What is baby-led weaning?

Gentle parenting is primarily about treating a child with respect at whatever age they are and recognising that they are a person, with their own unique personality. It is about being child- led where appropriate as this allows children to develop at their own pace. When we started discussing weaning B we wondered whether there was a more gentle approach than traditional weaning where we’d have to spoon feed her. We’d already found that administering medication was stressful as B didn’t like having the syringe forced into her mouth. However when allowed to play with it she would experiment with tasting the syringe quite happily. This led us to choose the Baby-led weaning approach.

Baby-led weaning is an incredibly simple concept. Basically, from approximately 6 months of age, a baby can be given solid food. This means no pureed food and no feeding the baby. Instead your baby can be given what you’re eating, within reason.

There are a few rules to remember before starting this approach to weaning:

  • Your baby should be able to sit up unassisted.
  • They should have lost their gag reflex.
  • Babies before the age of one should not be given honey.
  • They should be able to pick up items and move them to their mouth.
  • Babies should only have 1g of salt a day.
  • Your should be 6 months old.

I found Gill Rapley’s book ‘Baby-led weaning Cookbook’ a great resource when starting out, it also explains why these guidelines exist and offers plenty of recipes. Gill Rapley has two books out but I would advise buying this one as it contains all the crucial information as well as loads of recipes. 

We started B with slices of avocado (tip: leave some of the skin on as it makes it easier to hold) and gradually moved on to other vegetables, fruit and then small, simple meals. The beauty of baby-led weaning is that you don’t have to it this way, aside from the safety guidelines above there are no rules! You could serve pasta and veg for their first meal if you like. It’s absolutely hilarious watching them. At first food may go in their ear, hair, smeared into their eyebrows or anywhere that’s not their mouth! It can take a while before your baby actually tastes anything. It took B a good few weeks. The main point is that your baby sees food as a fun exploratory activity.

Alongside solids we started B with water in a sippy cup as up until then she was exclusively breastfed. B took really quickly to drinking out of a cup. She loves playing with it and practising drinking. For a baby that is still breastfed it is recommended that they only have water with meals as all hydration still comes from breastmilk.

Although one of the main benefits is to simply give baby whatever you are eating as a family I have really enjoyed cooking B different things for her to try. She gets all sorts of different tastes and textures this way. In future I plan to do a ‘Weaning Wednesday’ post where I show in pictures what B has eaten that day. It will also include the recipes and any tips I think will be helpful. This is my take on ‘What I ate Wednesday’ :D.


  1. MummyConfessions March 10, 2017 / 5:46 am

    I’ve found the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook to be very useful, even when the kids are older! Thank you for the simple explanation of BLW!

    • gentlelivingmummy March 10, 2017 / 7:09 am

      Thank you 😊 It has been so useful. Just the fact I can sit and eat my lunch (while keeping a careful eye on B of course 😉) is lovely!

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