How I Adapted Baby Led Weaning
Introducing food to your babe can be nothing short over overwhelming (read my process here!). For those of you looking at Baby Led Weaning, remember that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, you can adapt just like I did.
If you’re a current mama or a mama to be, chances are you have heard of Baby Lead Weaning (BLW for short)! It’s all the rage at the moment as the best way to feed your babes – which is funny in itself because it’s the way people used to feed their babes way back when. Which makes me re-iterate that everything from the olden days comes back in style.
What Is Baby Led Weaning?
It revolves around the practice of allowing babes to feed themselves instead of blending and spoon feeding them. So instead of making air plane noises and convincing your wee one to take another bite, you simply place larger chunks of food in front of your babe and allow them to eat what they like at the pace they like (see baby bear below with a hunk of chicken at five months old).
What Are The Benefits Of Baby Led Weaning?
While there are more benefits than I care to list, some of the major ones include the following:
From an early age baby has control over what they eat and how much
Baby learns about colors, textures and taste association
Baby learns about gag reflux and coughing
Baby learns about fullness
Makes eating away from home oh so simple
What Are Some Of The Drawbacks Of BLW?
As with anything, there are things some people may not like about the process:
You waste a bit of food because much of it is thrown onto the floor as babe plays and learns
There is a huge mess to clean after most feedings
It’s difficult to be patient through coughing when you think your babe is struggling
You have to be patient waiting for your babe to show signs of interest in food – no forcing
As with any parenting style everyone is going to have an opinion or an experience with baby led weaning. Many of which come out as: the pieces are too big for babies to get down, your baby will choke, your baby won’t eat etc. So very briefly I am going to touch on these topics but overall that’s not really what this blog is about.
Below Are The Common Myths & Fears Associated With BLW
Pieces are too big
Yes, you do give them big pieces they can either suck on (hunks of meat , large pieces of fruit etc) or chop into smaller pieces that they can gum and get down. These will be times that they shove the whole thing in their mouth and you freak out trust them. Babies have to learn what they can and can’t do also.
Your babe will choke
Choking and gagging are two different things. This is a pretty hard lesson. I know. We definitely had moments where w resorted to back blows out of fear when they weren’t necessary. Your baby will get food stuck or put too much in their mouth. They will cough and sputter but most of the time they dislodge it themselves and then learn from you. Obviously, you should be with your children as they eat but while this method is scary at first, you do get used to it and your babe learns from it.
Your babe won’t eat as much as he should
Believe it or not, babies won’t actively starve themselves. But when they are just starting out with food, often they won’t eat as much as you think they should. Which is why you should still be giving them their nutrition and calories from milk (breast/formula/regular etc). Once they realize that the “stuff” in front of them fills their tummies it’s a bit easier. But until then, be patient. And after then, remember that they know their bodies best. Sometimes, just like us, we have days where we’re less hungry than others and that’s okay.
For a more detailed look at Baby lead Weaning, check out the below book.
Now, back to the point: Baby Bear & Baby Lead Weaning
I wanted to do BLW so badly. But part of the process is being patient and waiting until your babe shows interest in food. And patient I was not.
I gave Baby Bear her first taste of food at four months old. It was homemade chicken broth and she LOVED IT. Actually we had to then after give her a bottle before the broth or she wouldn’t take the bottle. After the broth, I gradually introduced vegetables by spoon.
Baby bear had issues with milk from the get-go but once she started tasting food the thrived. So for four weeks I blended some food in addition to her milk. After which I just started mashing it so there were chunks.
At five months baby bear finally showed some interest and grabbed a blueberry almond pancake off my plate and mashed it into her mouth. We got a video of it actually and it was priceless (blueberries in a white onesie of course!).
From that day on I took out all mashed foods and started BLW. She ate whatever I was eating in chunks.. and she loved it. She was happier, growing more and the doctor was commenting on how good she looked (keep in mind I’m a wee bit particular about food choices!).
So it worked for us.
The best parts about allowing her to feed herself were:
I was able to eat my meal in peace. It’s much easier to give her a plate and let her do her thing while I eat. With spoon feeding your food gets cold while the babe eats theirs
Taking her out for dinner to restaurants or friends houses was a breeze. Because she would just eat off my place, I didn’t have to cart anything around to feed her. It made life easy.
Watching her eat was honestly so rewarding because she was so excited! She loves being able to do things herself and I love that she has control. She tells me that she’s done by handing me her plate and I love it.
By the books, we didn’t do traditional BLW as I did spoon feed for about six weeks. But for us it worked. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be one way or another. You can mix theories and do what works best for your babe and your family. #fedisbest so don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t go according to plan.
Looking for more tips on food and babies? Check out The Top 3 Foods Every Toddler Should Eat as well as A Day In The Life Of My Daughters Food Intake.