Baby led weaning - excited? or dreading it?
What is baby led weaning?
Baby led weaning (BLW) is letting your baby feed themselves by offering them small, finger sized foods. This is widely regarded as an effective method to introduce babies to solids as opposed to pureed and/or mashed foods. Your baby will have greater control of what foods they choose as well as the amount they want.
When can I start baby led weaning?
It is recommended that weaning is usually started when your baby is around 6 months old. Take note of the following:
- Do they stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady?
- Can they coordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so they can look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth all by themselves?
- Can they swallow food? Babies who are not ready will push their food back out, so they get more around their face than they do in their mouth!
Of course, if you are unsure whether your bubba is ready to be weaned or which method is best for you, always best to check with your health visitor.
What are the benefits of baby led weaning?
Independence! Your bubba has the chance to pick and choose the foods themselves as well as explore all the tastes and textures.
They will become used to the various tastes and textures from the beginning!
Saves you time - Your bubba can eat what you eat. This may only require a small amount of further prep for you
Health benefits - There is some research that suggests that baby led weaning leads to lower levels of obesity as your bubba will be able to control their appetite. There is also research which states that this is not the case, so we arent 100% sure as yet
Are there any negatives to baby led weaning?
The mess! - absolutely no doubting this one. Its how your little bubba's learn and a key part of their development. Everything is new to them and the joy it will bring you to see them exploring different tastes and textures will far outweigh the headache of mess. Luckily with BubbaChomp, our clever little suction plates and bowls will stop your chomper's from flipping their food onto the floor https://www.bubbachomp.co.uk/collections/all
Choking - It may be at the front of your mind when it comes to weaning. There is no evidence to suggest baby led weaning increases the risk of choking in comparison to spoon feeding. As long as your baby is developmentally ready you will have no issues. (Check out the recommended suitable finger foods below)
The important thing to remember is that babies have a very heightened gag reflex to keep them safe from choking. (See below "external links" for further information and advise on Gagging vs choking)
Ready to wean !
Always supervise your bubba during feeding - all your prep is done beforehand and now you can sit next to your little one and enjoy watching them explore
Finger sized food is widely recommended as you want to make sure it is big enough that they cant put the whole thing in their mouths - also easier for them to pick up!
Start off with foods that are soft and easy to mash (see recommended foods below) avoid foods that are hot, sticky, hard or too slippery.
Avoid force feeding! - your bubba will control how much they want. Remember breast milk or formula will still be their main source of nutrition at this stage, solids will not replace this for a few months yet.
Have an understanding of the gag reflex, this will most likely happen and is not the same as choking. Its a sign that your bubba is learning to move food around their mouth, which is an important skill.
Have a cup of water ready to offer - preferably in an open cup.
Recommended first foods - the exciting part!
It is widely recommended that you should offer Veggies first. Babies are born with a preference for sweet foods hence the reasoning to offer bitter tastes to start with. A rule of thumb is to make sure all foods are soft enough to squish with your fingers.
Our Favourite Veggies:
- Broccoli florets - steamed or roasted (big enough for bubba to hold onto)
- Sweet potato
- Sticks of carrot - boiled until soft
- Butternut squash
- Courgettes - cut into sticks
- Green beans
Fruits to try:
- Bananas (with an inch or two of the peel cut with the rest left on so not slippery for bubba to hold) make sure to wash the skin thoroughly, as will always end up in their mouth!
- Avocado - make sure its ripe and soft
- Pears - again these have to be ripe and soft
- Strawberries and raspberries cut in half
- Peaches & Nectarines
- Apple - cooked until soft
Remember to remove all pips and seeds and to take away any fruits skins after your bubba is finished.
We advise to try the above for a week or two until your bubba is ready to move from 1 meal a day to 3.
(See our next article for a more comprehensive guide to a balanced diet with great tips and recipes as well as advice on allergenic foods).
You are ready to start the exciting and rewarding weaning journey! excited? nervous? all of the above? Drop us a comment, we'd love to hear how it is going for you.