Baby led weaning, otherwise known as BLW, is a feeding method that's been around for ages. Recently it's gained more popularity, thanks to the internet and a handful of Baby Led Weaning books. So what is it exactly and how do you start?
What is Baby Led Weaning?
Baby led weaning is a feeding style that skips purees in favor of allowing baby to feed himself. There are many benefits of baby-led weaning shared by parenting experts, including:
- hand-eye coordination development
- independent feeding
- self-regulation development
- developing chewing skills
- improved dexterity
- learning healthy eating habits
- sensory exploration
When to start Baby-Led Weaning?
Your baby should be able to sit unassisted and show strong neck control before beginning baby-led weaning. It's also important that baby be able to move food to the back of the mouth through chewing.
What age can you start baby led weaning?
The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommend starting solid foods at around 6 months.
What if my baby has no teeth?
It's ok. Your child may be ready for baby-led weaning even if they have not gotten their first tooth. Babies have powerful gums which they use to chew at food until it is ready to be swallowed.
How to start baby led weaning?
Once you've established that your baby is ready there are a few helpful guidelines that will make the experience more successful.
- Start with one or two soft foods. Slowly introduce foods so your baby has a chance to taste and feel each one. New flavors and textures are exciting! Start with one food and work up to including two at meal time.
- Cut foods for easy grasping. Baby-led weaning foods should be cut in long thin strips, or substantial coin-shaped pieces that are easy to pick up and gnaw on.
- Give your child time to explore. Don't rush through the process. Allow for plenty of time for your baby to explore the touch and taste experience.
- Expect a mess. It's ok to play with your food when you're just getting started. Baby-led weaning is messy! Make sure you give your child enough space and expect food to go flying.
- Show and tell. Make meal-time interactive. Show your child how to bite and chew. Use words to identify the food they are eating and make yum yum sounds to encourage trying new foods.
Baby Led Weaning Foods
Here are a few great first foods to try:
- peeled sweet potato wedges, steamed or roasted
- shredded meat
- ripe peach slice
- carrot stick, steamed or roasted
- broccoli, steamed or roasted
- steamed asparagus
- soft meatballs
- toast sticks
Tips on BLW foods
- Baby led weaning banana – Peel banana and break it into halves or quarter pieces so baby can grasp well.
- Baby led weaning sweet potato- Steam till soft and cut into wedges about 1 inch thick.
BLW Baby Books
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