At the beginning, as a new Mum I wasn’t sure what weaning would bring. I was recommended a popular weaning book by a friend. So, I went online to order it. Whilst browsing I noticed a book called “Baby-Led Weaning”. ‘Interesting!’, I thought. So, I ordered it, out of curiosity.
In the meantime, I’d started on baby cereal and my son seemed ok with it but kept pushing the spoon out with his tongue which seemed counter-intuitive to me. I kept at it, thinking he just had to get used to it. Then my books arrived or so I thought. Actually only one arrived. The baby-led weaning book was delivered. I never did receive the original one I wanted….maybe it was fate?
As I read, it all made sense, now I understood why he kept pushing the spoon out. I was also sold on the practicality of the approach…no puree´s, EVER! So, I sold my Babychef and from that day on I was determined to try a baby-led approach and we never looked back!
WHAT IS BABY-LED WEANING (BLW)?
Baby-Led weaning is the introduction of solids ‘by encouraging a baby’s confidence and independence by following her cues.’* At first she will sit with you at mealtimes, either on your lap or your partner’s lap, she will watch the way you eat and start to mimic this behaviour by reaching for your plate and then gradually your food. This is a sign of readiness for baby, also look for when she starts putting food in her mouth. Initially she won’t swallow much. Don’t get too concerned if she’s not ingesting a whole lot. As long as she is getting all her milk feeds, she is getting all her nutrients. In the early stages of BLW its more about developing baby’s chewing, dexterity and hand-eye coordination as well as further down the line helping with speech development.
As her hand-eye coordination develops, so too does her fine motor skills, which means introducing utensils. At first, load her spoon for her and leave it on the table or tray. You can also hand it to her but don’t spoon feed her as this will go over her gag reflex and increase the choking hazard. It will also hinder her natural chewing mechanism.
The reaching for food and bringing it to her mouth, are the first signs of readiness. Also make sure Bubs is sitting by herself and she has also reached her 6 month milestone. Once Bub has these four signs, then she is ready! Offer foods in french fry sized portions for easy handling from plate to mouth. It gets messy, I promise you, but it is hilarious to watch! There is nothing my son wouldn’t try. He even ate a wedge of lemon once and loved it!
What about Choking I hear you ask?
What I find most fascinating about BLW is the unlikelihood of choking. Did you know a baby’s gag reflex is a lot further down the tongue than an adults? This means that the food has no way of getting too close to the back of the throat because the gag reflex will kick in and bubs will push the food back to the front of the mouth or at worst, vomit, which let’s face it, babies do all the time! My son is now 4 and he never once choked or vomited whilst he was weaning because he was in total control. To read about the difference between Gagging and Choking, click here.
I love everything about BLW and am enjoying the start of my daughter’s weaning adventures. So, watch this space as there will be a lot more posts to come on this topic.
Let the Bolognese fly!