When to Start Baby Led Weaning and How To Do It Right

Are you looking for a quick rundown of what to expect from baby led weaning?

Do you find yourself searching for concise information without a lot of luck, since everything seems to differ from one resource to the next?

Do you feel like baby led weaning could be the right option for you and your little one if you can make heads or tails of how to get started?

If you feel frustrated trying to learn when to start baby led weaning but think this process could be right for you, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll help you understand all the basics of baby led weaning starting and how you can make the most of this experience for yourself and your little one. You’ll learn how to recognize the signs that your baby might be ready to begin weaning, and you’ll even find out tips for how to know it’s really safe to get started on this fun and exciting journey.

Whether you’ve had experience with baby led weaning before or this is the first time you’ll ever be giving it a try, you can’t go wrong with a lot of solid information to help you figure out just what you need to get started. Below, you’ll even find some suggestions for how to set up a weaning routine so you’ll have the biggest chance of success with your infant.

With so much information to learn, it’s time to get started!

What is Baby Led Weaning?

Baby led weaning is the process of introducing solid and table foods to your child without first going to the pureed or “baby food” stage. Basically, this means going straight from breastfeeding or bottle feeding directly to solids. While this may sound a little too extreme for some parents, it works wonders for the babies that participate in this method, and it has proven to make the entire weaning experience much more pleasant for everyone involved.

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As part of the baby led weaning process, parents and caregivers offer age-appropriate foods to babies who are allowed to manipulate them with their fingers or with baby-safe utensils without an adult’s intervention. Babies may start by playing in or with their food, but eventually, they will always try to eat the solid food. From there, babies will be able to work on learning to feed themselves.

The most important aspect of baby led weaning is to remember that you, as a parent or caregiver, will never be feeding the baby yourself. The baby will always be in control of eating and self-feeding from day one. While it may take your infant a little while to get used to this idea, many babies respond very well to this process.

In this quick guide to baby led weaning, you’ll learn how to tell when your baby is ready for this experience as well as when it’s best to get started. You’ll also find out more information about the items you might want to stock up on before you start weaning, too. Read on to find out more about the baby led weaning experience.

7 Signs Your Baby is Ready for Baby Led Weaning

When it comes to baby led weaning how to start can be a confusing matter. But when to start may be even more complicated! It’s important to pay close attention to your baby to determine whether or not he or she seems ready for the baby led weaning process. Even if you think it’s time for your baby to start weaning from breastfeeding or bottle feeding, remember that you need to do this on your infant’s schedule and not necessarily on your own!

Here are seven signs you should be on the lookout for when trying to figure out when to start baby led weaning:

1. Your baby can sit up without your help.

This is an important aspect in self-feeding, and it means that your baby’s airways are less likely to be blocked by pieces of food when self-feeding, too. If your baby is able to sit up without assistance, he or she may be a good candidate to get started weaning.

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2. Your baby can hold up his or her head without your help.

If your baby cannot support his or her head alone, it is much too early to start weaning by any process.

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3. Your baby doesn’t have a tongue-thrust reflex anymore.

Young babies have this reflex, which causes them to push solids out of their mouths. This is to help keep them safe, but as they age, they lose this reflex. Babies who still do this will be unable to start weaning.

4. Your baby shows a willingness to chew.

Even if your baby can’t chew well yet, a willingness to chew is a good sign it’s time to start weaning.

5. Your baby can pick things up without your help.

While he or she may still be quite clumsy at this, being able to pick up small and large objects by hand is a good sign weaning is just around the corner.

6. Your baby is interested in what you and the rest of your family are doing during meal times.

As your baby ages, he or she will show signs of interest when it’s time for the rest of the family to eat. When your baby is interested in food, that’s a good time to start introducing it!

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7. Your baby has started to get teeth.

This isn’t always necessary, and some babies may be ready to wean before they have many teeth or any at all. However, if your baby has started teething, it may be time to start on solid foods.

When to Start Baby Led Weaning

“Can I start baby led weaning at 5 months?”

This is one of the most commonly-asked questions about baby led weaning in general. Many times, parents are interested in starting this process early, and asking “can you start baby led weaning at 5 months” may mean that they are rushing the baby into this process. However, it’s not always necessarily a bad thing to start weaning early on. There are a few considerations you should keep in mind when trying to determine when it’s really time to get started on the weaning process with your little one.

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  • Always wait until your baby is ready to get started. If your baby doesn’t show any interest in solid foods at 6 months of age, don’t worry about forcing the weaning process. If your baby isn’t a good chewer until 9 months of age, that’s okay, too. There’s no harm in waiting, and in fact, you’re likely to have better success and a safer experience if you wait until you see the signs of weaning in your baby instead of forcing the process at a certain age.
  • If weaning doesn’t go well at first, try, try again. If you start trying to wean your baby at 6 months but soon find out you aren’t having any luck, that’s okay! Put the solids away for a month and try again. Eventually, all babies will be weaned, so your baby will soon be ready for the process.
  • If your baby is very interested in food and well developed at 5 months, early weaning may be possible. Starting baby led weaning at 5 months is generally frowned upon, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong for every baby. Just be sure you’re seeing all the signs of readiness in your infant before you get started, and you should have no trouble, even if your baby is a little bit younger than the generally recommended weaning age.

Baby Led Weaning Equipment

When you get started with baby led weaning, it’s very important to have all the equipment you’ll need on hand before you ever serve your baby his or her first solid meal. But doesn’t baby led weaning mean you can just give your baby some food and see what happens? No! While there is more of a hands-off approach to baby led weaning versus the traditional methods, this isn’t what you’ll be doing at all.

In this section, you’ll find a list of the items you need to have on hand to help make this process go as smoothly as possible. Be sure not to cut corners and to have all these items available to make the experience simple and easy for you and your baby both.

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  • A good book, website, or collection of recipes. There are plenty of excellent books on the topic of baby led weaning, but there is just as much good information available online for free. You can also find tons of food recommendation lists, feeding guides, and recipes to help you get started all at your fingertips online, too.
  • Cover for the floor. Your baby is going to make a mess as he or she figures out what to do with food! Be sure you have something to cover the floor, or that you can feed your baby in a place that’s easy and quick to clean up after every meal.
  • Utensils and dishes for babies. Babies need baby-safe utensils and dishes that are easy to sterilize and can be put through the dishwasher. You should also choose utensils that don’t have any metal pieces since your baby won’t know what to do with them at first.
  • Baby wipes and old towels. These are must-have for keeping your baby and your house clean!
  • Bibs. Again, this is a helpful addition in preserving the cleanliness of your little one.
  • High chair. You’ll want to feed your baby in an age-appropriate high chair or, optionally, in a booster seat instead. This way, your child won’t be able to squirm around too much or “escape” during feeding time!

Baby Led Weaning Foods to Stock

Just like equipment, there are a few baby led weaning foods that are important to keep on hand when you get started, too. As your baby ages, you’ll find that there are more foods you’ll want to keep handy to make meal and snack prep time much easier. However, when you’re first starting out, the list below should help provide you with plenty of must-haves that will make your shopping trips simpler and keep you prepared to put together snacks at a moment’s notice.

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  • Wheat toast – This is a great early food for babies and goes well with mashed avocado or with baby-safe hummus. Stay away from other types of bread besides wheat, however, until your baby gets a little bit older.
  • Avocados – Avocados are an excellent food for babies, and they can even be a good choice for a first food, too! Mash them up and spread them on toast slices or just serve them mashed in a bowl on their own. Take care not to let them spoil while you’re stocking them, however.
  • Bananas – These are another great option for first foods for your baby. You’ll be serving a lot of bananas throughout the baby led weaning process, so don’t be afraid to buy lots of them each week. They’ll be part of your shopping list for a long time!
  • Green beans or carrots – These are great options for little ones when they’re cut into bite size pieces and steamed or boiled until they’re very soft. After cooking, let them cool before giving them to your baby.
  • Chicken breasts – When you first start baby led weaning, you won’t want to give proteins just yet. However, as you progress, soft cooked shredded chicken will be an important staple of your baby’s diet. It’s a good idea to buy this in bulk and prepare it ahead of time when you know you’re going to be too busy to roast a chicken breast every few days!

Building a Baby Led Weaning Routine

Setting up a good baby led weaning schedule is a great way to ensure success from day one. While the right routine for you and your baby may differ from what works for other babies, there are a few good tips to keep in mind when it comes to putting together a good schedule. Keep the following suggestions in mind and you’ll be well on your way to a successful weaning experience from the very first solid food your baby ever tries!

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  • Many baby led weaning families start by offering solid foods once a day, often at dinner time with the rest of the family. Aside from this, normal milk feeds should be kept up throughout the day and in the evening, too.
  • Some families try offering solid foods at every mealtime and keeping up with normal milk feeds otherwise. This may be excessive for babies that don’t take to the process quickly, but some may enjoy this experience after just a week or so of playing with their food.
  • Offering solid foods more than three times a day is unnecessary until babies have been weaning for a couple of months. This is simply too much solid food for young babies just starting out with baby led weaning.
  • Over time, you will want to replace breastmilk or formula with cow’s milk, but take your time with this. Your pediatrician will be able to tell you more about when it’s time to start your individual baby on cow’s milk.

Conclusion

Okay, so you know plenty about baby led weaning now, right? When it comes to baby led weaning what to start with can be a great springboard for learning more information, but there’s still a lot more to discover as you delve into this exciting and fun time with your infant. There’s still a lot more to find out, so don’t hesitate to research more and learn specifics about what to serve your baby at each milestone along the way.

And speaking of milestones, you may be wondering what to look out for while you’re working on the baby led weaning process, as well. You’ll be able to tell you and your baby are making progress as he or she starts to handle self-feeding much more easily. Your baby will eventually be able to pick up and manipulate foods more easily, too, and when he or she has a full set of teeth, your baby will be able to chew tougher foods as well.

When learning about baby led weaning where to start can feel like a complicated subject. We hope that our information has helped you figure out the best starting point for you and your child, as well as what to look out for to help you make that decision.

Disclaimer: As with any choices you make about your baby’s health, always talk with your pediatrician before starting baby led weaning. Remember that all babies progress at different speeds and hit milestones differently, too, so what works for one baby might not work for yours. Never serve your infant any foods that could be a choking hazard, and never leave your baby unattended with any food, no matter how simple it may seem. Always know the warning signs to watch for with choking as well as with allergic reactions.

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