Are you a foodie mom looking for an exciting, delicious way to introduce new foods to your baby? If so, then Baby Led Weaning (BLW) might be the perfect fit for your family’s mealtime adventures! BLW is a popular and nutritious approach to starting solids that encourages tuneful exploration through flavors and textures. As you embark on this journey, with your baby, let’s be mindful of what great-great-great grandmother had in mind for her babes in guiding you towards wholesome ingredients that will nourish your little one like never before. Read on as I give you all the tips, tricks, and ideas needed to bring out your inner grassy-food adventurer!
What is Baby Led Weaning, Exactly?
Baby Led Weaning (BLW) is a method of feeding babies that allows them to feed themselves small pieces of solid food instead of relying solely on pureed or blended foods. Proponents of BLW believe that it is a more natural way for babies to eat and that it can help teach them how to eat appropriately while developing a healthy relationship with food. Critics of BLW argue that it increases the risk of choking, and babies who participate in BLW are not getting the nutrients they need. We’re about to set the record straight, Mamas.
All in all, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to baby feeding methods – every family has to decide what works best for them. BLW definitely has its pros and cons, and you should do your own research, if you desire, before deciding if it’s right for your family. Some things to consider are whether your baby is developmentally ready for solids, whether you have the time and energy to devote to baby led weaning, and whether you feel comfortable letting your baby feed themselves. Ultimately, only YOU can decide what’s best for your baby.
The Benefits of Baby Led Weaning From a Traditional Standpoint
From a traditional standpoint, there are many baby-led weaning benefits. One of the most obvious is that babies who are allowed to feed themselves learn to eat solid foods much earlier than those who are spoon-fed. This is because they are in control of what goes into their mouth and how much they eat. Babies who are spoon-fed often take a long time to figure out how to eat solid foods and can become frustrated easily. Think about it, from smooth and texture-less to textured and solid – that can certainly be confusing because, typically, most of us don’t eat non-textured foods 90% of the time.
Another benefit of baby led weaning is that it helps babies develop their hand-eye coordination. They have to use their hands to pick up food and bring it to their mouths, which helps them learn how to control their movements. Babies who are spoon-fed often do not develop this skill as well since someone else is doing all the work for them.
Personally, I experienced this first-hand with my first son. He was taught to keep his hands down and avoid touching his food – only food given by his parents. Not the best parenting advice – so don’t do that. Once he started using his hands – he was over-feeding himself and didn’t comprehend when to stop or how much to chew and swallow appropriately.
Finally, baby led weaning can help babies develop a healthy relationship with food. They learn to trust their own instincts and figure out what foods they like and don’t like. This can help them maintain a healthy weight as they grow older since they will be more likely to make healthy food choices. Additionally, their senses are most heightened – smelling the food, looking at the food in their hand, tasting the food, and finally swallowing.
So many complex movements for a beginner, it’s paramount they get that experience and intimacy with their food.
Yes, I said intimacy. There’s an emotional connection with food – if there wasn’t, emotional eating wouldn’t exist and there’d be fewer overweight individuals. So start early with a healthful relationship with food – just as it comes, not blended, pureed, or in a package of fake (or bland) flavors and unnecessary colorings. Check out this baby-led weaning book and child care to help get you started.
What You’ll Need to Get Started With Baby Led Weaning
When you’re ready, baby-led weaning starter foods, or introducing solids while still breastfeeding, there are a few things you’ll need to get started. This can be done by giving them soft foods that they can pick up and chew on their own, like ripe avocados, steamed carrots, or cooked, small chicken pieces for example. The key here is soft. You really don’t need any special baby led weaning recipes.
You’ll also need some basic supplies like a high chair, bibs, and a place to put all the food messes. And finally, you’ll need some patience and time to let your baby explore and figure out how to eat on their own. You gotta let them touch and explore the textures and it starts with their hand(s). Prepare the area and don’t forget to encourage your baby to eat in a timely manner as well. 30 minutes of playing with their carrots like playdoh are unnecessary if they aren’t eating.
Starting out with BLW can seem a little daunting, but it’s a great way to help your baby learn how to eat on their own and develop their own feeding preferences. It can also be fun to watch your baby explore new foods and learn how to eat them. So if you’re ready to give BLW a try, here are a few tips & foods to help you get started.
Let the Baby Led Weaning & Eating Begin
1. Start with soft, easy-to-eat foods
When you first start BLW, it’s best to stick with soft, easy-to-eat foods that your baby can pick up and chew on their own. This includes things like ripe avocados, steamed carrots, cooked chicken, peas, squash, overcooked broccoli (with pastured butter), and other soft fruits (like banana) and root vegetables. You can also give your baby some liver patê, soft-boiled egg yolk, soaked (water & whey) & gently cooked oats (cook in water & coconut cream), with a small drizzle of honey or raisins that have also soaked with the oats with some butter. Soft, flaky fish is also a good starter.
2. Let your baby take the lead
One of the best things about BLW is that it allows your baby to take the lead in their own feeding. They’ll figure out what they like and what they don’t like, and will eventually learn how to eat all sorts of different foods. So don’t be tempted to force your baby to eat something they don’t want – just let them explore at their own pace. Eat with them so they see you and mimic your actions.
3. Be prepared for messes
Feeding your baby with BLW can be messy! Expect lots of food stains on clothes, the floor, and even the furniture in the early stages. But it’s all part of the fun – just make sure you have plenty of bibs and wipes handy when you start out.
4. Have patience
Duh! It may take a while for your baby to get the hang of eating with BLW. So be patient and give them time to explore new foods and figure out how to eat them on their own. It may take a while for them to develop good eating habits, but eventually, they’ll get there. And you’ll capture every precious IG-worthy moment!
How to Implement a Baby Led Weaning feeding schedule With a Busy Schedule.
So you’re thinking about trying baby led weaning (BLW) but you’re not sure how to fit it into your busy schedule? I’m a mom of 11, remember? Here are some tips to help you make it work for you and your baby.
The best way to start BLW is to simply let your baby feed herself whenever she is hungry, but plan it around meals the family is already partaking in. But if they are not, don’t choose avocado or a banana first, go with chicken or fish – less mess and it doesn’t even have to be hot; cold chicken, with a dash of Sea or Himalayan salt, will do just fine. This may mean that she eats more frequently, but she will eventually settle into a routine. You may find that it helps to set up a designated eating area where your baby can have easy access to food & quick clean up protocol.
You don’t need to do anything special when starting BLW – just offer your baby a variety of healthy foods and let her explore. Again, be prepared to clean up a lot of messes, because remember that this is all part of the learning process!
Food Ideas for Baby Led Weaning from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions Book
When starting baby led weaning, it is important to provide your child with plenty of healthy options. One great way to do this is by providing a variety of nutrient-rich foods at mealtimes. This can include things like fresh fruits and vegetables, (soaked or soured) whole grains, pastured meats and eggs, and healthy fats (coconut oil, avocadoes, pastured butter, bacon and pastured animal fats, etc.). Remember, you want soft foods to start with.
When creating meals for baby led weaning, it is important to keep things simple and easy to chew. Some good ideas for meals include soft-cooked vegetables, ripe fruits, well-cooked & previously soaked grains, soaked, sprouted & cooked legumes, and soft-cooked meats. It is also important to avoid adding sugar or other pungent spices to babies’ food until they are older. A dash of real sea salt or Himalayan salt is OK. Those minerals are essential!
One thing to keep in mind when cooking for baby led weaning is that many traditional foods are already soft and easy to chew. For example, ripe fruits like bananas and avocados, cooked vegetables like carrots and green peas, squash, broccoli, and well-soaked & cooked grains like oatmeal – these foods can be served as is or lightly mashed up into a soft consistency if baby is using a utensil.
If you are looking for more ideas for baby led weaning meals, plenty of recipes are available online. Or, you can check out one of the many cookbooks specifically written for baby led weaning. I love the Nourishing Traditions book by Sally Fallon, it is a great option with plenty of recipes that will help get your little one started on the right path to good health!
Be Gracious to Yourself
Some parents find it helpful to keep a food diary during BLW, so they can track their baby’s progress. This can be useful for troubleshooting if your baby isn’t eating enough or if she is having trouble with specific types of food. Plus, if you need a break, take it! go back to exclusive breast or bottle feeding if you need to. It won’t set back your baby’s experience one bit.
It’s important to remember that BLW is a gradual process, so don’t expect your baby to start eating solid foods immediately and just ‘get it’. She will need time to get used to the new textures and flavors. Just relax, breathe, and go with the flow – the most important thing is that your baby is being introduced to a variety of healthy foods. YOU did that and you are doing it in such a way that is prepping her body to thrive off of real food.
So now that you know all about baby led weaning, will you give it a try? It’s definitely worth considering if you want your child to develop a good relationship with food and eat more nutrient-rich foods. And who knows, you might even enjoy the whole process! Good luck and have fun with it.
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