Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Baby Led Weaning

As I have said in previous posts, I am a researcher by nature. When I was pregnant with Destructo, I had already researched and decided that I was going to make all of little Destructo's baby food so that I knew exactly what went into his purees and how they were processed. I got the books Cooking for Baby: Wholesome, Homemade, Delicious Foods for 6 to 18 Months and also  Super Baby Food and read them.  They were both great books and I learned a lot from them.  But lo and behold while researching, I hit upon the concept of baby led weaning and my opinions shifted.

I decided after reading the  Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods - and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater that this was the method for me.  I still thought I would make some purees to supplement his diet before he was competent at eating.  Yeah that never happened.  As a working mom, I just didn't have the time.

Hmm this is different
The concept of baby led weaning is simple.  You give your child what you are eating as long as it is safe and not a complete choking hazard.   I started Kai with avocado slices. When starting out, you want the food to be steak fry shaped.  The baby won't be able to eat what is inside their fist (since they don't typically have a pincer grip figured out yet.)  They will eat what is outside their fist and then drop the rest.  He had trouble holding the slippery avocado, so I rolled it in rice cereal to give it more texture.
Very first time eating solids. 

After the avocado, I tried a number of different fruits and veggies.  Apples, pears, carrots, green beans, sugar snap peas, broccoli, bananas, and sweet potatoes were all some of the very early foods.  Once he had eating down, I started giving him more complicated things like meats, peas (to work on his pincer grip), Cheerios, etc.

An important part of baby led weaning to understand is that gagging is not the same as choking.  Gagging is baby's way of working a chunk of something that is too big to swallow out.  The theory behind baby led weaning (and that book listed above can explain it far better than I can) is that the baby won't be able to pick up the food, bring it to his mouth, work it with his tongue to the back of his mouth, and swallow it until he is able to chew.  Destructo gagged some in the early days, but was always able to get the food out of his throat/back of his mouth.  An infants gag reflex is actually closer to the front of their mouth than an adults as a safety mechanism against choking.

Before long, he wasbasically eating what we had for dinner (unless it was heavily processed or spicy.)  Baby led weaning is so convenient when you go out to eat because you can just feed baby off your plate.  No need to worry about having to spoon feed him purees.

Some tips for starting baby led weaning are:  1)  Start with soft fruits and veggies.  I steamed a lot of things such as carrots, apples, broccoli so he could have that right from the beginning. This will build the parents confidence that your precious snuggle butt isn't going to choke to death.

I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas
2)   Cut food into steak fry shape or large wedges.  You want some to stick out of baby's palm when they grasp it.

3)  Rolling squishy, slippery foods in baby cereal, crushed Cheerios, crushed Mum Mum's can help make them easier to grasp.

4)  I recommend leaving the skin on fruits to help baby grasp it.

5)  Never put food into the baby's mouth.  This can cause them to choke since the food might be further back than the baby's gag reflex.

6)  Invest in a million bibs and wash clothes.  Self feeding is a messy venture.

Mmm cherries and green beans.  (I did cut the cherries in half to avoid a choking hazard.) 

7)  Enjoy just being able to feed your baby off your plate and seeing all the cute faces baby makes as he or she tries new foods.  You will also enjoy all the compliments you get about how well your child can eat.  We nearly never go out to a restaurant without someone asking how old he is and then commenting on what a great eater he is and how well he handles eating all the foods he tries.

Thanksgiving.  He ate all of this food and more at 6 1/2 months with no gagging.

Ravioli face at 9 months.  He is working on pincer grip and was able to pick up some of the diced peas and carrots.

Guacamole is a favorite in our house. 
In the future, I will be working on a favorites post of feeding products, high chairs, etc I like so stay tuned.
 Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have about baby led weaning and I will try my best to answer them.

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  1. We did a combination of baby led weaning and purée. We started try to feed them. But it was a struggle. Then we realized if we just put the food in front of them they would gobble it down. They have been self feeding solid foods since 7 or 8 months. They are a year now and they eat everything!

    1. Yep while my son will let me spoon feed him yogurt or oatmeal now, at six months it wasn't happening. He would feed himself with a spoon, but refused to let it get anywhere near his mouth if I was holding it. Thankfully that wasn't really a problem since I was mainly doing baby led weaning with some baby cereals since his iron levels were low. I would just hand him a pre-loaded spoon and let him feed himself. Thanks for reading!

  2. My oldest was never into food - it took us awhile to get her to enjoy food and not just milk!

    Bella, however got 4 teeth at once every single time, so by 7 months she was eating, chewing, you name it! She is a great eater and it was much easier the 2nd time around, especially when we eat out!

    1. Wow four teeth at once. Destructo is 14 1/2 month and only has four teeth and two more just breaking the gums. I kind of wish he would get a whole bunch at once and lessen the teething pain duration. But I have to say the amber teething necklace has made a world of difference.

  3. Sounds reasonable. I first heard of this from a friend who had her son three days before my daughter was born and we were eating together when she started giving her boy food off her plate at 5 months. I was shocked, because she had initially been one of those 'breastfeed exclusively until at least 6 months people' - but I knew nothing about it at the time. Thanks for the overview - very informative.

    1. If you have any questions, just let me know. I have learned a lot of tips and tricks over the last nine months of BLW.

  4. Omw your baby is adorable!!

    Thanks for stopping by the blog hop! Following you back. :))

    If you ever need any custom blog design work done let me know! I'd love to work with you.

    1. Thanks I think he is a keeper. Once my blog pays for the domain name registration, I would like to get a custom design. I will let you know when that is. I am trying to do things slowly as I make little bits of money off the blog. Next stop is figuring out how to sell ads in the side bars. Blogging is such a learning experience.

  5. We're working on this right now! Jonas is 6.5 months and spoon feeding is not fun for either of us. He's getting to be very interested in picking up his foods so we're trying to get the dexterity of grabbing things down. Thanks for the tip on rolling in the cereal or crushed foods! He had banana today that kept slipping and I couldn't think of a way to fix it.

    1. Feel free to ask any questions you might have. Oh and definitely try pre-loaded spoons. This worked great when Kai was about that age. With bananas, you can also hand it to him with some of the peel on it. That way it has a "handle."

  6. I am starting over 7 years later and this is the one thing that has me totally freaked out. I couldn't remember for the life of me how to start feeding the kid. Thanks for the tips on baby led weaning!! Will definitely be researching more as we have about a month to go before this little guy is ready (though if he gets too close when we are eating he has tried to bite a hand or 2).


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