Baby Led Weaning
Who here practices baby led weaning? For those of you who are not sure, the basic premise behind this method of transitioning to solids is letting baby start eating when they show certain indications that they are ready to try solids, such as reaching for foods on your plate. Baby's who transition to solids in this way rarely ever make the switch before six months of age. Many BLW practicing parents do not use spoons or any traditional baby food and some exclusively breastfeed for the entire first year. There is evidence to support the theory that children who are introduced solids at a later age are less likely to develop food allergies.
My children all began eating at different ages. My youngest, who is one now, first started to eat solids at seven months old with avocado.
Do you practice baby led weaning or do you introduce solids routinely at a specific age, using a spoon?
Do you use homemade baby food or buy prepackaged containers?
No judgement, just interested to see what everyone else does. =)
This is a great question and I hope that many moms will learn some helpful tips from this thread.
When my first baby was born, I asked a friend who was a mother of 5 children, when she introduced solids to her children. Her response was around 8 months of age. At that age the child usually showed signs of being interested in the food she was eating by reaching for her fork or for any food she had in her hand. She said she would start with just chewing a bite of food herself, then taking a small amount from her mouth and giving it to her child.
So that was the first bit of advice I received and I tried it. But with my first child, she simply wasn't interested in solids until she was about a year old. Even at 2 years of age, she didn't like meat. So she would chew on a piece of meat... and chew... and chew... until she had all the "juice" out and only the tougher part left. And then she would spit it out. She was the only one of my children that did this, even with meat balls.
My other children all showed interest earlier than a year - but usually around 8 months of age. My last child showed interested the earliest of all of them, and I think that was at 6 or 7 months of age.
I made a lot of my own baby food, and often I used a little hand grinder and just put whatever we were having for dinner in the grinder and fed baby at the table with us. (I'm into making life as simple and easy as possible when it comes to caring for my children.) But when I would actually make my own baby food (i.e. pureed sweet potatoes, winter squash, green beans, corn, peas, etc.) I would put the puree into ice cube trays and freeze that way. Once frozen I would pop them out into a "zipper" freezer bag and store them in the refrigerator. Easy and inexpensive.
I used baby food in jars only very rarely but mostly just mashed up banana, avocado and soft foods that were quick and easy to feed baby.
Thanks Kate! My children were also not all that fond of meat until much later, but we've also followed a vegetarian diet on and off so they have not been as exposed to it. Banana and avocado are definitely staples around here during the first year, they are so easy and healthy.
Really interesting to hear about everyone's weaning experiences.
My son is a baby-led weaned baby. I exclusively breast fed him for 6 months. Then, at 6 months old, I started putting a range of solid food out for him to try. We haven't spoon fed or used any purées. He eats what we eat as long as it does not have too much salt in it and it is safe (e.g. not nuts which could be a choking hazard). It's great for their general development too as baby's practise a pincer grip early on and learn to control the food in their mouth. But it does get very messy! I think he enjoys exploring foods of different textures. In terms of the size of food, it's recommended that the food extends about 2cm out of the grip of their hand so you can cut it into 3-4cm pieces. If you are interested in trying this method of weaning please feel free to ask any questions here and this baby-led weaning book by Gill Rapley is really excellent. The book is written by a health visitor who has researched different types of weaning in terms of child development.
ljmarden - the Baby Led Weaning looks like a good book. Thanks for posting that resource.
As babies turn into toddlers and preschoolers they enjoy participating in creating their own foods like little sandwiches. When their fine motor skills are developed enough, they can spread their own peanut butter or jam on bread, and when they're eating crunchy things like celery, you can put peanut butter in the middle of celery and they can add the raisins on top (ants on a log). Anytime children become part of the process they are much more likely to enjoy the foods you give them.
Can you think of any foods a toddler could help create?
My children love making their own food. They make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They also like putting noodles in the pot. I do not turn the heat on until after they have put it in. They also love cheese tacos, which are basically just tortillas with cheese sprinkled on them and then heated up. I let them make those sometimes.
Great idea to get toddlers involved in the food making process: what about homemade (healthy!) pizzas? - they could design their own pizza toppings. Or a salad with cheese, meat or fruit in it too.
I have a problem with BLW. I'm really concerned about how most learning curves for BLW would be among babies. I have a 7 month old and we started solid feeding when he was 6 months. We started by feeding him mashed stuff. I haven't stumbled with BLW not until after a week when we started solid feeding. It's been 3 weeks since we started but up till now he still doesn't really grasp his food well. It always ends up on the floor, all over him or anywhere else except his mouth. I am getting frustrated at times that I will feed him myself. He loves munching though and refuses to eat purees. At this point i'm not quite sure if im doing something wrong. Can someone enlighten me on this? Thanks in advance!
I'm going to let Laura-Jane give you some insight on this because she is using Baby Led Weaning with her son and she's got lots of good tips.
One thing I've learned from her is that the "Baby Led Weaning" mantra is "Food is for fun until they are one".
My first child mostly breast fed for the first year exclusively. She definitely wasn't interested in any meat, and she didn't show much interest in any other foods. She just wanted her breast milk, and that was all she truly needed.
With my other children I found that I just continued to breastfeed without thinking much about offering solids. It's just much easier when you're caring for more than one child. I've always got the food with me, at the right temp., and there's no preparation needed :)
Laura-Jane will give you some ideas of types of foods your son might like to try to pick up with his fingers and put in his mouth to munch on, but he truly may not be able to even grasp the food with his fingers until he's a little older.
For now I'd go back to just breastfeeding until you see him actually grab for food you're eating. One of my children grabbed a nectarine that was in my hand, and pulled it to her mouth while I was holding her. That was my cue that she was ready.
Here's a great video that might help you better understand how the Baby Led Weaning works :)
Please post back and let us know if this information was helpful in any way.
I see Kate has given you some useful info above :D
We used baby led weaning with my son, as did a lot of my friends, and I have to say it has been excellent for us. Have you got 'the book'?! It's called Baby Led Weaning and is by Gill Rapley and is an excellent resource if you are using BLW.
With BLW, it is important to remember that it is led by your baby so go at the pace of your baby. Many baby led weaned babies will not actually start swallowing the food until they are around 9 months old. This is totally fine, as the baby gets the majority of their nutrients (some studies say 90% or more) from the breast milk between 6 and 12 months of age. Your baby will be getting everything they need as long as you continue to breastfeed them when they 'ask' for it.
With BLW it it best to only offer the baby solid foods when they are not hungry e.g. 1 hour after breastfeeding. This is because, as this age, a baby will not associate hunger with eating and will just get frustrated by exploring the solid food whilst they are hungry.
You say it is 3 weeks since you started - this is really not long at all in the BLW world and many babies would not show any 'progress' with eating in this time. I would say this is especially true in your case because you started off spoon feeding and your baby has had to adapt from this. I think you are doing a great job so my advice would be to carry on and try not to worry about what your baby is actually eating. Kate is right - 'food is for fun until they are one'! Let them explore the food and don't be tempted to try and help your baby by putting the food in their mouth or mashing it - with BLW it is best to let the baby play and eat at their own rate.
So, make sure your baby is not hungry or tired before you offer them solid food. Try and include them at all the family meal times; this way your baby can copy how you eat. Offer them plenty of food and a good variety of food. It is important that the food extends around 2 inches beyond the baby's grip and is in big enough chunks for them to hold onto. You can try: steamed broccoli, cucumber chunks, steamed chicken, tomatoes, avocado, bananas.... the list is endless! Just keep an eye on the salt content and natural foods are much better than processed food. Nuts or fruit with stones or very hard food are not recommended.
Please do let me know if this has answered your question or if you have any further questions.
Enjoy baby led weaning - it's great fun!
Wonderful, helpful insight from LJ :)
Would love to hear how things are going. Did you try doing anything differently this past week? How is your stress level with regards to feeding