Are you interested in trying out baby-led weaning, but don’t know where to start? Get all of your biggest questions answered in today’s interview with some top tips from Registered Dietitian, mom & BLW expert!
It’s hard to believe, but baby Leo turned 6 months old this past month. And you know what that means…
We reached the point where it was time to start offering him solids.
To be completely honest, although I was looking forward to having Leo try out different foods and experiment with diverse flavours, I found the thought of giving him ACTUAL food (other than his milk) to be a little daunting.
We had finally found our groove with our nursing sessions and I was quite content to continue on with our routine. But reality set in, and I knew that I couldn’t nurse him exclusively forever.
Although in university, I had learned the theory behind the introduction of solids to babies, I didn’t feel 100% confident about actually implementing that theory with my own child.
Funny how that works!
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And what about all those infant feeding recommendations?
It didn’t help that the feeding recommendations for infants have changed quite a bit since my university days and when all of those recommendations are thrown at you all at once from various “experts,” it can be rather confusing, even for a Dietitian!
Some sources say start with purees; others recommend skipping the puree phase altogether and offer the baby “whole foods” foods from the start; and yet others say to do a combination of the two.
And THEN, there’s the whole issue of how to introduce solids to identify potential allergenic foods or food-related sensitivities. Do you wait to offer potential allergens or offer them right away? Do you offer one food at a time or multiple foods all at once?
SO many questions!
Ultimately, when choosing a feeding approach, my goal was for my baby to grow up to be a lover of healthy food, minimize picky eating, and avoid having to make separate meals wherever possible.
Isn’t that every mother’s wish?
And then there’s Baby-Led Weaning…
I had been hearing more and more about the baby-led weaning approach and last November I attended a webinar run by a Dietitian colleague who had done BLW with all of her own children and thoroughly enjoyed the process. After listening to the webinar and all of the proposed benefits, I was CONVINCED that this was the method that I wanted to try.
So, over the course of the first six months of Leo’s life, I conducted quite a bit of research on the subject and purchased several books (including Baby-Led Feeding and The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook, both of which I strongly recommend) to prepare for the big day.
Additionally, I reached out to one of my friends and Dietitian colleagues, Laura McCann to pick her brain and ask her some of the burning questions that I know so many mothers have about implementing this feeding strategy!
Laura has been using the BLW approach with her own baby, Sloane, who is now ten months old and has had a really positive experience using this feeding method.
Laura had so much helpful advice to offer that I asked if she would mind sharing her tips and recommendations in a blog post. She graciously agreed to answer these questions in today’s Q & A, so hopefully it will provide you with some tips and insight as to how you can get started with BLW!
Check out our interview below!
For those who might not be familiar, can you please explain what Baby Led Weaning (BLW) is?
BLW is an approach to introducing solid foods that allows babies feed themselves using whole foods. Essentially, the stage of offering puréed foods is skipped.
Why did you decide to use the BLW approach with your baby?
For me, the idea of BLW was appealing because it limits the extra cooking required. It’s allowed my husband and I to offer our baby the same foods we eat since day one. It also means that when we’re eating together, my husband and I can each enjoy our meals while our baby feeds herself. That was a huge factor for me.
Many parents are concerned about choking when it comes to BLW. What advice would you give to these parents who might be a little nervous to get started?
Firstly, at minimum, ensure that all the safety elements are in place; baby is sitting upright, distractions are minimal and appropriate food is offered. By appropriate, I’m referring to non-choking hazard foods; if you aren’t sure what those are, it’s recommended that you familiarize yourself with these foods.
Also, ensure the food offered can be broken down when mashed between baby’s tongue and roof of mouth. Examples include roasted carrots or peppers, fish fillets, eggs, etc.
Secondly, familiarize yourself with the difference between gagging and choking. Resist the temptation to put your fingers into your child’s mouth. Putting your fingers into your baby’s mouth is more likely to contribute to choking than if you trust your baby to gag. Gagging is a natural part of the learning process.
Lastly, whether you choose the BLW or traditional feeding approach, consider attending an infant CPR and first aid course along with any caregivers who may be regularly feeding your child.
When it comes to introducing solids, which foods would you recommend parents start with?
Whether you’re doing BLW or purees, first foods should be iron-rich since the baby’s iron stores begin to deplete at 6 months. Examples of these foods include eggs, meatballs or sliders, lentils, tofu, fish, etc. To increase absorption, offer these foods with a vitamin C source such as an orange slice.
What was your approach when it came to introducing new foods? Did you introduce one new food at a time or multiple foods?
Neither my husband nor I have food allergies or intolerances so because that wasn’t on my mind, I was pretty liberal when it came to the number of foods I offered. I introduced many burger type foods (such as falafels, lentil cakes, salmon cakes, zucchini fritters, etc.) to start which was one food per se but included many different ingredients. After the first day when I offered one food, I offered two foods at a time for a few weeks before progressing.
Are there any foods that your baby particularly enjoyed?
My baby was instantly hooked on corn on the cob the minute she tried it. She would literally eat every single piece of corn off the cob before giving up the cob. This ended up being a go-to food that I’d pack when we were away from home because eating it occupied a fair amount of her time. It also didn’t leave behind a sticky mess. She always lights up when she sees corn on the cob.
Is there anything you would do differently next time around if you were to do BLW again?
Yes! Now that I’ve experienced BLW, I won’t allow myself to have great expectations of my baby gobbling up her food during the beginning stages of BLW. I love food, so I expected that she’d be the same when solids were first offered. After more research and experience, I realize now that learning to eat is just like learning any other skill. As the parent, I just need to be patient and allow my baby to explore new foods as they’re offered. As adults, it can take years of experience with a food for us to finally enjoy. It’s no different with babies who have much less experience.
Do you have any other tips or advice to share with parents who might be interested in trying the BLW approach, but don’t know how to get started?
For me, it helped to follow some Dietitians who are experts in BLW. Here are some of my recommendations:
- Feeding Littles (check them out here)
- NutritionForBaby (check them out here)
- For meal ideas, check out InspiralizedKids here
You can also follow Laura on instagram for more nutrition tips and recommendations!
At the end of the day, no matter what feeding method you choose, it’s important to expose your baby to a variety of different flavours and textures to help them develop their motor skills, obtain all of the required nutrients to assist in their growth and development, and discover a love for lots of different foods!
Try not to stress about what or how much they’re eating and just have fun with it! The more relaxed you are, the more your baby will enjoy the whole eating experience.
Looking for some baby-friendly recipe and meal inspiration? Check out the recipes below for some great starter foods:
- Baby-Led Weaning Meal Ideas
- Baby-Led Weaning: 5 Tips for Planning Healthy Meals For Baby
- Spinach Zucchini Frittata Fingers
- Mini Salmon Dill Cakes
- Sweet Potato Lentil Tater Tots
- Mini Blueberry Banana Muffins
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