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Baby-Led Weaning vs. Traditional Weaning


Weaning – one of the biggest questions that parents find themselves wondering is whether to traditional wean or do ‘baby-led’ weaning!

What is the difference between the two? What do they entail? Can I do both?

Here’s my guide, with my favourite recipe resources to help you on your journey…

What is BLW (Baby-Led Weaning)?

Starting from 6 months, later depending on your child and without the initial introduction of puree that was once the norm, BLW involves offering your child a huge variety of ‘adult’ food cut into finger sized pieces. This gives baby the control and choice of what they eat, and how much they eat.

Avoid whole nuts, honey, popcorn, whole grapes etc, due to the choking risk.

Some schools of thought say that preloading a spoon with porridge or mash and allowing baby to attempt to eat off the spoon is BLW, but many purists state that BLW should have no cutlery involvement – it’s entirely up to you how you take this!

What are the pros and cons of BLW?

  • Pro: BLW is thought to reduce fussiness at mealtime later in a child’s life.
  • Con: Lots of mummies and daddies panic that the baby will choke; see the below diagram as this may ease your nerves!
  • Pro: Baby can eat pretty much what you eat – you’d be surprised what things a gummy baby can chomp on happily! Less cooking, less prep, less expense, less hassle.
  • Con: Parents often worry their baby isn’t eating ‘enough’ at first as they get used to BLW, and are tempted to top up with puree. Fear not, for milk is a child’s main source of nutrition until the age of 1 (although food is important for 6 months and NOT ‘just for fun’), so your baby won’t be going hungry.
  • Pro: you have so much variety open to you; plus it’s super fun watching baby exploring the different textures, developing their motor skills and coordination at the same time.

What IS ‘Traditional Weaning’?
 Traditional weaning is the way that most of us will have been weaned before BLW became en vogue. It involves offering puree, with mum spoon feeding baby, moving from smooth puree to different stages of texture with time and age, and also starting to offer finger foods when baby is able to effectively feed themselves.

What are the pros and cons of Traditional Weaning?

  • Pro: You can start with smooth puree if you’re anxious about choking, which lots of mums are, and progress to different textures when you’re sure baby is ready.
  • Con: purees are thought to potentially contribute to fussy eating later on in life.
  • Pro: Lots of TW mums enjoy finding new combinations of purees and batch cooking then freezing in advance to save time.
  • Con: Puree feeding doesn’t hone a child’s motor skills, gag reflex and hand-eye coordination as effectively as BLW.
  • Pro: Pouches such as Ella’s Kitchen are readily available in shops and convenient when out and about.
 Can I do BLW and Traditional Weaning together?
Technically no, because doing both finger foods and puree is actually by definition traditional weaning!

People often confuse the act of offering of finger foods in itself as BLW without understanding the concept behind it. Yes, finger foods is the main tenet of BLW, but when done with puree, it’s traditional weaning.

Mummies who say they’re doing both, please don’t hate on me – they are two totally different concepts. Giving a baby a puree meal once in a blue moon during BLW if there isn’t a suitable alternative won’t really cancel out the fact that baby is BLW’d unless you’re super pedantic, (that’s like saying one formula feed means a breastfed baby is now a formula fed baby…) but a consistent combination of finger food and puree itself IS technically traditional weaning.

Whichever route you decide to take, you’ll be fabulous.

What weaning tips would you like to share? Tell us in the comments!

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