Baby Led Weaning or classic purees?
Baby led weaning or short BLW is a good alternative for feeding purées. More and more parents like to practice baby led weaning with their baby instead of purées. The basic idea is that the baby feeds itself rather than being fed. You can start as early as 6 months and use this instead of purée or a mix of both.
But before you start feeding your baby anything other than breast milk or formula find out if your baby is ready for solids and read my post starting solids first.
Your baby does not need any teeth to start baby led weaning. Their jaws are pretty strong and they will chew food on their gums and mush it around with their tongue. The more teeth they are getting the easier it will be for them with new textures and new food.
How to start
You can start with very soft food like a ripe banana or cooked carrot. You start introducing them to rather big pieces of food that are easy to grab for their little hands. All the food should be cut in finger sized pieces. This finger sized shape allows the baby to grab the food easier.
Once you are ready to give the food to your baby you can simply let them explore the food on their own. You should never leave your baby alone in the high chair with food.
Banana is a really good starter food. It is soft, has lots of good nutrition and is easy to eat.
Food that is naturally round like grapes or blueberries always needs to get cut in half (length wise!) or quarter pieces. The whole fruit would be a choking hazard since it can close the airway if it accidentally gets in there.
Same goes for coin shapes like a slice of carrot or cucumber.
You can start introducing meat very early if you shred it. Meat is very hard to chew especially without teeth. Once your baby starts getting molars chewing overall will get so much easier.
Is my baby choking?
It is very important to know the difference between just gagging or actually choking on food.
Some gagging while learning to eat is completely normal and will always happen so don’t be concerned about that. But is it just gagging or actual choking? This graphic is very helpful:
Don’t let that scare you and trust your baby. Your baby will learn not to bite pieces off that are too big and it will get better and eventually will not gag at all anymore. It is very important to NOT leave your baby alone with food. Real choking is silent and can happen quick with a new eater.
My baby would always gag with new food or new texture she didn’t know yet – now as a toddler she can’t get enough food in her mouth. She will stuff as much food as possible in her mouth if she really likes it, so i can’t give her too much at once.
What to avoid
There are also certain foods that should be completely avoided for any kid under 5 years.
– Kids under 5 should never eat raw or undercooked meat or seafood. Their immune systems are not as string as ours yet and they can get salmonella, coliform bacteria or toxoplasmosis. (Pretty much the same you should avoid during pregnancy)
– Kids under 12 months are not allowed to have honey. Honey can actually be very dangerous.
– Nuts are a choking hazard. And in case your baby is allergic you might not notice it until it is too late and you have to rush to the ER.
– Popcorn is a choking hazard.
– Limit salt intake to 1mg per day – the little kidneys can’t handle much salt yet.
All of this new information can be overwhelming at first but I personally would always choose Baby led weaning (BLW) over traditional feeding with purées. It just makes things so much easier. When you cook your baby can just eat whatever you are having. Just limit the salt and rather salt your food after.
My toddler eats so independent now and tries everything I put on her tray. It is so much fun to see her exploring new food and different textures and just having fun eating. Last weekend we went to a birthday party and she even stole my hamburger off the plate and ate it. She is also so excited to eat with silverware whenever she gets the chance.
If you want to get more information and insight by other moms on Baby led weaning (BLW) this Facebook group is absolutely amazing. I joined when my baby was ready to eat and it gave me a lot of confidence to try more and different food. This group is filled with moms that are practicing baby led weaning and you can get ideas of what to give your kid. They also have way more useful graphics (Thank you for letting me use these for the post!)
If you are not sure about baby led weaning or just want to start traditional feeding using purées check out my post starting solids.
Whichever way you chose always offer a small amount of water in a sippy cup while eating. Before solids they get all their fluids from breastmilk or formula but when they start eating they should also start with drinking some water.
For baby’s up to 1 year of age breastmilk or formula is still the main food source so don’t be concerned if your baby doesn’t eat much or actually prefers milk over new food. That is totally normal and healthy behavior. They also have a phase like that around the first birthday.
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