In one sense, Baby Led Weaning (BLW) and responsive feeding are similar in that the baby is given most of the control in feeding, in terms of the pace and actual intake of foods at a meal. However, the difference begins in terms of the consistency/texture of the foods offered. BLW infants should have 90% of their food as finger foods, and begin solids after 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding (Refer to my previous post on Baby Lead Weaning [see How is Baby Led Weaning (BLW) Really Defined? for more details on BLW].
As research continues on the efficacy and safety of BLW as a feeding approach, it should be noted that this feeding method is different from the concept of “responsive feeding” advocated by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and World Health Organization (WHO). In all cases regardless if a baby is fed finger foods or purees, in responsive feeding parents are encouraged to support their children during feeding in a responsive manner. Examples of this are to be aware of and respond appropriately to an infant’s hunger and satiety cues, help children respond to internal cues of hunger and fullness, offering healthy foods and promoting healthy food habits, not using foods as a punishment or reward, and to avoid force-feeding. As such, responsive feeding is a broader overarching concept that should be integrated into all aspects of feeding, regardless of what a child is actually fed.
If you ask me, the jury is still out on Baby Lead Weaning as a feeding approach, but ALL parents should embrace the responsive feeding concept!