I've been hearing about baby-led weaning since before my son was born, two years ago. It wasn't necessary for my family because my son Eilan was very much satisfied with breast milk. When he got to the 6-month mark, I introduced purees and yogurt and he did really well. I never had or saw the need to try other things. Well, this baby is a little different. :) My baby girl has been showing strong interest in what we eat, so we have officially started Baby-Led Weaning (BLW)! In this post, I will define what the term means and share our top 3 reasons for practicing BLW.
What is Baby-Led Weaning (BLW)?
BLW is the process of skipping or decreasing the use of purees and allowing your baby to finger-feed themselves after they are at least 6 months of age. It's ideal to start with soft foods like cooked pastas and veggies, ripe fruit, puffed cereals, etc. You also want to make sure you cut the food into pieces that are easily handled by your baby. Consider doing long strips, or coin sized pieces of food during meal times (Parents.com, 2017).
You also want to make sure your baby is being supervised whenever you place food in front of him or her. Pay attention to your baby's cues and don't panic if baby gags. The gagging reflex is in place to keep them from swallowing something they shouldn't. When the gagging happens, simply pat their back and help them to calm down. You may remove a piece of food from their mouth if they are having trouble with the size. Also keep water nearby to offer up after the gagging stops.
- Baby cannot cough up the food, or cry
- Baby is making no sound at all, or making foreign sounds
- Baby is turning blue
- High-pitched sound occurs when baby breathes
Click here for what to do if your baby is choking.
Our Family's Reasons for BLW
1. Our Baby Started Showing Strong Interest and was Able to Sit Up
After learning to sit up, our baby girl would start to reach for our food whenever we ate in front of her. At first I attributed her interest to teething, until I decided to let her try a tiny morsel of what I was eating one day. She not only chewed and swallowed that piece of food, but she cried for more! I proceeded to give her more and the same thing happened...and it continued to happen!
2. The Tongue-Thrust Reflex Was Gone
Every newborn will have this reflex until right around 6 months of age. When anything is placed in the baby's mouth, specifically the tongue, the tongue will move forward out of the mouth, instead of back into the mouth (AskDr.Sears, 2017). This reflex is actually in place to help prevent your baby from choking, so to start before it is gone is unnecessary and will actually increase the risk of choking.
3. Her Fine Motor Skills were Present
Our baby girl was exhibiting a 'raking' grasp and a crude 'pincer' grasp. These fine motor skills allow your baby to hold and chew the food. If your baby cannot even momentarily hold the food, this is another indication that they may not be ready,
I hope this Information helps you make the best decision for your family. Always follow the recommendations made by your pediatrician, and use common sense where your baby is concerned. Every baby is different, so what worked for one child may not work for the other child, and vice versa.
Until Next Time,