What is Baby Led Weaning? Tips for Weaning from Breastfeeding

Top view of little boy holding food in his hands baby led weaning

What is Baby Led Weaning? Tips for Weaning from Breastfeeding

It’s recommended that mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months of life, as it’s the best way to meet their nutrition needs during their first few months on earth. By the end of this initial feeding milestone, it’s time to start introducing solids!

This is called baby led weaning, the method of adding solid foods to baby’s diet by encouraging them to explore foods and self feed. Instead of spoon feeding your baby purees, you instead give soft, grippable food that they can handle and eat on their own. 

But what are the best types of foods to try to introduce to start? And how do you know if your baby is ready for this milestone? All of that, plus tips on how to wean from breastfeeding, are detailed below in this blog.

What is Baby Led Weaning and How is it Beneficial?

Baby led weaning is all about introducing solids to your baby that they can pick up and feed to themselves. These foods should be solid enough to grab and soft enough for your baby to chew and swallow. Some examples of the most common foods to try while weaning a baby include: 

  • Avocado
  • Carrot
  • Cooked sweet potato
  • Pasta
  • Banana
  • Rice 
  • Soft meat

Baby led weaning involves more than nutritional benefits. Some of the additional advantages that come with baby led weaning include: 

  • Developing fine motor skills. Baby led weaning is designed to encourage babies to use their hands to grasp and pick up food, and move it over to their mouths. This is a great way to develop those fine motor skills during their early stages of development. 
  • Creating a positive relationship with food. Giving your baby the opportunity to pick up their own food and eat as much of it as they want can help when it comes to forming a positive relationship with food in the future. 
  • Encouraging a varied diet and healthy eating habits. Baby led weaning enables your little one to explore different textures and flavors, which can ultimately help them create a varied diet of foods they enjoy!

Boy eating by hands with finger food baby led weaning

How Do I Know When to Start Baby Led Weaning?

The best time to start baby led weaning is exactly when your baby shows signs of readiness. Looking for the common indicators that your baby wants to start trying new foods can help you make the transition from exclusively breastfeeding. Some of the signs baby is ready to wean from breastfeeding include:   

  • They’re at least 6 months old. This is the ideal time to consider the idea of baby-led weaning. If you’re interested in starting sooner, it’s critical to gauge baby’s readiness with their pediatrician first. 
  • They can sit up on their own. Your baby needs to be able to sit up and display good head and neck control in a high chair.
  • They’re showing an interest in food. If you’ve noticed that your baby is following the fork from your plate to your mouth, they may be showing interest in the foods you’re eating. If your baby tries to reach for your food, it may be even more obvious that it’s time to consider baby led weaning. 
  • They can grasp and hold objects. A baby’s success in weaning starts with their ability to grasp and hold objects on their own.

How to Wean From Breastfeeding: Tips and Tricks

You might find that the weaning process is difficult, and that’s totally natural. It’s a comfortable habit that you and your baby have formed, one that can be just as soothing as it is nourishing. If you’re having a hard time weaning, consider these tips:

  • Start slowly. When you first introduce baby led weaning, gradually reduce the numbers of breastfeeding sessions over the course of a few weeks. Changing your routine altogether right from the start can lead to frustration and uncertainty. The better adjusted your baby is to the new routine, the more likely you’ll be successful in the transition. 
  • Try simple baby led weaning recipes. Looking for fun ways to introduce new foods and textures to your baby? Try baby led weaning recipes that are free of added sugars and full of fruits and vegetables. 
  • Practice other soothing techniques. Breastfeeding isn’t just a source of nutrition, it’s also a source of comfort and soothing. Take the time to find another soothing technique for your little one during the transition, such as cuddling or using a pacifier. 
  • Be patient. Baby led weaning may be difficult and messy at the start, but maintaining your patience throughout is so important. Our advice is to have a bib ready for baby and set up a towel or sheet under your baby’s high chair, and let them explore!
  • Be consistent.  Once it’s clear your baby is ready to wean from breastfeeding, but consistent in your new routine! This is also important to keep in mind if you’re learning how to wean a toddler from breastfeeding. You may notice a few setbacks along the way, but staying consistent is necessary for success.

Cherish Your Breastfeeding Journey Forever

Introducing solids to your baby for the first time can be an exciting yet emotional time, especially when you’ve been exclusively breastfeeding for six months. With help from KeepsakeMom, the memory of your breastfeeding journey can last a lifetime. Create your baby’s very own personalized breastmilk jewelry keepsake today!

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