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Baby-Led Weaning vs. Purees: Pros & Cons

baby food baby-led weaning purees Dec 18, 2023
A 6 month old boy feeds himself with a fork

If you're a new parent, one of the many decisions you'll have to make is how to introduce solid foods to your baby.

It's an exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming.

There are two main approaches to starting solids: pureed baby food and baby-led weaning (also known as BLW, baby-led feeding, baby-led eating, or solid foods).

I'm going to do my best to break down the pros and cons of each so you can choose the method that works best for your family.

After all, social media tells us that BLW is the "right" way to feed our babies, but that does not mean it is right for every family.

Pureed Baby Food

What are baby food purees?

Pureed baby food is exactly what it sounds like: food that has been blended into a smooth, liquid-like consistency. This type of food is typically spoon-fed to babies by the parent. It is safe for babies prior to 6 months, though many choose to wait until after 6 months to start solid foods.

Pros and cons of pureed baby food

Pros:

- There are many brands of baby food available at the grocery store. 
- Pureed baby food is easy to prepare and store. You can make large batches and freeze them for later use, which can save you time and money.
- It's a good way to introduce your baby to new flavors. You can combine different fruits, vegetables, and meats to create a variety of purees if you are making recipes at home.
- It's easy for your baby to swallow and digest.

>>> Looking for ways to add flavor to baby food? Get my free guide to introduce new textures and flavors to your baby <<<

Cons:

- Spoon-feeding your baby can be time-consuming and messy, especially if your little one is fussy or easily distracted.
- Your baby must transition from purees to finger foods, which can be hard.- Some babies may not like the texture of pureed food, and may prefer to feed themselves instead.
- Some experts argue that spoon-feeding can interfere with a baby's natural ability to regulate their own appetite and develop self-feeding skills.

Baby-Led Weaning

What is Baby Led Weaning?

Baby-led weaning (BLW) is a relatively new approach to introducing solid foods to babies. Instead of pureed food, parents offer their baby small pieces of soft, finger-friendly foods that they can pick up and feed themselves. Babies get to choose what, if anything, they eat. It is safe for babies after six months once all necessary developmental milestones have been achieved.

Pros and cons of BLW

Pros:

- BLW can be less time-consuming if you are already preparing meals for your family.
-Your baby is in control of their own feeding and can stop when they're full.
- It can help your baby develop hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and self-feeding skills.
- Some experts believe that BLW can help your baby develop a healthier relationship with food, as they are in control of what they eat and when they eat it.

Cons:

- It may be difficult to know how to prepare food appropriately for baby-led feeding. Improperly prepared food can result in choking.
- BLW requires close supervision at all times, which may be difficult for some families.
- It can be more difficult to ensure that your baby is getting all the nutrients they need, as they may not be interested in certain foods.
- It may be hard or time-consuming to think of foods appropriate for baby-led weaning.
- Some babies may not be developmentally ready for BLW until they're a bit older, which may delay allergen introduction.

Which Feeding Approach Is Right for You?

The million-dollar question: pureed baby food or baby-led weaning? The answer isn't one-size-fits-all.

It depends on a variety of factors that are unique to you, your baby, and your circumstances.

Here are a few additional factors to consider when making your choice:

  • Baby's Readiness: If your baby can hold their head up, sit with some support, and is interested in food, they might be ready for purees. Your baby should be able to sit independently for the entire meal and be able to self-feed before starting baby-led weaning, Teeth are not necessary to start BLW or purees.

>>> Free quiz: Is your baby ready to start solid foods? <<<

  • Lifestyle Dynamics: Consider your daily routine and personal inclinations. If you're juggling a busy schedule, the convenience of pureed baby food might be more appealing. On the other hand, if you like cooking and want to foster your baby's exploration, BLW could be for you.

  • Baby's Preferences: Just like us adults, babies have their preferences too. Some might like the independence of BLW, while others might do better with spoon-fed purees.

Rest assured that both methods will help promote healthy growth and development in your baby.

Can you combine baby-led weaning and purees?

I have spoken with many moms who feel like they "failed" if their baby gets purees. This is not true. You can rest assured that combining BLW and baby food is completely safe. Families may choose to give finger foods while at home and pouches on the go. Others may only do purees at daycare. Do whatever feels best.

The journey into solid foods is a fun (and slightly terrifying) milestone for both you and your baby. Whether you opt for a traditional route of pureed food or venture into baby-led weaning, the key is to choose what works best for your family. Happy feeding!

>>> Tired of worrying about feeding your baby? Get personalized support so you can enjoy feeding your baby. <<<

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