Is There Science Behind Baby-Led Weaning (BLW)?

Yes, there is science behind baby-led weaning (BLW). Baby-led weaning is an approach to introducing solid foods that allows infants to self-feed rather than being spoon-fed purees. BLW involves giving babies soft solids they can grasp and eat on their own from the beginning. (Learn more about BLW first foods here).

Baby-led weaning (BLW) is backed by a growing body of science. Specifically, studies show that compared to spoon feeding, baby-led weaning (BLW):

  • Reduces the likelihood of food fussiness and picky eating later in childhood [1,2]
  • Promotes self-regulation of fullness and satiety [3]
  • Is associated with advanced language development and earlier crawling [4]
  • Is NOT more likely to lead to iron deficiency and [5];
  • Does NOT increase choking risk [6]

Although baby-led weaning is a promising method of complementary feeding, it may not be right for every infant. If your baby has a cleft palate, feeding difficulties, or is developmentally delayed, consult your pediatrician before beginning baby-led weaning (BLW). Baby-led weaning can be safe, and offer a number of advantages if you serve your child a wide range of texture-modified, age-appropriate whole foods and closely supervise them during mealtimes.

Crab-shaped baby-led weaning plate with broccoli, summer squash, eggs, tomato, and strawberries.

[1] Coulthard, H., Harris, G., & Emmett, P. (2009). Delayed introduction of lumpy foods to children during the complementary feeding period affects child’s food acceptance and feeding at 7 years of age. Maternal & child nutrition, 5(1), 75–85.

[2] Fu, X., Conlon, C. A., Haszard, J. J., Beck, K. L., von Hurst, P. R., Taylor, R. W., & Heath, A. M. (2018). Food fussiness and early feeding characteristics of infants following Baby-Led Weaning and traditional spoon-feeding in New Zealand: An internet survey. Appetite, 130, 110–116.

[3] Brown, A., & Lee, M. D. (2015). Early influences on child satiety-responsiveness: the role of weaning style. Pediatric obesity, 10(1), 57–66.

[4] Webber, C., Blissett, J., Addessi, E., Galloway, A. T., Shapiro, L., & Farrow, C. (2021). An infant-led approach to complementary feeding is positively associated with language development. Maternal & child nutrition, 17(4), e13206.

[5] Dogan, E., Yilmaz, G., Caylan, N., Turgut, M., Gokcay, G., & Oguz, M. M. (2018). Baby-led complementary feeding: Randomized controlled study. Pediatrics international : official journal of the Japan Pediatric Society, 60(12), 1073–1080.

[6] Arslan, N., Kurtuncu, M., & Turhan, P. M. (2023). The effect of baby-led weaning and traditional complementary feeding trainings on baby development. Journal of pediatric nursing, 73, 196–203. Advance online publication.

One response to “Is There Science Behind Baby-Led Weaning (BLW)?”

  1. […] Baby-led weaning involves offering soft, hand-held foods and encouraging self-feeding from the beginning instead of exclusively spoon-feeding purees. While baby-led weaning is a new concept for many there’s a growing body of evidence to support this method of introducing solids. For example, research indicates that offering textured foods at 6 months seems to enhance food acceptance and minimize feeding difficulties in later childhood [1]. (Read more about the science behind baby-led weaning here). […]

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