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Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide—How to Introduce Solid Foods and Help Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater

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Baby-led weaning is the healthy, natural way to start your baby on solid foods—no stress, no fuss, no mush! Ten years ago, Baby-Led Weaning ended the myth that babies need to be spoon-fed purées. In fact, at about six months, most babies are ready to discover solid food for themselves. Today, baby-led weaning (BLW) is a global phenomenon—and this tenth anniversary edition Baby-led weaning is the healthy, natural way to start your baby on solid foods—no stress, no fuss, no mush! Ten years ago, Baby-Led Weaning ended the myth that babies need to be spoon-fed purées. In fact, at about six months, most babies are ready to discover solid food for themselves. Today, baby-led weaning (BLW) is a global phenomenon—and this tenth anniversary edition of the definitive guide explains all its benefits: Baby participates in family meals right from the start, and learns to love a variety of foods. Nutritious milk feedings continue while Baby transitions to solids at his or her own pace. By self-feeding, Baby develops hand-eye coordination, chewing skills—and confidence! Plus, this edition is updated with the latest research on allergy prevention and feeding Baby safely, a guide to using BLW at daycare, and much more. Here is everything you need to know about teaching your child healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.


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Baby-led weaning is the healthy, natural way to start your baby on solid foods—no stress, no fuss, no mush! Ten years ago, Baby-Led Weaning ended the myth that babies need to be spoon-fed purées. In fact, at about six months, most babies are ready to discover solid food for themselves. Today, baby-led weaning (BLW) is a global phenomenon—and this tenth anniversary edition Baby-led weaning is the healthy, natural way to start your baby on solid foods—no stress, no fuss, no mush! Ten years ago, Baby-Led Weaning ended the myth that babies need to be spoon-fed purées. In fact, at about six months, most babies are ready to discover solid food for themselves. Today, baby-led weaning (BLW) is a global phenomenon—and this tenth anniversary edition of the definitive guide explains all its benefits: Baby participates in family meals right from the start, and learns to love a variety of foods. Nutritious milk feedings continue while Baby transitions to solids at his or her own pace. By self-feeding, Baby develops hand-eye coordination, chewing skills—and confidence! Plus, this edition is updated with the latest research on allergy prevention and feeding Baby safely, a guide to using BLW at daycare, and much more. Here is everything you need to know about teaching your child healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.

30 review for Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide—How to Introduce Solid Foods and Help Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    I picked up this book for both personal and professional reasons. As a parent of a baby (now toddler) and a speech-language pathologist I wanted to know more about what baby-led weaning was for my own child but also in my field. While I don't work in Birth to Three, I often evaluate 2 year olds. I also regularly talk with parents of children on my caseload, who may ask me about the child's younger sibling that's a baby, or may ask me what I think about baby-led weaning. What I liked: Overall, th I picked up this book for both personal and professional reasons. As a parent of a baby (now toddler) and a speech-language pathologist I wanted to know more about what baby-led weaning was for my own child but also in my field. While I don't work in Birth to Three, I often evaluate 2 year olds. I also regularly talk with parents of children on my caseload, who may ask me about the child's younger sibling that's a baby, or may ask me what I think about baby-led weaning. What I liked: Overall, there are a lot of great suggestions in here. I appreciated the push to have baby be a part of mealtime early on, to let them *safely* play with food and feel different textures and shapes, learning all the while. I also strongly agree with babies/all children eating what their parents eat, and I'm sick of this idea that kids are somehow born only desiring chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. (I mean, really don't we all want chicken nuggets and mac and cheese? But kids can eat anything, they don't need separate kids meals.) I also enjoyed the idea that this can help all families eat healthier as you set an example for your children in the meals you eat and the snacks you have on hand. Finally, I definitely agree with the safety issues concerning spoons of puree entering a baby's mouth when they're not ready for it and the swallowing risk this poses. What I didn't like: For a book that talked about studies and research, I saw very little. I know it wasn't meant to be a textbook, just a book parents can easily read, but footnotes or endnotes or something would have given me more confidence. Speaking of science, the idea of a healthy or balanced diet given in this book (e.g. eat something from each of these food groups everyday) seems to be based on the 90's food pyramid or something similar. I am really sick of hearing about how whole grains are so important when the nutrients you get from them can easily be gotten elsewhere, and most kids in America are eating too many carbohydrates as it is. The books or articles I have read about eating grains were packed full of much more scientific research and studies than this one was. While yes, I still eat some bread and my child can too, I'm not going to pretend this is essential to our nutrition when it's not. I was most frustrated by how information in this book seemed to conflict with each other. The book had a section about sugar and salt that was important because babies can only have a certain amount safely. Yet, later in the book when it talks about going out to eat or letting your child eat your food at home, it talks about babies having soup and other food items that are typically higher in sodium. It's almost impossible to make or find soup that has a low enough level of sodium for a baby and is flavorful enough the family actually wants to eat it as well. Not to mention the fact that food from restaurants typically has more sodium, and they don't typically put the amount of sodium on the menu so you have no idea how much is in your food. For me I don't mind this, but if it's for my very small child, I want to know how much is there so they can digest it safely. So you're not supposed to make separate food for your child, yet you're supposed to somehow make sure they don't get too much sodium or sugar, while still enjoying any meal you like at a restaurant. Okay, now to my real beef with this book, that is probably mainly personal. One of the big bonuses of baby led weaning is that a child is supposed to be exposed to a wide variety of foods, flavors, etc. at an early age. This was a big focus for me because I wanted my child to be able to try a bunch of different foods and flavors, even if they didn't end up liking all of them. However, if we had done solely baby led weaning I can guarantee our child would have been exposed to fewer foods and flavors. We have been doing a somewhat mixed approach (purees and finger foods/baby led weaning). I agree with the book that homemade purees are wayyyy too much work and store bought purees contain metals, so we used a company that makes fresh, all-organic purees that are frozen and shipped to your door. I am not going to name the company because this isn't an ad, but it was a lifesaver. Our child was exposed to a huge variety of foods - way more than if they had just eaten everything my husband and I eat. Sure, we eat a variety of foods (though that's much harder during a pandemic), but there are certain foods I don't like or my husband doesn't like so I never would have had around for my child to try (e.g. quinoa). Not to mention the variety and cost of buying a variety of fruits and veggies out of season just so my child could be exposed to them. Because we used this company our child got to try a bunch of different foods from 6 months on, including foods and flavors like pitaya, hemp, avocado oil, beets, mango, spinach, banana, carrots, buckwheat, quinoa, cinnamon, pear, ginger, prunes, chia seeds, pumpkin, avocado, green apple, broccoli, basil, sweet potato, flax seed, strawberries, blueberries, rhubarb, etc. While using the puree we also encouraged our child to guide the spoon to their mouth, or helped them guide it, so they were swallowing safely (instead of shoving it in their mouth). The company's food containers also come with small spoons that are the perfect size for a baby to hold as well as hold the right amount of food. Also the purees were not all the same consistency so there was some exposure to different textures (again, not an ad, I'm just a big fan). However, we did also use finger foods and some baby led weaning first foods so that our child would still experience a range of textures and meat protein. Each family has to do what works for them. If you want your child to be exposed to a bunch of different food and you know your diet is super varied, then doing just baby led weaning might be for you. But for us, especially during a pandemic, I was happy we took a different approach.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I confess that I came to this book as already a practitioner. My wife learned about this approach (hence BLW) from a fellow school teacher (my wife has primarily worked at the nursery/kindergarten level). She acquired a copy of this book, read it, and put it into practice with our first child. As I was working on my doctoral dissertation at the time, she gave me a verbal precis of the book and I learned from her as we implemented the book's suggestions with our first son. Frankly, as soon as I w I confess that I came to this book as already a practitioner. My wife learned about this approach (hence BLW) from a fellow school teacher (my wife has primarily worked at the nursery/kindergarten level). She acquired a copy of this book, read it, and put it into practice with our first child. As I was working on my doctoral dissertation at the time, she gave me a verbal precis of the book and I learned from her as we implemented the book's suggestions with our first son. Frankly, as soon as I was told that I wouldn't have to spend any time shoving puree in my son's face, I was sold on the approach, and introducing solid foods to him was among the easiest aspects of parenting. I have tried this approach and it really works. Although we received a certain level of surprise and wonder from (mostly childless) friends and family, we did not encounter any resistance or opposition from any of them, and the results quickly spoke for themselves. Again, I owe a huge debt to my wife, whose considerable experience with small children as a teacher means that I follow her lead as much as I can with the cognitive/emotional aspects of parenting. Our first-born (now almost 4) has become on the whole a superb eater, and not really picky at all save an aversion to spicy foods that is somewhat inexplicable given that my wife and I enjoy moderately spicy foods and gave them to him - to his enjoyment - throughout the BLW period. He may now be receptive to trying out such foods. Given that some give and take is probably inevitable with child-rearing, we have accepted this limitation given his enthusiasm for eating meat, fruit, veggies, and other things. Now that we have a second son (and that I am done with the dissertation), my wife encouraged me to actually read the book (although we needed a replacement copy as we lent our first copy to a new parent acquaintance who never returned it). It was good to refresh my knowledge of BLW, and I was on the whole very impressed with the book as a how-to guide. I confess that I as a whole try to avoid such works, as I find the level of prose pedestrian (as it is written to be "accessible" to a wide range of readers, personally I find that - in keeping with the outlook of the authors of the present work - "accessible prose" can turn out to be like the bland purees that turn babies off. People want a surmountable challenge.) I also don't like the many manuals that posit a specific rigid system - the "one right way" (Indeed, FW Taylor's "Scientific Management" book - which I had to read for a class - is a classic example of this trope). With our second son, there was no question of starting BLW - starting at 4 months, he just started taking food from our plates and interacting with it. Recently, one Saturday I went out to lunch with him and two old friends, and to their astonishment, my son began helping himself to my food, and I just held him in my lap and tore off manipulable chunks for him to work on. Rapley and Murkett, the authors of this book, argue that most parents with more than one child generally fall into a "folk" BLW approach as the second and later children all see their older sibling or siblings eating solid food as well. We brought our second child to the dinner table much earlier than the first, and I suspect this had something to do with it. So, probably most parents who have a second child - regardless of how they weaned the first - should read this book as the second child will on their own initiate BLW. As a how-to, I highly approve of this book because it is not a rigid "manual" full of admonitions, shame, and rigid proscriptions, but is instead an "approach", a generalized philosophy of how to think about the problem and a spectrum of tools and techniques that work. I know that this can be anxiety provoking as many people - including myself at times - often just want a fixed procedure to follow. However, as the authors argue, and as I have encountered myself, fixed procedures will not work in this case. Children are inherently somewhat chaotic - they don't know how some things work and they cannot often be told - at least not in the way one would tell an adult. Having mostly taught myself woodworking, I well appreciate the anxiety provoked by being told: "there is no one system, just take these tools and cobble something together". Nonetheless, that is exactly what a parent should do, and this book really outlines the best approach. All I can say from experience is that the process of babies learning to eat is very open ended, it will take many months, babies have very good mechanisms to protect themselves (as the book explores), and in the end, it is best to keep plugging away and roll with the punches. Each baby will be different, so the only thing for it is to learn each baby in turn. While our successful BLW with our first son has greatly increased our confidence, our second son is a very different person and we are currently learning who he is as an eater. The key is that the baby remain safe throughout this process, and so the parts of this book to really focus on are how to enable the baby's own strong defenses against choking to work properly. This knowledge and Rapley and Murkett's great suggestions for how to make food physically compatible with their needs (sticks of meat and vegetables, etc) are really the most important basic elements to follow, the rest consists of the other key "soft skills" to reduce the workload and demands on the parent and increase the happiness of the baby. Those are the important things to take care of, the rest get sorted out in the process of learning. Again and again, the authors show through story vignettes that each baby is unique and is therefore a unique challenge and a joy. It is important to emphasize joy. Once one has overcome the natural and inevitable anxiety involved with beginning this transition to solid foods, it can be a real joy to watch the baby explore and enjoy food, especially good and healthy foods. I personally love watching the complete focus that both my sons brought to eating - partially because I myself tend to be like that still with things I enjoy doing but I never see myself in the process. One thing the book doesn't spend time on but which we have noticed, is that our oldest - who is now watching our second child beginning BLW - is the most "nervous parent" of us, and is often alarmed at things that we take in stride. Managing his emotions is in fact one of the more salient things we are doing this time around. Another thing about this book is that - like most books in this genre - it tends to emphasize the good nearly to the exclusion of all else so that it can almost sound like a "As Seen On TV" ad ("It slices, it dices!") To some extent this is natural because it is selling an approach, and trying to do so in the face of an existing regime of spoon feeding and considerable lack of knowledge. This is fine as far as it goes. However, it is important not to forget that parenting is a multi-layered and complex enterprise. I cannot say that we eliminated emotional battles over food (some necessary, others not) or had an entirely golden road - because that will never happen with parenting or any human enterprise. What I can say without a doubt is that for all the warts with doing anything - the experience of doing BLW with one child and starting with another is - as literally messy as it can be - is something that we enjoyed doing and look back on and look forward to, with great fondness. This book is highly recommended.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tatiana Le Feuvre

    I am convinced to try the approach. To update later on how it went! The book is purely anecdote and common sense based. Unfortunately there is still no science on baby-led weaning since it exists since some 2010. 3 stars because I prefer more “dense” books, all the repetitions could be cut out. Still useful if you are doubting if you want to try BLW and prepare the arguments “to fight” grandparents and other doubters.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Fallon Rasmussen

    Informative but biased I found this book informative about BLW. I found out about BLW after I already started purees so I wanted to do some research and this book was recommended to me. It's very informative and helps parents learn the ins and outs of BLW. Unfortunately like most parenting advice books, it's an all or nothing approach. There was a section in the book that addresses using BLW after already being on purees for a few months and the response was basically "well, I mean your baby COUL Informative but biased I found this book informative about BLW. I found out about BLW after I already started purees so I wanted to do some research and this book was recommended to me. It's very informative and helps parents learn the ins and outs of BLW. Unfortunately like most parenting advice books, it's an all or nothing approach. There was a section in the book that addresses using BLW after already being on purees for a few months and the response was basically "well, I mean your baby COULD benefit from it... But their chance to learn about different textures is already gone so I guess you could still use BLW if you wanted but you will have a hard time". I found this response strange as humans are capable of learning new things and acquiring new skills well into our 90s and beyond, but for some reason babies are only capable of learning about new textures and a new way of eating at EXACTLY 6 months and no later. So if your goal is to learn about BLW I would suggest this book, but don't make it your Bible. Take the info that works for you and your baby and don't be mislead by the all or nothingness approach. Btw, I tried BLW for the first time today and my daughter loved it. She really enjoyed discovering her avocado unmashed and her omelette. My dog enjoyed the dropped pieces too 😆. BLW really beings the ENTIRE family to the table haha

  5. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    This is another book that I had already read most of but just read the final chapter today. The premise of BLW is that you wait to start offering solids until babies are at least 6 months old, sitting up on their own, and can reach for food on their own. From there, the baby directs their own exploration of solid foods. You skip the purées and sit them at the table with you for mealtimes. Give them things they can handle themselves and avoid choking hazards and unsafe foods such as raw vegetable This is another book that I had already read most of but just read the final chapter today. The premise of BLW is that you wait to start offering solids until babies are at least 6 months old, sitting up on their own, and can reach for food on their own. From there, the baby directs their own exploration of solid foods. You skip the purées and sit them at the table with you for mealtimes. Give them things they can handle themselves and avoid choking hazards and unsafe foods such as raw vegetables or nuts. I like that it gives the baby control of when they are ready to move on from mouthing and exploring foods to actually eating and enjoying them. I have been doing BLW with my little one and mealtimes are always fun and low key. You don’t cajole the baby to eat anything; instead, just offer the food and let them eat what they need without trying to force them to eat more. This book also emphasizes that “food before one is just for fun” because milk feedings are the most important source of calories until then. One of the premises of this method of introducing solids is that the baby is more likely to be an adventurous eater. My child loves flavorful foods such as chili, lentil casserole, and hummus. She even eats roasted broccoli! In conclusion, I am glad I saw this book at the library before we started solids and recommend it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ashley C

    As an early intervention therapist I was curious to learn about this popular technique many of my clients are using. Overall, it has some great info that I would recommend to my sensory kiddos I.e. making meal times calm/supportive/stress free environment where the whole family spends time together. Playing with food as a fun sensory experience using all senses. Etc. I wish there were more scientific evidence on the BLW approach. Also wish this book covered the needs more in depth, involving kid As an early intervention therapist I was curious to learn about this popular technique many of my clients are using. Overall, it has some great info that I would recommend to my sensory kiddos I.e. making meal times calm/supportive/stress free environment where the whole family spends time together. Playing with food as a fun sensory experience using all senses. Etc. I wish there were more scientific evidence on the BLW approach. Also wish this book covered the needs more in depth, involving kiddos with different developmental diagnosis’s and delays. Easy read, parent friendly.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Juliana Han

    Worth a read if you want more detail about the benefits of BLW, but probably more info than you need if you're already on board. I found a lot of it redundant. Big idea: there are lots of benefits to babies being in control of their eating. I guess I didn't need lots of elaboration or stories on that theme. Worth a read if you want more detail about the benefits of BLW, but probably more info than you need if you're already on board. I found a lot of it redundant. Big idea: there are lots of benefits to babies being in control of their eating. I guess I didn't need lots of elaboration or stories on that theme.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Allisha

    BLW is the answer to everything, Purées is evil 80% of this book is an essay about purées being inappropriate and BLW is the best thing that could ever happen to your baby. The only useful info I got was the practicality of age appropriate utensils and cups. Not a good resource for started BLW.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Celia Faiola

    Written well but poorly sourced. I've written short articles with 10x the references contained in this book. Many statements about researching showing this or that without any reference given. I'd like to see more primary literature on this topic, particularly regarding the choking risks. Written well but poorly sourced. I've written short articles with 10x the references contained in this book. Many statements about researching showing this or that without any reference given. I'd like to see more primary literature on this topic, particularly regarding the choking risks.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sasha Gillespie

    It’s helpful to learn about the rationale behind BLW and the basics of how it works. I wish there were more specific details on how to cook and cut certain foods, but I guess being too prescriptive defeats the purpose.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Combs

    Every parent should read this book when making the decision of how to introduce solids to their baby.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mae

    Good information, but I think the expanded parts of the fully revised and expanded edition didn’t need to be there. Felt pretty repetitive.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kim Tee Em

    Helpful overview of all things to begin baby led weaning.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Allison Hibbs

    Excellent information, but a repetitive and disjointed read. Still, I feel inspired by and confident in the ideas of BLW after finishing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    Had some good tips and info, but was overall too preachy for me. It’s BLW or the highway apparently...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana Crisan

    Great book to understand how to feed your child while respecting their independence.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    Practical guidance!!! Omi has roasted carrots last night!

  18. 4 out of 5

    futuregypsy

    Excellent book with a ton of information. I feel confident in doing Baby Led Weaning with my little one after reading this.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    More an advertisement than a guide. It tells you why baby-led weaning is good but really only scratches the surface of how to implement it successfully. Disappointing.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Kirby

  21. 4 out of 5

    Irene Daryanto

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ali

  23. 4 out of 5

    Inna

  24. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Rinaldi

  25. 4 out of 5

    Adila

  26. 4 out of 5

    clarrissa

  27. 4 out of 5

    Erik Nelson

  28. 5 out of 5

    Perry

  29. 5 out of 5

    Denise Chin

  30. 4 out of 5

    Allison

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