Baby-led weaning? One mother offers her take on this 'new' trend
What is baby-led weaning? Or BLW, in the acronym-fuelled parlance of mumsy internet messaging boards? Well, stretch your mind back to what your great-grandparents might have done a century or so ago. They would have taken some vegetables, chopped them up into pieces that small hands can pick up, and put them on the table for their children to eat. No pureeing, no mashing, no Magimix, no hand-held blender. Just some food on a table that humans have been managing to eat since we evolved – not far – from apes.
Baby-led weaning is another one of those new terms for old things that parents knew how to do anyway. You can buy books about it, read about it on message boards, follow bloggers who swear by it, and those who think it’s a sure-fire route to daily death by choking. It’s another way to get new parents to think they aren’t doing well enough by their babies.
I’ve heard theories that baby-led weaning leads to earlier linguistic development because chewing on carrot sticks helps to build up the jaw muscles. Yes, this is a real claim. It’s important, too, because all those children who only ate mashed-up carrots still do not know how to talk. We’re all still waiting on them.
Early childhood development is full of these terrifying claims, traded principally among middle-class mothers with aspirations and an abundance of time, who work each other up like mini tornadoes in a blended juice glass. Did you know that if you don’t do “tummy time” – the infantilising term for putting your child on its stomach for a while – your children will never develop the abdominal muscles necessary to learn how to write? That’s right. They’ll have bad penmanship. Forever.
Listen, you can baby-led wean, you can mash, or you can do what I did, which is try to baby-led wean and then frantically fish out chunks of carrots from your baby’s mouth with your dirty, chubby fingers, because, who are you kidding, you don’t have the earth mother Zen to possibly let your precious child master non-boiled carrots on their own. Then – and this is key – just laugh at yourself, and let your baby laugh, too.