Baby Led Weaning
When you become a mom you are faced with all sorts of decisions and one of the biggest ones is how you begin feeding your baby solid foods. I had never given much thought to how I would feed Emmett; I just assumed I’d give him a pureed form of food, until I came across “The Art of Making a Baby” and the author’s post about the book titled Baby Led Weaning.
I will get into the details of how it worked for us in a later post but right now I want to do a quick review of the book for any parents who are looking for a new, non-traditional way of feeding their baby.
Overall I thought the book was a quick and easy read, one I’m glad I spent time on. It probably took me a cumulative amount of 3 days, to get through the entire thing but after I finished I went back through and re-read some parts that I had highlighted or starred. I wanted to be sure I fully absorbed everything involved with feeding Emmett this way. Clearly it is a new idea and I wanted to be fully educated so that I could pass that knowledge along to my husband as well as Emmett’s day care teachers or anyone else who might feed him.
I absolutely recommend taking the time to read through the preface and introduction because the authors provide you with some fantastic background information that is not wise to skip. They stress how important it is to allow your baby to make the decision on when is right for him to begin solids. They state it is important to wait until the child is at least 6 months old but even at that time, if you place food in front of the baby, and they show no interest in it that you should not force it upon them. A baby should be getting almost all of their calories and nutrients from breastmilk or formula until nearly 9 months old, so there is no rush!
One of the most beautiful things about BLW is that there is no reason to make baby a special meal, they can and should eat whatever mom and dad are eating, and we started with stalks of broccoli. Granted there are a few things you want to watch out for, like excessive salt and sugar both can be harmful to baby in large quantities. Also since you’re not sitting there spoon feeding baby, you are able to enjoy your meal while it’s hot and so is the child.
A big concern of mine was the choking hazard and the authors do a phenomenal job of explaining what can occur, what is normal and when to worry. The item that stuck with me the most was that choking or gagging from BLW is no more common (provided the baby is sitting upright) than being spoon fed and in some instances may even be less likely because the baby controls the amount and speed of the foods going into their mouths.
They remind you that gagging isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it is the movement that the baby makes to push the food forward in their mouths, so that it doesn’t go down their throat too soon or in too large of pieces. So essentially, gagging is a good thing!! They obviously go into much more detail but after reading it once and then going back through and reviewing it, I felt confident that Emmett would be just fine eating this way.
BLW allows the baby to be in control of what they’re eating, how much they put into their mouths and how quickly they eat. It essentially teaches babies how to successfully eat without any adult intervention; it gives them the independence to make their own decisions which often leads to babies enjoying their food more and being less picky eaters.
The book does go into detail on how to get the ball rolling with BLW. It explains that putting baby in his/her high chair before he/she even starts eating helps lead to success because it allows baby to feel like they are a part of the action. Mom and dad can eat their meal and baby is in the high chair playing with a cup, bowl or spoon, getting used to meal time.
The book makes it very clear that it is important that baby continue to get most of their calories from breastmilk and formula, which means they should not be eating solid foods when they are starving. In the beginning with Emmett, I’d feed him 20 minutes before we’d eat dinner and then when we put him in his high chair he was satiated and ready to explore the solids that we put in front of him.
I think what I liked most about the book is that every possible question I had about BLW was answered. The authors do a phenomenal job of ensuring that they cover every aspect of eating. They take time to remind you that it is a messy process, that if you are an individual who does not like messes, then BLW is not for you or that you need to allow baby plenty of time to explore and play with their foods, especially in the beginning. BLW is not a process that moves quickly, there are times when you maybe be sitting there with baby for 45 minutes to an hour, while they just palm the food back and forth. BUT it is imperative that you not rush your baby, you should allow him/her to enjoy every second of meal time.
There is also an entire chapter on what foods they recommend giving first. Through the entire book the authors explain that since you are waiting to give your baby solid foods until 6 months, it is unlikely that you will encounter any allergies unless you have a family history and they also state that you typically will not need to wait several days between each new food you give baby because your baby’s digestive system is advanced enough to handle new foods. Of course you want to make sure that you move as quickly or slowly with new foods as you are comfortable and they also suggest you check with your baby’s doctor before beginning BLW.
The benefits of feeding a child this way are endless and I am so pleased that Seamus was willing to go along with feeding Emmett this way. I have struggled with emotional eating and had issues with food my entire life and I do not want Emmett to have to suffer through that. My hope is that by introducing food in this way, he will have a love of food that leads to eating to live, not living to eat. I have and will continue to recommend this method of eating to any new parent who will be introducing solids soon. It really is just common sense, to me.
You can read about our experience with BLW, here.
Have you ever considered feeding your child different than the mainstream way?