Let's Talk About Baby Led Weaning!
I am still somewhat in denial that my little baby will be turning two in May, I just want the days to slow down a wee bit.
I have been blessed second time around with a very easy baby in contrast to Charlie, who no fault of his own (being born with a hearing defect) was a challenging baby, was a fussy eater and a really terrible sleeper. Hector sleeps solidly from 12/12.30 - 2pm and 6.30am - 7.30am most days and we know if he's up then something is on the horizon but there is always one thing that people comment on and that's how good an eater is. I personally put that down to one thing. Baby Led Weaning (BLW).
With Charlie I was so keen for him to progress to the next stage, when he was crawling, I wanted him walking and this applied to feeding too and I took the personal decision to wean him at just four months.
Second time around with Hector and keen for time to slow down Tom and I decided that we would wait to wean. It was only at about six and a half months that we made the leap into BLW after a bit of research and a demanding toddler on my hands and an impending return to work that we knew this would work best for our family and we were willing to give it a shot. It was the best decision we have made in regards to feeding.
I purchased the Gill Rapley book and read it cover to cover. I watched out for the signs, an interest in food, trying to reach for food etc and once we started we never looked back.
Baby-led weaning is in its simplest form letting your baby eat their own food rather than you spoon feeding them. You cut food, normally what you are eating, into sizes and shapes that they can hold and eventually feed themselves, simple as that really.
I think the major difference between baby led weaning and dare I say it, spoon fed weaning is the order in which a child learns to eat. With a spoon fed baby they learn by swallowing first and chewing later and with baby led weaning its the opposite with learning to chew first.
Be prepared though - baby led weaning is not for the clean and neat freak - things get messy. Very messy. Don't stress but rather simply sit back and watch your baby learn to explore the different textures, look, tastes of each new food that you introduce them to.
Hector spent most days learning to eat in very little clothing!
Well, if you are interested in trying out baby led weaning with your little one here are my top tips!
1. Have a look on You Tube for baby led weaning babies - see how they are interacting from such a young age with all manner of different foods, flavours and textures and not a puree in sight!
2. Don't get disheartened when the majority of the food that you give them goes all down them and on the floor - simply remember that "Food before one is just for fun" as your little one will still be getting the majority of their "food from milk".
3. Choose foods that have a natural handle - brocolli (tenderstem is ideal!), chicken drumsticks (skin removed), melon fingers, toast soldiers, cheese sticks, cucumber sticks (fab when teething!) are all super to give your little ones.
4. Choose a highchair that is wipe clean! This is a must! Something preferably without straps as they get grubby and manky very quickly! Might I suggest a wipe clean table cloth underneath too if you have carpet!
5. Give them what you are having. Don't bother going to great efforts to make them something worthy of a Masterchef final because they will quickly reject it and ignore it faster than John Torrode ever could and it is soul destroying. The whole beauty of baby led weaning is that baby eats what the rest of the family eat. Just bear in mind that when you are cooking to leave out the salt!
6. Don't bother with bowls - its amazing how far a plastic bowl or plate can be flung across the room. Simply use the tray - but don't pack the highchair table out with loads of food just simply pop a few bits down and let baby get stuck in.
6 months old and destroying a lamb chop!
7. Gagging. Oh how babies love to gag and as parents we love to panic - but wait! Their bodies are designed to have a gag reflex further forward so don't stress if they start gagging when they start baby led weaning don't panic its just baby's way of moving the food around its mouth so just keep a close watchful eye when baby eats and monitor the situation and allow babies body to cough up and correct what he needs to. Never put food in baby's mouth remember to let baby lead the eating.
8. Baby poo - it will rapidly start to change and it's amazing what little gems come back to life in baby's poo - raisins will amaze you!!
9. Get your camera ready and prepare to be amazed at the foods that if they are given the opportunity they will eat, suck and chew - it's really quite marvellous.
10. Enjoy it. There really is not anything more wonderful than watching your child take their next steps in to the world of food and just think you may just be raising the future Jamie Oliver or Nigella Lawson. How fab would that be?
Did you do baby led weaning with your little one? Would love to know how they are now as an eater. Do they eat and try everything or are they super picky?