If you’re looking for a guide on what baby led weaning (BLW) is, or how to start it, I wrote one of those last year!
This isn’t that.
Instead, this is my “why,” the reason I chose to start my now-2 year old on solid food, instead of purees hence baby led weaning.
I started writing this in a way that felt boring to me, just explaining my reasoning. So instead, I’m going to start with something I think is a little funnier – the reasons some people have assumed I did baby led weaning, which were not my actual reasons.
- I hated all pureed and packaged baby foods and was afraid of all the chemicals in them.Nope. While I do admit that I don’t love the things some purees add (salt, sugar) I don’t believe in demonizing preservatives or chemicals… But that’s a story for another time.
- BLW is obviously going to be so much cleaner than purees that go everywhere!If you believe this, you’re SUPER wrong. For a long time, my Instagram feed showcased the absolute warzone my kitchen became every time we fed our baby yogurt, oatmeal, spaghetti… and even though she’s 2, and CAN eat more tidily, she is now squarely in the throwing stage. So we now not only get these things all over her chair and the floor, but also on the walls.
- Ok, but it at least has to be easier, right? You just give them what you’re eating?This is true, in theory. Yes, we served Mina MOSTLY what we were eating, with exceptions (no added sugar before 1 year, no honey before 1 year, very limited salt). But that often meant cooking things in a different way than I was used to. For instance, cooking things separately that normally would have gone in one big pot, or cooking 2 versions of the same thing, leaving the hot spices out of her food (at first). It also meant, for us, trying a bunch of new things (like chicken liver) and recipes, which was great! I really recommend following Solid Starts for some great info on BLW and fun recipes.
- I wanted to be in absolute control of what my daughter was eating.Oh, man. This is both true and the furthest from the truth. As someone recovering from an eating disorder, it was actually SUPER important for me that however we introduced food to my daughter, she would be completely in control of her own eating. I’ve read a lot about the connections between moms (with eating disorders) who are hyper-controlling of their children’s diets, and those children having eating disorders. I was so serious about avoiding that, I would have tried almost anything. BLW seemed like the best way for me to give HER the control. I got to choose what was offered, so I knew she’d be able to choose from foods that would nourish her and give her the calories she needed, but she got to choose how much, and how, she ate those things.
So now that she gets to choose, of course she likes to dip mango in ketchup, and asks for extra helpings of chicken liver, and spurns cake whenever it’s offered.BLW will prove to you very quickly just how little you’re in control.
But, I’ll say this: it did turn into another way to control things, for me. For a while I got very controlling about what she was offered, who could feed her, and how. I got mad if people tried to spoon-feed her, because I was so afraid she’d be traumatized by being forced to eat something.
This leads me to my last point…
- The reasons I chose BLW are static.… Nope. Sure, maybe the initial reasons: I wanted her to be able to feed herself. As a physical therapist I loved the fine motor skills I knew she’d be developing at every meal. I got to decide what was on her plate, rather than relying on what purees I could find (or spend hours making homemade purees). I wanted her to be able to identify the foods she was eating, and be acquainted with (and love) lots of textures and tastes so she’d be less likely to be picky later on.But as you’ve seen above, my reasons have evolved over time.
At this point, I both love baby led weaning more than I did when I started this journey, and simultaneously feel less of a need to follow its rules. Because in the end, the thing I love most about BLW is that it is so much like intuitive eating, and through intuitive eating I’ve learned to throw away food rules anyway.