Attempting baby led weaning, lots of questions!(16 Posts)
I've got a 6 months old son who has been exclusively breastfed so far, and I'm just starting introducing solids now. I've read about BLW, and my health visitor advised the same, so I'm giving it a go. My little boy can sit confidently unsupported, is VERY interested in food, and is not pushing it out with his tongue, so that's all good signs he's ready. As for me, seems like I'm less ready than him as I get scared about choking. I haven't quite understood how exactly it is meant to work. So far I've given steamed broccoli (didn't like it but chewed and even swallowed some), avocado (too slippery to hold and didn't like the taste), steamed carrot (absolutely loved, ate loads and kept reaching out for more) and apple (liked it, sucked on it).
I give him everything in a potato chip size, as per HV instruction. What happens next is he grabs it in his hand and sticks straight into his mouth and not just the tip of veg, but half. He then starts biting with his gums and chews, ending up with rather big lumps of veg in his mouth. At this point I start panicking and try to make him spit it out or remove it with my finger. Especially if it's something hard like apple. He loved it but I was so scared of him sucking it that I ended up grating it a bit and fed it to him like this. But that's not BLW, as he's supposed to feed himself. When eating carrots, he keeps chewing with his gums, tries to swallow and gags. Then after gagging he manages to swallow it. I'm less concerned about carrots, however apples and anything hard worry me. Am I doing something wrong? Any tips and ideas on baby led weaning are welcome. I'm new to all this but really want to succeed with it.
Thanks in advance.
You're really not doing anything wrong. It's normal to be anxious about choking but it's very unlikely as babies have a good gag reflex which should eject food before they get to the choking stage.
The best thing about BLW is that you and your baby get to share meals. It's great that you're giving him lots of fresh fruit and veg but you don't have to cook special food for him - he can share family meals (as long as they're not too salty or contain nuts or other no nos like honey). So if you're making yourself chicken and mash, give him some of that. Or your chilli or your beans on toast or macaroni cheese or whatever. He may surprise you with what he enjoys! My youngest DD has always loved spicy food and loved Indian food as a baby.
They have a really strong gag reflex at that age - if they are making lots of noise while gagging that's a good sign and I think it's more when they are older and running around with food that actual choking becomes a big hazard.
It's worth doing a baby first aid course or at least watching a few videos online so you feel confident that you know what to do should the worst happen.
Mesh feeders might allow him to get different tastes without the risk of big lumps. Really though if you will create more anxiety by baby led weaning then it defeats the point since a lot of it is about creating a relaxed atmosphere about food. Different approaches suit different people.
I did blw with my now 4 year old and 1 year old I found with both of them that if they'd broke a too big piece they would often push it out of their mouths themselves. Mine didn't get their first tooth till 12 months and 10 months so lots of gum 'chewing'. I did often blast apple wedges in the microwave to make them a little softer obviously gave when cooled. If you are really worried stick to softer fruit and veg until you gain in confidence.
Gagging is totally normal, and in fact an important part of them learning how things need to be chewed.
However with apple and other crisp textured things, I found it was better to take a bite out of the apple/pear and then hand the whole thing over so they could just gnaw on it rather than breaking big chunks off. Easier to hold a pear with the skin on as well
As long as your baby Is being fed it really doesn't matter if he's feeding himself (blw) or you are spoon feeding him pureed or mashed stuff. A bit of a mix suited me and my ds depending on what we are eating. Don't get too bogged down on what you "should" be doing just do what's best and easier for you and your dc
Well said uhoh - best that you feel relaxed and happy.
I know it sounds easier said than done but don't worry About the gagging, the gag reflex is really strong at that age.
Started my son at 6 months with steamed veg then moved upwards with meat/quorn/actual meals but he didn't get actually hungry until 8.5 months when crawling & dropped down to two feeds a day.
I just tended to use what ever veg/fruit we had in the fridge/for meals that day & it was so much easier.
He now eats everything he can, except the same meal twice in a 3 day period.
You may feel reassured about all this by reading the Baby Led weaning book by GB Health Visitor Gill Rapley has written. Going along to an LLL breastfeeding meeting can be a great place to get more info on the early days of BLW and some of the mums will have experience too.
I was happier giving soft things to start, so raspberries rather than apple, cooked carrot not raw, well cooked pasta not chewy, until he got the hang of it.
I did blw 10 years ago and the gagging was alarming but remember that this is gagging, not choking. I also did an infant first aid course when my pfb was a couple of months old, would this be an idea? It was really reassuring to know what to do if my dd ever choked (although I have never needed that training despite doing blw with 2 dcs).
And you can grate harder foods (raw carrot and apple) so that they are not trying to swallow larger lumps of hard food.
Thanks everyone! Lots of brilliant advise.
Chocolate, I'm a member of a local LLL group but didn't know they could offer help with blw, too. Thanks so much for that, I'm definitely going to the text meet up and will ask there.
Silly question: many of you say try softer foods first, but can a baby not choke on a soft raspberry for instance? (This is a genuine interest. I always thought a baby could choke on anything that's around that size regardless of softness). Sorry if that is a really daft one!
One more thing: lots of carrot lumps in ds's poo this morning. Untouched, so to speak. Is it normal?
I do remember things being very identifiable in the beginning until their digestive system fires up! I also recommend the book - it explains the philosophy behind BLW, which you could apply even if you're doing some spoon feeding (e.g. not cajoling the baby to eat more than they want).
Yes, the lumps are normal. They'll get better at chewing and digesting. Check out babyledweaning.com for answers to all your questions. They're cool with pretty much all food except Apple which a lot of people consider a choking risk. Most posters recommend only serving it cooked until they're able to handle gnawing a whole one. That's what we did and I was happy to give dd pretty much everything else (meat, veg, fruit) right from 6m.
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