Baby Led Weaning: What it is and how do I start?
Starting solids with your baby is a huge milestone and one that I was so excited to reach with both of my children. But before I dive in to BLW, here is a little about me.
My name is Melissa and I am a SAHM (stay at home mom) of a four-year-old and an almost two-year-old. I can’t say that I did full BLW with my first because I was a first-time mom and didn’t really know any other way to feed my baby solids other than with purees. Coming from a Cuban family, we all know that babies eat purees for at least their entire first year of life. You don’t just give a baby a piece of steak and let them go to town. Essentially, baby led weaning is when you give your baby regular table food.
How do you start?
You first start off with pieces big enough for them to grab. Contrary to popular belief that babies need tiny pieces, with BLW, you start off with bigger pieces and as the baby gets older, you cut them down smaller so they can also work on their pincer grasp.
When my oldest was four months, our pediatrician gave us the green light to begin solids. She said to start off with liquid purees and gradually add texture as my baby got the hang of it. When I asked what I could add to the purees, she simply said “anything”. She wasn’t strict on doing one veggie a day for three days and said to add seasonings as I wished just to make sure it was low on salt for the time being. So, I did purees for about two months and had great success. My son had no issues with anything I had given him and had no trouble getting used to a spoon. One day I was aimlessly scrolling through my Instagram account and saw a tag for an account called “Feeding Littles”. The second I started reading through all of their posts and blog, I knew I had to change the way I was feeding my son. I called our pediatrician and asked if she had ever heard of Baby Led Weaning. She said she had and thought it was a great way to feed babies who were six months old. She gave me her blessing and said to have fun! Now when I called and told my mom about this, she thought I was insane!
Embrace the Mess
BLW does not involve spoon feeding and actively promotes self-feeding so be ready for a HUGE mess. A saying Feeding Littles is always posting is “Embrace the mess”, and it could not be more accurate because BLW is MESSY! This WAS my only issue with BLW. I despised the mess. I never wanted my son to get covered in food because it was more work for me but I learned to “embrace the mess” and by the time my daughter was born, I just let her play and feed herself as she wished. It was messy, still is at times, but it is so worth it. You somehow get used to the mess and actually enjoy watching them make it. I don’t cringe anymore at all the food I have to clean up. I’d say invest in a Roomba but if you have a dog, that is even better!
One of the main benefits with BLW is not having to worry about making baby food or stressing about what you will feed your baby when you are on the go. My daughter has been eating table food, including sushi, since she was six months old! It also helps with picky eaters since they are basically eating whatever you are eating, which has also helped improve my eating habits. Remember kids will mimic what parents do, so try and lead by example.
Allergens are a main concern in children these days and BLW, as well as pediatric nutritionist, encourage exposing babies to these allergens early on. By 9 months, both of my kids had already had all of the top allergens: nuts, peanuts, eggs, shell fish, and gluten. Luckily, we had no issues, but always consult your pediatrician before starting to give an allergen.
What you'll need?
With our BLW journey came new tools and “gadgets”. We own a few pieces from EZPZ as well as some from Bella Tunno and NumNum. They make adorable plates that suction onto the highchair tray so you won’t have plates of food flying all over your kitchen. As your baby gets older, you can start introducing utensils. One of the firsts that we used were the NumNum GOOtensils. These were great for yogurt, oatmeal and peanut butter. They can also be used as a teether without any food! It will take a while for them to get the hang of it, and they will most likely prefer to use their hands, and that is ok. We also started using an “open cup” pretty early on, around six months old. EZPZ has a “Tiny Cup” and it’s the cutest thing ever. It’s a 2oz silicone cup that is soft and light enough for your baby to pick up on their own.
Every baby is different and BLW may not be for you and that is ok. Even while promoting healthy eating habits and self-feeding, your baby will hit picky phases and setbacks. It’s normal and it happens to all of them. Don’t try and force the food on your baby. BLW teaches your baby to eat the amount they feel their bodies need and not learn over-eating. Since they are feeding themselves, they are in control of how much is eaten and learn to listen to hunger and fullness cues.
Enjoy the process!
Enjoy the process and building healthy eating habits with your baby. Not having to worry about making a special meal for your baby takes away one other thing on your never-ending Mommy to-do list. Not only are you creating great eating habits but you get to enjoy more time together and be able to sit and have dinner as a family.
My Instagram handle is @Melbhern. Feel free to checkout the highlights following my BLW journey with my daughter.
Hope you enjoyed this tiny bit of information and good luck on your new food adventures!