Baby Led Weaning Gill Rapley Book Summary

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“Baby Led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food” by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett is a popular book that promotes a natural, easy, and enjoyable approach to introducing solid foods to infants.

The Authors were the two British Health professionals that coined the term Baby-Led-Weaning, and their best selling books are the starting point for the now international used method of weaning.

I starting using this method as an Early Years Manager, introducing it in our setting and loved it so much I used it with my own children. Now it has become an on trend method of weaning. It’s not complex. Here’s a brief summary of the main ideas of the book to get you started.

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Book Summary:

  1. Concept of Baby Led Weaning (BLW): The central idea is to let babies take the lead in their weaning process. This means allowing them to handle, experiment with, and eat solid foods at their own pace, rather than relying on traditional western spoon-feeding of purées.
  2. Starting Age: BLW generally starts around six months when many babies show signs of developmental readiness for solids. At this age, babies can sit up, pick up items, and take them to their mouth.
  3. Health and Nutrition: Rapley and Murkett emphasize the importance of offering a balanced and varied diet. They discuss foods to begin with and those to avoid due to allergy risks or choking hazards.
  4. Benefits of BLW: The authors argue that BLW encourages good eating habits, helps develop hand-eye coordination, and can lead to healthier weight and eating patterns in the long run. They believe babies develop a natural sense of when they are full, which can prevent overeating.
  5. Safety: The book addresses common concerns about choking and offers guidance on how to minimize risks. The authors emphasize the difference between gagging (a natural safety mechanism) and choking.
  6. Practical Tips: The book offers a range of tips, from managing mealtimes, dealing with messy eating, and including family meals, to navigating eating out and handling criticism from others who might not be familiar with the BLW approach.
  7. Recipes and Foods: The book provides ideas for suitable first foods and recipes that can be used as the baby progresses in their BLW journey.
  8. Real-life Experiences: Throughout the book, Rapley and Murkett share anecdotes and testimonies from parents who’ve used the BLW method, providing readers with a comprehensive view of the weaning approach.

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Foods to Start With:

Soft Vegetables: Cooked sticks of carrot, broccoli florets, or sweet potato. These are often recommended because they’re easy for babies to hold and gnaw on.

Soft Fruits: Such as ripe avocado, banana, or melon slices.

Meats: Soft and well-cooked meats like chicken or turkey can be offered.

Breads and Pasta: Toasted bread (without honey), bagels, or large pasta shapes can be given.

Foods to Approach with Caution (Allergies):

Common Allergens: While not strictly against introducing allergenic foods, they do advise parents to be informed and cautious. Some common allergens include dairy, eggs, nuts, and seafood.

Introduction Sequence: It’s often recommended to introduce one new food at a time and wait a few days before introducing another. This makes it easier to pinpoint any adverse reactions.

Awareness: Parents should be aware of any family history of allergies and possibly delay introduction or consult with a pediatrician in such cases.

Also Read: What Are The Best Foods To Start Baby – Led- Weaning?

Foods to Avoid (Choking Risks):

Remember, these are general guidelines from the book. Always consult with a pediatrician or a healthcare professional about your child’s specific needs and dietary introductions.

Hard Foods: Anything hard that can’t be easily squished between the fingers, like raw carrot or apple slices, should be avoided.

Small, Round Foods: Items like grapes, cherry tomatoes, or whole nuts. If given, they should be cut in a way to minimize choking risk (e.g., grapes should be quartered).

Sticky Foods: Foods like peanut butter can be a choking hazard if given in large dollops. If introduced, it should be thinly spread.

Foods with Bones: Ensure that fish and certain meats are free from bones.

Processed Foods: Foods with high salt or sugar content should be minimized.

Rapley and Murkett emphasize that while BLW is about letting babies explore food, it’s crucial for parents to remain informed and make safe choices. Watching babies closely during meals, ensuring they’re sitting upright while eating, and being informed about how to handle choking incidents are essential parts of the BLW approach.

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“Baby Led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food” is a guide that advocates for allowing babies to explore and enjoy solid foods in their own time and way, suggesting that this approach can lead to healthier and more positive eating habits as they grow.

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Is It Too Late To start Baby Led Weaning?

No. So Long as your baby is over six months and able to sit unsupported, you can start Baby-Led-Weaning, even if you have begun on solid food. Ultimately Baby-Led-Weaning is a set of principles there are no hard and fast rules.

Also Read: Do Babies Know When to Stop Eating?

What is The Baby- Led- Weaning Rule?

The only real “rule” with Baby-Led-Weaning is that your baby has control of putting food into their mouth.

The “Four Day Rule” is sometimes quoted as a guide as to how long you should wait in between introducing high allergen foods.

How Many Times A Day Should I Feed My 6 Month Old Solid Food?

To start weaning try one meal a day for the first week. Then gradually replace three meals a day with main meals. Each baby is different, but by the time your baby is one they should be eating mostly solid food with breastmilk or follow-on/cow dairy milk as a supplement.

Final Thoughts

In the vast realm of parenting, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Every family, every child, and every parent is unique. It’s essential for parents to explore different methods and styles to determine what resonates most with their individual needs and values. For those curious about the Baby-Led Weaning approach, it’s always best to turn to the original sources. Gill Rapley and her team are the medical experts who coined the term and championed this method. Their insights provide a grounded, well-researched foundation for anyone interested in adopting this natural approach to introducing solids. Remember, the journey of parenting is personal, but when diving into a new methodology, starting with the pioneers of that practice is always a wise choice. There are now many people online using this method and adapting their own take often with the view to make a buck. The best advice is out there already and the best wisdom is through your own trails and errors. Have Fun!