There is SO much I need to share with you about baby-led weaning (BLW), but today I am just going to start the basics. What is Baby-led weaning, how did I decide it was right for us and what are some of the benefits, but first…a disclaimer
I do not endorse Baby-Led Weaning for every family or every child. I believe this method is highly personal and is truly only fitting and beneficial for certain people. I’m not saying that I believe BLW is right and traditional purees are wrong, nor am I saying that BLW is better or worse, however there are definitely some benefits that are undeniable. If you tend to be a worrier, or a little more on the up-tight side, this may not be the method for you, as freaking out and trying to pry food out of your babies mouth at every feeding will take the fun out of it for everyone and removes virtually every benefit in the first place.
What is Baby-Led Weaning?
Baby-led weaning does not mean weaning in the way we understand it as Americans. The method originated in the UK where weaning simply means, the introduction of solids. You can use baby-led weaning and still enjoy a long, fulfilling breast-feeding relationship.
Simply put, BLW is feeding babies solids without the introduction of purees. Babies eat real, whole foods from the very beginning. I know that that sounds crazy and scary, but over the next few weeks I will share with you why you may be interested, how I have seen it benefit my son, and why I would choose it again and again
With baby-led weaning, there are absolutely no solids until 6 months of age. Including rice cereals and oatmeal. (The myth that solids will help baby sleep longer has been debunked anyway!) And at 6 month, the real fun begins. With BLW, babies feed themselves. You provide and array of tastes and textures and baby decides how much or how little of each he or she wants to try. If you have no history of allergies in your family, there is no need to introduce one food at a time. If you have waited until 6 months, babies’ digestive system is mature enough to handle anything and everything except for whole nuts and honey. (Until age 1) Beyond that, use common sense and NEVER EVER leave your baby alone with food. Next week I will share why I believe Baby-Led Weaning is safer that traditional feeding, and how I overcame the fear of choking.
Especially in the beginning, babies are really learning HOW to maneuver food in their mouths, how to use their tongue, how to get food to the back of their throat to swallow, and how much food fits in their mouths. There WILL be gagging. Gagging IS NOT choking, nor is it dangerous and it freaks us out a lot more than it bothers them. As long as your baby is still making noise, and seems unfazed, try to avoid interfering. Most of the time, they will gag as a way to bring food back to the front of their mouths so they can continue chewing or spit it out, but more on the infant gag-reflex and the protection measures God put in place for children next week. (After-all purees haven’t always been around, but babies, and their need for food has!).
How I decided Baby-Led Weaning was right for us
1) My husband and I tend to be very laid-back people, and I felt confident that we could make wise choices and be discerning about when to interfere and when to let our son figure it out.
2) My son is very independent, and his coordination is advanced.
3) I only have 1 child, so I knew I would have the time to sit with him through every meal without having to hurry him along or needing to get to another child.
4) I began to see the benefits for my son immediately and I saw how proud he was of himself and how much he was enjoying the food. I was sold.
And finally, I read A LOT about Baby-Led Weaning and it just made perfect sense to me. I don’t want to raise a picky eater, or a child fussy about not wanting to get dirty. This provided so many flavors, he knows what a carrot tastes like, not just an orange mush that MAYBE MIGHT have some carrot in it. He loves mangoes, peaches, strawberries, bananas, asparagus, broccoli, plums, bell-peppers, parsnips, zucchini, chicken, eggs, toast, yogurt…anything and everything. It also really supported his sensory development. This makes meal time, also play time, and learning time. My son is encouraged to squeeze his food. To feel it squish between his fingers. He feels slimy, squishy, firm, cold, soft, warm, and if gives me an opportunity to teach him about all of those textures.
Baby-Led Weaning is messy! This is how we clean up after, and having some “puppy vacuums” doesn’t hurt!
The benefits have seemed limitless. He now knows that HE is capable, that HE has control of how much or how little of what he wants. His fine motor skills are far beyond most kids his age. But the best thing of all, is the level of confidence it has helped to support. If the idea of Baby-Led Weaning is intriguing to you, I hope you will be back for the next several Sundays to continue reading. Get the baby-led weaning book, read other blogs, educate yourself and let the fun-feedings begin!
We’d love to hear from you! Have you ever tried BLW with your little one? Hoe did it work for you?
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