Talkback: What is baby led weaning?

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  • we did BLW with DS3 and i agree its the way to go.

    we started with just cutting everything into chip shapes and seeing how he did.

    would definately recommend giving it a try
  • We've been weaning our son the BLW way for two months and it's felt like a natural progression from breastfeeding. With all the experts saying babies shouldn't start solids before 6 months and with babies being capable of finger foods from then we just felt the puree stage was unnecessary. To begin with baby just gummed food, and when he started biting off pieces (he's got two bottom teeth) they all got spat out - but eventually we started seeing evidence in his nappy that some of the food had gone through. Now at 8 months baby's on 3 meals a day, can feed himself with a loaded spoon, chews and swallows lumps and no longer needs food to be stick shaped as he can pretty much manage anything.

    Baby has gagged on a couple of occasions (unlike many of his puree-fed friends and cousins he has never choked), but then that's what the gag reflex is there for and he's not been upset by it, just pulls a face, spits out the piece and continues eating. In fact baby's just as likely to choke with purees as they can't be spat out as easily and therefore get right to the back of the throat.

    Two months into solids baby eats pretty much everything we do so he has a very varied and healthy diet, current favourites are blueberries, garlic bread and fajita chicken strips! BLW isnt for everyone, but if you are interested I'd definitely reccommend reading Gill Rapley's very informative book before you start - you'll be less likely to end up with choking incidents and you'll feel more confident about your decision when everyone tells you baby should be on purees.

    The best thing about BLW so far has been watching baby explore all the different tastes and textures - and because baby eats the same as us our diet's improved as we've had to cut out salt and processed food image. We'll definitely be BLW our next baby!

  • In relation to the frightening story of the choking incident above, my little monster may be eating just about everything but he's never had a grape yet and he's nearly 8 months, and when he does it'll be cut in half as I aware grapes are a choking hazard. It must have been awful for that poor mum to have seen her baby turn blue - thank goodness it turned out ok xx

  • I've been doing BLW and I find it great. J has only gagged once, let alone choked and we started her a month earlier than recommended. She already has a real joy for food which is wonderful.

    It seems strange that the only two negative comments in your article are from Annabel Karmel (who has a massive range of books and merchandise based on puree feeding) and a lady whose baby appears to have been used to purees(where the 'eating' motion is more sucking liquid from a spoon than it is eating properly, which is what is learnt during BLW)?

     I would second the recommendation for the Gill Rapley book - the easiest to read parenting book I've picked up, and great for research to quote to Grandparents/other carers etc who might not be too sure about the approach.

  • I started doing purees for my daughter,but I realised that as soon as she could move she found her way to her sister's highchair and managed to eat whatever her sister would drop for her.She was obviously a lot more capable than I thought of dealing with lumps,so I then started giving her pieces of food,as pureeing just seemed unnecessary.

    I pureed with my older children and with most of them had trouble introducing lumps later on,but with my daughter she eats everything we do.I think purees have their place if baby's below 6 months .Yes the official line is no solids before 6 months but that depends on the child,and being careful and sensible about what you do introduce any earlier.Pureeing does to a certain extent hold back baby's development if you carry on too long without introducing solids,but it does have its place initially with a younger baby who can't sit in a chair and feed themself.

    I'd agree with what was sais above,you do have to differentiate between gagging and choking.We've had a few gaggings,but no choking,and the gagging feflex is there for a reason.I need to work on the spoon though,my 15 month old usually tries for a while,but she knows a fistful of shepherd's pie gets it in much quicker than the spoon.I just tend to let her get on and enjoy it.

  • ive combined both with both children, theyre complete pigs and found feeding themselves to slow and got angry, however by 7mnths jack had one finger food meal one home made mush a day along with breakfast milk etc., Lola however hates waiting for herself iykwim, she has finger foods as snacks and with a meal ive made, so she trys both, we have had no trouble with gaging or moving to lumps at all, she happily enjoys a chunky veg sauce on whole pasta shapes, theres not one thing my son doesnt eat and so far lolas only not a fan of fruit but shell eat fingers of apple and banana with avacado and now yogurts so were getting there, and i LOVE annabell karmel, her recipes are brilliant and mychildren have never had such slop they could suck it, its always had texture! they both love all her recipes ive tried which i often adapt to make more interesting after a while, im very happy ith her advice and to be honest i dont follow any book i follow me!
  • forgot to add jo, jack only decided a spoon was a good idea in the last few months, its far more fun squelching stuff between fingers.
  • your lola is the same age as my girl but i dont dare to give her anythin but soft stuff-im aware maybe she does need to move on to lumps but im so anxious she l choke how can i relax about it-she doesnt have any teeth yet but she has very strong gums-i know that chewing develops the muscles for talking so its important to progress to lumps.i dont want to do babyled weaning but do u hav any ideas of first foods to give with lumps?
  • Try a piece of banana,that's soft.Also biscuits to chew on.Thin slices of cheese.Wotsits/quavers/pombears.Cheerios.Just be there and let her play.It's all practice.Blueberries were an absolute favourite,kiwis,ripe pear.The more your little one has a go,the more capable they are, you'll be suprised what they can eat.Definately keep up the purees till you know she's getting enough herself.Abit of both worked well for us
  • cooked pasta was good for both of mine large twists for finger foods or boots baby range in my veg purees, if you cook it slightly longer it goes lovely and soft, have to admit ive been very nervous with lola as shes taken longer to get teeth than my son who had 6 by 7mnths, but since shes had a few finger foods shes got 4 teeth!
  • and and also before full on lumps i started to mash food instead of puree, still soft but a bit chunkier xx
  • thanks-il start with mashing-with my son i was even more nervous and didnt put him on lumpy food til he was 11mths! when they gag im terrified and cant handle it-im going to go slowly as lily is so small and seems much younger to me cos of that....

  • good luck, its scary when they gag but its a natural reflex and it doesnt mean theyre gonna choke its hard but i had to learn to say good girl and let her do it then she carrys on happily x
  • We did baby led weaning and simply LOVED it! Mealtimes are so much fun, and totally stress-free. There was a small amount of gagging at the beginning, but never any choking, and now our daughter handles her food and controls her appetite better than her 3-year-old cousins!

    I would encourage anyone to give it a go... there are so many benefits, and so few downsides (yes, ok, it's messy, but these are babies we're talking about!!)

    Have fun with your weaning adventures! 
  • I now wish I'd know about BLW when we were weaning - it sounds really quite sesnible and natural from what you guys say! Oh well, always a chnace to try out all the stuff I now know if a baby no 2 ever comes along! LOL!
  • Baby led weaning is just a new name for something most mums I know have always done. It's not really a new weaning technique. 

    I have 3 kids and have combined the puree with solids thing from 6 months with each one. 

    Starchy carbohydrate foods are ideal finger foods as the amylase in spit starts the digestive process in the mouth so they can chomp on something hard then it quickly softens, so less likely to gag or choke on.

    Other foods are more likely to be swallowed with little breakdown and take longer for the baby to digest and when their digestive system has only just been introduced to food this may make them uncomfortable.

    Puree meals they can't pick up, like Shepherds pie, but leave the veg whole. Same for pasta bolognese, meat is pretty tough, puree sauce and give pasta to eat.

    Have always had finger foods and a puree meal combined.  That way I can be sure they are getting enough of a balanced meal whilst topping themselves up if still hungry on the finger foods.

  • I'm sceptical about the idea of baby led weaning being easier than pureeing. When you puree you make huge batches at a time and then you have ready made meals for weeks - ideal when your little one is not necesarily hungry at the same time as the rest of the family. As far as I can see, you can only safely "give your baby what everyone else is eating" if you eat super healthy salt free meals at every meal. So either baby led weaning families can never eat pizza, garlic bread, sausages, fish fingers, chips, crisps, ready made pasta or curry sauces, ham, etc etc etc etc, OR, as I suspect is more likely, BLW babies are getting way too much salt in their diet by eating inappropriate foods. People who mentioned pom bears, wotsits etc - they have LOADS of salt and are NOT suitable for a 6 month old. 

    My 3 children had healthy home made purees with texture which meant they could eat a massive range of foods, many of which they couldn't possibly have had as finger food eg beef, lamb, celery, rice and lots more. They are all good eaters as older children. 

    To me BLW sounds like letting children eat snack foods all day instead of a proper meal, which is the opposite model of what I want my children to do. Also, most of the food seems to end up on the floor which is a)wasteful and b) not filling up my child, which is part of the purpose of weaning. I started weaning at 4 months because my kids were hungry at that age - to keep giving them more and more milk until 6 months would have been ridiculous.  

    I also don't agree that it's bad to feed a baby - even my 4 and 6 year old need encouragement to eat up sometimes, that doesn't mean they are full, just lazy sometimes. With encouragement they finish almost every meal. Personally,  I expect my children to clear their plates unless it is obvious they have genuinely been given too much. Most of my friends let their kids stop when they want and throw away tons of food, which would have been eaten with a small amount of encouragement. And they let them have pudding. Sorry, in my house if you're hungry enough for pudding you can finish your main course.  We can't afford to throw food away. I want to know they are actually full and haven't just played with their food, only to ask for a biscuit half an hour later because they haven't eaten their meal. 

    You can keep your baby led weaning. I would equally discourage anyone to give their kids exclusively jar purees as they are too smooth and don't teach kids how to eat proper food, but home made purees mixed with finger foods when they are old enough will give them better nutrition. 

     

     

     

     

     

  • I agree with both the fans of blw and those who like more traditional weaning so I have done both. I haven't found it easy to give the variety or volume of food my lo wants or needs by blw alone but equally I have also tried finger foods like asparagus and lettuce that I would never have given my older children When I had never heard of blw. I give her fresh healthy finger foods and follow it up with something homemade and squashed after and get her to use the spoon herself (though sometimes she is too tired).

    i never thought she would be able to feed herself as well as she has , which has been great fun to watch and see her get excited about joining in with family meals, but I think there is definitely a place for purees too.

  • Having tried puree weaning and baby led weaning I have to say that if I have anymore children then I would definitely do BLW again, it is sooooo easy and my LO has a brilliant relationship with food. To me, it was the natural progression from breastfeeding as she regulates her intake of food just as she did milk. Knowing the difference between gagging and choking helped me stay sane while my baby was playing with solid foods from day 1. I tested all foods on myself and if i could mush it on my palette with my tongue I was confident enough to give it to my baby in the beginning. My LO has an amazingly varied diet as she eats what I do including garlic, curries and spicy sausage and she absolutely loves fruit, a whole pear can keep her amused for ages.  The rest of us benefited too as we made all of our food without salt and from scratch and mealtimes are a very social affair.

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