Baby Led Weaning is so hip right now it’d be a sin to do anything else. It’s champions are one step away from being the new ‘Breast Milk Nazis’, shovelling the dogma down your throat like the purées it’s proponents are so against. So is it “Baby Led Weaning” or “Not In My Kitchen” for you?

Parents with age 5+ kids often haven’t heard of it and grandparents of babies think it’s utterly ridiculous. I happen to think there are many pros with BLW. Giving a child the opportunity to develop their skills, gripping, tasting, chewing smelling and maybe even swallowing real food can only be benefits in their food education. The whole point here is that baby feeds themselves as opposed to their parents ‘mismanaging’ their child’s in-take, i.e. they know when they are full. We know that milk feeds are all a baby needs until they are around 1 year old and so there shouldn’t be any anxiety with how much food they are getting into their tiny stomachs at the beginning.

My first issue while reading about BLW comes in about here. Why can’t that be true when being fed? BLW proponents make out that babies are so clever when left to do it themselves they’ll tell you when they’ve had enough. Scrap that, they’ll tell themselves they’re full because you’re not feeding them and just stop. You see children don’t need their parents at all, in fact just this morning my baby performed BLD, I just stood there as they got themselves dressed. Amazing.

We don’t need BLW to tell us our children are clever, we know know they are. We already know babies know when they are full but I happen to think this is true in both BLW and traditional weaning methods. Unless you really cannot read your child’s distressed reaction to the 50th brussels sprout you’ve offered them (in whatever form), I can’t see that either method wins out here when the parent approaches weaning sensibly as opposed to trying to stuff their child like they’re trying to produce prize winning foie gras.

BLW is healthier and more nutritious than other weaning styles – is another piece of propaganda frequently spewed from the mouths of people that must also only eat with their hands, like monkeys, or neanderthals. Clearly they haven’t actually done their research. Parents who chose to spoon feed their children have the mental capacity to decide what is going into their children’s mouths and can make it as healthy and nutritious as they see fit. A BLW baby that is given a Big Mac is still BLW.

I like the BLW stipulation that meal times are shared occasions, allowing a baby to watch others eat and perhaps join in although I’d like to know how many baby-led parents actually share all three meal times. Personally I manage breakfast and occasionally lunch, but really the times don’t match well. I don’t want lunch at 11:30 and dinner at 16:30 before my wife is even through the door. Maybe that’s my bad scheduling… I’ll work on that one.

Another assumption that does’t quite stack up in my mind is the idea that BLW creates children that are less fussy with food. Only time and research will tell here but I don’t think that can be banded around as fact and indeed it seems to me that being allowed to pick up foods could just as easily create the most fussy eaters.

BLW suggests it’s easier than blitzing meals because kids just eat what you eat. The person that came up with this has never used a blender. Blending, let’s face it, is easy and very very fast. Certainly quicker than the many adaptations to food necessary to make it BLW friendly i.e. porridge fingers; which are disgusting by the way. If the whole point in BLW is to give children real, solid foods then lets not make usually soggy ones solid just so a spoon doesn’t have to be taken from the cutlery drawer.

Like a BLW baby who’s just been given their first lentils, that is my my biggest gripe. I’m totally pro giving a baby the same things us adults eat. However, we don’t eat porridge fingers, we eat porridge. Worse than that, we even eat purées. I’m a big fan of food and many of our holidays are based upon the restaurants we’d like to visit. Some of these restaurants are noted as being some of the best in the world. They all serve purées. I have a copy of the instructional tome Modernist Cuisine, it weighs 3x my daughters current weight and in it are whole sections devoted to purées, gels and foams.

I am a baby-led weaner, of sorts. My daughter feeds herself, eats only what she chooses and eats mostly what her parents eat (unless her grandparents are around). When her parents eat butternut squash chips with their hands so does she. When her parents eat purées with a spoon so does she, with just a little loading help. When, after trying various foods in their complete form but texture is a problem and my child is still hungry to try more (remember they can show us this) we mash. There I said it…

Some people forget that babies don’t have teeth. And while BLW techniques help a baby learn how to chew over time, this gets a lot easier once they have teeth. My nan, lost her teeth, she had a lot more pulsed foods afterward.

Many baby-led weaner’s are cult-like in their determination to persuade others theirs is the only way and judge those who don’t follow them. My own weaning technique has been chosen much the same as anything else I care about in life. I do my research and I steal the best bits from various methodologies. I think that pretty much sums up the NHS stance too so I can’t be too far off considering their advice is scientifically researched and government approved.

At the end of the day, do whatever works for you and your baby. After all, isn’t amazing that grown adults that weren’t subjected to BLW grew up to like food at all? Some of them even became chefs. Imagine that.

I think baby-led weaner’s (let’s just call them wieners shall we?) would say this all means I’m not a real baby-led weaner. I’m ok with that though because boy am I fed up, like those Dordogne ducks destined for foie gras, of judge-y wieners.


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