It’s an exciting time when it’s time for your baby to begin eating solid foods. Using the high chair, getting those “first foods” caught on film and buying all sorts of fun baby foods are milestones that parents look forward to. In this day and age, you’ll find many parents avoiding that last step and either making their own baby purees or using a method called Baby Led Weaning. In simple terms, Baby Led Weaning, or BLW, is introducing your baby to solid foods by allowing them to self-feed soft foods instead of feeding purees using a spoon. It puts eating more in the hands of your baby and in many ways is much easier than using purees because you aren’t purchasing separate foods or having to make huge batches of purees. If Baby Led Weaning sounds like something you and your baby want to try, then continue reading for some basic tips!
1. Make Sure Your Baby Is Ready
The single most important part of starting Baby Led Weaning is making sure your baby is ready. They should be able to sit up unassisted and be able to grasp and hold objects. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends your infant be at least 6 months old, but you can also talk to your doctor about when starting solids is right for your family. Baby should also be interested in food (maybe they’re already trying to steal food from your plate), shows an ability to chew and can use their tongue to push objects out of their mouth.
2. Involve Them In Meal Times
Parents are models to their children right from infancy, so include your baby in family meal times. Show them how eating can be social and how everyone eats the same meal. Baby Led Weaning is a great way to prevent making separate “kid meals” for your children. Right from the start, your baby will eat what’s prepared!
3. Start With Recommended BLW Foods
Foods that are soft in nature are great to start with for BLW. Think of fruits like bananas, avocados and super ripe melons. For veggies, you want to cook them until they can be easily smushed between your fingers, like carrots and sweet potatoes. Avoid firm foods like grapes and hot dogs, that can easily get lodged in little throats.
4. Less Is More
When your baby first starts experimenting with eating, be sure not to load their high chair tray with too much food. Just a few pieces will suffice until they get the hang of both eating and not throwing food. Less food on the tray means less distraction and more eating.
5. Cut Large (ish) Pieces
The temptation when feeding babies is to cut very small pieces to avoid choking hazards. However, with BLW, you are encouraging your child to self-feed and being able to pick up small pieces of a food can be difficult and frustrating. Try and cut slices that are large enough for little hands to grasp, but not so large they can be choked on. Cutting into thick strips or using a crinkle cutter has proven handy for many parents!
Since you are introducing solid foods, there is a greater risk of choking than if you were to go the puree route. However, if you prepare it appropriately and supervise as you should, your child should take to eating in no time. Even though you are not spooning food into your child’s mouth, you should always be present when they are eating, and taking note if you should cut pieces smaller the next go round. It seems like a no brainer, but it has to be said!
7. Avoid Waiting Until Your Baby Is Hangry To Eat
Just like an adult, a hungry baby is no fun to contend with. And learning a new skill while desperately trying to just eat? Near impossible for a baby. Try and give baby their regular nursing session or bottle feeding about an hour before meal times. That way, their attempts at self-feeding won’t be quite so frustrating and both mom and baby will be happy.