Skip the Mush: An Introduction to Baby-Led Weaning

I always had this idea that one day I’d be pureeing foods for my baby, I never gave it another thought, that is just the way it is, right? But then I learned that cereal is not the right type of food to start baby on. It is nothing but processed food and processed foods are not good for anyone, period. So while researching this I came across Baby Led Weaning. Here I have put together a Q&A on BLW for you.
Here is my little man at 7 months eating whole blackberries. Unfortunately I don’t have many
pictures of him eating. I was too vigilant to worry about the camera!
What is BLW?
Simply put, BLW means to skip all purees and mushy foods and let baby feed himself solids. It puts an emphasis on exploring textures and tastes and letting baby set the pace for what and how much he eats at each meal, using baby’s desire to explore, play and discovery as well as to mimic the actions of the adults around him because at this age they are motivated by curiosity and not hunger.
What is a good age to start BLW?
The recommendations is 6 months of age. Some parents decide on it earlier or later until baby shows signs of readiness. According to the World Health Organization there is no need to introduce solids before 6 months of age and to exclusively breastfeed for those first 6 month. Please consult with your doctor first.
What are the signs of rediness?
It is very important not to start baby on solids until he shows developmental signs of being able to cope with food. Baby should be able to sit upright with little or no support. You can use a high chair or a Bumbo or the adults lap. Baby seems eager to try food by either imitating chewing or trying to reach for food and bringing it to his mouth.
Won’t baby choke?
A 6 months old eating steamed broccoli.
source: www.babyledweaning.com
This is a valid concern for any parent. However, babies who are in control of what they eat are at less risk of choking as opposed to spoon fed babies. This is because they are not yet capable of swallowing until they learn to chew and they learn to chew by first moving food around their mouths. Spoon feeding, by contrast, encourages the baby to suck the food straight to the back of his mouth, potentially making choking more likely.
What if baby is not getting enough in to ensure nutrition?
At this age meal time is play and exploration. Babies are getting the bulk of their nutrition via breast milk or formula. BLW does in fact encourages babies to be more adventurous with textures and tastes. It is important to follow baby’s cues since this is a “baby-led” approach you don’t want to override his ability to regulate his food intake by constantly trying to feed baby. This means no more “airplane” or bargaining “one more bite.”
Baby has no teeth/only a couple of teeth, how can he effectively chew?
You’d be surprise at the power those little gums have! At first there is little food intake and once they move onto the chewing phase and then to swallowing just by gumming the food is enough and by the time they are actively chewing and ingesting they most likely have at least a couple teeth which is enough.
Do I have to cook or prepare foods separately or in a special way for baby?
 No! That’s the beauty of it. Given of course you cook healthy meals for the adults and older kids in your family. Baby eats what you eat, no more cooking for baby. No steaming and pureeing. If you are not yet in the habit of eating and cooking healthy whole foods, this will definitely give you that extra push you need. My recommendations would be to cook without salt and sugar, they are not healthy for you much less for baby. Cook with coconut oil or organic butter instead of vegetable oils.
How do I ensure safety while letting baby feed himself?
 As I already mentioned, baby is in control and is less likely to choke. But please don’t leave baby unattended. Serve foods in a “steak fry” shape or food with a “handle”. And don’t forget to make sure baby is sitting up right.
What are some foods I can start with?
Nothing is really off limits, that said, some foods just work best. Here are some examples.
  • Avocados. They are a super food, mono saturated fats, vitamins and minerals.
  • Bananas. An electrolyte dream, full or calcium, potassium easy to digest.
  • Sweet potatoes. Low in sodium high in vitamin B6 and potassium.
  • Pears. The least acidic of fruits, high in vitamin C and K.
But you can let baby experiment with anything. Just make sure that foods are cooked somewhat soft yet hard enough for him to grab and handle.
A 6 months old eating a whole pear
Source: borstvoeding.com
What can I expect?
A big mess! Most of the food will end up all over him and the floor (dogs come in handy for clean up.) It is important to mention gaging as well. Gaging is normal and it doesn’t mean baby is chocking. Let me say that again, gaging does not mean chocking. Gaging is the natural reflex of clearing their throats when they can’t handle a particular size or texture. Please don’t panic, and trust your baby.
Is BLW right for my baby and my family?
Only you can decide. It worked for my son and my family’s life style. It is a very laid back approach. I enjoyed letting my son learn on his own. It promotes motor skills development, hand eye coordination and pincer grasp. Plus, I was so glad not to invest of a baby food maker, freezer strays and storage containers and meals times where a family affair.
Can you recommend some resources on BLW?
BLW came to be after the work and studies done by Gill Rapley, a former health visitor and midwife. Her book is the “bible” of BLW. Here are some recommendation for you.
  • Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods. By Gill Rapley
  • Baby-Led Weaning: 130 Recipes That Will Help Your Baby Learn to Eat Solid foods. By Gill Rapley.
  • http://www.babyledweaning.com/
  • Message boards for moms can be a great resource as well.
  • You can search on Youtube as well, but take the information there with grain of salt.
I’d love to hear about your experience with BLW or if you had never heard of it before, what did you think? Please leave a comment below!
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Please consult with your pediatrician before deciding to start baby on solids, particularly if your baby was born prematurely.

This post was proudly shared at: Natural Linving Link-Up, Show Off Friday, Simply Natural Saturdays, Show and Tell Saturdays, Best in Blog, Market Yourself Monday, Mommy Blog Monday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Wandering Wednesday, Mom’s Library

 


   
About Stephanie

Stephanie is a stay-at-home mom to her curly-haired two year old son, a nursing student, dog lover, and yoga enthusiast. She loves to share her tips on making green and healthy living attainable to families getting
started in the wonderful world of eco-consciousness. She believes in
real food and living as natural as possible…and why not, leaving behind a
better planet for our children.

Comments

  1. This makes so much sense!! I finally figured this out with #5 without knowing what it was. I tried to feed her cereal and she was just not having it so she just ate whatever we ate and still does at 11 months old with no teeth!

  2. Some of my friends did that and it was amazing what their babies could eat! I was just too chicken. I could have saved myself so much trouble! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Funny it took me three kids to get it.

    I noticed you said pear…and then said cooked. Did you steam the pear? That’s where I’m stuck. And, we eat healthy, but not everything can be cut into steak fry shapes, so I’m not sure what do there.

    (#2 hated cereal, thankfully).

    I need to cook some sweet potatoes for her to gobble up!

    And, the teeth thing, I hate when people argue with me. #1 had one tooth at a year and ate almost everything. Put your finger in there..those jaws are super strong…they can eat just fine!

  4. If the pear is soft enough no need to steam, I used to steam (very lightly) harder fruits like apples. You just want a soft texture so they can gum it without being too mushy since they can’t open their fist and get what it’s inside their fist.

    No need to cut everything into steak fry shape, fish is very good and I would just give him chunks and he would pick up with with his fingers.

    Sweet potatoes are still a big hit with him. I found berries to be very good for BLW, too, I would halve blackberries, rasperries, and blueberries, perfect for little finger and they would “melt” easily in his mouth.

    Just let her try anything you have on your plate (use your judgement) even if it’s something she can’t really pick up and eat (e.g rice) but at least she is exploring and trying!

  5. Lots of great information here!
    Thanks for linking up
    x

  6. Thanks for these! My Son is 7 months and just started to have an interest in food. I tried purees (homemade), but he didn’t seem to like it and would gag a lot. Letting him feed himself has been a lot more pleasant. Great info! Thanks for sharing at Mom’s Library!

  7. I never really thought about it like this but it make so much sense. I am especially glad you mentioned the gagging cause I probably would of panicked. Thanks for all these great tips.

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