Friday, August 16, 2013

Baby Led Weaning: A How-To

As a first time parent of a very sensitive Little Man, I attempted a form of baby led weaning in addition to spoon feeding pureed solids when we began to feed solid foods.  I honestly believe it didn't work for a number of reasons, the first and foremost being that Little Man was just not really into it.  The second being that I was a nervous first time mom and unsure of my method.

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After almost two full long years of his issues with eating and unwillingness to touch his food or feed himself at times {and yes - I'm a speech pathologist, and we consistently work on it!}, I knew that things had to be different with Little Lady.  But moreover, I knew that Little Lady was different.

Where Little Man sits back and observes before he jumps into most situations, Little Lady is all about just doing.  She hasn't played around with her milestones.  It seems as if one day she just decides to do things, and then she does, and her eating solid foods has been the same way.  But with feeding this time - we're different, too.

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So what is Baby Led Weaning?

Well, the concept is quite simple.  The idea is, just like we do when she is breastfeeding, letting the baby decide how much they want to eat and at what pace.  Instead of us leading the relationship with food, baby led weaning promotes giving your child food and letting them eat as they please, giving them back the control.

Baby Led Weaning {BLW} is meant to accompany breastfeeding or bottle feeding - and follows the idea that any food before one year of age is only practice with either breastmilk or formula being the main source of nutrition to the baby.

Other than that, BLW involves no random mixes of fruits and veggies all food processed together, no spoon feeding, and no parent-directed feeding.

To be frank - it's a whole heck of a lot easier on all of us.  Instead of making tons of purees {which we still do for Little Man sometimes - especially like how he gets a smoothie each day}, you basically just sit your child down with food in front of them and they eat.  It doesn't involve teeny tiny chunks of food, either.  It's more along the lines of giving them almost stick-like servings they can grasp and "chew" on to prepare them to learn how to eat.

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So when is your baby ready for BLW?

Typically, a baby is ready when they're around or past 6 months old.  They need to be able to sit up unassisted, reach and hold different items {pincher grasp is excellent to have when starting BLW solids}, and show an interest in eating.  We began BLW with Little Lady right around 6 months, and she literally has eaten some massive portions of food since then on her own accord and loves every second of it.

We started with a few simpler items that may have been easier to "chew" at first because she was so close to six months, but our first foods for Little Lady consisted of avocado slices and a banana cut in half.  From there we progressed to practicing chewing on celery {mainly because we hit a bad bout of teething for her first two teeth at that point} and then onto a few things like beans, blueberries, pear, green beans, broccoli, etc.  From those items, we just started giving her a little bit of each meal we serve.  The other day, Little Lady ate tuna, which is something Little Man still scoffed at even as a two year old.

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This time around, I think there were two things that made the use of baby led weaning easier of a transition to solids on our family.  I do believe that Little Man is very particular, just like me, and has very strong opinions on what he eats.  {Which is just fine, don't get me wrong!}  But Little Lady is much more easy going about eating and excited to get to be up at the table with our family, and has just wanted to be involved in our time together as a family, doing what we're doing.  She hasn't minded getting her hands, face, or body dirty to eat and loves trying out each new taste and texture.  The second thing that I think helped us was that we're more comfortable.  After watching all of the YouTube videos, we were more prepared for baby led weaning.  We know what it looks like when a baby is having just a little gagging while they try to learn how to control their food {totally normal for blw} versus what is choking {and totally NOT normal for blw}.  Little Lady has had a few instances where she's gagged, and she learns not to let the food get back that far the next time.  It's really miraculous how quickly she is learning to eat so many different foods.

There are a few times we've done pouches {which tend to be a major no-no for blw}, but we're all about moderation in our family.  If Little Lady needs a little bit of prunes for - you know - the reason you'd need prunes, we'll give her a pouch or so.  And Little Man loves pouches like he just hit the lotto.  But for the majority of the time, Little Lady eats fresh foods prepared just before that meal in the amount she decides.

As a second time parent, I honestly wish we would have pushed harder with Little Man to adopt the principles of baby led weaning when he was much smaller, and think that it may have counteracted some of the sensory things he has going on with feeding and eating today.  But, you know.  You live, you learn, you get ... cloth diapers?

If we're lucky enough to have more children in the future, I will most certainly use baby led weaning when we begin solid foods again!

Did your child begin solid foods with baby led weaning?  Did you feed purees?  How did you find the process, and would you have done anything differently?

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  1. My LO is almost 11 months old and we've done a mix of chunky purees and BLW and it's been great. I can absolutely see going full BLW if we have a second, for ease and honestly it's alot more fun watching them work it out. The other day my little man was chomping on a whole peach which he'd then throw to the side to grab a handful of kale chips, it was hysterical to watch.

  2. So my LO is almost 6 months old (will be Sept 8) and showing lots of interest in food. We were planning to hold out on food until then but Saturday night at dinner we were having avocado and my husband decided to give him some. He loved it. We are totally on board with wanting to try BLW but I a few questions about it still and not sure where to look to get answers.

    The conventional method of introducing food says you should give baby only one new food for a few days to make sure they don't have any allergies. How does this work with BLW? Do you still only introduce a one new food every few days? At what point can they start having our dinner? Do we need to wait until they have tried all the ingredients separately? Lots of new mom questions, just trying to figure it all out!


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