Why I chose baby led weaning over spoon-feeding

Elbowroom yoga teacher and busy mum of three Emily McElarney shares her experience of baby led weaning.

I knew I had a problem when my toddler would clap his hand over his mouth and look terrified any time anyone gave him something particularly yummy to eat.

The problem was not what you’re thinking.  What he was doing, was actually preventing mummy from rummaging in his mouth and grabbing the food off him.

Why would anyone do such a thing?

Well I had an acute fear of my babies choking. To such an extent that I was ruining their enjoyment of food.

Anytime they were tucking in I would look at them terrified and panicking until I would eventually take the food off them to calm my own nerves…not good.

So by the time it came to start my third child on solid food knew I had to get a grip.  After doing some research, with a huge dollop of help and encouragement from the lovely folks on the baby led weaning (Starting Solids) in Ireland Facebook group, I took the decision to try baby led weaning.


Now that might sound strange to you if you know anything about blw, because it involves your baby feeding themselves with large chunks of food.  The very thing I was terrified of.

But after reading Baby-Led Weaning: Helping Your Baby Love Food by Gill Rapley and asking tons of questions on the Facebook group,  it made sense to me that this was the way to go.  Now don’t get me wrong, I was still neurotic for the first couple of weeks.  Sometimes I left the room at mealtimes and left my husband watching!

Elsie Mai however, took to it just fine. Eventually it became so much fun!  Once she got the hang of it, we really just fed her whatever everyone else was having – straight on to the table of her high chair and she just fed herself.  With 3 young kids it meant I actually got to eat at mealtimes myself, as I wasn’t sitting spoon feeding her.

It also improved everyone else’s diet in the house as I was using less salt, less sugar, and in general thinking a lot more about what I put in our food. At 8 months old she was even chowing down on pieces of steak…and I was not panicking!

Now it is messy – but that’s all part of the fun (long-sleeved bibs, a plastic easy to clean high chair and owning a dog are very useful here) but I really think its far less labour intensive then the cooking, pureeing and portioning of ‘baby food’ that I had done for my boys.

IMG_7183At 14 months Elsie Mai will eat pretty much anything.  We discovered she has a dairy intolerance which I’m hoping she will eventually grow out of, but other then that she’ll try anything and I haven’t known her to reject anything yet.  She choses what she’ll eat and eats until she’s full and no more, which is also a huge benefit of eating the baby-led weaning way.

As a mum I would certainly recommend Baby Led Weaning and I wish I’d done it for all my children.

If you are interested in learning more about Baby Led Weaning we are very excited to be hosting a Baby Led Weaning workshop with mum and food blogger Aileen Cox Blundell of www.babyledfeeding.com on Saturday 1st October 2016.

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