Today we are joined by Jeraldine, founder of The Food Nutritionist. After bombarding her with questions she agreed to write a post for me to include in my weaning week that answers everything us mums want to know…
Moving from milk feeds to solid food is an exciting journey for most parents and can help lay the foundations for a child’s future health. There are different ways to wean, at present the general consensus is to spoon feed babies with purees, however, it would appear that more and more mothers are choosing to wait for cues from baby before starting to wean with baby led weaning (BLW) becoming more popular than ever. The benefits for this style of feeding speak for themselves which include promoting good eating habits along with developing the skill of dexterity. As a fully qualified nutritionist, here are some tips to help you on your way.
What are the Principles of Baby-led Weaning?
Over the last decade BLW has become a really popular method to introduce solid foods, although it has been used in other countries for many years. Instead of weaning babies with purees you wait until baby gives you clues that indicate readiness to self-feed.
BLW gives babies an opportunity to explore the taste, texture, aroma and choice – to a certain degree – of different foods to eat. Another important aspect is the self-regulation of food; babies learn to stop eating when they feel full.
How do you know when your baby is ready to start solids?
Make sure that your baby can sit up and hold their head up unaided, co-ordinate eyes, hands and month, so that they can look at, pick up and put food in their mouth, all by themselves. Your baby needs to be able to swallow food – babies who are not ready will push the food out of their mouth, so that they make more of a mess and end up with the food all over their face. Other signs are dribbling, reaching for food and putting things in their mouth
The principles of BLW
Wait until your baby is ready – your child should be able to sit unaided in a high chair. Baby sits with the rest of the family at mealtimes and join in when ready
- continue milk feeds (breast milk or formula) on demand- your baby will gradually reduce milk feeds when they are ready. As a guide generally between 10 to 12 months of age.
Encourage baby to explore food by picking it up with her hands – it doesn’t matter whether or not they can manage to eat the food at first. It’s more about baby showing an interest in food.
Start with soft foods – cooked vegetables, ripe fruits
Food should be offered in pieces that are size and shape baby can handle easily -instead of purees or mashed food
Prepare for mess – consider using a bib with long sleeves and covering the floor with plastic or paper
Eat together as a family – give your baby some of the food from your plate
What are the benefits of BLW?
Babies that are allowed to choose their own food appear to be less likely to be become overweight, therefore helping to develop a positive attitude to food promotes healthier food choices. BLW is also believed to have a positive impact on diet with an increase liking for vegetables. Baby learns to chew and swallow safely as well as reducing the likelihood of fussiness and develop a positive attitude to food. There is also the belief that it reduces the risk of allergies as baby picks its own food and tends to leave behind the food that it’s not able to consume yet.
Baby-led weaning supports the development of:
- Hand-eye coordination
- Chewing skills
- Prompting healthy eating habits
When do I wean my baby?
Babies should be at least 6 months of age if you wish to use the BLW method of introducing solid foods. They should be able to sit up unassisted, have lost the tongue thrust reflex and should be able to grasp and hold onto foods
What are the best food to wean with?
Start with cooked vegetables and soft fruits e.g. sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans.
How much food do I give at the start?
Only start with a small amount once a day and let your baby take the lead. They will eat as much or as little so take your cues from baby.
How often do I feed?
Start with feeding once a day and then build up to three times, don’t forget to continue with breast or formula milk. This will change over time take your led from your baby.
How do I know if my baby is allergic to something?
BLW is believed to prevent allergy because baby is allowed to choose the food they tend to avoid certain foods until they are ready to consume them. However, introduce different foods slowly and one at a time. Make sure that you stay with your baby at all times while they are feeding and watch for any reactions to foods.
If you would like to find out more about how to wean your baby Jeraldine has a 6-week interactive programme, that is designed for mums on any stage of the journey and can teach you all you need to know. Check out her website or for more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07729 174208.