Where do I start?
So you’ve heard about Baby Led Weaning (BLW), but you’re not quite sure it’s for you. I’m going to walk you through how to start baby led weaning as a new mom.
Sometimes starting something new can be a little scary, especially when it involves your baby, so let me hold your hand along the way. You got this momma!
When I was first thinking about using this method to introduce food to my second little one, I scoured the internet for information. I found a lot, but I wanted to know more. I didn’t just want food suggestions, I needed to know the background and why I should feed my baby this way instead of the way everybody else seemed to be doing it. Feeling confident was very important to me, this was my precious little baby!
A couple of my friends suggested I read, Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods- and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater.
If you’re not much of a reader, don’t worry! The book is on audible!
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It was a quick and easy read and it gave me a great start. It helped solidify my gut feeling that this was the way I wanted my baby to start her food journey.
Let me give you a quick overview. It talks about the history of baby food and how the idea of pureed food didn’t really become popular until the 1920’s, the importance of including your baby in meal times and how to do so, how to provide exposure to a variety of foods, example starter foods and so much more.
What is baby led weaning?
I wrote a whole post devoted to this exact question. If you want to know more be sure to check out all the benefits of baby led weaning.
I love baby led weaning and I would recommend it to anyone. Read and find out why I love it so much!
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How will I know when my baby is ready?
Using baby led weaning as a new mom doesn’t have to be complicated, but there are some things you should be sure of and when to start is one of those. Mommas often wonder when to start with BLW.
Many experts suggest that solids should not be introduced until after 6 months, which is contrary to what your doctor might tell you. With my son, my doctor said I could start him on cereal at 4 months. He seemed to like it just fine, but he does have some aversions to textures and I wonder if baby led weaning could have eased him into textures more naturally.
Waiting until 6 months gives your baby’s digestive system time to mature. Your baby may be ready as early at 5 1/2 months, while other babies may not be ready until 7 or 8 months.
I first introduced food to my daughter at 5 1/2 months. She ended up chasing most of it around with her fingers, a little made it to her mouth and A LOT ended up on the floor. Although she wasn’t getting much nutritionally, I could tell she enjoyed being included and had fun exploring, so I continued to offer her food during our dinnertime meals. (I was still breastfeeding, so I wasn’t worried about calorie intake. I also eased her into meals by only introducing food during dinner. As she grew, I added in breakfast and lunch) Baby led weaning isn’t just about eating. So it’s ok, let your baby make a mess!
Signs to Watch for:
While all babies are different and will be interested in food on their own time, there are some signs you can watch for. I have listed below some of the developmental skills you might notice. Your baby does not have to display all of these in order to begin, they are just something for you to be aware of to help you know when your baby might be ready.
- sits well without assistance
- keeps food in mouth and doesn’t automatically push it out with tongue (no tongue-thrust reflex)
- is able to self-feed and picks up pieces of food with thumb and forefinger (pincer grip)
- chews, even without any teeth
- is interested in mealtime, grabs at your food and brings to mouth
What do I need?
You don’t need much to get started, but there are some things you will want because it’s going to get messy! Embrace the mess and take lots of cute pictures!
Bibs are a must unless you plan on completely stripping your little one for every meal. I loved the smock bibs and the pull over the head bibs. They seemed to work the best for us. When my daughter got a little older we mostly used the pull over the head bibs rather than the smock.
As your baby progresses, the food mess will probably get a little less messy. Although, my daughter is now 21 months old and just yesterday covered herself in yogurt, so maybe I should bring back the smock and find some sort of hair protection. Oy vey!
Baby-led weaning is a fun way for your baby to learn about foods. Make sure that you are confident and comfortable with feeding your baby. If you are nervous about trying something or you feel it’s too soon to try something, listen to your gut, momma! You know what you’re doing, even if this is all new to you. Your baby just needs you to be confident in your ability.
That’s pretty much all you need- bibs and confidence and maybe a drop cloth or dog 😉
Food Preparation and Storage Supplies:
Your little one might not have teeth yet, so you will want to steam your vegetables, many if large enough can be given raw, but soft veggies are easier to bite into. I use my instant pot, but there are many other options if you’re looking for something smaller.
The Philips AVENT SCF870/21 Combined Baby Food Steamer and Blender 220V Only is a great option, it’s simple and easy to use, with very few parts to clean.
The Nuby Garden Fresh Mighty Blender also steams and blends and comes with a variety of storage containers. Great for rough chopping and pureed fruits or veggies to include in sauces or cooking.
Another steamer/blender option is the BEABA Babycook 4 in 1 Steam Cooker & Blender, which includes an auto shut off and timer function.
I make a lot of muffins and egg cups. Silicone Mini and Large Egg, Muffin and Cupcake Pan 12 24 Tin Cup – BPA Free Non Stick Muffin Pan – 100% Non-Toxic, Professional Grade Heavy Duty 320g Silicone are perfect for all your baking needs.
It’s nice to have some smaller containers to store your baby food. These OXO Tot Glass Baby Blocks Food Storage Containers are nice because they have measurements on the side.
What if my baby chokes or gags?
I’m sure a lot of moms struggle with the question, what if my baby chokes? I want you to be confident when feeding your baby and knowing the difference between gagging and choking is important to understand.
Is there a difference between choking and gagging? The answer is yes. Gagging is the natural reflex that pushes food to the front of the mouth to help prevent choking. I found the video by Mini Munch Club very helpful when trying to understand the difference.
What food should I start with?
Think no teeth… what would you want to eat? Baby led weaning is all about introducing your baby to foods in a fun and natural way. *I am not a doctor so please be sure to consult your pediatrician with any questions you may have about starting solids. Here are some of the foods I started with and would recommend for 6 months and up:
- Banana (super easy to squish, such a fun first food, especially for the texture)
- Avocados (great source of vitamins C, E, K, and B-6)
- Tofu- cooked or uncooked (great source of protein with a unique texture)
- Soft cooked apples
- Cooked Veggies- carrots, green beans, zucchini, and beets
- Ripe Fruit- peaches, pears, plums, etc.
- Sweet potatoes (partially mashed or cooked and cut into sticks)
- Pasta (see your pediatrician if you have any gluten allergies/intolerances in your family)