Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) model is an alternative method that supports the baby’s self-feeding from 6 months of age. In traditional complementary feeding, solid foods are introduced to babies by spooning them in a puree form, and the foods offered gradually turn into adult meals as the baby’s age and development progress. In the BLW model, babies sit at the table with their family members, instead of feeding with a spoon, the foods are presented to babies in pieces that they can easily grasp without mixing them and they decide what, how much and how quickly to eat.

Advantages of the BLW method

Babies to whom the BLW model is applied may be less reactive to foods, provide better appetite control, adjust the portion amounts, and display protective behaviors from obesity in the future in terms of nutritional behaviors. However, the European Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) reported in its report published in 2017 that there is not enough evidence to strengthen the efficacy of the BLW approach.

Watch out for the risk of choking!

A 6-month-old baby who is just starting solid foods may not have developed enough oral motor skills, such as chewing and swallowing, to safely consume all foods. This raises concerns about the risk of choking for the BLW method. 

An Important Point: Iron Deficiency

In the BLW method, as the babies decide what and how much to eat by themselves, adequate nutritional intake may not be provided and particularly iron deficiency may develop. Because the consistency of iron-rich foods such as meat, chicken, fish can make it difficult for babies to self-feed, and most easily graspable foods, such as fruits and vapour cooked vegetables, which are the most commonly introduced during BLW, are known to be generally low in iron.

“BLISS” instead of “BLW”

As a result of concerns such as iron deficiency, insufficient energy and nutrient intake, and the risk of choking, the modified BLW model, the Baby-led Introduction to Solids (BLISS) method was developed. The main difference in this method is that the person responsible for the baby is given basic BLW model training, there is a high-energy and iron-containing food in every meal, and foods with a high risk of choking such as raw apples and grapes are not included in the meal.


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