby 

I know this is controversial and there are lots of conflicting views but it’s my opinion that the purée stage of weaning just isn’t necessary. At around six months babies are naturally curious about food and want to explore different textures with their hands and mouths. A child of this age would happily grab a carrot from your plate and start sucking on it, so why add the extra stage of taking that carrot and liquidising it?

It also gives children the opportunity to taste new flavours individually rather than having several fruits, veg or meats mixed together. BLW also means you can avoid the secondary weaning stage of introducing lumps and texture, which some traditionally weaned babies struggle with.

blw book 1

Two big fears are choking and worries about your baby getting enough nutrients. Regarding the choking, yes this is obviously something that you have to be very cautious about but some have actually suggested that BLW could help reduce the risk of choking. You can read more about this in Gill Rapley’s guidelines.  It’s also important to remember the difference between choking and gagging.  Gagging is just your child’s way of learning to manage the lumps of food (and babies of this age have a higher gag reflex that the rest of us, presumably for this reason). Gagging can be really scary to see the first couple of times but as long as you remember the difference between gagging and choking it’s absolutely fine, and soon passes (Caterpillar passed the gagging stage after only a couple of mealtimes). If a child is being spoon fed they aren’t given the opportunity to find that gag reflex on their own and at this key stage in their development, so when they do eventually feed themselves it could be a little more dangerous in fact.

Regarding nutrition, Caterpillar was still having the same amount of milk each day when we first began BLW and we let him set the pace on the rate at which we reduced that, guided by his hunger and also how much solid food we could see in his nappy and therefore knew he had actually consumed. It didn’t take anywhere near as long as I thought it would for him to begin weaning himself off his milk, and he didn’t lose any weight in the process. Plus, don’t forget, some foods are already liquid or soft in their natural state (yoghurt, porridge, minced meat etc) and he was having these using the “loaded spoon” method, alongside finger foods, so we knew he was at least eating these, even if it was taking a little time for him to grind up his sticks of steamed veg, fruit and whole meat. The key to BLW is patience, calmness (a struggle for me I don’t mind admitting) and, by definition, letting your baby lead you.

It helps your child to be less fussy

I should add a disclaimer here since my son is in that typical 2.5 yo stage now where he often fusses or refuses food. But I truly believe that this is less to do with the flavours themselves and more about him pushing boundaries and being distracted.  Thankfully, he has been getting better again the last few weeks.

Between six and 18 months he was certainly less fussy than some traditionally weaned babies I knew, he was eating everything. And even now he isn’t afraid of strong flavours or unusual textures which I love.

It’s fun! 


I know a lot of people find weaning really stressful but we genuinely enjoyed it (and this says something as I was still recovering from PND at the time and found most things stressful!). It was easily the most exciting part of the baby stage for me and watching Caterpillar explore new flavours and textures was fascinating and often hilarious.

For the second part of this Baby-led Weaning post I’ll be sharing my favourite recipes and finger food options as well as reviewing The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook which was an enormous help to me. If you want more information on baby-led weaning, along with all the advice and safety guidelines, please visit Gill Rapley’s website.

*Disclaimer: I’m not an expert, just a mum sharing her experience*

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43 comments on “Six Reasons to Love Baby-led Weaning

  1. I did a bit of both with my son. I mostly made homemade purees for the first couple months and then started to introduce finger foods as well until it got to the point where he didn’t want the puree anymore. Great post xx #BloggerClubUK

  2. Both times I have started weaning my my children I spend a day making purées. Them purées then never leave the freezer as I end up just baby led weaning. My daughter wouldn’t allow me to spoon feed her. She is 10 months now and Uses a spoon for her yoghurt. My son was born 10 weeks early but he baby led from 6 months as he just grabbed my food from me! So much easier and I find children are happier to try new things. #BloggerClubUk

  3. Baby-led weaning has been great for us. My daughter took to it straight away and it’s so nice that we all get to share mealtimes together. She has a go at pretty much anything and actually prefers strong flavours – her favourite foods include hummus, guacamole and baba ganoush. Last night she had broccoli and tofu stir-fry, and tonight it’s saag paneer. I love watching her explore her food, even though it makes a huge mess! #bestandworst

  4. Good post! One downside is that the early sharing can give babies (and then toddlers) that everything on their parents plate is open season. I’ve watched an entire bowl of soup vanish before my eyes with a simple “I have?”.

    Our son was baby lead weaning via his baby sister who wanted to share her toast with him!


    1. Ha ha, yes I can see how that is a downside! We used to always make sure T had his own plate to try to counter that but yeah he did go through a phase where he wanted everything we had. Thankfully, it’s now only chocolate and sweets I have to eat in secret lol! x

  5. Hey, lovely to meet you. Love your blog and link with mother butterfly and baby caterpillar.

    I did a mixture of purees and BLW and it worked perfectly for me. Thankfully Henry now Henry at 10 months old eats anything and can hold his own with solid foods. He loves spicy food and also tells us when he is full or wants more.

    However I have to admit, I hate the cleaning up when Henry goes crazy with his food.

    Renee @peonieandme #bestandworst x

  6. Interesting post! I did a bit of both really but lots of little purees and meals. My daughter ate sooo well but it has now gone to pot and bye bye fruit! I think with my second I may be more BLW as will fit in with what we are having and be easier. Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst x

  7. We have just started our BLW journey – 4 weeks in and it’s definitely getting easier. I can noticibly see there is less food on the floor so there must be more getting in his mouth! As an added bonus, it’s made Daddy and I eat more healthily as a lot of our dinners I was looking at thinking ‘I wouldn’t feed my baby this, why am I eating it?!’ I’m still coming to terms with the amount of mess he makes, and remembering to pack snacks and drinks when we go out, but overall I think it’s an excellent way to introduce your baby to solids!

  8. This is a great post summarising the benefits of baby led weaning. I did a mixture of purees and baby-led weaning for both my children – I found BLW was a lot of mess for not much food eaten (more of an issue with my older child as her heart condition meant that it was important for her to have the extra calories). BLW is easier when you’re out and about as the children mostly had some of whatever we were eating. With purees I much just blended whatever we were eating (provided it was suitable) and so the girls got used to a range of flavours very quickly – we do have the odd picky moment now and then but I’d say the girls are both fairly good eaters now at 2 and 4. #coolmumclub

    1. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience. It must have been very difficult with your child’s heart condition, BLW can be a little restrictive in certain cases. Thanks for reading x

  9. This is a great informative post Laura – I am somewhat jealous of your success! We always found the best result was a bit of both…I wrote a post on it too back in the days of weaning if you’re interested! xx Thanks for sharing with #coolmumclub

  10. We are going to try baby-led weaning in a few weeks once little one has reached six months and is also a little bit more stable sitting up. I’ve been doing purees for now as she was clearly ready for food, but I’m looking forward to being able to feed her what we eat in a few weeks. Since moving onto food, I’ve been able to leave little one with Daddy as she now takes milk in a cup too, not sure if this is related to eating things other than milk. Claire x #BloggerClubUK

  11. I agree with all of these, but I do personally hate the mess! We did a bit of it, but not all the time. First would eat anything by any method, second would not eat at all by any method! #brilliantblogposts

  12. I did a combination as sometimes it can feel like food isn’t going down with BLW (I’m sure it is but mums love to fuss). My husband was terrified by the gagging noises but I think it made him a more confident eater #justanotherlinky

  13. I did a combination of things with our kids. You make a lot of great points for baby lead weaning. It’s fantastic that it’s been successful for you! Thanks so much for linking up with #bloggerclubuk xx

    1. Not bad mummy at all! Everyone is different and BLW is only one option. I probably wouldn’t have tried it had it not been from seeing how well it worked for my best friend. Thanks for reading x

  14. We did Baby Led Weaning for both our girls and it worked fantastically. We also had the same books as you! I reckon if you can get the first 3 weeks over with (the really messy stage when you’re not sure they’re getting ANY food in their mouth at all!), then it all starts to get a lot easier. We loved that we were all sitting down and eating the same thing, and that we didn’t have to make a separate meal for the baby. #TheList
    Lucy (@Lucy_at_home) recently posted…Eureka: Family Fun In YorkshireMy Profile

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