Baby-led weaning has recently begun to make a comeback among this generation of moms. I say comeback because technically BLW dates back way before spoon-feeding became the cultural norm.
Think about it: What did parents do before there was such a thing as baby food and purees? They gave their baby the food from their plate and cut it appropriately for their little one.
Unfortunately, self-feeding is still a novel concept for many people.
A common problem that this generation of BLW mothers faces is negative feedback and criticism from their parents or older family members/friends about their decision to pursue BLW.
It is an approach that the older generation does not seem to grasp very well, and their opinions and lack of support can make it difficult for a young mom trying to teach her child to self-feed.
As a young mother of twins with the first grandchildren on either side of the family, I understand the struggle of trying to show family members the benefits of BLW.
Included in this list are ideas that either myself or other mothers have tried in an effort to teach others about the benefits of BLW and why it is such a beneficial feeding approach.
1. Share Videos
For some, seeing is believing! BLW has blown up sites like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok.
Find some informative reels that show the benefits of BLW and include videos of babies enjoying the process while getting the nutrients that they need.
Sometimes all a person needs is a visual to show them that BLW can be done safely and that a baby, when displaying cues of developmental readiness, can handle real food.
2. Share Websites or Reading Material About BLW
For those that need the facts, consider referring them straight to the sources where you are getting your information.
With the plethora of research and resources available to today’s moms, we have more knowledge at our fingertips that the older generation may not have had access to.
Show them that there are years of research and evidence to back up the BLW approach and that it isn’t just a “fad” that you are trying out for the sake of fitting in.
When you show them the research you are doing, it helps them see that your baby’s health and safety are your top priority and that you aren’t taking it lightly!
3. Show Them How Much Baby Enjoys It
If they see that your baby is enjoying it, they may warm up to the idea faster. Send videos of your little one having a great time eating — mess and all!
4. Have a List of Benefits Ready To Share
Come prepared with a mental note (or maybe written if that’s your jam!) of all the BLW benefits you have witnessed yourself or learned from your research.
5. Share a Sample Menu for the Week
Show them the yummy and nutritious foods that your baby will be eating during the week.
Explain that they are getting the same, and likely more, nutrients as they would be from baby purees while also developing crucial motor skills.
6. Be Empathetic At First
Most grandparents/friends/family members who criticize baby-led weaning are usually coming from a place of love.
They are likely expressing their concern because they love your baby and want him/her to be safe and healthy.
When criticisms or worries are expressed, try to be empathetic at the beginning of your response.
For example, if your baby begins to gag while chewing food, say something like “I was so scared of that in the beginning too! But I’ve learned that it is an important part of development and does not mean that my baby is choking.”
Responses similar to the one above show that you recognize how they are feeling and that you had similar concerns but have been able to resolve them through experience with BLW.
7. Address Their Concerns
Many people who do not agree with or do not fully understand BLW have some of the following concerns:
- Baby will choke on food
- Babies cannot eat allergens such as nut butter, dairy, etc.
- Baby is not getting enough nutrients or calories
- Baby cannot feed himself and will be hungry
Be prepared to kindly respond to each of these concerns with what you have learned in your BLW journey or from your own research.
Ensure them that you would never do anything that would be unsafe for your little one and that you experienced similar concerns in the beginning, but they have since been resolved as you have seen your baby thrive with BLW.
Wrapping It Up
In conclusion, BLW still raises some skepticism, especially among older generations that have only known baby purees and spoon-feeding.
You can expect some pushback in the beginning of your journey; however, there are ways to help them see the benefits of this feeding approach!
Ultimately, how you choose to feed your baby is up to YOU and no one else! Be patient and kind with others, but also be firm and consistent if BLW is the route you want to take.
You know your baby best, and it is your child! Don’t let criticism and unsolicited advice from others make you question your ability to do what is best for your child.
Do your research, be mindful of your baby’s cues, and be confident in the decision you make for your little one.
Charlynn is an educator and mom to fraternal boy/girl twins. She loves learning through the experiences she has with her littles and using her knowledge to help other moms as they embark on the journey of motherhood.