Baby Led Weaning

Growing healthy babies with healthy appetites

Baby Led Weaning FAQ

Hello all, Aitch here. Again.
This is an excellent FAQ on baby led weaning which was submitted and I think compiled by Patricia Exley for the Yahoo message group. I have asked on there how to get in touch with her to ask her permission to reprint it, but no-one answered so I left it alone. Anyway, imagine my surprise when I am idly typing in baby led weaning to Google (to see how high up we are, don'tcha know) and there it is, posted as some sort of file sharing thingie. So I take it that means it's okay for me to post it here as well, which is great, because it is full of wonderful insights.

 

This FAQ
covers some of the more frequently asked questions on the Baby-Led Weaning
Yahoo group.  The group is made up of
(mostly) mothers who are trying this method of feeding with their babies, and
who give each other mutual support.  This
FAQ is not intended to be or replace any weaning guidelines or medical
information.

 

 

What do you
mean by baby-led weaning?

 

Within this group
we basically mean letting baby decide when to wean on to solid food (and
ultimately off the breast).  This
approach generally involves letting baby self-feed, avoiding spoon-feeding mush
and purees, and presenting baby with as much “real” family food as
possible.  Throughout this process,
breastmilk is offered as often as baby wants, as this continues to be the main
source of nutrition for quite some time.

 

 

When is my
baby ready to start solids?

 

From about 6
months, and certainly not before 4 months (World Health Organization and UK
Department of Health guidelines).

Breastmilk
(second choice formula milk) should be a baby's only food until six months. It
seems that too-early exposure to foods other than breastmilk increases the risk
of developing a whole range of illnesses in childhood and adulthood.

Baby should be
able to sit up, to avoid choking on food.

Don't put food
into the baby's mouth – let him/her do this for themselves.  Most babies are ready to do this at about 6
months.

Solids at this
stage are for exploring taste and texture.

Offer some water
with solids.

 

 

Should I worry
about weight gain?

 

Breastmilk
provides most of the calories and nutrition until about one year old.  Solid food (e.g. Baby rice and vegetables) is
not as nutrient-dense as breastmilk. 
Many babies seem incapable of digesting food until much later than 6
months, as evidenced by chunks of food passing out undigested into their
nappies.

The weight curves
used by health professionals are drawn up for bottle-fed babies.  Breast-fed babies tend to gain weight more
slowly once they get to about 6 months.

 

 

My baby
doesn't seem to be eating much.

 

Many of the
babies in this group only took to eating solids with any real seriousness when
they were around 12 months old.

 

 

Should I be
concerned about choking?

 

Many of the
babies have had slight 'gagging' reactions in the early days, but this seems to
have been a normal part of the learning process and is quite distinct from
choking.  Gagging seems to show that the
baby has the ability to move food back to the front of his mouth when he
doesn't want to swallow it.  It's
important that baby is sitting upright when he's eating.  This way anything that baby cannot swallow
will fall forwards (out of the mouth) rather than backwards (into the throat).

 

 

Should I be
worried about iron?

 

Babies are also
born with a store of iron that begins to diminish at 6 months and this could
start to affect them at around 9m so iron is the one thing they do actually
need to have extra to breastmilk after 8-9 months old.

Iron can be found
in lots of food, such as red meat, green vegetables, lentils, etc.  And they will still be getting iron from
breastmilk – which is far more readily absorbed than any iron in solid food.

 

 

 

Ideas for first foods:

 

The best things
seem to be things that are easiest to keep hold of while the baby is exploring
it, for example broccoli with a decent stem on to act as a handle.

 

Fruit and
vegetables

 

  • Cut up into chip-shaped pieces (a
    crinkle chip cutter may be useful).
  • Cook (e.g. boil or steam) vegetables
    until soft.
  • Ripe, soft fruit such as pear,
    banana, mango, melon and avocado seem ideal to try, but may be too
    slippery for babies to manage until they are a bit older.  Other fruit such as apples may break
    into sharp pieces if uncooked, but turn to mush when cooked.  When cooking vegetables such as carrots
    or broccoli, they need to be soft enough to eat, but not so soft that they
    crumble in the baby's grasp.
  • Roasted vegetables (whatever is in
    season – e.g. potato wedges, sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, beetroot).

 

Meat and Fish

 

Make sure lumps
of meat are big enough for baby to grasp and chew – baby will spit out the
membranes, but swallow the juice.

 

Finger food
snacks

 

  • Pear, Apple, Banana
  • Cucumber, Carrot sticks
  • Breadsticks, Rice Cakes, Oatcakes,
    Toast fingers.
  • Cheddar cheese, pear, cucumber, bread
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Dried fruit (e.g. apricots)
  • Peas, raisins – once the pincer grip
    is perfected!

 

The important
thing to do is double your quantity, half to mush up and throw on floor, half
to eat!

 

Foods to avoid
initially:

 

  • Wheat – if allergies in the family.
  • Dairy – if allergies in the family.
  • Eggs – if allergies in the family.
  • Citrus – if allergies in the family.
  • Strawberries and Kiwi – if allergies
    in the family.
  • Nuts – until 1 year, and then no
    whole nuts until the danger of choking is past.
  • Honey – until 1 year.
  • Added salt and sugar.
  • Apples and grapes – may be a choking
    hazard until baby is proficient at eating.

 

Breakfast
ideas:

 

Dry cereals.

Strips of toast

Porridge (if you
can stand the mess!)

 

Lunch/tea
ideas:

 

Cheese omlette,
cut into strips.

Cheese on toast
fingers.

Cucumber, celery,
avocado and tomatoes.

 

Dinner ideas:

 

Pasta with grated
cheese or sauce.

Gnocchi.

Risotto.

Fish cakes or
fish fingers.

 

 

Links

(American)
Sequence of adding solid foods for the allergic infant)

http://www.hallpublications.com/title2_sample2.html

 

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7 Responses to “Baby Led Weaning FAQ”

  1. harini says:

    I’m confused on whether to give apple as one of the first foods for my 6 month old. In this faq section, apple is listed both under “foods to avoid” and “ideas for first foods”. please clarify.

    Harini

    • Aitch says:

      good spot. it’s not my piece, as you can see i didn’t write it. i’d say, personally, that apple is a pain in the neck, a choke hazard and one to be avoided esp when raw, but plenty of mums microwave it for a bit to soften and say it’s fine. Really, as with all parenting, there is no hard and fast rule, so long as you’re keeping your thinking head on.

  2. Julie says:

    Hi, I am wanting to do BLW with my little one, but have a few questions/concerns as I am new to this way of thinking, but LOVE the concept.
    1. The conventional way of introducing foods to babies has you do it one food at a time (so as to be able to pinpoint any allergies I’m assuming), and with BLW it seems to not be done that way. It sounds like you can introduce multiple foods and let them eat pretty much whatever they want. Is it really NOT necessary? Also, you have a list of foods that should be avoided (if allergies in the family), but if no one in family is allergic to it is it okay to give them these foods?
    2. I am taking a more unconventional way of feeding my baby (more of a Weston A. Price approach). She will not be getting any grains until she has all her teeth in and then will not be getting gluten. She will be getting foods high in fat (GOOD FAT OF COURSE!). Things like grass fed butter and cod liver oil. If I am going to use the BLW approach how would I incorporate giving her cod liver oil and other things that can’t really be taken by a baby on their own? Should I just feed this to her as I would her vitamins? Really wanting to be able to incorporate these two lines of thinking.
    Thank you for any advice you can give me. :)

    • Aitch says:

      Hi there, some parents do introduce one food at a time, even with BLW. it’s not like it’s boring for the baby, they’ve only had one food for the first six months anyway, so absolutely do that if you want. i don’t have a list of foods for allergies, the advice currently in the UK seems to be that you can be pretty laissez-faire now, unless there are known allergies in the family, and i guess then that the things to avoid would be related to the family experience?

      re butter, yum, just stick that on toast or oatcakes or whatever you can use that’s non-gluten. depending on how smelly the cod liver oil is (they’re not so bad now, i think) you could see if she liked dipping things in it? or, like you say, just give it to her with vits.

  3. Sonja says:

    I love the concept but want to give my 6mo old yoghurt too. Any tips for making sure some actually gets in his mouth – the way he wields a spoon at this stage his face will be well-moisturised but no yoghurt will actually pass his lips!

    • Aitch says:

      I never got the big urge to give mine yoghurt, perhaps because it’s not a favourite of mine, but the ones people were using for babies seemed to cost a packet. We did do Greek Yoghurt every so often, though, and my curtains still bear the scars… Greek is good because it’s so thick, so they can lick the spoon etc, but remember, no-one’s looking over your shoulder here, it’s your house and your baby… if you want to give yog and he can’t do it, just feed it to him. Try to absolutely be aware of yourself as you can, though, watch to see if you’re encouraging him to finish a pot that he otherwise might prefer to smear all over his bib… and don’t forget that he’ll get the hang of the spoon thing shortly, their development is astonishing at this stage.

  4. BM says:

    Great site. Thanks. I’m sure it took a lot of work. One tiny thing is that contrary to the above the weight scales in the UK ‘red books’ are for breast fed babies according to the notes in them. Although it’s not clear if this includes any elements of mixed feeding.

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