How does no spoons, no forks and absolutely nothing mashed or pureed sound?
If you have a baby that’s just about ready to start solids, I’ve got some information that is going to blow your mind. You don’t need to spend your Sunday’s blending food for the week ahead.
Back away from the Nutri Bullet, put down the food processor and save your Thermomix for ice cream. Don’t even think about picking up rice cereal.
Let me take you into the world of Baby Lead Weaning or ‘BLW’ to the cool kids.
Never heard of it? Neither had I until my daughter was about four-months-old. It’s the concept of giving your baby age appropriate finger foods and allowing them to feed themselves. No spoons, no forks and absolutely nothing pulverised to soup consistency.
I know what you’re thinking – so let me address each of your concerns and tell you why you never have to puree food. Ever.
The baby will choke.
Babies have an incredibly sensitive gag reflex very far forward in their mouths. They will gag, cough and they may even vomit but they won’t choke. You should always ensure you give your baby foods appropriate to their age and development and carefully supervise.
They won't eat enough.
In the first 12-months of their lives babies will get the bulk of their nutrients from breast milk or formula. Solid food serves as a top up and is important as a source of iron. It may seem you baby is eating very little but remember their tummies are very small. You can offer lots of small meals and snacks but as they grow and gain confidence in eating you will see a marked increase in the volume they consume. I occasionally feed my daughter one meal a day with a fork, often dinner when she has a bowl of whatever we have.
Oh boy is it messy. My dog is getting incredibly fat from eating food off the floor. Where possible try moving the high chair outside once or twice or day or pop a towel underneath the chair. Mostly, you just have to grin and bear it. I highly recommend getting a dog if you don't have one.
What about the benefits? Why would you choose BLW over traditional pureeing and introduction of solids? Whilst there have not been large-scale studies of BLW at this time there is a lot of anecdotal evidence in favour of finger foods.
A more diverse palette.
Many parents whom BLW report that their toddlers and school age children will try everything and eat almost anything. Instead of giving your baby three foods mashed together your giving them three distinct items with their own taste and texture so they know what chicken really taste like and what cucumber feels like.
Building healthy relationships with food.
Many of us were raised with the rule that you eat until you have finished. Baby led weaning allows your child to regulate their food intake, meaning they stop eating when they are full rather than shoveling spoonful’s in their mouth until it's all gone. As they grow they will carry that foundation with them and maintain a healthier relationship with food.
Increased fine motor skills.
Typically babies who self feed have more advanced fine motor skills as they are using their hands to pick up foods of all sizes and textures and move them to their mouth.
Advanced speech and articulation.
Speech and food are intimately related in the early stages of childhood. By giving your baby lots of different textures to explore you're helping theme to exercise the muscles in their mouth and the tongue.
No prep. Ever.
You can largely feed your child what you eat if you have a healthy and balanced diet. There are no days of cooking, blending and freezing. Just a small amount of what you have is perfect. It's what my friend (also a BLW-er) calls 'the lazy parents feeding'.
If you’re keen to give BLW a go, some great first foods are things like heavily steamed broccoli, carrot and zucchini as well as soft foods like banana and avocado. Once your baby gains some confidence you can move onto fingers of meat, chicken and well-done steak are fantastic. They may only suck on it if they are younger or don't have teeth but it's all about exploring. Each baby is different so just try things, as you feel comfortable. Watching them try something new never stops being funny and adorable. Make sure you always keep the camera handy!
How did you introduce your baby to solids?
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