This is a guest post on Baby Led Weaning by ChocOrangeCityMum from http://chocorangecitymum.blogspot.com/ – Thanks hon x
This is a guest post on Baby Led Weaning by Lizz from http://easyweaning.blogspot.com/ or you can also find her on twitter @easyweaning – Thank you so much for your time Lizz x
What is baby led weaning?
Baby Led Weaning really is the easy way to wean your baby. As long as you eat a healthy diet then just give your baby what you eat. No need for pureeing, mashing, jars or even
cutlery. Breast fed babies and bottle fed babies can do it. The only essential item is a big bib!
I first got into blw when a friend mentioned it and I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. Then she lent me the Gill Rapley book ‘Baby Led Weaning’ and I fell in love with blw.
I went the traditional route with my first daughter and have to admit I didn’t enjoy it. It was far too much hassle. I breastfed both my daughters for a couple of reasons, obviously for the health reasons for both mother and baby, but my main reasons are it’s free and so convenient. No steriliser, no bottles, no teats and no organisation, so for me, not the most organised person, it was a bit of a no-brainer.
Yes, blw does involve gagging, but not choking. There is a very big difference. When a
baby gags they will bring the food back up and generally spit it out. Then they’ll move onto the next piece of food. The gag reflex on a baby is further forward in the mouth and gradually moves back as the baby gets older. When an adult gags, the offending item is right at the back of the throat so when we see a baby gag we assume the same. Normally the food item will be further forward and easily spat out. Though when weaning any baby, safety must be adhered to. Cut foods such as grapes, cherry tomatoes and olives in halve and squash beans, peas and chick peas etc.
Having been able to compare two types of weaning, traditional and baby led, I can
honestly say blw wins hands down for me. If I’m out and about and hungry, I’ll choose a
healthy meal so my daughter can share it. She can eat with the rest of us and enjoy the
whole experience of eating together as a family.
If she eats all her food I just give her some more of mine, or as has happened before, I just go round picking the best bits of everyone else’s plates and give this to her!
I would say blw is a newish concept but this is what we did before blenders were invented so it really isn’t new. And if I have anymore babies (wink wink at my husband!) I’ll definitely do it this way again.
When I had my son back in 1987 baby-led weaning wasn’t heard of, neither were the 6-month weaning guidelines either for that matter. So when he got to 4 months off we went to get some baby rice to start weaning him. To be fair he did quite like food (he still does now though) and weaning wasn’t too bad. He was soon onto jars of food (making your own purees wasn’t really done back then). Lumpy food was next on the menu and I remember giving him these awful powdered meals but he would take great delight in using his hands so I suppose was doing his own version of BLW without me even knowing. It was a similar story when I had my daughter in 1990 – still no mention of BLW. The only difference this time was that I got a very fussy eater.
Move on 16 years and I came to have another baby girl. I was spending quite a bit of time on baby forums and one in particular (www.hitched.co.uk) there was lots of chat about BLW. So I found out a bit about it and thought I would much prefer that way of weaning her. So when she was 6 months I offered her a baby rice cake and some cooked veg. She seemed ok but I wasn’t very confident with BLW so I did give her some freshly made purees as well, going very slowly and only giving her one flavour at a time. She too is now a very fussy eater and I wonder if it’s because I didn’t keep up with the BLW or not offering her a bigger variety of foods that has caused this fussiness. Hopefully as she gets older her taste for different things will improve.
In 2009 I had another baby girl and this time I knew all about BLW (plus heaps more thanks to my wonderful Hitchers). I bought Gill Rapley’s book Baby-Led Weaning Helping Your Baby To Love Good Food and the process sounded so simple but I also loved the fact that my baby was in control of what she ate. She was doing that already when she was breastfeeding so why not carry it on with food?
By about 5 months she started taking an interest in what we were eating, watching us, following the food to our mouths etc. Then one day she was sat on my lap and I was eating a sandwich. She reached out for it, grabbed the crust and rammed it into her mouth. I guess she was ready for food. She was 2 weeks away from being 6 months so I took her lead and let her have some food. She sat in her Bumbo and I put a few bits of cooked veg, rice cake and fruit on her tray. She was very selective and picked each piece up, tasted it then dropped it. I realised she was getting used to different flavours and textures so left her to it. After a few days like this she eventually bit pieces off the food, played with it in her mouth then out it fell. This went on for another week or two until I was changing her nappy one-day when I noticed bits of food. She was finally eating some of the food. I knew there was no rush and her breastmilk was providing all her calories and nutrients. This was the experimenting with food stage of BLW. From then on she didn’t look back and was happily eating anything we gave her, from rice cakes and cooked veg to large pieces of steak & whole apples. While out having a family meal one day she spent about 30 minutes gumming a corn on the cob, much to the amusement of the other diners. BLW has made our lives so much easier. No worrying about taking food with us when we go out because I know she will eat what we are having. I haven’t had to spend hours pureeing, then freezing, defrosting and re-heating vegetables and other foods. She simply has the same as us or if that’s really not suitable i.e. too hot a curry then she has the same as her sister.
BLW has been a fun exciting and very easy way of weaning my little girl plus it has the benefits of letting her be in control and helping to prevent childhood obesity. I would recommend it to any mum and I do at every opportunity I get. 🙂
This is a guest post from the lovely Kylie :O) Thank you so much for sharing your weaning experiences with us Kylie & of course the gorgeous little Joseph x
|Joseph’s first ever meal!|
|Joseph at 15 months|
Hi it’s Dawnie Brown here from Knees Up Mother Brown, my sister has asked me to do a guest post on our experiences of Baby Led Weaning for her blog so here goes 🙂
I’m certainly no expert when it comes to babies, after all Zara was my first one and so when it came to thinking about weaning her it seemed that there were such a large variety of opinions out there it was impossible not to get completely confused.
Now I’m someone who likes to keep things simple and where possible go with the flow but I also like to thoroughly investigate all the options before I start on something and so when Zara was around 4 months old I started looking into the minefield that is baby weaning. Government guidelines are of course that you should wait until your baby is 6 months old before weaning and I wanted to wait as long as possible before starting despite well meaning advice from anyone within hearing distance. After all “babies only start sleeping through when you fill them up with baby rice at 3 months old” don’t they? Nope, that’s a load of nonsense, Zara has slept through since she was 6 weeks old and we only ever really got disturbed nights when she was teething or having a growth spurt and so the need to wean her early in order for a nights sleep wasn’t necessary.
Being a member of various parenting forums, one thing that did keep cropping up in relation to weaning was Baby Led Weaning and me being me had to investigate. Baby led weaning (or BLW as I shall call it from now on in this post to save my fingers) basically goes by the concept that if you wait until your baby is 6 months old to start weaning, then you don’t need to bother with purees and mushy stuff as they are old enough to start straight onto solid food. And that is basically it, wait until 6 months, start giving solid food and let the baby decide when it is ready to eat and how much it wants to eat. No mush, no purees, no spoon feeding, no force feeding, just put baby in highchair, give them some food and let them explore it. Sounds simple eh? The most commonly recommended book on the subject is “Baby Led Weaning” by Gill Rapley, although this is more of a theory behind it and guide rather than an actual “how to” book. If you are wanting a book which tells you that at 6 months, offer x food and in week 2 offer x, y and z food then you won’t find one as this isn’t what BLW is about.
So how do you start BLW? Well that’s pretty easy, from when Zara was about 5 months old we started sitting her in her highchair whilst we ate our meals and we’d give her some plastic cutlery to play with etc just to get her used to the idea of sitting down, watching us eating, conversations etc. Mealtimes are more of a social interaction initially for BLW than food focussed. Zara was about 5 and a half months when she started showing an interest in what was on our plates and so I started popping little bits on her tray, a floret of broccoli or a piece of carrot are always good starting foods. At first all she did was play with them, maybe throw them on the floor, maybe lick it but after a week or so she became more courageous and started putting them in her mouth. Now I will admit that the first time you watch your baby put something in their mouth, you will hold your breath and tense up, I reckon it’s impossible not too but try your hardest not to react and just carry on eating. The theory is that by 6 months old your baby is perfectly capable of managing to eat and if you sit back and let them, they will show you just how well they manage.
There will be gagging initially. Now many parents panic at this and this is probably the reason that most attempts at BLW fail as baby starts coughing and the parent incorrectly assumes their child is choking. The gag reflex is far forward in a babies mouth at this age and it is designed this way so that babies will automatically gag and bring forward any un-chewed food back to the front of their mouths. So yes you will find your baby gags quite a bit initially as it learns to chew food but you really shouldn’t step in unless the baby is clearly choking and struggling. I’d say 9 times out of 10 parents over-react to gagging when it really isn’t necessary. My rule was stay calm and sit still and wait, if baby is still coughing then they are still breathing and the airway is not blocked and they are not choking. If baby is physically distressed or struggling to breathe then is the time to step in, although this never happened once with Zara, we had plenty of gagging in the initial weeks but never once did I have to intervene.
Once started on the BLW route is really is simple from then on, you just keep giving bits of food and let the baby decide when and how much they want to eat, no pressure. You just keep giving them their bottles of milk as normal and eventually in their own time baby will drop the milk and eat more food. It may take a few months before baby is eating substantial amounts of food, with Zara she was probably around 8 months when she really started properly eating decent portions of food but now at 13 months old she eats 3 full meals a day, plus snacks and only has milk first thing in the morning and last thing at night. We will be dropping these bottles shortly as she isn’t really interested in them that much anymore.
Will I be doing BLW again with this next baby? Most definitely, it has been so much fun doing it with Zara, I wouldn’t hesitate to go down the BLW route again. Zara will happily eat anything we give her nowadays (including curry etc, we introduced her to garlic, chilli, ginger etc from an early age and so she much prefers stronger tasting food than any of that bland baby mush!) and mealtimes are a pleasure. Instead of spending mealtimes feeding our baby we spend them interacting and conversing with her and rarely a mealtime goes by without us all laughing and giggling together. Even eating out is simple as there is no messy baby food to prepare, we just give her bits of what we are having.
If you decide to go down the BLW route yourself and ever want a bit of support/advice then feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can find me on twitter @dawnie_brown I’m no expert on the subject but sometimes it’s nice just to talk to someone who has been there and done that!