Baby Led Weaning is an approach to introducing solid foods to babies that allows them to self-feed from the beginning, rather than being spoon-fed purees by parents or caregivers.
The concept of Baby-Led Weaning gained popularity through the work of Gill Rapley, a British health visitor and midwife.
In Baby-Led Weaning, babies are offered soft, appropriately-sized pieces of food that they can grasp and feed themselves. The idea is to let babies explore and experience different textures, tastes, and shapes of food, promoting their independence and development of essential motor skills.
What is the benefits of baby-led weaning?
- Physical development
Supports the development of babies eye-hand coordination, chewing skills and healthy eating habits. It also offers babies an opportunity to explore the taste, texture and aroma of a variety of foods.
- Self feeding
Babies who self-fed eat less food than they need since they are feeding independently
- Getting used to fresh food
Baby-led weaning have a lasting effect on a child's food preferences. They eat healthier and you will not need to buy jar food for your baby.
Most of the time mums are concerned about mess but BLW is an important milestone for your baby to go through.
Here is some tips for baby weaning success:
- Texture is the key. The food that you give your baby should be soft and easy to smash with gentle finger pressure. You should steam fruit and vegetables when beginning baby-led weaning
- Always let your baby eat his/her food
Make sure that you are with your baby at all times but do not sit next to her/him and watch him constantly. Instead you can finish your cooking in the kitchen and keep an eye on your baby at the same time.
- If you are having dinner together do not make fuss about when they are making mess.
- Always give her/him soft food or half cooked food. Like banana, avocado, steamed vegs, poached salmon, pasta, omlets cut into pieces, strips of chicken
- Let your baby use safe utensils.
- Make sure your baby gets enough nutrients. Many babies struggle eat all of the food at first. You may give your baby finger foods with purees until she gets the hang of self feeding.
- Once your baby has tried and tolerated several single-ingredient foods, you can begin offering mixed dishes.
What if my baby chokes?
Gagging is very common in early days of eating. It is a normal and reflexive safety mechanism that might cause watery eyes and coughing or sputtering. But parents can understand that gagging is a safety reflex and it is normal. Babies will learn with your reaction. If you get scared then baby will get scared. So make sure that you are calm when baby is eating his food.
Choking on the other hand happens when the food gets stuck in the throat or windpipe, blocking airflow. If a baby is choking, she will not make sound. To avoid this situation, move away grapes, nuts, raisins or raw vegetables until baby is comfortable with chewing easily.
- Always stay with your baby while he is eating
- Make sure your baby is sitting up when eating
- Serve foods that aren't hard
- Take an infant first aid class so you'll be prepared
- Do not rush to help your baby when she gags. Babies can feel parent's panic and can develop negative associations with eating. Instead stay calm and give her time to work it out.
Benefits of Baby-Led Weaning include fostering a positive relationship with food, encouraging self-regulation of eating, and promoting healthy eating habits from an early age.
However, it's essential to remember that every baby is different, and Baby-Led Weaning might not be suitable for all infants.
It's always a good idea to consult with a pediatrician or healthcare professional before starting any new feeding approach with your baby.