Baby Led Weaning. What is it exactly? This is probably something you have heard or asked yourself if you have an infant who is soon to transition to eating solids. BLW is a method of adding complementary new foods to a baby’s diet. According to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, it facilitates the development of age-appropriate oral motor control while learning the boundaries of their mouth and what they can handle. We understand it can be extremely overwhelming when trying to decide which approach will be best for you and your baby with so many different options available to you! Recently, BLW has become more popular among first-time parents when introducing solids to their children.
There are many benefits that come with BLW such as exploring tastes, textures and trying a display of new foods rather than just purees. This often leads to children becoming more adventurous eaters as they welcome toddlerhood. It also offers babies a very premature and significant lesson on learning how to stop eating when full. Since babies who are practicing BLW are self-feeders, it is harder for them to overfeed as they can when fed purees. This is said to be one of the key factors in preventing obesity and a healthier relationship with food later in life by Contemporary Pediatrics. We know every baby is different and each family will have a unique experience of their own when introducing solids to their littles! Here are a few tips below on how to get started if you choose Baby Led Weaning.
Start with Soft Foods
When preparing foods for your baby you will want to start off with things like ripe fruits, well-cooked pasta, cooked egg yolks, and moist, flakey fish. Foods that are high in calories with protein and all the healthy fats are recommended by most experts. Healthy Little Foodies shares some wonderful recipe ideas from snacks to special diet requests that all cater to BLW. Also, when preparing meals make sure to serve food that is easy for little hands to grasp such as long thing strips zucchini and soft avocado wedges! A crinkle cutter is a convenient tool to use when preparing meals. Be sure to stray away from food like grapes, popcorn, dried fruit, hot dogs etc. as these are a major choking hazard for little ones.
Yay! Your sweet baby has made it to the next big milestone. As exciting as it is when your child meets a new milestone, it is important to remember that each baby will grow and learn at their own speed. Even though you may start offering your six-month-old finger foods, they might not actually start eating the food you present until closer to eight or nine months of age. At this point, your baby is getting their main source of nutrients from breast milk or formula, so embrace the exploration and discovery that comes with BLW even if it feels slow and tedious at times.
Start When Your Baby Is Ready
It is important to make sure your baby is ready to transition to solids safely. The AAP states you should start your baby on solids between four and six months of age, but it truly depends on your baby. Your baby may be ready to transition to solids if they can hold their head upright, have lost the tongue-thrust reflex which pushes foreign objects out of their mouth, and if you seem to find them still showing hunger signs after a full day of milk portions. It is also important to remember a proper sitting position for your baby. A highchair that they can feel comfortable and sit upright in will make mealtime a more pleasant experience for all! Feeding Littles shares some of their favorite highchairs and useful information from the therapist, Judy Delaware!
Prepare Yourself for A Mess
Our tiny, sweet babies sure can make a mighty mess when it comes to mealtime! Be sure to prepare yourself for a big mess on your baby, the highchair, the floor, and maybe even the walls! There are a few things you can purchase to help ease the clean-up such as a long-sleeved bib, an easy-to-clean highchair or an under-the-highchair floor mat. Having a messy baby is part of the exploration process that comes with the Baby Led Weaning experience.
We would love to know if any of you have tried BLW and your experiences with it! No matter which method you choose to introduce new foods to your little one, a fed baby is a happy and healthy baby!