Baby Led Weaning Basics

By Ashton @Ashwiththetwins

Baby-led weaning has become a popular way to introduce solids to your baby. While it can be nerve wrecking for parents, the benefits are amazing for your baby. My twins have taken to BLW( baby-led weaning) extremely well! We get compliments all the time on how great of eaters they are, and there is really nothing I’ve tried to serve them that they have declined. I owe all of this to BLW!

So what is baby-led weaning?

For starters, here is the actual baby-led weaning definition: a method of introducing solid food into a baby’s diet by allowing them to feed themselves instead of being spoon-fed.

Sounds easy enough, right? It really is much more easy than I’ve seen people make it out to be. Baby-led weaning encourages babies to feed themselves from the beginning of the weaning process and develop appetite control as they are constantly in control of the feeding process. As a mom of twins, this sounded extremely appealing to me because spoon feeding them purees alone was a challenge!

When do you start BLW?

I’m no professional or doctor, and there is SO much information out there now-a-days, but the WHO (world health organization) and the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest waiting until you child is 6 months old before beginning solids. Of course, always consult with your Pediatrician on what is best for your baby.

What are the signs of readiness for baby-led weaning?

  1. Wait until your baby can sit unassisted– This step is extremely important to prevent choking.
  2. Loss of tongue thrust reflexMost babies lose this reflex between 4-6 months. To test the reflux you can place your finger on their lip and if their tongue pushes out every time then they still have it.
  3. Interest in food Pretty self explanatory! My twins began following our food and staring at us while eating. We knew they were getting interested!

Once you see all these signs and they are of age, you can begin! Don’t forget, your baby does NOT need to have teeth to start baby-led weaning. I know it sounds crazy, but as long as you properly cut and serve food they can eat it. Also remember that baby-led weaning is based on current recommendations and might not be anything close to what your parents did with you. They tend to think your crazy when they see you serving your baby whole foods.

How do you prepare the food?

Anything you and your family are eating, baby can eat! Honey is the only food that needs to be avoided. Babies under one year of age cannot have honey as it poses a risk for botulism poisoning and this can be fatal for infants.

Foods should be soft when served and cut into finger length strips to start and then bite size pieces around 9-11 months when baby develops the pincher grasp. A good rule of thumb to remember is that as long as you can smash the food in between your thumb and index finger, then it it safe to feed. For example, foods such as carrots, apples and broccoli can be steamed so that you can smash them for baby.

baby-led weaning lunch idea
Easy lunch- 10 months old

Should I wait a few days in between feeding new foods?

With baby-led weaning and new research you do not have to only offer one food at a time or wait a few days in between introducing new foods. It is also recommended to offer the top allergens as early as you can for early exposure. So go ahead and offer as many different foods or ingredients!

Do’s and Don’ts of Baby-led weaning

DON’T cut out breastmilk or formula. Remember, food before one is just for fun! Breastmilk and formula are still the number one nutrition before age one.

DO take a CPR class. We took one online through Thrive Institute and it made me feel much safer!

DON’T feed your baby. Remember baby-led weaning is all about them feeding themselves. You can pre-load spoons of foods like yogurt and applesauce for them to self feed. We love Bibado Bibs for messy meals!

DO limit sodium and sugar intake. The AAP recommends no juice until age one and sodium should be limited to under 400mg a day.

DO always supervise baby while eating and do not leave them unattended. We try to always sit down and eat with them so they can learn by example.

Have fun

Starting solids is so much fun for you and your baby! I love cooking and making meals for my twins, even if half of it ends up on the floor. Try to maintain composure during gaging and remember they are learning a tough new skill.

9 month old demonstrating baby-led weaning, eating mashed potatoes
9 months old devouring mashed potatoes 

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