Dr. Rapley has over 35 years’ experience in the field of infant feeding, as health visitor, midwife, breastfeeding counsellor, lecturer, writer and researcher. She is known internationally as the pioneer of the approach to complementary (solid) feeding known as Baby-led Weaning, which she developed as part of her master’s degree and pursued for her PhD. Gill is the co-author of five books on infant feeding and parenting and the author of a number of professional and academic articles.
Baby-led Weaning (BLW)
Baby-led weaning is an approach to the introduction of solid foods (or ‘complementary feeding’) that allows the baby to control the process. As a participant in family mealtimes from around six months of age, it’s the baby who decides when he or she will have their first taste of solid food, and how quickly family foods will replace milk feeds. Crucially, all foods are offered as pieces for the baby to pick up, bite and chew; there is no spoon feeding and no purees.
Baby-led weaning is often referred to as a new concept but the practice of introducing solid foods this way is probably as old as humankind. As we will see, denying babies this early opportunity to handle food and to chew has potential implications for facial growth, as well as for the development of speech, fine motor skills, appetite control, nutrition, autonomy, and a long-term healthy relationship with food.
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