Baby Led Weaning (BLW in short) is basically letting your baby/child feed themselves! Wikipedia says “[BLW] is a method of adding complementary foods to a baby’s diet of formula or breastmilk.” The word weaning may be confused with weaning off breastfeeding (or formula), but BLW is simply a way to start learning to feed and eat on their own and at their own pace. (Check out a few requirements for when to start solid food.)
It is a wonderful way for them to develop motor skills while playing with the food. Since it all starts with just playing with food, not expecting them to eat everything, the baby will (and should) find the experience fun. If he is not in the mood for food, try again later! It is very important to create a positive association between mealtime and eating, because it paves the way for good eating habits in the future.
A lot of the times with feeding puree baby foods, mom and dad or a caregiver would try to force feed the baby and make them finish off what is in the bowl. We have all seen babies keeping their mouths shut while the parent kept trying to make “AHHH” faces to get them to open up or even just forcing the spoon in. With BLW, you are not feeding them, so babies gets to control how much they eat. They will learn to stop when they are full, or ask for more if they can speak or sign.
There is also no limit to what food you can offer, but, personally, I would suggest starting with softer foods so that it is easier to eat. Yes, it will be more messy, but that is the whole point. As a baby learns to better control his hands, there will be less mess and a lot more eating! (I am looking forward to that!)
We have just began to experiment with this last month, so we’d love to hear of your experience!