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BLW weaning experts - help me out here!

(9 Posts)
Jojay Wed 24-Nov-10 20:04:00

Sorry, this is pretty long, but I've been asked by my (very open minded) HV to go along to a Weaning Talk tomorrow and talk about my experiences of doing BLW with DS2.

I've written a bit of blurb below - could you cast your eye over it and see if you think it's ok?

Thanks so much smile

'Baby Led Weaning is alternative method of introducing babies to solid food, that does not involve spoon feeding or pureed food.
It follows the theory that when babies are developmentally ready to eat solid food, they will begin to eat normal food at their own pace, if given the opportunity.
At around 6 months old – the time when the World Health Organisation recommends introducing solid food – most babies are capable of picking up finger foods and putting them in their mouths. They then learn how to chew and swallow, and this, in most cases, negates the need for purees.
My experience of BLW began when my 6 month old son Ed made it very clear that he did NOT want to be spoon fed! He was interested in food, but we spend the first week or so of weaning, fighting over who was going to hold the spoon.
I’d heard of BLW, and rather than turn every meal into a battle, I was keen to give it a go.
I did some research online, and found babyledweaning.com and the weaning pages on mumsnet.com really useful. I also bought the book ‘Baby Led Weaning’ by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett, which is excellent.
The websites and the book both reassured some of my worries and explained how to do BLW safely.
Like most parents, I was worried about Ed choking on lumps of solid food. I learned the difference between gagging and choking , and also the importance of ensuring Ed ate in an upright position and was not reclined in any way. I also learned that it was important to let Ed be in control of what went into his mouth.
At 6 months he wasn’t capable of picking up small bits of food, like peas or raisins, as he hadn’t yet developed his pincer grip. He could manage larger wedge or chip shaped food though, and he had a very happy time learning how to pick food up and bite bits off.
I gave him all the same sorts of food that you would normally give a 6 month old baby, but instead of pureeing it I just cut it into a shape that he could manage. So he had pear, carrots, sweet potato, butternut squash, banana , strips of cooked chicken, bread, toast, pasta, cheese, etc etc – but no baby rice (have you tasted it? Yuck!!). I cooked harder fruit and veg well so it was soft enough for him to bite off. He had a bit of whatever we were having from a young age. It got pretty messy sometimes but he loved sitting up at the table with us, and he tried all sorts of things. I remember having Fish and Chips in a pub once and after having a good go at the fish and a few chips, he very enthusiastically sucked on the slice of lemon!
To begin with, he flung most of it on the floor. He often dropped what he was trying to eat and if he did manage to bite a bit off, he would spit it out again. I remember the excitement when we first starting seeing lumps of food in his nappy – not being pureed it was pretty recognisable - and it proved that some was going in!
At the 6 – 8 month stage, he didn’t cut back on milk feeds at all, and realistically ate very little. I found it a bit worrying at times, especially as several of my friends babies seemed to be eating whole jars of baby food, whereas Ed may or may not have taken a couple of mouthfuls. But is weight gain was always good, and he so enjoyed experimenting with food and feeding himself, so we carried on.
At about 8-9 months it all came together and he started actually eating! He learned how to get food out of his fist by pushing it out with his other hand, and as his pincer grip developed he could pick up smaller bits of food. He was very open to trying all sorts of things and would have a go at pretty much anything. Once he started eating, he got over his aversion to the spoon to a degree, so I did spoonfeed him occasionally if it was more convenient or the food was very runny, but the majority of the time he fed himself.
His teeth were late coming through – he didn’t get any until 13 months but that didn’t seem to hinder him in the slightest, and he managed quite hard food from pretty early on.
He’s now 2 and is still a good eater. He’s not quite the dustbin that he was a year ago, but he eats a varied and healthy diet. He’s not nearly as messy as he was in the early days, and he’s very proficient with cutlery.
For me the advantages of BLW were:
• The no-hassle factor. No pureeing, no cooking especially for him, no kitchen cupboards full of blenders and tiny pots, no freezer full of multi-coloured ice cubes, no trying to spoon feed a baby as my own food gets cold!

• That is stopped me worrying about how much he was eating. I learned to trust him to take what he needs, and to stop when he was full. He was breast fed on demand and I had no idea how much he was consuming then. BLW seemed the obvious way to follow in from that as it puts the baby in control of the quantity they eat, just as in breastfeeding.

• That he enjoyed it so much! No battles, no, ‘come on, just one more mouthful,’ He had so much fun having a go and it was good for his gross and fine motor skills.

• No worrying about when to start solids. He was ready for solids when he could sit in the highchair, pick up food and put it into his mouth – simple as that.

• He learned to recognise individual foods in their proper form, and learned about tastes and textures. Therefore there was no transition from ‘baby food’ to ‘real food’.

• He’s in charge of his own appetite and knows when he’s had enough - this one requires a leap of faith at times as like all babies he has days when he doesn’t eat much, but I trust him to eat when he’s hungry, and if he’s been off his food he generally makes up for it in a day of two by eating like a horse!

The only disadvantage I can think of was the mess. It is messy, there’s no denying it, especially in the early days. Big bibs that cover as much as possible and an easy to clean highchair were the way forward!

Baby Led Weaning – my top tips.
• Allow your baby to explore food at his own pace.

• Initially, give him chip or wedge shaped food that he can pick up easily. Leaving skin on fruit can made it less slippery to hold and they soon figure out which is the tasty bit! Wedges of melon, for example, are ideal.

• Cook firmer fruit and veg to begin with, so they are soft enough for your baby to eat, yet still firm enough to hold.

• Roast dinners are great, as veg is well cooked, roast potatoes are a great texture for BLW and roast chicken is an easy introduction to meat. Just go easy on salty gravy. Let your baby have the same Xmas dinner as you!

• Remember that he will drop a lot of food to begin with. A mat on the floor, and a pelican style bib may make life easier. An easy clean highchair is also a must. If you don’t have one already I’d recommend the cheapo Ikea one (Antilop??). They’re only about £15 and are so easy to clean.

• Don’t feel you can’t give your baby runny food. If you want your baby to have yoghurt, for example, maybe give him sticks of banana or pear to use as a dipper. He’ll soon get the idea of dipping it in and licking it off. Give him a spoon to have a go with too.

• As he gets better at feeding himself, virtually nothing is off limits. Let him have a bit of whatever you are having. Just watch his salt intake doesn’t exceed recommended amounts.

• Let him decide what goes in his mouth. Don’t pop small bits of food in his mouth for him, let him do it. This reduces the choking risk significantly.

• Make sure he is sat upright when eating. Don’t allow him to eat in a reclined position.

• Remember the difference between gagging and choking. Gagging is a normal reflex that moves food forward in the mouth, away from the airway. The gag reflex is a built in safety mechanism, and it is sensitive in babies. Some babies will seem to gag a lot initially. This is normal and as long as you allow them to be in control of the food that goes into their mouths, they will learn to cope with it.

• Remember that the messy stage won’t last for ever. Ed went through a tedious stage of rubbing everything in his hair, but it didn’t go on for long. Your baby will earn table manners, and how to use cutlery, in time.

• Don’t stress about the amount your baby eats. The beauty of BLW is that it puts the baby in control of his appetite. Some days he may eat loads, other days not much at all. That’s all very normal.'

Jojay Wed 24-Nov-10 20:05:12

Ooops, sorry about the format, my paragraphs seem to have disappeared!

StrawberrySam Wed 24-Nov-10 20:10:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jojay Wed 24-Nov-10 20:15:55

Thank you [blush}

I don't want to be too preachy, and I can't really imply that everything my HV is saying about purees is wrong!

AngelDog Wed 24-Nov-10 20:22:05

Sounds great - you'd have got me enthusiastic! (Our HVs never told me there was a weaning talk so I just went ahead and did BLW without consulting anyone. grin)

StrawberrySam Wed 24-Nov-10 20:24:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

angfirsttimer Wed 24-Nov-10 20:58:09

It's great.

You may want to anticipate some questions about formula feeding and BLW?

I also like the mantra 'food is for fun until they are one' it keeps me sane when DS is eating pitiful amounts.

Good luck for the talk. I wish my HV was so openminded....

babybouncer Wed 24-Nov-10 22:10:58

That sounds great. I think it strikes the right balance between being enthusiastic but not preachy - particularly as it sounds like you weren't someone who was convinced about BLW before you started weaning, but now you've tried it you'd recommend it (I assume!).

If you had another child who would take food from a spoon, would you do it again? If so, it might be worth saying so.

Jojay Wed 24-Nov-10 22:38:08

Thank you - good point. I'd definitely do BLW again!

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