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When TJ turned 6 months old I was eager to start him on cereal! I figured I would FINALLY get to nurse less and maybe, just maybe he would sleep longer than 2 hours at night before waking up and wanting to eat! I was sorely disappointed every time I went to feed him because he would just spit out everything. This went on for 4 LONG weeks! Every day I religiously tried to feed him cereal or some other baby puree and EVERY SINGLE TIME he spit it out at me! Beyond frustrated, I decided to try a new technique with him that has been around for over a decade but hardly ever talked about. I decided that we would try baby led weaning with him.
Baby Led Weaning (BLW) is different in the fact of rather than spoon feed cereal and puree baby food, you offer your baby chunks of very soft foods that can easily be mashed up with their gums. You place these foods on their tray and your baby chooses what he or she will eat. Your baby then controls how much they eat and how fast they eat.
When we began Baby Led Weaning with TJ, he began to love food! He began sleeping longer throughout the night and started gaining weight!
Most Parents worry about Baby Led Weaning because of their baby not getting enough nutrition.
Parents worry that with BLW their child won’t get enough nutrition. But guess what? If you are breastfeeding your baby they are still getting all the nutrients they need! With the right formula, it also provides the right nutrients as well! With that being said you will want to still provide foods that are full of iron, zinc, protein, and healthy fats.
When is it Time to Start Baby Led Weaning?
It is recommended that babies can start eating baby food as young as 4 months old. With baby led weaning you will not want to wait until your baby has developed certain skills.
-Your baby can sit without support
-Is willing to chew (can mash up food with their gums)
-Shows interest in food. You can tell this when your baby starts trying to grab your food off your plate. Or opens their mouth as food gets close to their face.
-Can pick things up with their pincer grasp
-6 months or older is the ideal age for Baby Led Weaning
Parents Worry Their Babies are More at Risk to Choke
With BLW, Parents fear of their baby is at greater risk of choking. There isn’t an increased chance of choking. However, you need to supervise your baby while eating. Beware of the fact that your baby will gag because it is a safety mechanism. So, you will want to know the difference between choking and gagging!
Certainly, Baby Led Weaning can Be MESSY… Trust Me, I know! But, the Benefits FAR OUTWEIGH THE MESS!
-It’s easy. Baby eats what the family eats.
-It’s convenient. If you are out and about you at a restaurant, you can easily find food on your plate that your baby will eat.
-It’s cheaper. No purchasing puree baby food.
-Takes the Pressure off your baby to eat everything you are trying to get them to eat.
-Teaches your baby how to self-regulate their food intake. They set their own pace for easting. They are less likely to overeat. When your baby starts throwing food off their tray, it is a good sign they are full.
-They learn to chew and swallow.
-Helps with pincer-grasp development.
-Your Baby begins to use hand-eye coordination.
-Introduces them to Sensory Development. Your baby explores different textures, tastes, smells, colors, temperatures, sights, and colors.
-Introduces Healthy Eating Habits. As you try different foods that are healthy, your baby learns to like a variety of food that is good for them.
-Moms and Dads can FINALLY eat while the baby is eating!
-Encourages family meal time. This encourages bonding and growth.
With Baby Led Weaning, you will want to nurse or bottle-feed your baby first, to ensure they continue to get all the nutrients that they need that nursing and formula offer!
Suggested first foods include:
-Cooked Apples (NO SKIN)
-Soft cooked, carrots, green beans (with no skin), zucchini, broccoli, pumpkin
-Very ripe, peaches, pears, plums, and melon, canned mandarins (with the skin removed) Canned Fruits have the same freshness as fresh fruits. They are picked at just the right time and canned, making them perfect for BLW foods.
-Egg yolk (Hard boiled or scrambled)
-Meat and poultry
The key is very soft foods that they can squish or melts easily in their mouth. You can test if the food is a good Baby Led Weaning food by seeing if you can squish it between the roof of your mouth and tongue. If you can, then it will probably be good! Just with anything, always supervise your baby while eating!
Avoid These Foods
-High choking risk foods like Grapes, cherry tomatoes, nuts, hotdogs
-Allergic foods such as egg whites, and nuts
-Added table salt or sugar
-Unhealthy processed food like chips, popcorn, sugar-containing food, breakfast cereal, gum, and hard candy.
-Chocolate and sugar
Helpful Products to Use in Baby Led Weaning
WaterProof Spill Mat. You will want a Mat for under the highchair so your floors don’t get ruined. This also allows for easier cleanup.
Bibs. In order to save your baby’s clothes buy lots of bibs!
Fresh Food Feeder. These are awesome! It allows you to slice an apple and toss it in here! Your baby can gnaw on it and get all the juices, without the fear of choking. You can do this will all types of food!
Baby Led Weaning Spoons. These spoons are perfect for learning to eat with a spoon.
Spoons and Forks. Certainly, we can’t expect our kids to use spoons and forks, but they like to try and use them. So make sure to buy ones they can use!
Disposable Mats. Having disposable mats are perfect for in your diaper bag for when you go out to dinner. Just throw one down on the table so your baby can enjoy food right off the table, without the germs
Just with anything, baby led weaning takes time. Don’t give up if your baby dumps food on the ground or gets frustrated that they can’t pick it up at first. Some babies take longer to learn to self-feed. Continue to offer your baby new foods and ones that they did not eat the first time. Over time, your baby will love Baby Led Weaning and you will too!
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