Friday, 16 March 2012

First foods the Baby Led Weaning Way

From about 4 months Baby M has been trying to steal food off my plate.  I guess this isn't surprising since she wants to put everything in her mouth though.  For the last 2 months I resisted the encouragement of my peers to spoon baby rice into her and spend hours preparing a range of "tasty" purées because I wanted to wean my baby the baby led way.

In case you haven't heard of it (and a surprising number of people haven't) it's incredibly simple: you wait until your baby is able to feed themselves. It means that your baby can go straight on to normal food (with a few exceptions).  It allows babies to play with their food, experiment and eat at their own pace with milk (boob or bottle) still being their main food until they are ready to reduce it.  The definitive book is Baby Led Weaning by Gill Rapley which explains the process and the science.  A brief overview and recipes are available in the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook.  I strongly recommend reading one or both if you are interested in the approach.

Just a quick aside: I am a strong advocate of Baby Led Weaning, but I think weaning is a deeply personal choice.  Parents have to choose what time and approach is right for them and for their baby.

Last week we were out for lunch and Baby M reached out to my pizza. She pulled off some tomato and started "eating" it, she then picked up a piece of mushroom, followed by some pepper and onion.  She chewed on them for a bit and then dropped them on the floor (BLW is messy).  After this I decided that she was probably ready.

Last weekend I started giving her food.  I think the first meal was some steamed tender stem broccoli.  One of the strange things about BLW is you don't know how much they have eaten (as opposed to dropped on the floor or mashed into their clothing or highchair) until you look at the nappies.  I was amazed that right from the first meal her nappies showed she was swallowing more than I expected.  

So far we are loving it.  She has tried everything I have put in front of her.  I've not had to spend hours preparing food (she's had variations of what I've had). And best of all, unlike my friends going the purée route, I don't have any stories of pursed lips, trying to encourage the food into the baby and I can eat my own food at the same time.

Top two tips so far:
1. Watch the salt content of food.  Babies between 6 months and a year shouldn't have more that 1g of salt a day.  Salt is hidden in a lot of food eg a slice of bread can have half a gram in.  Check the labels of any food you don't make yourself
2. A great highchair is Antilop from Ikea because it's cheap and easy to clean (£10.99 for the chair plus £4 for the tray).  We have a more expensive chair which I plan to use later, but I've switched to the ikea one for now.  Once you recognise it, it's surprising the number of restaurants etc that use them.

Edit 11th April 2012: I have started a new blog about Baby Led Weaning, you can find it here: Adventures in BLW

Some pictures of Baby M enjoying her food
A different flavour in each hand: pasta and strawberry

Yummy roast sweet potato

A relaxed approach to egg and toast

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