Thanks to Jodie Tecksingani for sharing her tip and advice on Baby led weaning.
Baby led weaning has been more prominently talked about for the past 5 years than ever before. It is discussed quite heatedly in mothers groups and on social media websites with everyone who is anyone having an opinion on it whether they have children or not.
What is baby led weaning ?
Baby led weaning is letting the child choose what and how much they want to eat (within reason) . It has a saying “food before 1 is just for fun”and is about letting the child try out foods without having to be reliant on you to feed them.
It is not Purred food, it is not rice cereal etc. It is food that you would eat (minus the salt) in bits that are about the size of your finger.
It helps to teach the child to chew and then from there to swallow, so while you may be concerned that your child will choke, they actually have a really good gag reflex and as such will bring most stuff back up and may not even require a pat on the back.
Common first foods for children on baby led weaning are:
- Whole ripe pears
- Baked Sweet potato sticks
- Baked Pumpkin sticks
- Peeled cucumber sticks
- Steamed carrots
- Toast fingers
- Mango sticks
From there, children move on very quickly to what the rest of the family is eating, and you will find in most households who follow baby led weaning, that no crockery is given and instead the food is put directly on the high chair for the child to eat.
For this reason it is very important that you get a high chair that is easy to wash. I actually had one I could take outside and hose down. Sometimes it was just easier. Also make sure that you keep it clean and wipe it down properly between meals. As your child is taking the food off the tray table, Hygiene is very important.
Be aware – BLW is messy!
for the first few weeks you will look at the amount of food on the floor, on the high chair, possibly on the walls and everything else that is within throwing reach including the amount they are wearing and wondering if they are actually eating anything. It can be a good idea to pick up a plastic table cloth that you can put under where they are eating so you can take it outside and hose it off when finished.
When it comes to the amount you give put a couple of pieces on at a time, if you put too much, it can be over whelming for them and also they could just decide to throw it all off. Generally a piece for each hand at a time is a great place to start.
In the beginning, due to the new skills being learnt and the combination of textures they are playing with and learning hand to eye co-ordination, they are actually eating very little and so it is important to continue with their milk feeds. As their food intake increases children will naturally reduce their feeds however always offer the food first before the milk so they have a chance to fill up on the food.
Don’t worry about fancy foods and all these fabulous recipes that are designed to get kids eating more. Children like simple food and like to experience each food as it tastes by itself. the longer you take to make a child’s meal, chances are the less they will eat. So stick with simple baked/steamed veggies and pieces of meat they can hold.
How many meals per day?
Don’t worry if they are not eating three meals a day, sometimes it will feel like they have been eating all day and sometimes it will seem like they haven’t eaten anything. Also you may not be able to always feed them in the style you want, due to other things getting in the way. e.g.. shopping, friends, house etc. On the other side, once you are more confident then you will find that giving them a banana to eat while you go for a walk round the park quite liberating.
Also it is very important that you don’t put food into the child’s mouth. This defeats the purpose of BLW and makes them rely on you to feed them .
Be aware that you will have people question how you feed your children no matter which way you feed them. Some people can’t get over the fact that you haven’t fed them rice cereal, and that you’re giving them a pork chop or a chicken drumstick or even a whole banana at the age of 10 mths.
As a mum who followed BLW for her second child, I can safely say that he eats a much larger variety than his sister who was fed on the puree to mush etc diet. This could be down to his temperament or it could be contributed to BLW. I did find however that meal times were quicker, less stressful and I am not concerned if we go to a friends place whether he is going to eat or night.
I remember going to a friends place for dinner when he was 1 and we had home made pizza, she also has children the same age as mine and together we watched in amazement as our 1 year olds sat quietly in their high chairs and demolished a couple of slices of pizza each. It was a stark contrast to 3 years before that when our elder children were 1 and we had sat there and spoon fed them their dinner.
All I can suggest to those out there who are thinking about it. Give it a try, all you can get is a little (ok maybe a lot ) messy, it can also be a lot of fun.
And for lots of healthy kids recipes click here to see the Healthy Kids Cookbook