Don’t you constantly worry about inculcating healthy eating habits in your child?
It is always a good idea to start off on the right foot when it comes to eating.
Baby led weaning (or BLW) is, therefore, on a rise to inculcate healthy eating habits in your child from the toddler age.
Increased awareness among parents and exposure to the Internet have helped mothers discover a true boon for toddlers – BLW!
What is baby led weaning, you ask?
It’s the art of making your baby fall in love with food by letting her feed herself. In addition to enjoying various kinds of food, the baby also learns oral motor control.
Let’s get to know more about baby led weaning, baby led weaning books, weaning guides, baby weaning foods, and baby led weaning ideas. Knowing more about this will help you motivate to turn your baby to a BLW baby.
Check some healthy baby led weaning ideas and initiate it from today!
Let’s begin by truthfully answering some basic questions.
Till what age did you feed purees to your baby?
Still, a majority of parents prefer pureeing the food till the age of 8 to 12 months and distraction feeding for their children as they make things easier. Though baby led weaning is no cake walk, the delight of seeing your little one eat by himself and appreciate his food makes it worth all the struggle.
Baby weaning foods include well-mashed vegetables such as sweet potatoes, turnips, broccoli etc.
Does your child get happy at the sight of food?
Baby led weaning diet trusts the child to know his hunger and appetite, which leads to the child understanding his food and appetite better. In BLW, the baby is allowed to self-feed on semi-solids, right from 6 months of age, considering her readiness for solids.
Contrary to popular theories, try not to start weaning at 4 months. Start with BLW only after the baby turns 6 months old to make sure your baby is skilled to understand what is she eating.
Does your baby appreciate a new taste?
The BLW idea thrives upon quality instead of quantity. Baby led weaning aims to expose the baby to various foods and textures as early as possible before he grows older and fussier. The baby weaning foods get your baby introduced to his initial solids.
Experts believe that a baby who eats a variety of textures and tastes from an early age is more likely to accept new tastes later in life.
Is your munchkin ready to munch?
You need to make sure your baby is capable to do the following activities before offering semi-solids to her. Only if she –
- Can sit upright without support
- Can readily chew
- Has lost her tongue thrust reflex
- Has developed a pincer grasp
- Has an interest in food
As the infant gets older, food consistency and variety are gradually increased, adapting to the infant’s requirements and abilities.
Did you know?
- By eight months, most infants start consuming “finger foods”.
- By one year, generally, children are able to eat the same type of foods as the rest of the family.
- Since the primary source of nutrition for children under one is their mother’s milk, parents needn’t fuss over the quantity of food that goes into the baby’s mouths while he is trying to self-feed.
What baby weaning food should you offer your little beginner?
- You may start with small pieces of fruits like banana or chikoo.
- Baby-led feeding also suggests you offer extremely soft boiled vegetables like peas and carrots. The bigger the pieces your baby swallows, the more likely they are to come out as it is when excreted.
- Some doctors suggest rice or daal water as it is easier to digest. Remember to increase consistency gradually as watered down food means lesser nutrition.
- If you offered something new today, you must wait a day or two before trying a new food item again, to cross check for any allergic reaction from a particular food.
- It is always a good idea to offer a new food during first half of the day.
- Be cautious of raw, unwashed or stale food as it may have bacteria.
Let’s learn more curious facts about baby led weaning process below.
Eat with your baby
As the baby learns faster by imitating others, a baby would learn self-feeding faster, when the family eats together. In case that doesn’t work for your family, you should eat along with your baby, preferably the same food that your baby is having.
The benefits of Baby Led Weaning are numerous!
There are many advantages to Baby Led Weaning –
- Baby-led feeding teaches the baby how to chew and swallow and improves her eye-hand coordination skills on the go.
- For instance, tiny soft pieces of boiled vegetables are placed in front of the baby, one at a time and the latter learns to grasp them, bring them to the mouth, know their taste and texture, and chew them. (Your role as a parent, is to guide the baby by sitting next to her, and eating along with her, while the baby eats on her own, without any force or distraction.)
- Baby led weaning intends to make mealtimes happier and looked forward to.
- An organized baby weaning diet helps you to understand the baby’s appetite and her food preferences. Try to include all kind of baby weaning foods in the diet plan to suit the best of your baby’s health.
- It has been observed that babies are less scared of trying out new foods when they are in charge of their meals. (Usually, it takes eight to fifteen attempts for the baby to get accustomed to a new taste.)
- Baby led weaning saves the time and effort that would have been wasted on making purees.
- Once babies get the hang of eating on their own, mom’s use that precious time to eat their own meals while monitoring their little ones.
- Babies tend to run around or play when they are being fed by someone else, but BLW gives them an opportunity to sit and focus on food, thereby inculcating a healthy eating habit.
- By allowing your baby to self-feed, you are equipping BLW baby with eating skills. This also add-ons to boosting his confidence and independence.
On the other hand, pureeing and distraction feeding seem to be tempting as they get the job done quickly; but they have certain disadvantages. Children, who eat pureed food for a prolonged time, may tend to develop a fear of swallowing.
Also, in your leisure time, we recommend you read some baby weaning books which will help you gain a better understanding.
Gagging vs Choking
Pureeing the food is advisable when the child is unable to chew at all. But, such foods are preferred so that he doesn’t choke on solids.
Gagging, however, shouldn’t be mistaken for choking, as it actually prevents food from getting choked.
Importantly, a child should never be allowed to run or play while eating, as there is a chance of getting hurt, and choking on food which can turn out to be life-threatening.
Say no to screen time!
Distraction feeding often results in the baby being overfed by the parent. Children, who are distract-fed, will always demand the source of distraction to be present during meal times.
Babies who eat watching rhymes on a television will not eat unless the television is turned on, as he grows. What is on the plate becomes unimportant.
While pureeing and distraction feeding may tend to solve a temporary problem, they do not help with your child’s development.
The disadvantages of BLW –
BLW has its own set of disadvantages-
- The obvious one being a larger laundry.
- A BLW baby usually asserts eating with his own hands which means having to wash your baby’s hands time. As your baby does this, again and again, you need to be strict in hygiene terms.
- If your kid self-feeds, you would need to carry his booster chair or high chair whenever you dine out to avoid soiling your party wears.
- It also means that baby-led feeding liquids remain a problem until the baby becomes a pro with the spoon and starts feeding himself.
- Your baby’s mood and appetite can convert your trip to a restaurant to be utterly blissful or disgustingly ugly
- With babies throwing undesirable stuff off their plates and overturning the plates post meals, there’s a higher chance of food wastage.
- With a BLW baby, you cannot ascertain how much your baby has actually eaten. Don’t be surprised if your moody little toddler’s small appetite leads to more frequent meals or milk feeds during the day.
But if you are eyeing for a brighter future, these challenges might appear to be a trifle.
“I never gave cerelac or any commercial baby food to my son when we began his weaning journey. Always took a lesser salted portion out for him from the family food while cooking and let him self-feed. I am glad that my efforts didn’t go in vain. Today my 16 months old can very well eat with a spoon. He recognizes most of the fruits and vegetables he eats by name. I don’t panic when he eats very little because I have seen him enjoy his mealtimes. I know when he isn’t hungry.”
-Eva Pandey, mother of a 16-month toddler
Each family has a different approach to baby weaning. Time and convenience largely determine how and what a baby is fed. Readiness for solids and responses to the different weaning styles differ from baby to baby, as every baby is different.
Learn more in detail about How to do Baby Led Weaning?
Whether a baby is self-fed or fed by you, moving from finger to family food is easier than moving from pureed to family food. Eventually, every child eats.
The sooner the better, isn’t it?
Curious to know more about BLW?
Let us know your questions in the comments below and we will gladly answer all of them.