When can I start baby led weaning?

The guidelines are clear from the Department of Health and BLW experts: wait until 6 months before starting baby led weaning. We explain why and the signs that say it's time for solids

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It’s pretty easy to find out when your baby is ready for Baby Led Weaning, as there are clear age and skill guidelines to follow.

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You can start baby led weaning if your baby is:

  • 6 months old
  • able to sit upright with good neck control
  • can pick up an object and bring it to his mouth 

Don’t start baby led weaning if your baby is:

  • under 6 months old
  • can’t sit upright

Why does my baby need to sit upright/support his own head before I start BLW?

“When your baby is in a sitting position, it means he can bring food forward in his mouth and avoid choking,” advises Adele Stevenson, baby led weaning expert and workshop leader.

“Your baby also needs to be capable of picking up an object and put it in his mouth – so he can feed himself.

“Most babies will achieve these milestones at around 6 months, which coincides with the Department of Health advice on when to start weaning.”

So is it safe to start baby led weaning at 4 months or 5 months?

This is not recommended. Expert Adele Stevenson, explains, “It’s very unlikely that a baby will reach these milestones and be ready for baby-led weaning, much before six months.

“If you feel that your baby is ready earlier than six months, it’s best to begin with spoon-feeding purees, and move on to introduce finger foods later.“

When we started BLW – mums share their stories

Mum Nicola says: “I think you have to be guided by what your baby wants, I wanted to do a mixture of both but so far am just doing purees as my LO will not hold any food herself.

“I have a friend who wanted to do puree, but her daughter will not take anything from the spoon instead she grabs the spoon and sucks it.

“So my friend had to go down the BLW route which she was nervous about but has so far been going well.

“BLW is not advised for babies under 6 months old so if you do want to start weaning early purees will be best.”

And Twinkletoes has a nice compromise between spoon-fed and BLW: “You can definitely do a bit of both. What I do is cook up some veggies or whatever for a puree, but then before I blend them I take a couple of bits out (a piece of broccoli or a couple of carrot sticks) and leave them whole.

“Just put them on her highchair tray while you feed her and let her play with them and eat them if she wants.

“It’s what I did with my son and he’s usually a good eater although he’s teething at the moment so doesn’t want to eat much :/”

Lilypeach is also BLW, too, but found it wasn’t right for her, in the end: “I started off doing BLW in the pure sense, as LO hated a spoon. However, as he became more accepting of it I use the spoon more and more because I wanted him to eat meat, fish etc which he could not really do with his fingers at 6-7 month.

“Though now he will eat mince with his fingers, picking up the little bits! So I’m not a BLWer any more I suppose.

“It works really well for us, and makes me more relaxed knowing he’s getting something but also exploring different things for himself.

“Reading a BLW book is really good and I think everyone should read one, however they decided to feed their baby.”

If your baby is ready to start baby led weaning, here’s what you do next…

  • Sit your baby down at family mealtimes and let him join in when he’s ready
  • Don’t overwhelm your baby with too much food. Give a choice of two or three different foods so he gets to explore different tastes and textures
  • Don’t look at the mess – yes, it’s going to get dirty, especially if he has more than four or five things in front of him
  • Provide soft pieces of food that are easy to hold, such as fruit cut into chip shaped pieces, or steamed broccoli or cauliflower florets, which have a built-in ‘handle’
  • Carry on giving your baby his usual milk until he gets the hang of eating.

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