Baby Led Weaning works for me

Welcome back to Be You with Jonelle. I am loving sharing this journey with you and encouraging you to do Motherhood YOUR WAY! We are mothers and we need to stick together! I am tackling a new journey at the moment, I’ve started weaning my little boy and introducing him to solid foods. I have done endless hours of research and have decided to go the Baby Led Weaning route – this is my way and what is working for our family.

There is so much pressure as a parent, to be perfect. We are expected to know how to do everything and when we don’t, everyone is ready to hand out their version of the perfect way. I say, you’ve got to do what works for you. Sometimes, other people have excellent tips, sometimes their opinion is worthless to you. Just know when to listen and when to nod, smile and walk away. You will need to be able to do this if you choose Baby Led Weaning.

We have recently started introducing our son to solids. He’s currently just under 6months and the start of any new stage in your child’s life can be terrifying. So I did what I know how to do best. I sat down and did some research. Then I did a bit more research and then I read up on the opinions of other moms and then I decided my son just wasn’t ready.

I had at some point during my pregnancy come across the idea of Baby Led Weaning (BLW). This approach is based on the idea that the baby will eat what you as a family eat, so you skip the introduction to solid food by mashing up and pureeing. Instead, from the get-go, you offer your child cooked or raw chunks of veggies and food.

There are a number of benefits. What appealed to me the most was that your child supposedly forms a healthier relationship to food by choosing to eat on his or her own instead of being force fed. There is also the added benefit of the baby actually tasting the food that they are eating instead of eating a pureed combination of various tastes. Baby Led Weaning immediately appealed to me and I knew this was going to be the direction we would take with our son. It’s not for everyone and you as a mother need to do what feels right to you. You know your child better than anyone else.

We started our son off, very nervously, on a combination of steamed carrot and boiled potato. Placing a few chunks of each in front of him on the tray and then we sat back and watched him with a bewildered look on his face, trying to figure out how to get his tongue to work. He started off by picking up chunks and licking them in his hand. A few times he managed to chew off (with his gums) a small bite of each piece and then the scary part began.

He gagged. He gagged a lot as his throat discovered the new feeling of lumpy food in his mouth. Up until this moment, my little man had never had any other consistency besides milk in his mouth, so this was obviously new to him.

Since that day, we have fed him sweet potato, broccoli, teething biscuits, cucumber and his personal favourite; toast. Yes toast! Crazy at it may sound, he eats it like a little boss and really enjoys the hard bits rubbing on his gums which are constantly itching from teething. The first time I handed him a chunk of toast, I was extremely nervous but I knew he was ready. He was showing all the signs of being ready.

Baby Led Weaning should only be started if the baby can sit on their own and if they seem ready for solid foods. If their reaction is to immediately spit it out, then they aren’t ready. You have to be prepared to watch them gag, which they do a lot. Gagging is not choking – you can find videos on YouTube that show you the difference.

Also, I don’t recommend this approach if you aren’t the kind of person who can handle a little bit of mess. It is extremely messy and everyone ends up covered in bits of food.

There are various Baby Led Weaning support groups you can join on Facebook, and Pinterest is incredibly awesome with ideas for meal times. We haven’t worked our way up to introducing meat to him yet, but we will get there soon enough.

Just remember, there is no RIGHT way to do motherhood, you just have to do what feels right to you. If you want to do Baby Led Weaning, then do it. If you want to start with mashed up food, or even a combination of the two, then do it – your way. Just do your research and make sure to keep an eye out for any possible allergic reactions when introducing new food to your child.

We’ve had a lot of questions from people who have never heard of this approach and a few people are confused by it and don’t agree with doing things this way. Don’t let them put you off making your own decision. Do what it right for you and your family.

Be You!

Jonelle du Pont

Jonelle is a first time mom in Cape Town. Her main focus outside of her family is inspiring, motivating and empowering women through her blogs Tyranny of Pink and Jonelle du Pont. Jonelle has had an incredibly challenging journey through life, including facing and beating death just after welcoming her new baby into this world; and yet finds the positive and shares the learnings through it all. She is also the author of our column "Be You with Jonelle".

  1. Hi Nicola, we started at 5 and a half months but it recommended to wait until 6 months. My son just seemed ready and he could sit unassisted and was constantly grabbing our food so we figured why not try and it worked for us.

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