So, you’re interested in giving your baby real food and skipping all the purees?
Baby-led weaning (BLW) is where you expose babies to a variety of different foods without them being mashed or pureed. The reason that most parents decide to do this method vs baby food is due to you are exposing your baby to different tastes, temperatures, colors, and textures of real food.
I do not recommend starting baby-led warning until six months of age, as your baby’s digestive system is not fully developed until around this age. Once your baby has hit 6 months, and your doctor has given the okay to start on solids, the fun and learning can begin!
A lot of parents who are interested in trying this method have a ton of questions. How do you get over the fear of choking? My baby has no teeth… how will they actually eat this food? Do you dive right in and give them whatever we are eating or start off slow?
First and foremost, stop panicking! It’s actually a lot simpler than it seems. Take a deep breath and let’s take a look at all the most commonly asked questions regarding baby-led weaning.
When is Baby-led Weaning Right For Us?
How Do You Get Over The Fear of Choking?
I know it can be a very scary thought, however, let me reassure you that babies are designed (so to speak) to learn how to chew, swallow, and overall, eat. We all have a gag reflex, it just so happens that babies gag reflex are a lot higher up in the throat than adults are. So whenever you believe your baby might be choking, they are more than likely gagging.
There is a HUGE difference, and you will definitely be able to tell when your baby is choking. When babies start baby-led weaning, they are not actually swallowing a whole lot of food. The first step for them is to swish it around in their mouths and feel the foods with their tongues. Most of it gets spit right back out of their mouths in the early stages of eating (which I recommend to all my parents who use this method to purchase a bib that catches the food for easy cleanups, such as this one here!)
Here is a video of that explains the difference between gagging and choking:
Do you still start off by giving them one food at a time to try or just dive right in?
For allergy purposes, I definitely recommend starting with bland basics first before introducing spices and more prepared meals. This way, if your baby does have an allergic reaction, you are not having to guess and backtrack what they could have eaten to have caused the reaction. It’s best to start off with vegetables and fruits first, as they are easiest to chew and swallow. After they have masted all of those, move onto meats and grains. Meats are a bit tougher and can be dry, so you’ll have to monitor closely and cut these off into smaller bits to ensure they are being properly chewed. Try to introduce a new food every three days, this will give you plenty of time to watch for an allergic reaction to the previous foods.
Is BLW right for my child?
You are the only one that is going to be able to determine what is right for your child. You know them best. However, like stated before, please try to refrain from starting any foods until they are at least 6 months of age. Unless you have spoken to your doctor ahead of time and they have given you the okay to start. BLW can be right for a number of children, but some just don’t seem to get the concept as quickly as others – but that’s okay! Every baby develops at their own pace and if they don’t seem interested, purees are just as okay to feed them. As long as the baby is getting their nutrition and are eating, it doesn’t matter how their food is cooked or prepared.
Baby-led weaning can be super beneficial when it comes to picky eaters, also. Since they are being exposed to so many different textures, colors, and tastes – this will help baby as they get older. If you do have a picky eater, please check back to my 10 Ways to Overcome Picky Eaters(link) post, it has a ton of beneficial resources that will help you with those picky eaters!
Have you tried baby-led weaning?
What are some of your biggest challenges so far?
Is your baby ready for solids?