Friday 17 August 2018

10 Tips on Baby Led Weaning For Absolute Beginners


10 Tips on Baby Led Weaning For Absolute Beginners

I'm not an expert, I'm just a grandmother trying to do the best I can when looking after my grandson. His parents wanted to do baby led weaning (BLW) with Bear, but ended up doing a mixture of BLW and traditional weaning (purees) this time they were determined to go the whole way. When Bee's mummy went back to work he was nine months old. He was already a long way down the BLW route and I had to learn quickly what to do.

Bee has multiple allergies including CMPA (cows milk), soya, oats, fish.... it is harder to wean a baby with allergies but BLW is the way to go and once you get going it's so much easier.

Baby Led Weaning puts baby in charge. They decide how and what to eat. We just provide the food.


food until one is just for fun

If they only eat one mouthful that's ok. They are in charge.

Food shouldn't replace their milk before they are one so breast or bottle feed half an hour or so before their meal.

Here are a few things I've learnt in the last few months.

1. When to start?

Weaning shouldn't begin before the baby is six months old unless on medical advice. Babies guts are not fully developed before then and cannot tolerate solid food, be it purees or not.

They need to show interest in food

To be able to sit unsupported.

They need to have lost "tongue thrust reflex" that is when anything they put in their mouth they automatically push out with their tongue

2. Gagging versus Choking

The most important thing you need to know is the difference between gagging and choking. BLW can be scary, your precious baby suddenly shoves a piece of food down their throat and they start choking - or do they? Is it gagging? How do you tell?

Gagging is normal. It's the baby learning to use their mouth to manipulate food. It is also a mechanism to prevent choking. In babies of 6 months the gag reflex is further forward so they gag before they choke. All types of weaning can cause a baby to choke or gag, BLW gives them the advantage of knowing what to do before they choke.

Babies will typically go red and make a noise. Leave them to it. Do not interfere, putting your fingers in their mouth or any other action may cause the baby to choke. They will learn to chew and to not push the food down so hard! Be patient, be supportive.

Choking is a risk to life. The baby will typically turn blue and be unable to breathe. This requires immediate action. If you do not know what to do then before you start weaning (traditional or BLW) either take a course or watch videos. There are lots on youtube.

3. What can I feed him?

Anything you are eating except whole nuts and honey. Really anything! This is the joy of BLW. Just one meal and everyone eats the same and together. You will have to reduce the sugar and salt but that's all. Babies can eat everything from curry to chips.


4. How do I prepare it?

Cut food into fingers. Long enough that a baby can hold it and take a bite. Round food (grapes, blueberries and so on) should be cut in half lengthways. If larger then cut into quarters, large fruit like nectarines can be given whole, I just cut a little bit off one side to get him started.

Do not give small pieces of food before your baby can chew and use pincer grips with their fingers.

Slightly harder food is easier for a baby to move around their mouth than soft food so toast would be easier than bread at first. Lightly steam or boil veg, do not cook until mushy. Once they can chew, then raw veg cut into fingers is ok to give.

You can start with batons of carrots and similar vegetables, cook until slightly soft (they will crush between your fingers but not go to a mush).

This was a selection we had for our lunch with Bee BLW, and Bear 3 years old. I didn't give Bee the radish, it was a bit hot. If I had, his slices would have been cut in half. We tried grated carrots for the first time, that was messy!

5. What equipment do I need?

A highchair or booster seat with a tray, lots of mums recomend the Antilop £15 from Ikea, but I haven't tried it.

A wipeable floor, a dog or a washable mat under the chair

Long sleeve bibs or just feed without clothes (this does require bathing afterwards so ok if you have the time)

Flannels or similar to clean up afterwards

A bowl, many parents just put the food onto the tray as they say the baby just throws the food and bowl onto the floor. I think if they are offered a bowl from day one, it is explored when they are little then becomes the norm quite quickly. They do still throw it but you have to teach them at some point.

I like the Salmon Luke bowls, they are slightly grippy ( I haven't found a suction bowl that actually works) and have a curved inside edge that makes using a spoon a doddle. They are expensive (£9.95 on Amazon) but I have two and I bought them for Bear three years ago. They are dishwasher proof which is an absolute must for me.

A spoon. You could use a teaspoon but the handles are a little long (so they can put them too far into their mouths and gag) and they are hard on the mouth for new weaners. Baby spoons are designed for little hands and many have grippable handles.

6. Is it messy?

Oh yes! Very, very messy. They drop or throw the food, they wipe their face and hair with it. They stuff it down the side of their chair. They squeeze it, slap it and if you are lucky they eat some.
See above to help reduce the mess. There are lots of products available for BLW but none are really needed. Some use a shower curtain under the chair, I use a table cloth. If you have a dog that may be all you need.

Dill dip - the new face and head mask!

7. Can I give purées or baby rice?

No, why would you? All that cooking and mashing and then you still have to teach the baby to eat lumps. No purées. This includes the ready made pouches. Baby can have the contents but it should be squeezed out and they can then eat with their hands or a spoon. They need to see and feel their food.

That doesn't mean you can't give soft food. If you are having mashed potatoes then baby can too. Yoghurts and custard and so on are ok too. Either give in the original pot or put into a bowl and give them a spoon, watch the fun they have.


8. Baby isn't eating anything should I help?

No. Babies need to be in charge. They need to feel the food and explore with their hands. They may not actually eat anything for the first few weeks, but this is ok and normal. They are learning what food feels like, tastes like and so on. It is ok to load a spoon and show them what to do but let them feed themselves.

The important thing is to eat with them, let them see how you eat. Babies are great mimics and want to do the same as you.

9. Join a BLW Facebook group

If you are on facebook join a group. There are lots and they are really knowledgable and supportive as all the parents are going through the same as you.

My favourites are Baby Led Weaning UK and the more US based Baby Led Weaning For Beginners and Beyond.

10. Enjoy

Have family meals knowing you don't have to do anything special for the little one. Just enjoy this funny, magical phase. Before you know it they will be toddlers and refuse to eat anything except chocolate and ice cream!

Playing hide and seek with his bib, meals are fun. Yes that is a muffin tray on the floor behind. No idea haha! 

I'd like to thank Bee's mummy for the trust, advice, support she has given me, and inviting me to the above groups.

Please ask me anything, I may not know the answer but I'm great at googling! If I can help I will.



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