Baby Led Weaning vs Purees is a question many parents find themselves asking these days when introducing solids. We’re covering how to decide and the pros and cons of both.
If it’s time for you to start solids with your little ones, chances are you’ve hit the wall of trying to decide BLW or purees.
Baby Led Weaning Vs. Purees: What you need to know to decide
While a quick Google search will give you tons of information and even more opinions, it’s really a decision you have to make for yourself.
Today we’ll be covering what each is and the pros and cons so you can make this decision as educated as possible.
First, let’s cover weaning with pureed foods.
What are purees for weaning?
Purees for weaning are just that. Food that is blended into a smooth puree perfect for serving to babies.
This is the most common way to start solids with a baby and probably how you were weaned. It’s the basis of all of the sitcom “airplane” and messy babies skits.
Pros of Purees
- Safety. Many believe that purees are the safest option.
- Know what your baby is eating (how much, etc).
- Easier to control the consumption of missing nutrients for breastfed babies, like iron.
- Traditional, so it may be easier to accept for family.
- Easier for caregivers. Some daycares etc may choose to only do purees.
- Potentially less messy when parent led.
- Readily available packaged options.
- If making your own purees, it can be time-consuming.
- Harder to read cues of fullness, especially when parent-led.
- Difficult to eat a meal yourself if you’re also actively feeding baby.
- Store-bought options can be expensive.
Who it might be a good choice for:
- Babies who have a variety of caregivers. Purees can keep caregiving consistent.
- Parents who have (fully legitimate!) fears of choking, as baby is less likely to choke on purees.
- Families with less time. Prepackaged purees are an easy grab and go option for busy families. Baby led weaning does require prepping of food for baby or the ability to set aside some of a meal for baby.
Baby Led Weaning
Next, let’s cover BLW. This method, coined by Gill Ripley and Tracey Murkett has gained popularity over the years. I go in-depth on the ins and outs in this post about baby led weaning.
What is Baby Led Weaning?
BLW is a for of introducing solids that allows a baby to self feed whole pieces of soft food rather than pureeds foods.
Foods are cut into soft, finger sized sticks perfect for baby hands and then served to baby. She is then able to choose what to eat, how to self feed, and chose when to eat.
Pros of BLW
- Baby is able to self feed and stop when they are no longer hungry. While this is possible with purees, it’s easy for parents to overfeed.
- The gag reflex is just starting to weaken at 6 months, so babies will gag more easily. This teaches them better how to eat without choking.
- Baby is exposed to a wider variety of flavors and textures, which may lead to a reduction of picky eating.
- Baby is able to eat with the family and enjoy similar meals as the family.
- Baby can eat modified versions of what you are eating, so prep time can be reduced.
- Able to initiate eating as a family from the start. Generally, baby eats modified version of what the family is eating, No one has to eat a cold meal because they are spoonfeeding.
- There’s no real way to know how much was actually eaten, versus smeared/dropped etc.
- Potential chance of not getting enough nutrients lacking in breastmilk, like iron.
- Messy. There’s no way around it, self feeding is messy.
- Potentially higher risk for choking and higher stress level.
- Can be time-consuming if your family isn’t already eating baby friendly foods. (processed, high salt, not soft)
- Can be difficult to maneuver with caregivers. Some daycares will not practice BLW in their facility.
Who is BLW right for?
Baby led weaning is a great option for families who have a lot going on but make most if not all of their meals at home. This allows for easy modification or add on of blw friendly options.
In my experience as a mom working from home who never had to have a caregiver feed solids to my babies, I had the luxury of not having to explain it to them.
I find BLW also takes more time since you’re working on baby’s time, versus spoon feeding. So there is a time factor there.
Baby Led Weaning with Purees
We’ve talked about purees vs baby led weaning, but what about mixing the two?
While die hards will tell you this is a no-no, there has been no studies or proof that have found that mixing blw and purees are dangerous.
Always talk to your pediatrician before starting any type of feeding plan for your baby. Go with your gut. I have mixed purees with BLW in the past for 2 of my 3 kids! It’s what worked for my family.
If you are using purees, there is still the chance to have baby led feeding with them. Try using preloaded spoons, for example!
Conclusion of baby led weaning vs purees
At the end of the day, you need to do what works for you, your family, and your baby. Talk to your partner, your caregiver, and your pediatrician to make an educated decision on what will work best.