Hi everyone, it’s Kelsey from Modern Munch here to give you the low down on all things to get you started with Baby Led Weaning!
A quick introduction for you: my name is Kelsey and I have a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from the University of Alberta. My degree has led to me to an amazing career at the Children’s Hospital as a Nutrition Supervisor, which I absolutely love. My sweet little babe has just started solids, which was the beginning of our Baby Led Weaning journey. Alright that’s enough, lets get started!
*Disclaimer: This blog is intended for informational purposes only. The information on this blog should not be used as a substitute to medical advice or medical treatment. As always, your Primary Care Provider, a doctor, or another health professional is your best resource for specific questions and medical advice. If you believe you or a loved one are experiencing a medical emergency, please contact 911.*
So, what is Baby Led Weaning (BLW)?
Weaning generally refers to weaning a baby off milk and onto solid foods, but that is not the case with BLW. Although it is the process of introducing solid foods to baby, you won’t be weaning them off their breast milk or formula just yet. The main difference between BLW and traditional ways of introducing solids is essentially in the name, it is baby led as opposed to parent led.
There are so many benefits to BLW such as it helps baby learn about foods in terms of taste, texture, and appearance. It also helps them develop motor skills, learn to chew, create positive relationships with food, use mealtime as a social experience, and learn about hunger cues.
When to start…
In general, babies are ready to start solids around 6 months. I don’t recommend any earlier but please follow the advice of your physician as each baby has different needs. There are signs you can look for around 6 months to decide if baby is ready to explore solids. These include:
- Baby can sit up on their own with little to no support for a period of time (this is the most important)
- Baby can pick up objects and bring them towards their mouth
- Baby is showing interest in food
Baby Led Weaning 6-12 months
I’ll start by saying there are many ways to approach BLW, and I find that there is a lot of people who will tell you there is only one right way to do it. I don’t believe that and I don’t support that. Every family will have a different journey when it comes to feeding, and that is TOTALLY ok, you need to do what makes you comfortable.
At the beginning, BLW will mostly be your baby exploring food, this means there will be lots of mess and probably very little consumption. With that being said, breast milk/formula should be the main source of nutrition until baby is 12 months, and their intake per day should remain the same at this point. To start, we chose to offer one food at a time and slowly ease into offering food as a “meal”, but again this is up to you. You’ll want to start with foods that are “finger” shaped so that it’s easy for baby to pick up, and make sure they’re soft. Here is an idea of some first foods to offer:
- Sweet potato
- Rice/multigrain iron fortified cereals mixed with fruit
For more ideas you can visit my blog to see what and how I prepared the first two weeks of food for my baby.
Quick note: babies have a significant drop in iron stores around 6 months so it is important that you introduce iron rich foods around this time. If you are using formula some of them are fortified, but it is a good idea to try some iron fortified cereals with baby.
Once baby has done some exploring with food and started to learn chewing skills and strengthened their hand mouth coordination you can continue to progress with new foods like meat and allergens. For more information on introducing allergens I have a detailed post on my blog that you can reference. Eventually you will want to get to the point where baby is sharing meals with you, of course still making sure that the size and texture are appropriate to reduce choking hazards.
- Highchair to ensure baby is sitting in an upright position
- Silicone bib and smock type bib (with sleeves)
- Mini utensils
- Crinkle cutter (helps baby get a better grip)
Tips for a successful journey
BLW has been so much fun for us, and I hope that you will have a great experience with it. Here are some tips to having a successful feeding journey with your baby fro 6-12 months:
- Offer solids when baby is not “hungry”, I know this sounds weird but making sure your baby is still receiving enough breast milk/formula is important
- Eat with baby as much as possible, making meals a social event is very helpful
- Understand that this is baby led, if your baby chooses to not eat anything, or eat everything, it’s normal. There will be mess, there will be lots of playing, and that is all part of it
- Recognize the signs of when baby is “done”, this often involves crying or gazing off
Will my baby choke?
- Choking is always something to be aware of when starting solids, regardless of the way you choose to offer them. Make sure you are comfortable and up to date with infant CPR before starting any feeding journey with your baby. Be able to recognize the difference between gagging and choking, there are many great resources online for this. With that being said, the risk of choking is not higher with BLW than it is with purees as long as you’re offering appropriate foods
Can I offer purees?
- This is where I remind my clients that this is YOUR journey, do it how you want to. Traditionally BLW does not include purees, but I say go for it. The way I offered purees or any type of “mashed” food was on a preloaded spoon that I would give to my baby so he was still feeding himself. This is how I fed him cereals and oatmeal in the first few months as well
That’s it for my crash course on BLW, for more information and mini series blog posts check me out at www.modernmunch.com. Thank you for reading!
P.S. From Kate: Here is an additional FAQ post that I did a few months back on starting solids!