The Difference Between Traditional Purées VS Baby-Led Weaning

Understanding the two approaches to introducing solids to your baby and how to decide which option – or whether a mixture of both – is best for your whānau.



Traditional weaning is when a baby is gradually introduced to solid food in purée form through spoon-feeding. Essentially, a purée is when food has been cooked and then blended into the consistency of a liquid or paste. As the baby gets older and used to eating solid food, the purée offered will be thicker or chunkier in consistency, more like a mash, before shifting to finger foods.

The current advice from the Ministry of Health (MOH) is to offer your baby puréed foods on a spoon from six months. Then, from around seven or eight months, you can give your baby finger foods when they are able to pick them up, bring them to their mouth, and chew them.

  • Purée is regarded as a safe first food texture for babies.
  • Homemade purée is highly likely to be highly nutrient-dense.
  • The parent or caregiver feeding the baby will know how much food their baby has consumed.
  • It is easy to provide the baby with iron-rich purées (a key nutrient for babies from six months old).

Baby-led weaning is when a baby is introduced to solid food in finger food form from the outset. Instead of spoon-feeding purée meals that are introduced one at a time like traditional weaning, babies doing BLW are given suitably-sized food that their family is eating to self-feed.

Note: At present there is limited scientific research about the safety and benefits of baby-led weaning. The MOH is currently unable to recommend baby-led weaning until they have reviewed the evidence from the research that is currently being undertaken.

  • Offers a more sensorial experience of touching and tasting the food.
  • Supporters suggest that it provides more opportunity for motor skill development.
  • Proponents of BLW suggest babies have better appetite control as they are able to self-feed.
  • Allows a baby to learn to chew their food and then swallow.
  • Promotes eating meals as a family.