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Baby Led Weaning

  1. #1
    Monty is offline Registered User
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    Baby Led Weaning

    Has anyone tried/is currently trying Baby Led Weaning? I had never heard of it until a few months ago when I was reading a blog on introducing solids and the mother was talking about how her baby had been finger feeding himself from 6 months of age.

    In a nutshell, BLW is about giving babies softened (think steamed apples, pears etc cut into 'batons') finger foods from the beginning of the weaning process. There is a book about it. The woman who wrote the book claims that babies who are allowed to feed themselves from the beginning learn to handle solids better than those fed purees (ie. they learn to chew and swallow more quickly), they develop more confidence with eating as they are in control and are less likely to grow into picky eaters. The key, she says, is to start at 6 months.

    My baby is only 4.5 months old so I haven't even contemplated introducing solids yet. I'm still undecided on the best approach to take.

    I'd love to hear what other people's thoughts are on the issue. Whenever I mention it to other mums they look at me in disbelief. :)

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  2. #2
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    nicolejoy is offline Registered User
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    I have a good friend who was a big fan of the idea and did it with all her kids. Her kids generally were late at eating solids though - particularly her first. I don't think he really ate much in the way of solids until he was 10-11 months, and he wasn't completely weaned from breastfeeding until he was over 3. I think it's a nice idea in moderation, but I personally think it may have some flaws if you're totally devoted to it and the baby who is meant to be "leading" just isn't that independent... There are mixed opinions about whether or not exclusive breastfeeding provides enough nutrients (particularly iron, I think) after 6 months - and so that's why the nutrient enriched rice cereal is such a popular first food. However baby led weaning (at least the kind my friend was into) steers right away from rice cereal - my friend never gave it to any of her kids I don't think...

    I do think it's good and important to introduce self feeding and finger foods from a young age - however I think that it should be done in a balanced kind of way and I don't know if BLW is completely balanced...

    That sums up my feelings on most of the attachment parenting "movement" - it's a nice feeling but you don't want to foster attachment so much that it is at the cost of independence. I think sometimes an ideal is great but when you hold to an ideal too tightly, it can become a bad thing.

    But then again, I'm a very relaxed, unstructured person, and I parent in a very relaxed, unstructured way and I'm sure that there are negatives to that as well ;)

  3. #3
    TNT
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    I have sort of done it with my son who is now 10 months, but not a ''pure' version, as he did/does have some pureed and spoon fed stuff as well, like mixed vegies, yoghurt etc. I have to admit it was a much from laziness/convenience and fitting in with what the rest of the family was eating more than anything. I read that if you do it 'properly' then you put stuff like mashed vegies on a spoon and get them to self feed but that was far to messy and high maintenance for me!
    Like Nicole Joy I liked some of the philosophy but only did a small amount of reading on it so am sure I didn't follow it exactly. My first child I hadn't heard of it so just gave purees and gradually thickened them in the more traditional way, although I know i naturally gave her finger foods a lot earlier than some other mums, especially fruit cos she loved it.
    Overall I quite like the idea but I think a) it depends a bit on the child ie. some love to feed themselves, others less so and b) depends on how rigidly you follow it. My personality and parenting style is like Nicole Joy's so hence my less than structured approach to this. i actually don't know anyone who has followed it 100% so maybe not that helpful!

  4. #4
    TNT
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    I meant to add my daughter is a great eater who at 3.5yr eats very well and healthily, she does love her treats but will also eat most other things. We try and eat the majority of our diet as unprocessed and natural food ie fruit, vegies, grains etc but we certainly do have some processed food esp things like chocolate and ice cream as treats. Too early to really tell with my son but so far so good (he is still breastfed as well).
    My overall comment about healthy eating is that it comes down to what you give them most of the time ie consistency, whether you make a big fuss about eating or not eating (I don't) and whether you make food into a big drama will have the biggest influence on your children's diet. If my daughter didn't want to eat her dinner (and I knew it was something she liked) then she didn't get any alternative- this is obviously once she was a bit older from memory around 18 months- or if she did it was something boring like a piece of bread. She has basically always eaten what we have, with initially some adaptations ie less spicy or whatever and so that is her 'norm''. following the same thing with my son too so my expectation is the same. He already often eats the same as the rest of the family, just chopped up. He does have quite a few teeth tho

  5. #5
    happyvalleygirl is offline Registered User
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    I did BLW with my son from the age of 6 months. At this age, H would try to take things off my plate when he was sitting on my lap. I literally let him try anything I was eating providing it was not too spicy or salty. He liked pretty much everything and was immediately introduced to flavours rather than bland puree. Steamed dumplings at dim sum was a huge hit (no soy sauce!). I just held off giving him seafood.

    From the age of 9 months he was eating full meals of whatever we had for dinner just chopped up (not pureed) - roast chicken, potatoes, veg. Lasagne. Risotto. Salmon. Fried rice.

    He is now 1 and when we go out for lunch, we mostly just order something off the menu for him (depending where we go).

    Oh yeah, he only has 1 tooth, but that hasn't stopped him enjoying his food!

    A great website/blog I used to cook baby friendly meals (just omit the salt) My Daddy Cooks. The muffins are a great starter food as is the risotto and the hotpot.

    Enjoy!

  6. #6
    happyvalleygirl is offline Registered User
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    Also, with regards to self feeding, H always used his hands to feed himself, unless I was in a hurry, then I would spoon feed him. Now he just HAS to hold a spoon himself and try to feed himself. He is quite determined! I let him sit at the table for breakfast for 1/2 hr whilst he spoon/hand feeds himself his cheerios! And yes, there is always a mess on the floor. I just put more in his bowl so I know that a good amount does end up in his mouth.

    I bought the book, read it when H was six months, made a few mental notes and haven't referred to it since! So I know I did not follow it 100% plus the fact I stopped breastfeeding at 5 months!

  7. #7
    jvn
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    We're blw as well. It's not very prescriptive as in there isn't a set of rules to do it right, it's more about the idea that "until they're one, solid food is just for fun".

    The plan is that you just put more-or-less whatever you are eating in front of them and they investigate it, throw it around a bit and sometime in between six months and one, learn to eat it.

    The advantages of blw are that it's great dexterity practice for the little ones (it's amazing how co-ordinated the boy can be when it's something he likes!) and they learn to relate taste to texture, colour and shape straight away instead of later on when they switch from purees to solids i.e. orange carroty shaped things generally taste carotty (except when they're oranges!).

    I haven't done purees but I think the advantages to that are that it's easier to control how much they eat and they get off milk faster.

    It's good for us because the boy visibly enjoys it and so do I, he loves investigating new foods and eats quite a lot - he loves pasta, steak, steamed fish, curry, dim sum, yoghurt, porridge (I load up a spoon for both of these and let him feed himself with a bit of guidance - he's pretty good!). He's got no teeth yet so some things especially steak just get sucked and gnawed at but he has no problem eating fish, pasta, veggies and fruit.

    I'd also agree with TNT that it's much, much easier to eat out with a blw baby as they just eat off the menu and because they are feeding themselves they take about the same time you do so they occupy themselves happily while you are eating.

    BLW is not for everyone and I don't think either method, purees or blw or something in between is 'better' it's about what you and your baby are most comfortable with. If you are going to worry about intake and iron levels then it's not for you, if you're not and want to watch your baby really enjoying some messy, tasty eating then it might be worth a try.

    Check out my blog for a video of The Boy 'eating' a roast dinner at around 7 months Mum in HK

    Best of luck with whatever you decide.

  8. #8
    jvn
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    Sorry, meant to say I agree with Happyvalleygirl about the eating out - can't find where to edit, must be having a dim moment.

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