Baby Led Weaning

When my daughter Amelia was 7 months old we decided to start her on solid foods. I cooked and froze a few weeks worth of healthy home made purees, bought her a special spoon and dish and strapped her into her high chair full of excitement at this new stage in her development. ‘Look what mummy’s got!’ I exclaimed offering her a spoonful of smooth carrot.  She tentatively tasted the puree, pulled a face and pushed the spoon away.

I’d been expecting this, so no problem I thought, we’ll try again tomorrow. But fast forward three months and it was the same scenario. Meal times had become a battleground with Amelia rejecting anything I offered her on a spoon, so we had an unhappy baby and a very frustrated mom. ‘There’s got to be a better way!’ I thought. In desperation one afternoon while she napped I typed ‘my baby won’t be spoon fed’ into Google and to my surprise up popped a plethora of forum posts from other moms in the same situation. One mentioned an alternative to starting baby on solids called Baby Led Weaning, and since then the purees have been relegated to thickening stews and topping my morning yoghurt.

 

So what is Baby Led Weaning?

The basic principle is that you forget purees and spoon feeding and let baby feed themselves. You provide a range of nutritious foods to choose from in the size and shape that they can easily handle and then he or she decides what they want to eat and how much. I first tried Amelia with chopped up banana, steamed carrot batons andwholemeal bread fingers spread with apple puree. She had a lovely time exploring each piece of food, squishing it between her fingers, but at this stage none of it went in her mouth. This is perfectly normal according to ‘Baby Led Weaning’ by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett and it’s important to let baby proceed at their own pace. As long as they continue to have milk feeds (breast milk or formula) this will be their main source of nutrition while they start to investigate solid foods.

 

Amelia has now been eating finger food for just over a month and has three ‘meals’ a day, as well as four milk feeds. She has four teeth so I give her larger pieces of food that she can bite small pieces off herself. Her hand to eye coordination has improved considerably and she is getting better and better at chewing and swallowing what ends up in her mouth. Yesterday I offered her an apple that I’d taken a few bites out of and to my amazement she started gnawing at it! It is wonderful to see her self-confidence growing day by day.

 

I don’t worry about how much she is eating, but trust that she will eat as much as she needs, much the same way as I do with breastfeeding. I offer her some form of carbohydrate (like bread, pasta or cereal), protein (fish, meat, egg or cheese), vegetables and fruit at each meal. Some days she loves the salmon fishcakes I make her and other days only cheerios go in her mouth. Still, I know I turn my nose up at a salad when only a steak will do so she’s not that different from me!

 

I keep a list of the foods that Amelia has tried taped to the kitchen cupboard and I add to it when she tries something new. I find it’s a good way to see what she likes and doesn’t like and it reminds me to try her again with the rejected foods later on as her tastes develop.

 

An important part of eating is the social aspect of mealtimes. I always eat something whenever Amelia eats and when possible we time her evening meal with ours, put a large plastic sheet under her high chair to catch the inevitable drops, and have dinner as a family. In fact, we’ve found that she often eats more when we all eat together, and at the same time she is learning by watching and copying what we do. Once or twice a week I bring her food to a restaurant and we eat out together. My husband and I get to enjoy our food while it’s still hot and Amelia often eats more of what’s on my plate more than her own!

 

For me, learning about and trying the Baby Led Weaning approach was a ‘light bulb moment’ that totally changed the way we feed our daughter. And while I know it means I’ll probably be breastfeeding for longer, I’m happy in the knowledge that Amelia is developing a healthy, fun attitude to eating. If your baby is refusing to be spoon-fed perhaps it could work for you?

 

Want to learn more about Baby Led Weaning?

‘Baby Led Weaning’ by Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett

http://www.baby-led.com/

http://www.babycentre.co.uk/baby/startingsolids/babyledweaning/

 

 

Want to eat out with your little ones?

Try one of the member-recommended family friendly restaurants in the Forum post and add your own.

 

 

 

 

 

3 responses to “Baby Led Weaning

  1. Great optimistic article 🙂 I’m there with you, our 15 month old is also on BLW and we love it!
    Not sure if it’s the right place to ask – if there are mamas out there who like BLW, use some or all of the basics of attachment parenting or natural parenting, maybe we can make a group to discuss all the tips&tricks?

  2. Hi, I also did mostly BLW with my 18mths old twins ( I breatfed them until 13moths)
    Now I find it getting more difficult as for food such as pasta/tomato meat sauce, and stews. They are both learning to eat their morning porridge by themselves and I don’t know if they are becoming more lazy or it’s me trying to avoid that the pasta, breakfast, and it all ends up on the floor…They are ok with other non messy foods, better than other kids the same age. So, it’s me? it’s natural that when they learn to hold the spoon it’s more work? should I just stick with finger foods? any suggestions?!
    I am so proud they can/will eat anything!

  3. totally a life saver for me now!! coz my mom is trying very hard to spoonfeed milana and it doesnt work at all! i told her not to worry too much about getting baby into three meal “habit” but it’s so hard for her to understand. When she comes to help,she will cook porridge with fish or meat and vegi in there as a mixture. took her long to prepare but milana doesnt like opening her mouth at all~BLW is what I can show her as a theory support!

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