Food

Starting Solids: Baby Led Weaning or Purees?

It’s an exciting time - your little one is ready to start solids!  

But then the confusion sets in. Should you break out the baby bullet and stock your freezer with purees? Or should you simply make a little extra at meals and proceed baby-led weaning style? 

Today I’m exploring both approaches and what I recommend to new (and seasoned!) moms. 

For those who aren’t familiar with these terms, I’ll start with a quick overview. 

Purees

A puree based approach means steaming and puree-ing food (typically with a bit of water) into a smooth consistency and spoon-feeding it to your baby. Little ones typically progress to thicker textures when they are ready, and finger foods are usually introduced around the 7-8 month mark. 

The advantage of this approach is that it eases your baby into the whole “feeding” thing.  Learning to eat isn’t easy! And rushing a child who isn’t ready can have a negative impact the feeding process as they get older.   
  
Starting with purees can also give you peace of mind if you are a mom who is worried about choking (which is a normal concern, considering the lack of teeth for most babies at this age!)

Baby Led Weaning

With baby led weaning (BLW), the idea is to let your baby take the lead (yep, the hint is in the name).  With this approach, you start straight away with soft solid food, and miss out on purees altogether.  The key is to allow your little one to explore solid food at their own pace  

The big advantage of BLW is ease. For the most part, your baby eats the food your family is eating anyways. And I’m sure you could think of a thing or two to do with time you save by not having to chop, steam and puree everything they eat!

Which approach do I recommend?

I actually recommend a combination of the two, and here’s why.

The philosophy of BLW really aligns with my passion for raising healthy eaters (instead of picky eaters).  One of the best ways to support your child in developing a healthy relationship with food is let them take the lead. 

With BLW, the baby is in control of what and how much they are eating, which means: 

  • they learn to listen to and trust their own instincts when it comes to appetite;
  • they feel less pressure and anxiety around trying new foods; and
  • you can follow their cues as to how quickly they are ready to progress to the next stage in the feeding process.

All of which will contribute to your child having a pretty healthy relationship with food! 

However, I don’t want you to ditch the purees completely. 

With BLW, a lot of the food ends up on the floor (particularly with kiddos whose fine-motor skills are still developing). So sometimes finishing the meal with a puree can help balance things out nutritionally. 

Plus, some foods are not BLW-friendly early on due to choking potential (think greens!), so a puree may be the better way to expose them to a new flavour. 

And it is important to keep in mind that some babies are just not developmentally ready for whole pieces of solid food right away (remember – let them take the lead!) If this is the case for your little one, purees can be a nice transition from breastmilk or formula at the beginning.  

So follow your little one’s lead, take a combined approach and you will be setting your baby up for a lifetime of healthy eating. 

Sarah Bester, CNP