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How can I prepare for baby-led weaning?

Julie Clark

Baby-led weaning expert


As your baby approaches the six-month mark, you may notice him taking more of an interest in food, and even making a grab for what’s on your plate. This is a positive sign that your baby is getting ready for solids.

To prepare your baby for baby-led weaning (BLW), try sitting him in his highchair at mealtimes alongside you, and giving him some plastic spoons and a cup or beaker to play with while you eat. Take your baby into the kitchen while you’re preparing meals and talk about what you’re doing. He’ll love the extra attention and the sounds and smells of cooking.

Before you start BLW, it’s a good idea to understand the difference between gagging and choking. Gagging helps to protect your baby from choking, by forcing your baby to push food forward in his mouth. The gag reflex is much more sensitive in babies than it is in adults. Baby-led weaning can trigger this reflex more often than spoon-feeding, as your baby, rather than you, is the one in control of the food.

Whether you’re doing BLW or spoon-feeding, it’s a good idea to attend a first-aid course for babies, so that you know what to do if your baby does choke.

There are a few items that you’ll want to buy before you get started with BLW, but you won’t need to spend a lot of money. Here are the basics you’ll need to get started:

  • Highchair. Opt for a highchair that you can easily wipe down in a few seconds. Padded chairs can look great, but offer plenty of folds and crevices for crumbs and dropped food to get stuck in. Check your baby’s position in the chair. Can he reach his food easily? Is the tray at the correct height? Is your baby secure when strapped in?
  • Beaker or cup. It’s a good idea to introduce a cup when starting solids as it helps your baby learn how to sip rather than suck from a bottle, which is better for his emerging teeth. A beaker with a free-flowing valve or an open cup is ideal.
  • A large bib A bib that covers your baby’s torso and arms is ideal. Baby-led weaning is messy! If it’s warm weather, strip your baby down and feed him in his nappy. Keep a damp flannel to hand for wiping up dribbles.
  • Floor cover. A wipe-clean tablecloth, a shower curtain, or even some old newspaper is ideal for catching food that falls from your baby’s tray. And there will be lots of food, especially at the beginning!

It’s a good idea to tell any family and friends who help look after your baby that you’re taking the BLW approach to introducing solid foods. You should also tell your baby’s nursery or childminder so that they can all follow the same method.

Watch our video on signs your baby is ready for baby-led weaning.
Last reviewed: July 2017
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