Baby Led Weaning FAQ

I felt lead to write another Baby Led Weaning post and I thought I would answer some commonly asked questions that I often get from parents about Baby Led Weaning. This is a topic that I really enjoy discussing with people. I love food and I think that teaching that love to food to our children is important. I believe that Baby Led Weaning is one of the best ways to help instill within children a love of food. 

  • When can you start Baby Led Weaning? You can start giving your child soft, solids when they are 6 months old, have good head control and can comfortably sit up in a high chair. You also want your child to be showing signs they want to try to eat (reaching for foods that you are eating, watching you eat, etc). You want them to be able to do these things first, because then you know that they have the strength and stamina to handle solids.

  • What do I feed my child? Anything that you are eating. Especially at the beginning start with soft solids (fruits, cooked vegetables, beans, tofu, etc) and then as they get older you can move onto harder food items. There is no need to purchase "special" baby food items, give your child what you are eating!

  • What if my kid chokes? There is a difference between choking and coughing. Coughing is normal for every child. The key is not freaking out. Your child coughing is sign that they took too big of a bite, and they are trying to clear their airway. Do not pat them on the back to “try and help.” That could actually make them choke. Choking is when your children stops coughing and is no longer making noise. That is a sign their airway is blocked and that is the time to intervene. This would be the time to do the strongly pat their back over your knee and help to dislodge that food item. Choking is not common with Baby Lead Weaning. Coughing is common, especially at the beginning. Your child has to learn how to manipulate that food in their mouth to chew, swallow and breath. It is an acquired skill and takes practice.

  • You don’t use store-purchased baby food? No purees? Nope. Don’t spend more money on commercial baby food. It is a gimmick and your child doesn’t need it. Offer your child foods that you eat at the dinner table. Start with soft foods, cut in long pieces so they can grab them with their hands and feed themselves. It is great to teach your child independence and encourage them to try new foods. Begin with cooked vegetables, soft fruit, soft grain items like puffs or mumums. These items turn into purees in their mouth and they can safely manipulate them. This also means that you make 1 meal and everyone gets to eat it!

  • My kid has no teeth, how can they eat table food? Children want to eat what you are eating, why feed your child something different. Yes, your child may not have teeth, but that is why you start with soft food items that they can eat on their own. This teaches them how much food they can fit in their mouth and how to properly chew and swallow. They don’t need teeth for these soft food items you are feeding them.

  • What if my kid gets messy? Your kid will get so messy, but that is part of learning. Eating is more than just putting the food in your child’s mouth. It involves the smell, the texture, the taste and the different flavors. This also allows the whole family to sit down together at the table. You don’t have to feed your child separately. Family meal times have been proven to help strengthen those family connections and help child grow into better, more well-rounded individuals.

  • What if my child doesn't like the food? That is fine. It takes children upwards of 15 times of being exposed to a food to really determine if they dislike it. Always offer foods that they like and new foods as well. Remember, if you child chooses not to eat, that is fine. There will be another meal in a few hours and they will not starve.

  • What is the biggest challenge with Baby Led Weaning? Trying to work in variety. I think it is so easy to get in a food rut, but trying to mix things up and trying new recipes is key. Getting your child to try 100 foods by the time they are one is totally possible.

This is from the  Fortified Family website  and Katie Ferraro's website/books are amazing!

This is from the Fortified Family website and Katie Ferraro's website/books are amazing!

I think a lot of times as parents we are the ones that end up holding our kids back. We are the ones who limit their creativity or keep them doing crazy things. Yes, some times it is merited to protect them, but with food I feel that it is so important to let them explore, get messy and learn to eat all the different food items. If you have any other questions about Baby Led Weaning, feel free to reach out to me!

 

Baby Led Weaning Part 2

I wanted to do another follow up post about Baby Led Weaning. Besides encouraging your child to use their hands and feed themselves, finding utensils/sippy cups that work for your child can be overwhelming. There are lots of products out there, but I wanted to take the time and highlight a few items for you. I have heard about these items from Katie Ferraro who is an amazing dietitian who has some great education on baby lead weaning.

What to use? This has been one of my biggest struggles since starting solids with William. Breast feeding is easy because you don't have to use anything special. But with starting solids it is a whole new ball game.

Products I Love!

Grabease

These are a great product that I discovered through Katie Ferraro. I ordered a set for William and I think they are great. William loves holding them and putting them in his mouth. I can't say he has mastered the art of using utensils, but he has a ton of fun playing with them. These utensils are ergonomically designed to fit little ones hands. It allows for a natural vertical grasp and has a choke protection barrier to allow for safe self feeding. These also work great for baby led weaning. They can easily be cleaned in the dishwasher and are BPA free.

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Ezpz Mat

I have to confess I have used this only a few times, but I love the concept for this utensil. This all in one placement and plate works well to contain food. It also sticks to the table and it is hard to pick up and toss to the floor. The compartments can hold two 4oz portions and then one 10oz portion. That would work for a fruit/veggie, protein and carbohydrate. This is easy for a small child to use and work on developing their fine motor skills. You can wash it in the dishwasher, use in the microwave and it is oven safe up to 350 degrees. 

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Take and Toss Sippy Cup

I had two packages of these given to me from a friend and William loves them. I love this because it is durable to use again and again, but if it is lost it is not the end of the world. The colors are fun and they travel cap works great. They also don't have a valve, which I really liked. I want William to be able to gain the skills to control the flow of the milk out of the sippy cup and this will allow him to practice that skill. These are dishwasher safe as well and BPA free. 

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What products have you used that you like? Are there any  brands or types of baby feedings products you really liked? There are so many types of feeding utensils out there it can be overwhelming. If you are on the hunt for some great products to try, make sure you check these out! 

If you missed my first blog post about Baby Led Weaning - CLICK HERE to learn more about how this is a great way to teach your child to love food! 

Baby Led Weaning

It has been a little while since I have share with you about my little one, William. You got to hear all about my pregnancy and how things were going. I wanted to move onto another fun topic that I enjoy ... pediatric nutrition. This is totally my jam. Now my main focus is neonatal nutrition and obviously my child is out of that stage. He is now 6 months old! He is moving and grooving. He started crawling just around 6 months old. He is now obsessed with pulling up on things. When he pulls up and stands on his feet he is SO proud! He is just jumping through ALL of these milestone hoops. Over the last couple of weeks we have also started solid foods.

I am doing Baby Led Weaning with William. I am not sure if you have heard of this approach, but I think it is one of the best ways to teach your child how to love food. The premise is that you use table foods (foods that you would normally eat) and use those to teach your child how to eat. There is no jar baby food involved. Those products are over priced and totally void of much nutritional value. If you want to feed your child is a healthier and most cost effective way ... then keep reading, because this method is for you.

Baby led weaning simply means letting your baby feed themselves from the start of solid foods. There is no force feeding baby food mush. The term was coined by Gill Rapley who was a midwife. Check out her book HERE. Around 6 months or when your baby is able to sit up and is showing interest in foods if when you can start offering table foods. You simply hand your child a suitable size piece of food and they can play with it, smell it, lick it, mash it up, get it all over them and get the full experience of eating. At the beginning a very small portion of the food actually gets to their mouth/into their bellies, but they are learning all about food during this time. There are no purees, no ice cube trays, no food processing, no mashing of foods, no baby cereal or strange jar food combinations. Instead it is your baby eating food that that you eat at your dinner table.  

Baby Led Weaning

  • Encourages and teaches family meal time. Everyone comes together at the table and eats together. The baby gets to participate in meal time by being at the time and eating appropriate finger foods that the rest of the family is eating.

  • The child gets to choose what, how much and how quickly they want to eat.

  • This method gives the chance to explore various new textures and tastes. There is no pressure to have to eat something.

  • Continue to nurse or give a bottle just as often as you normally would. Solid foods at this point are made to go with the milk. The baby will regulate and start to eat more solids and decrease milk intake on their one. Usually this will occur later in the first year. For a baby at 6 months old, the main source of their nutrition is either breast milk or formula.

When you think about it baby led weaning ends up being a continuation of breast feeding. When a baby goes to breast, that baby is determining how food milk he is drinking. When he is satisfied he is done. The breast milk will take on different flavors, depending on the mother diet and this is an early introduction of what food tastes like and will increase baby's acceptance of those foods later in life. These concepts are continued with baby led weaning, because the baby is deciding if they want to try foods and how much of foods they want to try to eat. This method encourages that self regulation and exposures to various foods.

If you have questions about baby led weaning or want more information, send me a message. I have various resources that I would love to share with you. I believe that is it so important to build a healthy relationship with food and that starts when your baby first starts solid foods.