Baby Led Weaning: How My Babies Feed Themselves

After having my first baby I was surprised how often people told me I needed to feed her infant rice cereal. I had never heard of it before so I did my own research. What did I found out? Rice cereal has no nutritional value, is FULL of sugar and sets kids up for a taste towards starchy foods like french fries, breads, pasta etc. and if given to an infant before they have developed the right gut bacteria for digesting- it can lead to gastroenteritis,diarrhea and interfere with proper nutrient absorption. Eek!

Statistics show that 40% of parents give their infants solids (cereals and foods) too early according to studies published in The Medical Journal of Pediatrics. Six months is the earliest that the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) that infants should be introduced to solids. Improper timing of the first introduction of solid food during infancy can cause life-long problems such as allergies, eczema, obesity and diabetes. Formula fed babies are twice as likely to be fed food solids too early (because baby formula can expensive, between $50 and $100 for the first month & between $1,138 and $1,188 for the first year). A recent study (click HERE to read study) of 539 mothers found that 1 in 10 gave their newborns solids BEFORE they were 4 weeks old. THIS KILLS ME!!!!!!! I had to re-read that line multiple times because I could not believe it said 4 weeks and not 4 months!

Their reasons?

90% of the mothers thought their babies were old enough

71% of the mothers thought their baby seemed hungry

55% were told by the pediatricians to introduce solids

This is where baby led weaning comes in..

I decided to use the Baby Led Weaning approach and give my babies real food. BLW essentially means letting your child feed themselves. Weaning is a confusing term when used here because it does not mean bottle or breastfeeding less it translates to “adding complementary foods to“.  My daughter is still a nursing champ! The point is- no spoons or purees, just food. You just hand them the food in a suitably-sized piece and if they like it they eat it and if they don’t they won’t. At 7 months old my daughter Evelyn showed all the signs of readiness for food and even started crying when we would have meals. So I gave her an avocado and she devoured it. “Ok, here we go” I thought. Since then, I have slowly introduced new foods, textures flavors and tastes to her. The greatest thing about BLW is she eats what we eat. I don’t need to make “our food” and “her food.” I never left her alone and always watched for any cues or signs of distress. Making sure foods are the right size and consistency is important. She is now almost 1 year old and tends to go in eating cycles. Some days she isn’t interested in food all that much and wants to nurse or vice-versa and I just go with the flow and let her lead. If a baby is hungry THEY WILL LET YOU KNOW. Trust me.

The Benefits of Baby Led Weaning

  • BLW babies practise hand-eye coordination every time they use their fingers to take food to their mouths
  • Gripping foods of different sizes and textures several times a day improves babies’ dexterity
  • Allowing babies to do things for themselves helps them to learn and gives them confidence in their own abilities and judgement
  • Puréeing food is time-consuming and fiddly, and can be expensive. With BLW, it just isn’t necessary. Provided the parents’ diet is healthy, they can easily adapt their meals for their baby
  • Eating out is easier too. BLW babies are used to eating round the table with adults and they enjoy ‘grown-up’ food – so families aren’t limited to restaurants with a ‘kids’ menu’
  • With BLW everyone eats together; the grown-ups don’t have to spoon-feed the baby while their own dinner goes cold and everyone is part of what’s going on

(Info courtesy of BabyLed.co.uk)

How to know if your child is ready for solids

  • Baby has teeth-the increased salivation that accompanies teething can also aid indigestion.
  • Baby can sit up well without support & hold head up unassisted.
  • 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. (Research studies tell us that there are many health advantages to delaying solids for about 6 months for all babies, not just the babies who are not yet interested in mealtime)

Good “First Foods”

Bananas

Avocado

Boiled egg yolks

Pears

Steamed sweet potatoes

Chicken

Fish (wild salmon is a great brain food!)

Boiled beans

Quinoa

Click HERE to visit Wholesomebabyfood.com a GREAT website for ALL things related to babies & food.

*Also if BLW isn’t for you make sure to check out Whitney Js DIY baby food! Click HERE for her delicious and cost-effective homemade baby food.


 

Some foodie shots of Evelyn 🙂

Here she is chowing down on berries, sprouts, egg yolks, avocados, chicken, qunioa, black beans, bananas, sea weed, sweet potatoes, turkey burger and tomatoes ALL without a single tooth in her mouth!

-Krystle K

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2 Comments
  1. Baby's First Foods November 13, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    […] still very much recommended by many pediatricians as a first food for babies at 4 months. We chose baby led weaning and so we also skipped the cereals all together. I suggest looking very closely at readiness signs […]

  2. Kira July 2, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Thank you so much for explaining this whole thing, I didn’t know about it…although I wish I had when my first child was a baby!