Are you thinking of doing following the Baby Led Weaning (BLW) eating method? You might be a little worried or concerned about how everything works – Well, worry no more, I’m sharing all sorts of information in regards to why we did BLW with Emmett.
First, you may be wondering why we chose the BLW method in the first place, right? Or maybe you’re wondering how I came across this method?
Well, similar to how you’re getting this information right now, I got it from one of my favorite blogs, The Art of Making a Baby. She used this method with her daughter and was seeing such success that I decided to read up on it. You can read my review of the Baby Led Weaning book here.
I was hooked right from the start. One of the big things the method touts is that since your child is in charge of feeding themselves, they’re never forced to eat anything they don’t like nor will they eat too much. As I’ve mentioned on the blog before, I struggle with Binge Eating Disorder and emotional eating. I do not want Emmett to ever have to suffer through this, and wanted to take every precaution and in ensuring his eating health. Number one was to breastfeed him from birth, and now number two was to follow Baby Led Weaning.
Another big important thing to note about BLW is that they recommend you start with veggies (not fruit or cereal), broccoli in particular. It allows your child’s pallet to develop to the less sweet foods (including fruit), that they then typically end up wanting more of. We did eventually get to bananas, apples and strawberries, but Emmett’s first foods was steamed broccoli, followed by steamed baby carrots and roasted sweet potatoes.
An Effective Way to Feed Your Child
I truly believe that BLW is one of the most effective ways to feed a child who is 6 months or older. They learn how to feed themselves right off the bat, rather than being spoon-fed (though, Emmett did use a spoon, but on his own). In the beginning, since babies love to put everything in their mouths, you just place the foods on the high chair tray in front of the baby, they naturally want to pick it up and mouth it. Since this is all about exploration, if you are feeding your 6 month old breastmilk or formula, them filling their belly with veggies is completely unnecessary.
A couple of other things of note, it is super easy to prep food for your baby when following BLW. Baby eats what you eat! This can lead to a more experimental child when it comes to food choices, even as they grow. Children learn to feed themselves earlier, so they learn to stop eating when their bellies are full.
You will still have a thriving, healthy baby if you don’t follow BLW – but by following it, you will find it MUCH easier to get your baby, turned toddler, turned 4 or 5 year old, to try new things. Emmett (now almost 2 1/2), may not eat or like everything we put in front of him, but 9 times out of 10, he will at least try it – and many times he’s learned that he likes it (cherry tomatoes is an example of this, for us).
When I first came across BLW I was very skeptical. I always thought, how is a baby not going to choke(more to come on this aspect in a future post)!? I couldn’t have been further from the truth. Right off the bat, Emmett was successful with it. We started with broccoli and he ate it immediately, picking it up and putting it into his mouth. He gummed it a bit and probably got a few leaflets down, but he didn’t have even the slightest problem with the taste (and NO gagging!).
A Couple Additional Things to Remember
- You should not begin using the BLW method until your baby is 6 months of age or older. The child’s stomach is just not ready for ANY food prior to that. It can cause stomach distress or an onset of allergies.
- On that note, remember your baby makes the decision on when he/she is ready to eat. You can offer them food, but if they’re not interested, that’s okay, because….
- Until a baby is 9 months old, they don’t REALLY need solids. They should be getting most of their calories from breastmilk or formula. Naturally, by around 9 months, your little one will start to notice how the solid foods taste yummy and help keep their bellies full longer.
- You should always serve your child food in a high chair. You want them sitting upright and contained.
- Gagging is NOT choking, but a productive means that the baby uses to keep himself from choking (there’s a whole section in the book dedicated to this).
- Even though there will likely be gagging, there will probably be less than if the baby is spoon-fed, bc the child is in control of how much and the speed at which they eat.
- Most foods are not off limits. Since you don’t start BLW until the baby is at least 6 months, your child’s stomach is developed enough to handle any food. (You should avoid milk and PB if you have a family history of allergies).
- There’s no need to prepare for BLW. As long as you have a high chair, you’re ready. Make your 6 month old child some extra soft broccoli or maybe even sweet potatoes, place them in their high chair at the table with you and watch the magic happen.
If you’re thinking of following this method, I highly recommend you read the book Baby Led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett, it will answer any possible questions you may have about the process. I know there are tons and tons of forums and blog posts (like this one) that are helpful, but I think it is very important to read the book, as there are loads of tips, that are not included here.
I personally read through the book twice, and then certain sections, 3 or 4 more times. I highlighted, tagged and wrote on many of the pages. I wanted to be well prepared and well-versed before we began the process (I read the book when he was 5’ish months old). And, I’ll be honest, the first few times Emmett gagged were kind of scary, but we were right there, watching his every move and, just like the book says, he gagged twice and the too large food was back in the front of him mouth.
It is important to mention that gagging is NOT choking! Gagging is a defense mechanism and the baby’s gag reflex starts at about the center of their tongues, WAY before it reaches their throat, so babies are very good at protecting themselves.
Trust me, I completely understand the nervousness that surrounds feeding your child this way – you’re worried that they’re going to get enough nourishment or maybe that they’ll choke. Just remember, your child will not start devouring food at 6 months they don’t need to, it is more for exploration, and getting familiar with feeding themselves. Around 9 months is when your child will begin actually eating with the intent to fill their bellies.
Even, despite all my worries, I don’t regret feeding Emmett BLW style, and I honestly think it was one of the BEST decisions I ever made as a first time mommy. Now, he’s an adventurous eater and will try most things we put in front of him.
Have you tried BLW? What was your experience like?
Have you thought about following the BLW method, but you’re nervous? What other information would be helpful to know?
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**I am not a doctor, or other medical professional. I am simply a parent sharing her experiences as a mom with a unique method of eating. Please check with your medical professional before beginning any diet or food changes with your baby.**
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