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Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods-and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater Paperback – October 5, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


STARRED REVIEW—"Nurse Rapley and freelance writer Murkett encourage parents to forgo the usual baby puree and move straight to whole foods while continuing to breastfeed primarily after a baby is six months old. Their arguments are scientifically sound, especially when it comes to muscle development in the mouth, and they address the anticipated counterarguments, e.g., the need for iron-fortified cereal at six months. Some parents will be concerned about their lax approach to the order of allowable foods and especially their lack of concern about nuts, but allergic warnings are given where necessary. If mine were little again, I would definitely try this. As long as mom is nursing, who says baby can’t eat lamb chops?"
Library Journal

“I’ve been telling mothers for years that when babies start grabbing food from the table, they are ready for solids. I had the pleasure of observing this with my own children. What I love about this book is the joy and zest the authors put into parenting, their commonsense approach, and their faith that babies will do the right things for themselves when the time is right. Baby-led weaning is easy, and it makes parenting fun!”
—Nikki Lee RN, MS, IBCLC

“Gill Rapley’s work is amazing and makes so much sense. I recommend this groundbreaking book to every new mother I know. Read it. It will forever change the way you think about feeding your baby.”
—Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC, clinical associate professor of pediatrics, Texas Tech University School of Medicine, and coauthor of Breastfeeding Made Simple

“The benefits are great”

“[Baby-led weaning] makes life so much easier.”
The Times

“It sounds like common sense: after all, would you want to be strapped into a high chair and force-fed spoon after spoon of bland vegetables? It's surely much more exciting to be able to exercise a bit of control over your diet.”
The Guardian

“I see many happy children, who chose their own food independently and eat at their own pace.”
—Stefan Kleintjes, pediatric dietitian

“Sharing food with Mirah has turned out to be one of the great joys of parenting. Watching her respond to the pleasures of ripe tomatoes, curried rice noodles, and all kinds of meats and vegetables has made mealtime a much more enjoyable experience for all three of us. We can tell she is learning through all of her senses about how various substances respond to being crumbled or dropped or mushed. She seems to really like that she is eating the same foods as we are, and since we are generally sharing the same meal, I am more likely to make us all something healthy.”
—Aimee Pohl,

“It’s been wonderful, and very funny, watching her discover food, her great concentration in navigating new textures and exploring new tastes… One of our favourite things about BLW is its emphasis on families eating together.”
—Nicola Kent, The Guardian

“You just hand them the food in a suitably-sized piece and if they like it they eat it and if they don't they won't… That's the essence of Baby Led Weaning. No purees, no ice cube trays, no food processor, no potato masher . . . just you and your child, eating food that you enjoy with you and your family . . . My baby is nearly seven months old and . . . ADORED feeding herself while her parents ate their own meals. I can't even begin to tell you how pleasant it is to eat in a restaurant with your Baby Led Weaning child chomping on a piece of bread and butter or a chunk of cucumber from your salad beside you.”
—Aitch, founder of

“The thing I really love about baby led weaning is that my son can actively participate in family meals . . . I love that I don’t have to cook 2 different meals, I simply have to adjust our family meal to ensure it’s suitable for him . . . We’re having a blast watching our little men truly learn to enjoy and appreciate food in all of its glory. And it’s SO much easier than purees!”

“As a child psychiatrist, I have worked on a team for children with feeding difficulties… One of the main things I would recommend to these families is giving the child control, and allowing them to have small successes to build on rather than pushing food on them and ending up in a battle . . . I believe strongly in baby led play (again, something I would teach at work) and baby led routines rather than routines being forced on babies to suit parents’ lifestyles (as suggested by at least one popular parenting book). So this intuitively makes sense to me.”
—Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist (

About the Author

Gill Rapley, a public health nurse for 20 years and the mother of three, originated the theory of baby-led weaning while pursuing her master’s degree. Tracey Murkett, a freelance writer and journalist, followed baby-led weaning with her daughter.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Experiment, The; Reprint edition (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 161519021X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1615190218
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (267 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

142 of 148 people found the following review helpful By Maria on January 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
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.
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142 of 152 people found the following review helpful By another newmama on March 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
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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135 of 156 people found the following review helpful By Bay Area Mom on November 14, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Vincent on January 29, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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.
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