The latest in the baby advice threads - baby-led weaning?

Baby From Mars is 4 months old, and sometime in the next month or two she’ll start on solids. I tried a spoonful of rice cereal last night, which she seemed to accept (no tongue thrust reflex that I could see), and she’s watching me eat (and following food around with her eyes) - so I think the interest could be there. She’ll be breastfed for 12 months at least, so this is more for play for the first couple of months, before needing the solids from around 6 months.

I am interested in baby-led weaning - which is using solid food as opposed to purees, and wonder what experiences and advice other parents have.

To clarify, baby-led weaning allows a baby to feed themselves – no spoon feeding (other than foods which need a spoon anyway). Food is offered in shapes and sizes that the baby can handle and they should feed themselves using their fingers. They choose what to eat, how much and how quickly.

I started my kids on baby fruits and vegetables around 3 or 4 months. I also took a hot needle and made the nipple larger and added a little baby cereal to the formula. They sleep longer on a full belly.

I don’t have much experience in baby led weaning. I did the baby food fruit and veggies and then introduced the meats. I gave them Zwieback toast at first to gum on. My kids loved cheerios in a small bowl and goldfish crackers and small chunks of cheese. It then progressed to having them be in the high chair at meal time. They love to be part of the family at dinner. I just took what the family was having and cut it up really small and a kid size plate and cup and baby spoon. One time my son took his bowl of pasta and put it on his head and laughed like crazy. I used to put newspapers under his high chair to catch falling food. I have a picture of him with birthday cake all over his face. He was such a cute baby. Enjoy your Baby from Mars as this time goes by way to fast. Introduce a lot of different food your family likes while she is still young and she will grow to love it.



I have no kids, but an acquaintance who did baby-led weaning was a big fan of mesh feeders, like these. It lets you give the baby foods they might otherwise choke on, since they can gum at stuff all they like without any large particles passing through the mesh.

Man, I did the same thing. Granted, I’ve had a few evening classes of wine and I was skimming, but…

This is what I came in here to mention! My babies all loved these. Put a chunk of banana or some cooked veggies or even chicken inside and let them go to town. It’s like a chew toy with flavors.

As for baby-led weaning, I didn’t know it had an official term but it sounds pretty close to how my own experience went. I had medical issues and didn’t breastfeed past 5 weeks with my first, but the second weaned himself off my breast at 8 months and the third at just past 7 months. They were just too enthralled with sippy cups and finger food by that point to be interested enough to keep up my milk supply. I gave them each baby foods jars for a month or so at about 4 months old, just to get them used to the texture and flavor of foods in their mouths. Once a kid eats “real” food, IME, they’re unlikely to prefer, or even accept, the processed baby foods.

We never used babyfood, especially cereals. Their first solid foods were vegetables, pumpkin, broccoli, sweet potatoes, lemon wedges, green beans. We did not start until 6 months. The vegetables were not pureed, but rather cooked until fairly soft, and then fork mashed. I breast fed exclusively as long as I could, but we had to bridge the gap with a bit of formula starting at 5 months. We introduced one food at a time, and never used sippy cups at all.

We deliberately held off on sweet fruits because we wanted them to get used to eating vegetables, which has paid off handsomely. Were I doing this again, avocadoes would be added to the first foods.

We did not salt the food either at first ( until they were about 8 months old), but I found later there were many foods my son would not eat until I put the lightest sprinkling of salt on them. We introduced scraped meats at 7 months, but my son would not eat meat until after he was two.

Holy cow, how did they take to lemon wedges? My son wouldn’t even go for the tartness in an apple at that point in his life (pears and bananas - fine. Anything stronger, NFW)

Our children’s first food was a single mushed up pea. Accident in the first case, deliberately engineered tradition in the second two. I don’t know much about baby-lead weaning though - except that the other end of the process (the giving up mummy milk bit)

Hah, when I was a toddler I’d ask for a plate of lemon wedges at restaurants. Lemons, pickles, and a Shirley Temple with extra cherries please.

Wierd toddler! No wonder you grew up to be a doper :wink:

Yea, me too…my kids are okay.

My little dose took both bottle and breast (although she preferred breast), and she self-weaned at about 14 - 15 months…

The last to go was the before-bed feeding, but it was effortless. If she asked for it, it was given (I would not deny it), but I didn’t volunteer.

I like baby-led solids. It makes life easier, and I think it prepares them for eating a wide variety of healthy foods later.

Here’s a video of my daughter at 7 mo, eating a piece of roasted turkey breast.

You just have to watch them to guard against choking, though the worst we ever had was a gagging incident. And it can get messy. Undressing them before feeding is a good plan.

FWIW, 4 mos is a little young, so I would definitely hold off, as you say, for 1-2 months. Doctors always discuss solids at the 4 mo appointment, but I think that’s because they won’t see you again till 6 mos, when most people have started with food. Anyway, other signs of readiness in addition to those you’ve seen, are sitting upright unassisted and developing a pincer grasp.

We loved the mesh feeders for avocado. Great food, but really slippery and hard to handle for a baby! One drawback is the mesh thingies are a bitch to clean.

Anyway, have fun with it!

That was her first solid food. We were waiting in a restaurant, I did not feel like nursing as I had just been nursing, and she seemed bored as much as hungry. KellyM gave her a lemon wedge and she sucked on it and was blissfully quiet. She sucked all the juice of that one and another one as well.

She also really enjoyed it when I ate hotwings. That really comes through in the milk and some days we had a baby who smelled like hotwings because of this. My son loves to snack on raw onions and lemon wedges.

Both our kids were baby food kids for about two weeks. Then they preferred to self feed. Worked fine. Both were about seven months before they had the eye hand coordination to self feed.

My daughter rejected the breast at six months - you may not get the choice - she figured out that with a bottle or a cup she could watch the world in a way she couldn’t with her face buried in my chest.

I planned to let Gnat self-wean, but finally weaned him forcefully at 22 months- I was five months pregnant, and it was comfort nursing. Also, I wanted a few months off. Good timing- I got H1N1 two days after weaning, so he wouldn’t weaned anyway.

Are we talking about two things here? Weaning from the breast (you can still nurse while giving kids solid food) or introducing solids?

If it’s the former, I nursed all my children as long as they wanted it. As far as introducing solids, with my older ones I gave them jarred food, along with some mashed up stuff, most notably bananas and yogurt. With my youngest, now 5, he wouldn’t eat baby food at all. We chopped and mashed table food for him. I wish I’d known about that mesh thing!

Like Ellen, I was confused about your definition of baby-led weaning. I always thought it was letting the child nurse as long as he or she wanted to.

My daughter nursed for 3.5 years. Before you say ew, this is within the biological norm. She refused anything other than the breast until she was 11 months old and then the only things she ate for a few months were broccoli, pickles and Roquefort cheese.

Babies are so weird!

With Eldest, child led weaning went according to plan, he was nearly weaned by 12 months and totally off by about 15 months, with no troubles or hitches. I never bought baby food except for travel, and really for no reason except that I was too lazy to fool around with all those little jars. When he was still on single foods I would make something and then freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays for later use. I recall that rice and adzuki beans mashed together were popular, and pumpkin, and he liked spinach too (still does, only now he likes it raw).

With Youngest, I ultimately weaned him cold turkey because suspected that he would still be nursing once at wakeup and once at bedtime right into elementary school if I didn’t do something about it. He also stubbornly refused to take a bottle, ever, so he went on the cup at a really early age. He also never ate baby food. His first food was a potato chip, given to him by his brother who helpfully decided that the baby was crying because he was hungry. He still likes potato chips, only now he likes paprika flavor.

So anyway, do what you like, but be aware of the possibility that not every child will self wean, even when they are fully eating solid food. Some require a nudge or seventeen.

Ok, now you guys are just milking this one.