baby led weaning.

baby-led weaning {blw} is the practice of trusting your baby’s innate sense of hunger, of want, of self-knowledge and of self-limitation. baby-led weaning offers parents and their children a natural, relaxed approach to the introduction of solid foods.  instead of relying on prepared, commercial baby foods or even homemade purees, mama’s and papa’s simply introduce their babies to natural, wholesome real food from the start – relying on their babies to self-regulate and lead the way.

this is why we are primarily starting solids using this method.

blw is a natural approach to solid foods and to feeding your baby in general, and it starts at the breast. when you breastfeed your child, you rely on your baby to let you know when he or she is hungry and you allow your baby to self-regulate his or her eating patterns – feeding your baby on demand.  this level of innate parent-child connection and your trust in your baby’s ability to self-regulate based on his or her own hunger is the essence and foundation of baby-led weaning.

here are some tips we have learned the past couple of weeks as we have started the blw approach:

do NOT serve small, tiny pieces of food.
serve large chunks that can be easily grasped.
make sure your baby is capable of sitting on his or her own and is well-supported.
offer your baby the same foods you’re eating so that your baby feels included in the family meal. {unless there are food allergy issues}
know that your baby may not actually eat any of the food presented; rather, baby-led weaning is about exploration.
don’t hurry or rush your baby – after all, do you like to be rushed while eating?
make sure you only offer wholesome, natural foods (no added refined salts, flours, sugars, oils).
it will be messy, be prepared and relax a bit. the more mess, the better the photos!
steer away from foods that are clearly dangerous for young persons (peanuts, chips, popcorn etc).
no honey.
talk to your baby’s health care provider about this approach to weaning.

infants who participate in blw do at times, gag and spit food out. unlike traditional solid introduction, this gag response is not viewed as negative or uncomfortable for the infant. {however, it is for this mama! he has gagged only once and he was fine. i was the nervous nelly.}  when infants bring solid foods to their own mouth, they are the ones guiding the sensory experience, starting and stopping when they are comfortable and ready.

we started with avocado. then sweet potato. after that, pretty much anything that we have in the kitchen.  he has had watermelon, hummus, pita, squash, cucumber, green peppers, carrots, strawberries, cheese, ground beef, scrambled egg yolks, tangerines, bananas, broccoli, plain baby yogurt, oatmeal and even lettuce.

here is a sample dinner. steamed carrots. broiled green peppers. a small bit of protein, below ground beef.  and a fruit.  i like the ratio of mostly vegs and a small protein and a small fruit.

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his first food, avocado.  i learned that if i leave the skin on and cut into wedges, he can handle it better.  he eats the avocado and leaves the skin.  following his lead.

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we have chosen a few spoon fed foods.  plain baby yogurt is one of them.  we are holding off on the sugar added flavors.  if we can get him to love plain, without the sugar, that would be ideal.  and so far, it is working.  he loves it.  we are also taking it slow with high allergen foods like eggs.  so below is scrambled egg yolks for him and egg whites for me.  i love making one meal for the both of us.

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sweet potatoes continue to be his favorite.

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 it is a happy, messy life right now and i love it.  he is growing and food is all over the place.  every meal our cat is on one side and the dog on the other of him.  they know what is up.  and the diapers.  oh, the diapers.  they are changing too.  

six months into this parenting thing and i have learned that moderation and balance are key.  some purees and spoon fed goodness is good but for the most part we are following his lead and believing in self feeding.  whole, real foods is our primary focus.  having fun and learning developmental skills is a plus.  so far, it is all working well.   a good bib is key to happiness.