Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Baby Led Weaning: Beginners Guide Part 1

My weaning story with Bradley is completely different to the route I've taken with Taylor.
10 years ago, I weaned Bradley at the very, very young age of 3.5 months old, on the advice of in-laws, on traditional spoon fed pureed foods. He took to food well, and ate everything I gave him, until he got to the finger foods stage, when he then became fussy with food and he's never been the same since. Now, at 10 years old, he's the fussiest child I've come across. So I vowed to do things differently this time around.

Quite early on after having Taylor, I asked the ladies in my baby group how and when they planned to wean their babies. A lot of them mentioned 'Baby Led Weaning', which I'd never heard of before, but was really interested in finding out more about it, so I spent the next few months researching and reading the books until I became really passionate about it and decided this was definitely the way I wanted to wean Taylor.

What is Baby Led Weaning?

'Baby Led Weaning, quite simply, means letting your child feed themselves from the very start of weaning. The term was originally coined by Gill Rapley, a former health visitor and midwife. 
According to the most recent research most babies reach for food at around six months, which is also the time that mothers are being encouraged to wean by their Health Visitors, in accordance with the WHO guidelines.
The distinct advantage of weaning at around six months is that by then, our children are developmentally capable of feeding themselves proper food, in other words – no more mush!
You just hand them the food in a suitably-sized piece and if they like it they eat it and if they don’t they won’t.
That’s the essence of Baby Led Weaning. No purees, no ice cube trays, no food processor, no potato masher, no baby rice, no weird fruit and veg combos… just you and your child, eating food that you enjoy with you and your family.' -

Basically it means forgetting the mushed up food, feeding what you decide, when you decide. Baby led weaning is all about the child exploring by themselves, making their own choices and joining in with meal times with the rest of the family.
It saves all the time making up purees and allows more time to enjoy meal times together.
It gives them the chance to learn to deal with all textures of foods from the very beginning, rather than introducing in stages. Studies show that babies that are introduced lumpy foods later on are less likely to reject the food and become fussier with new textures. This is definitely true of my eldest.

Our BLW story

At 5 months I started sitting Taylor at the table with us, in his high chair, to get him used to social meal times. He quickly started showing lots of interest in food, reaching out for it and getting quite frustrated watching us eat and not being able to have any. I introduced a mesh feeder [more information in my Top Tips for BLW Beginners post] with some fresh fruit inside, and he sat for ages munching and sucking away, he was definitely ready for food. I wasn't ready to let him loose on actual food just yet, so I continued with the mesh feeder once a day, or frozen puree in an ice lolly maker. At 5.5 months I felt confident enough to introduce him to some bread, [Disclaimer: Guidelines state food shouldn't be given before 6 months] which he loved, and so his BLW journey began! I was nervous at first, there was a lot of gagging and I was tempted to intervene, but I didn't, and his gag reflex came quickly and he began dealing with it himself very early on.

Taylor's first solids - bread (5.5 months old)

Taylor's first Sunday Dinner (5.5 months old)

I started slowly, with just one food each meal, then gradually added more.
Now, at 7 months, he is on 3 meals a day, eats the same meals as us, with us. Never has he been spoon fed, he has spoon fed himself with a pre loaded spoon from the very beginning. 
He is very much into his food, and he pretty much eats everything I put in front of him, although he has started to make choices between different textures and favours some food over others. But he rarely turns anything down.

Taylor exploring scrambled egg and toast (6 months)

Spoon feeding himself Weetabix (6 months)

He hasn't quite worked out that he must finish what is in his mouth before putting more in and this often leads to a bit of choking, I've learnt to just put 2 things on his tray to minimise this but so he can still make choices.
A typical breakfast is Weetabix or Organix Cereal, and fruit. Lunch is something like sandwiches, toast, crumpet, pancakes or breadsticks etc, cucumber, fruit, Organix snacks. Dinner is usually the same as us; meat, potatoes, veg or a pasta dish typically. 

Demolishing Spaghetti Bolognese (6 months)

I'm so glad we went with the BLW route!! Big thumbs up from Taylor and Mummy!

This is a typical day's menu for Taylor - 

Breakfast - Organix Multigrain Mini Cereal Puffs with milk, and  banana.
Lunch - Warburtons Half & Half Easy Roll Wraps with cheese spread and cooked turkey meat, kiwi fruit, melon slices, Organix Goodies Carrot Sticks, and Petit Filous yoghurt.
Dinner - Chicken breast, steamed carrots, baby corn, green beans and sugar snaps.

Look out for the following BLW posts coming up soon:
- Pro's & Con's of BLW
- Top Tips for BLW Beginners
- Q&A with BLW Parents

Are you Baby Led Weaning? 
I'd love for you to share your experiences!
Do you have a question for the BLW Parents?
Ask in the comments below...

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  1. I was desperately keen on BLW and started giving my tot finger fruit and veg at 6 months. Every time he put something in his mouth he vomited, copiously. So we went with purees but still offered him finger foods once a day (with the same reaction). At about 7 and a half months he started vomiting less and less and we ditched the purees. Now he's 9 months and is managing well with a lot of things with the exception of meat. He tries it and chews well but seems to struggle to swallow and winds up crying a lot. We're still persevering though.

    1. Aw bless him, it can be tricky if they're struggling can't it? Keep persevering, he'll get there :)

  2. I love blw! I have so much fun finding and making different things for Logan to try. At 9 months now, he is such a confident eater and has never refused anything - his nursery can't believe how well he eats!

  3. I did BLW with my daughter (she's now three) and I bloody love it too and will definitely do it next time. It's just so convenient and makes total sense to me. My daughter started off eating most things but she's a lot fussier as she's got older, but that's probably just an age thing! xx #MMWBH

  4. BLW is amazing! I started with it but got scared when A seemed to choke alot so we did a bit of both but he naturally gravitated towards enjoying BLW more. I'm extremely fussy with food too and wonder whether it's because of how I was weaned as a baby (lots of puree and gunge!).

  5. Very interesting. 2nd child is 4 1/2 months and stsrting to think about weaning. Tempted to start with baby rice etc but do think will be more adventous with allowing him to try more soft solid foods. Thank you for sharing.

  6. My little boy is also 7 months and we started off down the route of spoon feeding, I quickly discovered I could spend entire afternoons making purees only to have him quite literally throw it in my face! He was also beginning to get very used to smooth purees and would reject and struggle with anything with texture. So we decided to introduce a more BLW approach which is going well, he seems happy at having more independence and to be honest is much easier for me to prepare! #sharewithme

    1. Its so much simpler isn't it? Glad its going well! :)

  7. This is great and what great meals you have put together for your little one. We loved baby led weaning for MM but B was more for the purees. Funny how different they were in their eating habits even from the start. You have made me hunny with all those healthy nibbles. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With me. #sharewithme

  8. So lovely to read such a positive blw story, it's such fun isn't it?! We did baby led weaning with our now 17 month old daughter and people are still impressed with how she eats. She now eats all meals with a spoon or fork without much mess and never turns anything away! Xx

    1. Ah thats fantastic, I hope to say the same at that age!! ;)

  9. Really interesting o read more about BLW and I am glad it is working so well for you. We did a mixture of puree and finger food with Monkey and he ate everything till 13 months (his fave was chomping on sticks of broccoli) then he got really fussy and after a lot of hard work we are coming out of the other side of that now at nearly 3 but he is still fussy and won't touch broccoli! Thanks for linking with #MaternityMondays

    1. That sounds like my eldest, Im hoping Taylor doesn't get fussy!!

  10. We've followed the principles of baby led weaning (sometimes she lets us feed her with a spoon when she's hungry) and for me the reassurance of knowing that my little one has so much control moving food around her mouth makes the couple of days of gagging and not eating much at the beginning worthwhile. I found a free infant first aid course at my local children's centre and would recommend this for anyone wanting to do blw but being put off by the thought of choking. It was so rewarding going out for a meal with her at 8 months and being able to order her something from the menu (omelette) which she fed herself while we enjoyed our meal.

  11. I loved BLW Annabelle when she was wee! Thanks for linking up! #MMWBH

  12. We are currently BLW with my 6 month old. She does not like being spoon fed and loves exploring the food herself. It's great fun x

  13. This is so interesting, I had read a good bit about BLW, but was scared to try it. This is my first baby, I think most moms are sick of puree with the first and do this for their second child. Baby is almost 7 months and loves purees but she is starting to vomit if she gets any lumps, so I think I might start with that mesh thing and try to introduce finger food soon. Thanks for the info

  14. I did purees for both my eldest and will probably do something similar this time around when my baby is old enough as BLW scares me a little (having saved a baby from choking at the nursery I worked at once) but I think i will give some foods to chew on like cooked veg etc and see how it goes. #maternitymondays


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