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133 of 138 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2011
I can't recommend this book or this method highly enough. We turned to baby-led weaning when our daughter declined to eat solids well after her six-month birthday. We never bought into the rice-cereal orthodoxy, so we began by trying to feed her bits of avocado and banana from our fingers, but she wanted none of it. We tried pureed apples and pears, and then rice and oat cereal with breast milk, but she didn't like being spoon-fed. While we cooled our heels for a few weeks I learned about baby-led weaning, and by about eight months she was ready to go. The key to this method is that the baby is in control -- apart from placing food on her tray, you don't actually feed her. She inspects the food, chooses what she wants, and feeds herself.

Rapley and Murkett are careful and thorough (yet friendly and conversational) in addressing concerns about choking, allergies, and so on. But the immediate benefit of BLW is that it is SO much easier to give your baby real food than to deal with steaming and pureeing (what a bore!). Soon after we started, my daughter was eating solid apples -- we'd cut them into the appropriate finger shape and she'd shave bits of apple flesh off with her two little teeth. Now she loves eating from a whole apple; I eat a chunk of it to expose the flesh, and off she goes. At nine months she has eaten uncooked apples and pears, whole cooked peas and carrot sticks, buttered whole-wheat toast, cheese, pasta, sausage, chicken, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, curried vegetables, and basmati rice, all using her hands, and she drinks water from a regular cup with assistance. It's thrilling to watch her engage with new tastes and textures. She doesn't eat everything we offer, but she's getting more and more enthusiastic about new things. She surprises people at family dinners because she is well "ahead" of her thirteen-month-old cousin, who is still spoon-fed -- I say that not to be competitive, but just to show how effective baby-led weaning really is. We're so proud of how well she's learning to eat, and a lot of the credit goes to this book for its totally intuitive (not "new," as another reviewer argued) advice and reassurance.
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131 of 141 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2012
If your child is exclusively breastfed for 6 months, all you need to do is read the babyledweaning website, and you're off to the races. BLW is pretty easy: you can feed baby most things that you eat (with a "don't be stupid" rule: not so much pepper that it hurts his/her mouth, no milk except mama's milk before 12 months, no chokable foods like raw carrots & nuts, make grapes and blueberries safer by halving or squashing them, etc.). The wonderful thing about this approach is that you don't have to buy or cook special foods, nor do you need special apparatus and instructions. When he was 6 months old, our baby was having none of a spoon stuck in his face. But when we gave him solid food from our plates at breakfast and dinner, he played with the food for about a week, then started eating like a champ. Our 11-month-old now eats everything except meatballs (he doesn't seem to like them), and has been drinking unassisted from a cup since about 9.5 months. It's fun, and free. I'd read the website, save the money on this book, and spend it on bibs with sleeves instead.

For the one commenter who said she wasn't aware of what doctors' associations said about BLW, I believe that NHS (National Health Service of the UK) has approved it, and it's also quite normal in the Netherlands. Recently, a study has shown that kids who are BLW end up with healthier eating habits than mush-fed kids. Although hey, most of us were mush-fed, and we still learned how to eat eventually.
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125 of 145 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2011
I bought this book because nothing about feeding my baby solids has seemed intuitive. This seemed like the answer, and the book makes a good case for starting babies on real solids instead of purees. However, after watching my baby gag on broccoli, apple, and just about everything we gave him, we decided to go back to purees. The book specifically says that gagging is okay, and it's different from choking, and I get that. But try watching your baby gag - it's pretty terrifying. We reached into his mouth to pull out pieces of food on a few occasions.

If you look online at all the blogs about BLW, you see a lot of positives and not a lot of critiques. I can't find any doctor organizations that have weighed in on it. Ironically, trying this approach gave me more confidence in my ability to read my baby's cues, and I feel pretty good about sticking with purees for now and maybe trying tiny pieces of finger food soon. I was fed that way, and I am a good eater!

I think this book is worth reading, but that parents should feel empowered to trust their instincts. There is nothing evil about purees, and I think some babies just do better on the puree-chunky-finger foods track...The book even mentions that in some cultures mothers will pre-chew meats to give to their babies, but then it says to go ahead and offer your 6-month old strips of steak...I just was not comfortable with that. Balance what you read with what you observe in your baby and trust yourself!
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2015
I originally planned to give this book four stars. I like the concept, and I enjoyed the book. I threw my son and I enthusiastically into baby-led weaning. The only thing that held me back from a fifth star was the little niggle in the back of my head which said: 'yes, but what if he does start choking? What then?' Because there's no info about this in the book.
I'm only giving it three, for the same reason. This is because my son genuinely started choking, and the only reason I knew what to do, is from watching a little viral cartoon on the matter just a few weeks ago. It was the second time he'd had some steamed cauliflower for lunch. This time, a tiny floret broke off and got stuck in his throat. He went red. Started thrashing. Couldn't cough. I had him out of his highchair and across my knee in seconds. No thanks to this book! I understand that it's really unlikely to happen, but when it does happen, not including a chapter on the worst case scenario is dangerous. All that is said on the matter, in the chapter entitled 'Won't He Choke?' is 'If the blockage is total, which is very rare, the baby is unable to cough and needs someone else to dislodge the lump for him (using standard first-aid measures).'
Goody. Standard first aid measures. Now I know exactly what to do. How many parents actually know how to dislodge something from a baby's airway? If I hadn't watched that video, I wouldn't have.
I don't think it would have been particularly difficult to include a chapter about how to tell the difference between gagging and choking, what to do, and when to call an ambulance. Also helpful would be something about what to do after the incident. This book is well-written enough that I'm now really reluctant to attempt any other way of feeding him, because the benefits of baby-led weaning are really well highlighted in the text. But I'm also rather scared to keep going. I followed all the safety procedures, he's showing all the signs of readiness, and up until this frightening moment, it had been going really well.
I'm going to hold off on solids till I feel a bit better about it. And I know it's okay to do this, because this book outlined really succinctly that at this point, he's more practicing than actually eating. So it's okay if he doesn't for a few weeks longer.
In conclusion, this book taught me a lot. I just wish it had bothered to teach me what to do in the worst-case scenario.
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56 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2011
I am a firm believer that BLW is the ideal way to introduce your baby to solid foods. And the information presented in the book is good. However, you can find all of the basics on BLW online, so the book really isn't necessary. We found BLW to be very intuitive, and so did not really need an "instruction manual". I also found the information in the book to be a bit repetitive. There is really only so much to say about BLW before you just start repeating yourself! However, for someone who knows nothing about BLW, this book would probably be great.

So it is an excellent concept, and one that I wish more parents would adapt. But the book is a bit unnecessary unless you are completely unfamiliar with BLW.
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2010
I had read online about the idea of introducing solid foods to one's baby by offering "real" foods, the same things the parents are eating, rather than spoon-feeding purees and cereals. We did and it was a fantastic experience (although our relatives were shocked to see our baby enjoying burritos and saag ponir (Indian food with spinach and cheese which she adored) with us!

I got the book later in the process, but so much of the information would have been helpful sooner -- from the quotes and stories from other parents, to the info about which foods actually CAN be choking hazards (like grapes that aren't cut), to the ideas about dealing with cleaning up, to issues like spicy food (our baby loved moderately spicy food and would just drink lots of water and then reach for more), to the theory and research about why it works (and why this approach is the norm in many cultures around the world).

I've recommended this book to so many of my friends with younger babies. While introducing solid food this way isn't "mainstream" (yet) in the U.S., it works so well, it's so much easier and faster, and it's fun! Thanks to the authors for making the "how to" information so accessible.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2013
There is nothing wrong with Baby-Led Weaning. The book has some good hints and ideas for feeding, in general. But it sets out to make you feel like you are WRONG if you spoon feed or use purees. Here are some examples:

-lots of assertions with little or no references sited to support them (readiness for food, enjoyment, outcomes of spoon feeding)
-the grey area of not being able to pinpoint exactly when a child is "ready." I'm sure all the mamas and papas agree that they can read their baby better than the author, a statistic, or even the pediatrician
-lots of assertions that are probably impossible to substantiate with research anyway ("Spoon feeding is simply not as much for babies as doing it themselves." How do you know? Did you ask the baby? Does this mean that if my baby smiles and enjoys the interactions we have when spoon feeding, he is faking? Or wishing he was doing it himself? Isn't it possible that I am letting him experiment with purees?)
-"BLW is easy! Feed your child anything you want - anything you and your family are eating! Except some kinds of dairy, nuts, things with salt or at all processed, cut them into certain pieces, steam/bake them to a specific consistency, make sure you have at least 4 options for baby at all times..."
-It's okay to pre-chew the food for your baby but not puree it?
-It's okay to let your baby feed themselves "dips" with their fingers....Can't I make a puree-like dip and let my child mush it into his face the same way? Can a spoon be considered a dipper?
-Seems pretty big on being cool with food-wasting. I know I'll be eating my words, but it kills me to see or think of putting a ton of food on a small child's plate with the idea that they are going to only eat a small portion of it. Or letting a toddler serve themselves. I don't see how this helps develop appetite control. I believe part of developing good eating habits is a concept of where our food comes from, the environmental impact of farm to plate, and the impact of food waste.
-Showing a picture or supplying a testimonial is not evidence.

Not to mention all the personal experiences I am having with my child and solids that the book just fails to acknowledge or address.

My conclusion:
It doesn't matter what or when I feed my child, since it's all wrong or perfectly ok to someone - you can't screw it up, it will all work out eventually, right??
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2014
As someone eager to learn about the practical implementation of Baby Led Weaning - I figured the "Essential Guide to introducing Solid Foods" as it is described would go into greater detail as to what foods you should serve, how to prepare them, sample menus, even a chart or grocery checklists of appropriate foods by your child's month or capabilities.

Instead, this book disappoints. You get a paper copy version of all of the information already available on the internet in various articles, forums and blog posts. This book is better titled as "If you are considering Baby Led Weaning, Here is some information to convince you" - but it lacks a lot of practical implementation advice.
In the 200+ page book, I only found 1 checklist on only two pages towards the middle of the book. They talk about types of foods in the middle chapter - but it would be so much more practical and useful to have a guide or a cheatsheet list of what to feed.

I do know there is a cookbook out there as well - by the same authors - but I fear that too will only encourage me to try BLW (well I have if I am buying a book) and run short on practical steps - how to cut food - lengths, shapes, sizes, tests for food "doneness" when steaming or baking. Guidelines on how to actually make the food so your baby can lead his or her own weaning.

Maybe I expected too much, but I thought that when I was buying a book on the topic, and it was entitled as the "Essential Guide" it would be more specific.

I am definitely trying BLW - and have already done so - I just wanted essential information this book couldn't offer me.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2011
I had never considered why purees were said to be the 'normal way' to start a baby on solids, nor did I consider that there were any other way. After just the first chapter, I knew Baby-led was the best, most natural choice to start our daughter on solid foods. After almost two months of spitting out the purees, turning her head to avoid the spoon full and all out crying when we put her in her high chair and the spoon came to her mouth, I finally decided to read this book that someone had loaned me. The first meal was a complete 180 in terms of intrest in food. Every meal thereafter has been happy, entertaining and filled with laughter as she tries all the wonderful flavors and textures in their true form. So glad I opened the book, so glad we tried it and I now tell every parent starting their baby on solids about it!!! So obviously natural, I can't believe I never thought of it!
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2011
My daughter is 5 months and I could see that she was ready to play with food (she sits up beautifully by herself and is constantly bringing everything and anything to her mouth). But I had been dreading the pureed food experience. While I had fed many babies this way when I was a babysitter... Now that it's my baby, something about it just seemed completely strange. I say this because I had already made up my mind that I wanted to introduce my daughter to real food, but didn't know how to go about it.

The book has been *FABULOUS* in helping me decide how to go about it. My daughter started playing with her food this week and it's been a pleasant, fun, and messy experience. (If something changes drastically, I'll be sure to update my review).

Yes, the book is repetitive. Yes, possibly to help parents defend themselves in their choices. I don't think of myself as a non-traditional mom, but apparently, this is a non-traditional theory and people just have a hard time understanding when you go against the norm. This book is not my "bible", but is sooo helpful in guiding me through what I think makes sense to begin with.

I read chapters 2 through 6 in one day (during my daughter's various naps). I think chapter 2 is the crux of "how to", but I enjoyed reading the other chapters as well.

One last note, I will ask my pediatrician regarding this book's claims to choking, but so far, everything the book says, it's true.
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