Complete Guide to Baby-Led Weaning


Here it is, the Complete Guide to Baby-Led Weaning! Everything you need to know to get started on baby-led weaning with your little one. What is baby-led weaning, choking vs gagging, top first foods, sample feeding schedule, helpful tools, how to teach baby to chew — name it, and you’ll find it here! This in-depth guide is perfect for babies ages 6+ months!

Graphic for post - complete guide baby led weaning - great for 6+ months. Images are of a baby self feeding an avocado as well as colorful plates in a grid of how to cut and serve baby food.

Medically reviewed and co-written by Jamie Johnson, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Lauren Braaten, Pediatric Occupational Therapist (OT).

BLW Baby

Are you interested in doing baby-led weaning with your baby, but don’t know where to start? Do you love the idea of your baby eating the same foods as you but scared of them choking? Are you ready to start your baby’s weaning journey but not sure how to cut their food, or what to exactly to serve them?

Then you came to the right place!

In this guide, I’ll share everything you need to know to get started with baby-led weaning! Starting from what exactly is baby-led weaning, to every parent’s concern of baby-led weaning and choking, this guide goes over it all. I will also share how to know when baby is ready for BLW, the top 10 best first foods, a helpful sample blw feeding schedule, helpful tools to have on hand, and much much more! This guide is great for babies 6 months and up! You can also check out my best-selling cookbook for even more information and recipes!

In this guide, you’ll find:

  1. Reasons to Love Baby-Led Weaning
  2. What is Baby-Led Weaning
  3. Benefits of Baby-Led Weaning
  4. Challenges of Baby-Led Weaning
  5. Benefits of Traditional Weaning/Spoon Feeding
  6. Challenges of Traditional Weaning/Spoon Feeding
  7. When is Baby Ready for BLW?
  8. When are You Ready for BLW?
  9. How to Start Baby-Led Weaning
  10. 10 Starter Baby-Led Weaning Foods
  11. Best Baby-Led Weaning Foods by Age
  12. Foods to Avoid
  13. Sample Baby-Led Weaning Feeding Schedule
  14. Baby-Led Weaning and Choking
  15. Choking vs. Gagging
  16. How to keep Baby Safe
  17. How to Cut Foods for BLW
  18. Palmar and Pincer Grasp
  19. How to Teach Babies to Chew
  20. Helpful Tools
  21. How Much Food will Baby Actually Eat?
  22. Does Baby Need Teeth to Eat?
  23. Embrace the Mess
  24. Can You Mix Baby-Led Weaning and Purees?
  25. How to serve Purees for BLW
  26. Difference between Baby-Led Weaning and Finger Foods?
  27. Tips
  28. Recipes
Baby girls with a bib feeding herself a piece of apple.

Reasons to Love Baby-Led Weaning

  • great for babies 6+ months
  • may promote good eating behaviors and curb picking eating (1)
  • nutrient-dense
  • easy to have one meal for the entire family
  • could help prevent obesity later in life
  • promotes fine motor skill development (1)

What is Baby-Led Weaning

It seems like you’ve seen information about baby-led weaning everywhere these days.

But what exactly does baby-lead weaning mean?

The term baby-led weaning was introduced by Gill Rapley, a public health nurse and midwife, in 2005. The official definition from her handouts is “a way of introducing solid foods that allows babies to feed themselves – there’s no need for spoon-feeding or purees.” You might also start to see the term “baby self-feeding” used interchangeably with baby-led weaning in many resources. With baby-led weaning, baby starts off eating many of the same foods that the rest of the family is eating.

On the other hand, traditional weaning, often called spoon-feeding, involves the parent bringing the spoon to your baby’s mouth. Foods typically started within this approach include smooth purees, such as fruits, vegetables, rice cereal, or oatmeal. Textures gradually progress to mashed or chopped foods and eventually soft finger foods, such as cooked vegetable pieces, toast, pasta, and meats.

The introduction of solid foods, whether starting with purees or soft solids, happens along with continuing to offer breast milk or formula. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends introducing nutritionally adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at 6 months.

So what approach is best for you and your baby? And yes, we’re taking into account YOU, as the parent, because YOU are the one responsible for planning, preparing, serving, and cleaning up after meals – you matter too! There’s no one size fits all approach– you might decide to start with one way, switch to the other, or use a combination of both. For this post, we advocate combining both approaches (purees and baby-led) for a few different reasons, mentioned in the bullet points below. But most importantly, ALWAYS follow your baby’s lead, no matter what approach you use. Below are some pros and cons to help you make an informed decision on how to start.



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