7 Lessons I Learned From Baby Led Weaning
I was extremely excited to implement Baby Led Weaning (BLW) with Baby bear. Unfortunately, I'm not quite as patient as I thought I was and had to adapt the process a bit (read about that here!). However, once we really got into it, BLW was a perfect fit for our family.
BLW is essentially the process of allowing the baby to feed themselves larger chunks of food versus spoon feeding them. Babies should already be showing an interest in food and the foods should never be forced. Everything is literally, in the babes hands.
While this process isn't for everyone, it worked extremely well with our family. Below are 7 lessons (and perks!) I experiences with baby led weaning.
Lesson #1 Babies Have a Gag Reflux & Learn (quickly!) How To Use It
This is probably what scares most parents with BLW as your baby chokes (they don't really but the first few times it seems that way!). however, this is just your babe learning to recognize their gag reflux and how much food they can handle at once. I'm not going to lie, it's scary. Your immediate reaction is to implement back blows right away but if you give them a moment your babe will cough it up and spit it out. This freaked out more than a few family members over the months of Baby Bear learning to eat. You really and truly have to trust in your babe and pay close attention.
Lesson #2 Babies Eat A More Varied Diet With BLW
There's something about giving the baby the choice versus forcing them to do something that makes babies keep an open mind. Because Baby bear as allowed to chose her foods (from the four or so I put on her plate) she tried everything. Some days she'd be put off a particular texture but the next day she'd try it again and like it. Remember, babies are naturally curious so BLW plays into their curiosity and they learn more.
Lesson #3 Babies Love To Play With Food
I'm sure you all could have guessed this one (HA!) but since you've giving your babe chunks of food every piece has a different texture or color. This means that meal time is also playtime and a lot of sensory learning goes on! With spoon feeding everything is the same: mush. But with BLW everything is different and thus your babe learns while they eat
Lesson #4 BLW Helps Babes Understand Food More
I found with Baby Bear that she learned so much more about food with BLW because it wasn't all the same. Because she knew what a tomato felt like, tasted like and looked like she would eat it. But if I blended that tomato with something else she wouldn't touch it. She insisted (and still does) on knowing exactly what is going into her mouth. Personally, I think this is a great trait and it helps babes develop their tastes more quickly.
Lesson #5 You Can Eat Easily Outside The Box
When I was first pregnant I was a little fearful for the food stage. The thought of bringing a baby into a restaurant (probably crying), unpacking all her food and feeding her while simultaneously trying to eat my meal and maybe perhaps enjoy myself as overwhelming. I know most people will go with “get a sitter when you want to go out” but sometimes it wasn't always practical and I wanted to be able to take Baby Bear with me! Or if we were out already, stopping to grab something quick was easier. Don't even get me started about in laws, friends houses and every other place we end up!
Regardless, BLW made this simple. Taking Baby Bear out to eat as a breeze because it was all new food she could play with, touch and learn about! Instead of ordering from the kids menu (why do all kids menus only consist of white pasta with sauce, chicken fingers and pizza?!) she just ate whatever I ordered. Needless to say, Baby Bear is no stranger to curries, quinoa salad or other chicken dishes. It made taking her out enjoyable because she was calm, entertained and I didn't have to feed her.
Lesson #6 Babies Can Handel Flavor… And They Like It
I think I had a lot of food fears with kids! In my mind kids only wanted low nutrition, bland food because, well they're kids! I found with BLW that that idea is completely false. When we puree foods we naturally keep them pretty bland. We also have a tendency to keep our meals bland if the baby is eating them (not as much spice in the spaghetti sauce etc). When your baby is eating everything off of your plate they're able to experience a lot more flavors. Instead of ingesting pureed FOODS Baby Bear ate actual MEALS. This (in my opinion) is why my daughter is no stranger to flavor. She loves spicy dishes (to an extent), she can eat a dish so full of garlic a vampire would die and she'll consume anything to do with intense lemon. BLW helped her taste buds develop simply by experiencing a bigger palate range. In my hopefully eye, this will make her less picky later on (hopefully!!).
Lesson #7 Babies Are Less Picky If You use BLW
This is just a personal observation as I've had a handful of friends try BLW and many others stick with traditional spoon feeding. In our groups of friend though I've noticed that those who used BLW are now less picky eaters as toddlers. I think this comes back to understanding food in general. If you initially learn that everything should taste roughly the same and be the same texture then it throws you off when you're expected to eat meals with spices, flavor or herbs. While Baby Bear has her favorites, for the most part she's still not a picky eater and hopefully she stays that way!
Don't Forget To Pin These Baby Led Weaning Lessons
Like I said previously, Baby Led Weaning isn't for everyone. For our family it definitely worked and made the transition into solids not only easier but fun. Watching your baby learn about food and their body is amazing and Baby bear definitely provided us with a lot of laughs. I learned a lot about Baby led Weaning and food in general just from introducing it to my daughter. If you haven't tried Baby Led Weaning but are curious, give it a shot!
Have you ever tried BLW? What was your experience like?