The definition of baby Led Weaning, sometimes abbreviated ‘BLM’, is basically if you put food down in front of your baby and A: baby can grasp the food and put it in its mouth and B: baby swallow the food, your baby eats. Of course its not that simple, and it wasn’t! I definitely needed some baby led weaning ideas…
On a funny note the definition of ‘weaning’ depends on what country your from. On the right side of the Atlantic, the Brits define weaning as ‘adding to’, as in adding new foods to your baby’s diet. On this side of the Atlantic we define weaning ‘taking away’, as in reducing the breast milk in this case. Same word, two different outcomes, but still works.
This article was actually inspired by my researching how I should transition my baby to solid foods, and then shortly after a conversation with a nutritionist.
Through my work I have medical benefits that cover consultations with a nutritionist. Outside of a bit seafood this isn’t a family that eats meat. Or I should say my husband doesn’t eat meat and does all the cooking. Not being sure how this would affect our babies nutrition it made sense to ask an expert.
It turns out this isn’t a simple subject, often veering off on many different tangents. One of the tangents had us believing we were doing something wrong… Spoon Feeding our baby.
General Info on BLW
Since the 60s the age of introducing foods other than breast milk has gone from 3 to 4 months to six months. At 3 months recommended foods were fruit or vegetable purees or mushy type cereals, then progressing to mashed foods, and foods with lumps from there.
Now 6 months is the widely advised age to introduce solids due to the physical development of oral mouth skills, strength of the core and neck muscles, hand eye coordination and the baby being unmistakingly interested in what your eating.
When our baby took interest in what we were eating things got intense. He would lock his eyes on our food like an eagle on its prey and making all kinds of screeching and screaming noises. it’s to the point where we don’t even try to eat without having something prepared for him.
After we talked to our nutritionist we decided to immediately implement her suggestions. Let your baby feed himself. With us spoon-feeding him his food he would eat A LOT. He is a very healthy boy often bigger than some toddlers, but I was still surprised as to how much he ate!
The first few days were confused and wondering if we were doing the right thing, he couldn’t grasp food to put in his mouth, and he sure couldn’t use a spoon. He was eating a fraction of the food and making a monumental mess. We were worried.
Since we had not researched BLW, we were more concerned with the types of food, and the size we would cut the pieces so he could easily eat them. What we weren’t doing was allowing our baby to develop self-feeding skills he was ready to learn.
One example was his pincer grasp, he could pick food up, but since the food was in his fist he couldn’t put the food in his mouth. Surprisingly in a few days he was able to grasp food with his fore finger and thumb, shortly after that he could move the food in his grip up to the mouth. Babies learn quick!
We decided to back off a bit and spoon-feed what wasn’t easy for him to grasp, and give him plenty of options that he could. We needed to spoon-feed him his proteins like hummus and mashed beans. If your baby eats meat you may avoid spoon-feeding all together.
Babies learn a lot by watching and imitating others. It can be a positive weaning experience having your baby sitting at the table and eating with the rest of the family.
It’s pretty simple, within reason your baby can eat what you eat. Put down different options and see what baby wants. If your baby rejects certain food, re-introduce the food at a later time. Baby eats as much as it wants at its own pace. Offer food when the parents are eating, this aids the learning through behavior mirroring.
Offer soft foods, if the food is hard slightly cook it to make it easier to chew with its gums. If you offer non finger foods like hummus, allow the baby to grab the spoon then guide it to the babies mouth so the baby can learn to feed itself.
Some experts believe practicing BLM with babies makes it less likely they will refuse foods or become fussy eaters. They believe much childhood eating problems stem from the inability or unwillingness to accept food that requires chewing, and these problems arise when the baby transitions from purees to foods which have lumps.
Times change. We live in a world where everything is disected, and reverse engineered, and tested to learn everything we can about a subject.
With the internet we can type in a subject and get many views and opinions on the proper way to do anything. To think our parents and their parents raised babies from handed down knowledge.
With our babies we can easily find out generally what month to introduce solid foods. What signs our baby will give us to let us know that are ready for solid foods.
We can easily get a selection of foods and steps to prepare them for our babies to eat. The proper steps for our baby to feed themselves.
Transitioning our baby to solid foods from beginning to end wasn’t an easy task. First we worried if he would get the right food and if he would be able to feed himself enough. But you learn and so does your baby and then you forget about when then next step comes along.
If you are researching baby led weaning ideas ahead of time like I did you will really appreciate the calmness through being prepared.
Thanks for reading and please if you have any comments or questions please leave them in the comment box below.