Baby-led weaning

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Duellist
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Baby-led weaning

Postby Duellist » 28 Sep 2008, 18:17

I did a search on the phrase and came up with nothing, so I will share the latest adventure that my wife and I have embarked on with our daughter.

When my wife and I came to wean our daughter, we bought a blender and settled for the idea of feeding her mush and paste. That is what normal people do, right?

Somehow, we came across the idea of baby-led weaning. It is a simple idea; a baby at six months can pick up food and stuff it into their own mouth, it is what they do with lots of non-food items, after all. The basic idea is not to purée food, it is to cut food into bits big enough to hold, but small enough to put into their mouth.

It seems to be something that is either obvious when you think about it, or else completely insane. They put things in their mouth anyway, so why not teach them to feed themselves? On the other hand, there is the (mistaken) fear of choking. Well, it seems to work. At first, there was a lot of sucking and a little spitting, but she soon started swallowing. She still has breast-milk, but she also eats with us at all three meal-times if she is awake. She eats what she wants and then she is allowed to leave what she doesn't like. Since she gets them all put in front of her, she chooses what to eat and what not to eat; we don't mix everything up onto a greyish paste, we leave that to her. Curiously, she is happy to eat most foods that she is given. Her favourite foods appear to be bread, lettuce (we are not sure how she eats it without teeth) and any kind of meat.

Her hand-eye coordination gets better by the day, she can (sort of) use a spoon to feed herself and she takes food from our hands (and plates) if we are not careful. The other enormous advantage is that it is like breast-feeding; we don't carry pots of baby-food or plastic spoons and bowls, we just give her a little of what we are eating. She has eaten many foods, from birthday cake (not deliberately; she fed it to herself when we were not watching her) to Thai curry, without seeming picky and even the health-visitors and nutritionists cannot find any real issues.

We still have the blender though; it makes nice milk-shakes...

For the full story, visit our blog (Feed Me) or try the Wikipedia entry for more information.
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Re: Baby-led weaning

Postby BeltaineInchy » 28 Sep 2008, 19:07

I'm told by mrs Inchy (I can't remember that far back) that when our eldest was born the advice was to start weaning at 2months, probably he was on to what we were having by six months, which is the same through a different channel. I reckon it makes sense. It's not long since we were hunter gatherers and I can't see that women used to chew all the food into mush for their babies to eat. No doubt they breast fed for about six months and then just gave them well cooked or soft foods to eat as well
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Re: Baby-led weaning

Postby illion » 28 Sep 2008, 21:00

I really like the idea of baby-led weaning :)

So glad to hear that you`ve had the opportunity to do it this way. I didn`t know I had a choice :-) when my son (now 3 years) was at that stage of his development. I heard of it a little too late, and just knew I would have done it that way if I had known better.

I think that with this method it`s a lot easier for the baby to have a natural take on food and eating. They eat what they like and want, and get a real interest in tasting new foods.

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Re: Baby-led weaning

Postby Etain » 19 Aug 2009, 18:20

we did this with our eldest, and our tiny will be starting soon! It is brilliant fun, messy but hilarious...and we have the most fabulous eater now...

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Re: Baby-led weaning

Postby inis » 19 Aug 2009, 18:43

It's not long since we were hunter gatherers and I can't see that women used to chew all the food into mush for their babies to eat. No doubt they breast fed for about six months and then just gave them well cooked or soft foods to eat as well
Well, in fact women in "native" contexts (be it "us" in the Neolithic Age or Tribes around the world nowadays) stopped breastfeeding their children at an age between 2 and 7 years; and in fact, food WAS chewed by the mother and then fed to the child! ...all the food the babies didn't manage to eat by themselves, that is.
Dear Duelist, it's a very nice way for the little ones, I agree with you - there seems to be a stage, when they like nearly every flavor, the stranger the better. (My son ate at 6 months green pesto on toast, for example, and he especially enjoyed red cabbage!) But I stood under the impression that certain things weren't so easy to manage for the little digestive tract, so I didn't give him everything.
And I was glad that he accepted baby food in jars, too - it made life easier for mommy... :innocent: Now that he is 14,5 months old he learns to use fork and spoon and understands very well, which kind of food he is allowed to eat by himself (everything in pieces) and which would cause too much of a mess (everything mashed).
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Re: Baby-led weaning

Postby Sanas Cuain » 19 Aug 2009, 19:15

Oh it is amazing!
I am a real convert, having had 4 children weaned on MUSH! to then have my son start to wean himself at 6 months and see him develop and eat for himself is amazing!

Duelist,
you never mentioned the baby-led weaning forum, my wife Kristal and son Gethin are on there too! A very valuable resource for anyone wanting to explore this most amazing - yet perfectly natural developmental activities!

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Re: Baby-led weaning

Postby Duellist » 19 Aug 2009, 20:05

But I stood under the impression that certain things weren't so easy to manage for the little digestive tract, so I didn't give him everything.
Yes, there are some things which need to be postponed. Wheat, excessive sugar, eggs, shellfish, honey, etc. The jury is out on nuts though; some say that you should avoid nuts in case they develop an allergy and others say that you should give them nuts young (not raw peanuts at 6 months, but pesto and peanut butter have nuts) so that their bodies can get used to them in hopes of avoiding allergies.

The one that we were strict on was milk only until (almost) six months. At 24 weeks, she stole a slice of cake and devoured it without any hesitation or even coercion. That was when we started.
And I was glad that he accepted baby food in jars, too - it made life easier for mommy... :innocent:
Really? The thing I loved about BLW was handing her a plate of food and a spork, then letting her get on with it. We had a nice family meal-time. I mean... How do you eat and spoon-feed at the same time?

The thing I hate about the idea of jars is that they can't choose what to eat; it is all one grey slime. I also see too many jar-fed babies force-fed like battery hens, towels wrapped around them and arms trapped, pinned down on their backs so that they can't stop the feeding.
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Re: Baby-led weaning

Postby inis » 20 Aug 2009, 16:03

And I was glad that he accepted baby food in jars, too - it made life easier for mommy... :innocent:
Really? The thing I loved about BLW was handing her a plate of food and a spork, then letting her get on with it. We had a nice family meal-time. I mean... How do you eat and spoon-feed at the same time?
Well... unless I have some kind of food I can eat left-handed with a spoon, I have to wait with my own breakfast/supper/whatever - or I take hasty mouthfuls while he is busy eating or playing or dreaming during mealtime... But when I leave it to him, I'm also quite busy in preventing a huge mess, so I always finish my meals last. :roll: I meant it was easier because I didn't have to cook every day about the same time, sometimes I was happy if I only had to open and heat the jar for him...
The thing I hate about the idea of jars is that they can't choose what to eat; it is all one grey slime. I also see too many jar-fed babies force-fed like battery hens, towels wrapped around them and arms trapped, pinned down on their backs so that they can't stop the feeding.
Well, in Germany baby-food in jars has very soon little limps in it, food for 8-month-olds for example has noodles in half, peas and little pieces of carrot, and you can differ between these parts (visually, I mean - it's still not possible to pick out only the noodles). So it's at least not greyish and one pulp. What he definitely disliked were jars with fruit puree - he only wanted fresh fruit, like a whole apple or banana. And when he made clear that he was fed up or didn't like the stuff, it was okay, mealtime finished!

About the jar-fed and gagged babies... well, a lot of them don't know any other treatment. A lot of people seem to underestimate their babies and treat them like a pet or a doll or a piece of furniture, and these babies do not search for example eye contact with other people or children, even though they would be old enough to do some hide-and-seek-games or whatever. But you will know that effect too: that other people are excited about the communication and interaction your daughter shows "at her age already"... she was able to develop her own will, and these babies you mentioned were trained not to have a will of their own. :???:
You won't get what you deserve - you are what you take. I don't know why you gotta be so undemanding - I want more. (The Sisters of Mercy)

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Re: Baby-led weaning

Postby Mey » 09 Sep 2009, 06:26

Our boy never ate babyfood (home made or from a jar)! He loved the whole chuncks of broccoli, carrots, potatoes and most of all MEAT. It's true that it's great for their eye-hand coordination and at the age of 2,5 years our little one can eat soup with a spoon all by himself (and he's damn proud of it that he can do that)!!!
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Re: Baby-led weaning

Postby Argenta » 01 May 2010, 14:01

I'm raising this topic because I too must say how happy we were with finding out about BLW. After a picky first one who needs coercion and occasional feeding even at the age of five, our little BLW kid is so happy with eating anything you put before him, and all by himself. He was able to eat his entire lunch alone by 9 months, and he has been using spoons and forks from 18 months. People didn't believe us until they saw him :-) He is 2,5 now, and his favourite food is broccoli :grin: We stopped nursing this winter.

I warmly recommend BLW to anyone who'd listen. No disregard to other parents, but I could never again feed my kid with any kind of food that was cooked and bottled who knows when and by whom. For me, it is all the difference to feed my kids with as fresh a meal as possible.
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Re: Baby-led weaning

Postby Reyna » 02 Aug 2010, 16:49

My kiddo is 19 weeks and already interested in whatever we eat. We've let her taste some things as we are eating them-bananas were the best though she loved gumming a cucumber (not sure if she got much taste from that one, I think she liked how her gums squeaked on it). She doesn't quite have the hand eye coordination thing down so we haven't tried giving her an actual meal (figured we'd wait till 6 months). Any suggestions or tips/tricks?
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Re: Baby-led weaning

Postby Argenta » 03 Aug 2010, 05:04

My kiddo is 19 weeks and already interested in whatever we eat. We've let her taste some things as we are eating them-bananas were the best though she loved gumming a cucumber (not sure if she got much taste from that one, I think she liked how her gums squeaked on it). She doesn't quite have the hand eye coordination thing down so we haven't tried giving her an actual meal (figured we'd wait till 6 months). Any suggestions or tips/tricks?
First, I would strongly suggest you do wait until 6 months, because it will significantly strengthen her immune system, especially if you're nursing. Even then, do not give her the food you're eating, as it is too salty/spicy, and it can cause harm to her digestion. Also, most babies are not strong enough before that age to be kept in the proper position, and feeding them lying down is a huge no-no for BLW's.

When you do start, it's best to do so adding only one new item to her menu every 4-5 days or so, to see whether there is any (alergical) reaction. Later, when you've tried enough different types of fruits and vegetables, you can combine them. With this kind of weaning, fruits and veggies usually go first, then, after a month or two you get to make yummy rice balls, polenta sticks, etc. I would suggest to find a quality web page about children and their health, and look for a chart of which food can be given at which month (I already forgot :) )

There are several good sites about BLW, if that is what you decide to do, eg.
http://babyledweaning.blogware.com/
http://babyledweaning.com/
... and you can also see some wonderful clips on YouTube.
I am not young enough to know everything. (O.W.)

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Re: Baby-led weaning

Postby Argenta » 03 Aug 2010, 05:17

Some of the main points to have in mind about BLW:

1) Hold the baby in as upright position as possible. At first, you might want to hold her in your lap, and support her over your hand, so that food cannot just slip into her throat without chewing on it first.

2) All the food should be long enough for her to comfortably hold in her hand until she learns how to pick little things with her fingers. (Then the real fun starts!)

3) It should be cooked (steam works best for fruits and veggies) so that is soft enough to chew even with few teeth, but strong enough so as not to fall apart when held.

4) Do not worry about choking! If you follow advice (1), most kids under age one are perfectly capable of spitting the food right out of their throat, contrary to what most people believe. I've seen it with my own eyes. It only takes about a week or so before they master eating, and will never choke on anything again.

5) Prepare yourself for some mess in the beginning. However, it should not take more than a year (I hope this does not sound scary :grin: ) to get a perfectly tidy little eater.

6) The most important one: DO NOT FUSS about food. This approach is all about letting the baby decide when, what and how much food she wants to take. No kid so small will starve itself, and letting them be in control of food intake makes them very competent later on to tell you exactly when they are hungry, and what they want to eat. And if you introduce quality food early enough, they will not ask for nonsense food. As I said, my kid loves broccoli, salads, tofu, stews, risottos, and eats fruit by loads! He rarely asks for sweets, or any drink apart from water, except when he's not really hungry or thristy.

(On the other hand, many kids with parents too concerned about their feeding early on tend to use that as a means of manipulation later (trust me, I'm one of those, too) and then real problems can start, as older kids can and sometimes even do starve themselves out of whims!)

So, good luck, and I hope your adventures in food-land are pleasant, exciting, and fun!
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Re: Baby-led weaning

Postby Reyna » 31 Aug 2010, 01:08

Just thought I'd check in-we are having a blast with BLW. I can't believe I even considered pureed foods. Kiddo has gotten really good at picking up food and feeding herself (though I swear she loves more to bomb it off the side and watch the dog go nuts). Thank you everyone for the tip and suggestions. Now...how do I get the dog on a diet? :D
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Re: Baby-led weaning

Postby LadyAoftheshire » 04 Apr 2014, 15:40

This is an old thread but we LOVE baby led weaning. Watching your child explore a piece of broccoli for the first time can be really enlightening!
http://kellymom.com/nutrition/starting- ... lids-when/ this is a great list for solid readiness, which I found helpful.

Signs that indicate baby is developmentally ready for solids include:

Baby can sit up well without support.
Baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex and does not automatically push solids out of his mouth with his tongue.
Baby is ready and willing to chew.
Baby is developing a “pincer” grasp, where he picks up food or other objects between thumb and forefinger. Using the fingers and scraping the food into the palm of the hand (palmar grasp) does not substitute for pincer grasp development.
Baby is eager to participate in mealtime and may try to grab food and put it in his mouth.

We often state that a sign of solids readiness is when baby exhibits a long-term increased demand to nurse (sometime around 6 months or later) that is unrelated to illness, teething pain, a change in routine or a growth spurt. However, it can be hard to judge whether baby’s increased nursing is related to readiness for solids. Many (if not most) 6-month-old babies are teething, growth spurting and experiencing many developmental changes that can lead to increased nursing – sometimes all at once! Make sure you look at all the signs of solids readiness as a whole, because increased nursing alone is not likely to be an accurate guide to baby’s readiness.


RE. choking. We were terrified at first but learnt the difference between gagging (noise and breathing) and choking (quiet, no breathing). If baby gags on food, count to 10 slowly in your head and remain calm. Usually by the time you get to 3 baby will have the food out of their mouth.
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Re: Baby-led weaning

Postby Seren » 13 Sep 2014, 22:05

I LOVED it too, and if we ever have a second child I will do it again. It just makes perfect sense to me, but I know that some people feel daunted and uncomfortable with it.
You might enjoy this interview with BLW pioneer Gill Rapley in The Green Parent magazine: http://hannahhiles.co.uk/2014/07/10/bab ... en-parent/
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Re: Baby-led weaning

Postby SilaquiNL » 22 Nov 2014, 10:05

I have done baby led weaning with my first son. Just because that felt natural. After two years he was done with breastfeading.
Now our youngest is still loving it at 6 months (and me too). He was interested in our food from 4 months old. We first gave him a bit of bread and now also beans, patato, anything chewable.
When our food is not suitable a banana works just fine:) He loves it, when you put something on his tray he grabs it with two hands as if he is starving! Which he is deffinetly not haha, chubby all over the place!
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