Only just discovered BLW

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Only just discovered BLW

Postby Nikola » 29 Oct 2015, 08:10

Hi. Just before I started writing what turned out to be this lengthy post, I posted my introduction message, but I was itching to ask some more questions about BLW. Just skip the rant if you don't care much about it. Here goes.

We have already been offering our almost 6 months old son some purees, mainly because we had fresh ingredients grown in our garden and he seemed interested. Had we waited for him to turn 6 months old, we'd have to buy him ingredients from stores and we don't know where that stuff comes from. TBH, he's not too interested in these foods, so I'm thinking maybe BLW is the solution.

While I still have to discuss some of this with my wife, I'd like to be sure of it myself first. Since we have already started with purees, is it too late to switch to BLW now? I mean, it's not like we're forcing those down our son's throat. If he's not interested, we just throw it all away (which is a waste, I know, but in our defense, the doctors have had us convinced that there is no other way). After he's had as much as he can willingly stomach, his mother (my wife) still offers him to breastfeed, which he does.

He is still not able to sit on his own without being strapped in a high chair or car seat, as he tends to tip to the side. So, is it too early for him to even start anything except breastfeeding?

* Rant begins *

There is a number of advice we've been offered about feeding and it's hard for me to track where all of them are coming from, let alone check if they're valid at all. For example, we've been told that it's an absolute must to offer the baby some purees made of grains (such as rice), as a means of preventing the development of coeliac disease later on. They told us that at around 6 months, the baby doesn't get enough iron from breast milk any more, so this should be given in the form of purees. Our doctor gave us a chart of which foods to introduce and when, and she told us to make them all into purees all the way to 12 months of age. The list goes on with stuff that make little to no sense at all.

I'm a guy who tends to look at things from an evolutionary perspective and from that perspective none of the above looks convincing. Like, at all! The wasteful practice of making and throwing away uneaten purees is to me the ultimate form of stupidity. Furthermore, they claim these ingredients should be introduced in such and such order for such and such reasons, among them usually the reason that the baby will get used to the various tastes. But when I try this stuff it really tastes like nothing, or it's just plain awful and it makes me wonder if I should be giving my son this mess.

For these reasons, I instinctively like BLW, but I'm myself scared to go against all the advice from our families and all the doctors and the huge amount of literature that says "do this this way" and finally, several generations of people who have grown up to be healthy adults even without BLW - let alone try to convince my wife (who is much more of a conformist than me) to try it. I'm not scared because it's not a mainstream thing, though (I do a lot of things that aren't mainstream and that actually fly in the face of mainstream). I'm scared because when they (family) find out that my wife and I are doing something (again) out of the ordinary and they start throwing made-up scare stories at us, I'll have nothing to throw back except my stubborn refusal to go with the flow. I'm like this - when my ideas are under attack and my brain shifts into a fight-or-flight mode, my vocabulary and response repertoire is quite limited, and by the time I bring it back out of this mode that's switched on automatically, I'm already bombarded with more nonsense.

And then my wife will think (again) that it's bad what we're doing (she had the same feelings with cloth diapers - which were her idea and I really think they were a brilliant idea - co-sleeping and breastfeeding, when we were challenged on these issues) and will want to revert to the beaten paths unless I'm capable to come up with a convincing argument against a thoroughly made-up story with precisely zero references. (Once I even had to convince my wife that our son won't be sterile because we don't retract his foreskin to clean underneath - something she was told by a friend whose friend's someone's son was sterile and it just had to be because of this and there's no other imaginable reason why someone would be sterile but because his parents didn't retract the foreskin on his penis when he was a baby.)

Sorry about the lengthy post, but believe me that all this is just a part of the whole picture showing our situation. We're desperately trying to make sensible choices about our parenting and as such we are constantly criticized and need to stand up for ourselves and justify our choices - and literally to everyone (which is one reason I'm writing a parenting blog, even though none of those smart guys and gals who are first to criticize read it) - or they just won't back off.

* Rant ends *

So, what I really need is a truckload of intellectual ammo, hand grenades, rocket launchers and BFG's (you know, to clean entire rooms in one shot). Am I in the right place?
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Re: Only just discovered BLW

Postby Lily » 29 Oct 2015, 09:15

Nice rant! You're definitely in the right place - lots of us here are naturally sceptical, scientifically-inclined people; many of us have chosen to raise our kids using non-mainstream practices like co-sleeping, baby-wearing and BLW because the evidence has led us in that direction.

Many of the restrictive ideas about weaning seem to stem from the time when it was normal to start feeding solids much earlier, at around 4 months. A baby's digestive system is still very immature at that age, and certain foods are more difficult for them to manage. But if you wait until 6 months, they are able to cope with pretty much anything. Like you say, it feels totally wrong to feed your baby something you wouldn't eat yourself (whether puréed or not) - babies are people, and like everyone else they have their own tastes and preferences, but there's no reason to restrict them to bland flavours. BLW is about learning to enjoy the pleasures of good food as much as anything else.

Sadly not much research has been done on BLW, but what there is is broadly positive. I don't have the links but I'm sure someone will post them for you. Have you got the book? You may find it helpful in formulating coherent arguments.

In practical terms, there's no reason you can't switch from giving your son purées to offering finger food. You may need to offer a mix of both to start with, if he's used to eating a bit more but can't yet feed himself very much. The requirement to sit unsupported is really about reducing choking risk; if he can lean forward to spit things out when he's strapped in then that's fine.
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Re: Only just discovered BLW

Postby Kitcameron » 29 Oct 2015, 20:53

Can't really add anything to Lily's points apart from a couple of things that jumped out at me as I read your rant, which I have to say will sound very familiar to a lot of people here so don't feel like you're alone there.

A) I think blw as a concept is much older than the actual term. I mean people have been doing it for years, probably since before puree, but there was just no name for it before.
B) it is ridiculous for a dr to suggest you puree everything up to a year old. I think in the UK even puree fed babies are recommended finger foods from about six months even if their diet is primarily puree.

Can't remember what else I was going to say but I'll get back to you if I remember it.

Great to see a dad here too. Welcome to the forum.
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Re: Only just discovered BLW

Postby UnhappyRightFoot » 30 Oct 2015, 00:06

If you need some ammunition against doubters, then throw the BLW book at them (as literally as you wish!!!!) I don't think anyone can argue with the information in it and the philosophy it follows. But seriously, it's full of good information on why do this, as well as details on how to.

As for advice, I look at it this way, if you google anything from weaning to blankets to buggies to sleeping, you will get millions of pages of answers - and every single topic will have conflicting ideas and views. Even within the medical profession, you'll get a huge amount of variance in advice and that's before the mother-in-law gets involved!!! You need to follow what you are comfortable with, not what has been done before or what is fashionable. He is your baby and you need to do what is right and works for the 3 of you.

And you can always resort to the "well, I didn't have a car seat and, yes, I survived my childhood, but is that good grounds to not use one now??!" Shuts down any "it didn't do you any harm" argument!!!

Good luck!

And welcome!!!
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Re: Only just discovered BLW

Postby Nikola » 30 Oct 2015, 08:50

@Lily, thanks. No, I don't have the book yet. Like I said, I've only just discovered what BLW is all about and although I have heard the term before, I can still count hours since I learned what it actually was. Our son can lean forward alright. Sometimes it looks as if he would fall out (he definitely would) if he wasn't strapped into his high chair, and the same goes for his car seat.


A) Yes, I think so too. Like I said, I tend to look at things like these from an evolutionary perspective. I mean, even as little as 50-100 years ago, people didn't even have blenders to make purees and I doubt you can get a puree as smooth using a potato masher or spoon or fork. And for the millions of generations of hominids before that, even those weren't available. Yet babies survived on what was available, and that was most certainly the same things their parents ate, only shredded into smaller pieces (along with mother's milk).

B) Nobody mentioned finger foods to us here in Croatia and parents mainly feed their children purees (home-made, or store-bought). This is a general practice until babies start teething. With first teeth, they are offered some real food, often against doctor's recommendations.

@HappyFeet Months before our son was born, we have decided that we would go with the best guidelines we could find, that we can handle (hence breastfeeding, co-sleeping, etc.). That's why my wife suggested cloth diapers over disposables, and why we still use those after finding out about diaper-free advantages and disadvantages. Going diaper-free is most likely what nature intended, but first and foremost we have no practical examples of it and it's a very far-removed practice from the norm so we would have no clue how to deal with it (especially certain situations). Then again, cloth diapers have their advantages over both disposables and no diapers. It's a compromise, though possibly one involving our own ignorance.

BLW is not so far-removed and I think it's something we can handle, and even something that will make things easier for us in the long run.

How do we decide what's "best"? Well, my go-to is very often an evolutionary perspective, i.e. I ask myself if something would make the same sense a million years ago, when we didn't have modern civilization. Pureed apples, formula-feeding, sleep training, disposable diapers, etc. make no sense that way. The next step is to look at the pros and cons. I often find sites which are not inclined to the idea I'm researching list cons that are hardly cons, or are easily avoided, or sites which are inclined to it list pros that I wouldn't dare calling pros (e.g. see pros on corporal punishments ). The final step is to look at available research. With co-sleeping, those who are for it say it reduces chance of SIDS, those who are against it say it increases chance of SIDS. Taking a look at research settles the matter for us and our position now is that anyone who is against co-sleeping isn't being serious.

In this perspective, BLW passes the first two tests with flying colors, but as Lily said, there isn't much research on it. I myself still haven't found any (I've seen the new sticky on the forum, but I'll read it after I'm finished writing). But, we can handle it, and much more easily than making purees and throwing them away.
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Re: Only just discovered BLW

Postby emzit » 30 Oct 2015, 10:49

Can I ask what ingredients you are growing? Can he just eat them prepared as you would have them,(or modified to make it easier to pick up/handle), instead of pureed?
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Re: Only just discovered BLW

Postby Nikola » 30 Oct 2015, 13:08

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Re: Only just discovered BLW

Postby Marrow » 30 Oct 2015, 13:41

Hard things (raw carrot, raw apple) can be really gaggy if you get a chunk off. So they are better cooked (e.g. fry apple in butter) or grated. Leaves are also pretty gaggy, so you can try the salads and raw spinach if you want but with fairly low probability of success. The wild strawberries and tomatoes (if they are small ones) I would be slightly concerned about being a bit small and round and windpipe shaped, so you might want to cut in half

Everything else on your list is fine. Raw, steamed, roasted, whatever suits you. Small pieces are tricky to pick up, so I'd go with pieces about the size of your finger. That will fit in his closed fist with a bit sticking out to chew on.

Though I would also add that kids need much less green stuff in their diet than we do, so you'll need some high calorie fat- and protein-rich food as well as that (albeit delicious sounding!) harvest.
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Re: Only just discovered BLW

Postby ches » 02 Nov 2015, 00:52

The last time I read a study on food allergies was probably 5 years ago. That study concluded that the optimal time to introduce wheat was between 4-6 mo, while still breastfeeding. That group had the lowest incidence of coeliac disease. Now, there's a big a difference between lowest correlation and "if you don't give your baby wheat you are going to cause coeliac disease."
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Re: Only just discovered BLW

Postby UnhappyRightFoot » 02 Nov 2015, 11:21

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Re: Only just discovered BLW

Postby Feefielou » 02 Nov 2015, 12:59

Hi Nikola, and welcome to the forum. I started writing a loooooong reply but ran out of steam, sorry. I share your thirst for evidence and spent months trying to find real studies rather than anecdotes (of which there are millions, but I'm a scientist so that will not do), before starting Moonbeam on BLW last year.

Here's a summary version instead: there are lots of claims made about BLW. Many of them are pretty dubious-- it almost certainly won't make your kid a magical non-fussy eater in toddlerhood and who knows what influence it will have one way or the other on their eventual ability to make healthy choices, maintain a healthy bodyweight, etc. BUT it also probably won't cause your baby to choke, especially if you do as most BLW-ers do and inform yourself about infant choking and first aid to a much higher standard than the average parent. Your child will almost certainly not be iron deficient or zinc deficient as a result of following BLW. It's also fun and easy and leaves both you and your kid in control rather than a baby-food manufacturer or the maker of a fancy steaming-pureeing machine. As others have said, there is very, very little science (Gill Rapley's book is a fun read but actually cringesome in the scientific evidence department), but to be fair how much scientific evidence is there on the use of spoon-feeding of purées? We have to hold both methods up to the same standards of evidence if we are going to be fair about it.

Here are a couple of links to peer-reviewed articles. Not strong evidence of anything, but suggestive of benefits for BLW in some regards: 'The effect of age of introduction to lumpy solids on foods eaten and reported feeding difficulties at 6 and 15 months.' How Feasible Is Baby-Led Weaning as an Approach to Infant Feeding? A Review of the Evidence Baby knows best? The impact of weaning style on food preferences and body mass index in early childhood in a case–controlled sample

Also have a read of this very sensible article, along with the studies listed in her references at the bottom of the page: ... myths.html

Eheheheh I was just looking through my bookmarks of things I read last year, and found this one: It makes me giggle. Really, of all the things that someone is terrified a baby might choke on. A pork chop? It's huge? I'd be a lot more concerned about a cranberry.

Good luck!

(edited to fix some silly typos)
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Re: Only just discovered BLW

Postby Nikola » 03 Nov 2015, 04:55

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Re: Only just discovered BLW

Postby Nikola » 03 Nov 2015, 05:12

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Re: Only just discovered BLW

Postby busmother » 03 Nov 2015, 13:59

You've had lots of good advice here already, but I've been thinking what would be helpful in your position. As others have said, the evidence in the traditional techniques, is that we were all weaned like that and we all turned out fine. The evidence for BLW is that probably over millions of years, most human babies were handed chunks of foot that their parents thought they could manage, and most of them survived, but that's harder to put our fingers on. I can tell you that my two five year olds who were BL weaned, are as fit and healthy as you could wish, so it's clearly not done them any harm.
And the practical benefits, for which you don't really need evidence, for me were:
- that it's much more sociable - you can enjoy your own meal alongside your child.
- that you haven't got to spend lots of time making purees.
- because you're all eating the same food, it forces you to make your own meals much healthier (though if you're growing all that lovely stuff, maybe you do already eat very healthily - but this was an important reason for us).
- it's fun! Watching someone spoonfeeding purees to their child is so depressing, when they enjoy feeding themselves so much.
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