Baby Led Weaning

Growing healthy babies with healthy appetites

Posts Tagged ‘weaning’

What would it take to convince you to try Baby-Led Weaning?

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

No. I’m keeping the spoon. You may conduct your ridiculous experiment when I am finished.

A guarantee that they’ll be Good Eaters(TM) at the age of four?

Nope, can’t do it. I mean, they probably will be good enough eaters, but they’ll still be pesky human beings, prone to changes in taste and challenging boundaries. But you’ll trust them to come good, because you’ve seen them hoover up broccoli.
You, my friends, will have Faith.

A guarantee that they will not gag or choke?

As above, I’m afraid. Gagging’s great, it’s a safety mechanism, and while it sounds barf-a-rrific, it’s such a cunning way of moving food shapes around a little that you will marvel (once again) at how clever and wonderful your child is.
Choking? Not fun. Rare, though. I had two babies, one of them choked once, and it was on a bit of apple that I just knew I shouldn’t have let someone give her but I was scared to look a prat. Lesson learned, Mother, don’t be scared to look like a prat in front of your friends. Fortunately I’d done my sensible parents’ Infant Resus course and the baby was fine with a bit of a whack on the back. She, naturally, was unbothered, and I had to wrestle the apple from her pudgy fists before it went straight back in.

So, what will convince you to do Baby-Led Weaning? *drum roll*

It’s a little experiment. Very simple. (Not altogether enjoyable.)

Simply sit in front of your beloved tomorrow night, and have them cut up your food into pieces and feed them to you. Mebbe mash ’em up a bit, even, get all those flavours nicely mixed. MAYBE even whizz them up a bit, if you’re feeling racy.
Serve on a spoon, not a fork.
Now, see if they get the portioning right – is your mouth unpleasantly full, or half-empty? Do they feed you slowly, so that you are begging them for more (with your eyes, hush now, no speaking, you’re a baby. Furious yelling will be fine). Or is it so fast that you worry you can’t swallow the first bite before the second and third hove into view? And what if you don’t like the dinner but your partner or friend can’t abide waste? Eeeer. Open wide…

Try it, and see what you think. Don’t forget to finish with a lemon-scented wipe to the lips! Think of it as dessert!

And if that doesn’t convince you to let your baby have a bash at self-feeding, nothing will.

Which is Fine. At the very least the experiment will likely have made you a better spoon-feeder, and that sort of understanding and care can only be good for our babies, no matter which weaning method we choose.


(many thanks to margaux for the lovely pics)

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The La Leche League responds to the BMJ hoo-hah

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Well, thank goodness for that, then.

“La Leche League GB’s response to the article reported in the British Medical Journal, January2011, questioning the recommendation to introduce solid food to babies at 6 months 19.01.2011

La Leche League has been providing breastfeeding information and support to parents for over fifty years. We support the view of The World Health Organisation (WHO), The Department of Health (DH), and other eminent organisations, that infants should be exclusively breastfed for around the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive appropriate complementary foods alongside continued breastfeeding.

When WHO recommended this policy it was based on a systematic review of 3,000 studies on infant feeding. The article the British Medical Journal published, on 14 January 2011, suggesting that babies need solids earlier than six months of age, is not a new research study or a systematic review of all available evidence. Three of the four authors of this research have declared an association with the baby feeding industry.

There is clear scientific evidence that breastfeeding protects both the short and long term health of mothers and babies. It reduces the risk of infections such as gastroenteritis and respiratory, ear and urinary tract infections, particularly infections requiring hospitalisation, even in developed countries such as the UK. The risk of diabetes and obesity in children and cancer in mothers is lessened and it reduces the risk of postnatal depression and neglect. With the current risk of swine flu, exclusive breastfeeding reduces the risk of the baby catching secondary infections, which could be serious enough to need hospital admission.

• The BMJ article says that delaying introducing solid food may increase the risk of iron deficiency anaemia (IDA)

Breastmilk supplies all the essential nutrients a baby needs for around the first six months of life. There isn’t a lot of iron in breastmilk because there isn’t supposed to be. It is more completely absorbed by a baby than the kind in formula, baby cereal or supplements. Breastmilk contains a protein that binds to any extra iron that the baby doesn’t use because too much iron can end up feeding the wrong kind of bacteria in his intestines and this can result in diarrhoea/constipation or even microscopic bleeding. Formula fed babies can have too much iron in their intestines, which causes these problems and ends up reducing their overall iron.

If a baby is started on solids before he is ready iron stores can drop. Some fruits and vegetables can bind with iron before the baby has a chance to use it. These foods are often low in iron and so are simply replacing the perfect food for babies with ones with fewer nutrients.

To help ensure a breastfed baby has a good supply of iron, women can look at their diet during pregnancy and ask that the umbilical cord is not cut before it stops pulsating as this adds to his iron supply.

• The BMJ article says that delaying introducing solids may increase the risk of coeliac disease

Coeliac disease is associated with the early introduction of gluten, which is found in cereals. Currently available evidence on the timing of the introduction of gluten into the infant diet is insufficient to support any recommendations and a study suggesting this should be at four months is considered by many to be flawed. There is evidence suggesting that not being breastfed at the time gluten is introduced into the diet is associated with an increased risk of subsequently developing coeliac disease.

• The article says that delaying introducing solids may increase food allergies

A baby’s insides are designed to be ready for solid food once his outside has developed enough for him to eat it on his own. If offered too soon he will automatically thrust it back out to protect his digestive tract. La Leche League suggests mothers look for cues that their baby is ready, such as being able to sit up, pick up food, get it in his mouth and chew without choking, and that often happens around six months. A baby’s digestive tract needs to be mature before starting solids so the lining of his intestines is sealed against allergens (allergy producers). If given solids too early allergens can slip through the intestinal wall into the blood stream and the baby produces antibodies against them, which can result in allergies such as eczema.

At around six months a baby starts producing adult-type enzymes, which we need to break down food for digestion. If he has solids before he can digest them properly it can cause tummy problems and the nutrients will not be fully utilised.

Trials are being undertaken to test if babies with a family history of true allergy might be helped by earlier introduction of certain foods but, as a rule, the majority of babies are less likely to have an allergic reaction to foods by around six months.

• The article suggests that introducing new tastes at an earlier age may increase acceptance of leafy green vegetables and encourage healthy eating later in life

This is purely speculative. Breastmilk prepares a baby for family food as it changes in flavour depending on the mother’s diet and so exposes the baby to various tastes from birth on wards. In fact research shows that formula-fed babies often don’t accept new tastes as willingly as breastfed babies. What a baby prefers to eat will be dependent on many things and will change as he grows. Some mothers have found that if a baby was encouraged to eat a food he had shown a particular aversion to it caused a negative reaction, perhaps showing that babies instinctively know what to refuse. If offered a range of healthy foods babies tend to take what they need.

• The article says that delayed introduction to solid foods may be linked to increased obesity

This is in total conflict with the studies showing that early introduction, particularly of sugary foods, is an important factor behind the obesity epidemic and can lead to babies being overfed. Breastfeeding helps a baby to regulate his own appetite so that when he starts solids he may be better able to avoid over eating.

La Leche League GB knows that women already receive conflicting advice and information on many aspects of childcare and that this report has caused concern and confusion amongst parents wondering what to do for the best for their children. Babies’ individual development varies and parents are best placed to look for signs that their baby may be ready for solid food, around six months of age.

While we recognise that it is important to ensure that recommendations are based on the best available evidence, and are regularly reviewed, we continue to believe that breastmilk provides everything a baby needs up to around six months of age and that to introduce other foods before a baby is ready is not beneficial.

La Leche League GB offers breastfeeding information and support to all. Established as an Affiliate of LLL International in the 1980s, LLLGB has 68 groups and 245 Leaders. LLL Leaders are mothers who have breastfed a child for 12 months or longer and undergone an accreditation process. They know that breastfeeding is not always easy and how much difference having someone to talk to can make. Leaders provide telephone counselling, email support and local group meetings, as well as leaflets on a wide range of breastfeeding questions, information on more unusual situations, access to a panel of professional advisors, and can often lend out books covering various aspects of pregnancy and child care.

LLLGB’s national telephone helpline (0845 120 2918     0845 120 2918 ) connects mothers directly to an accredited Leader, while our website ( includes an online help form that enables a mother to receive email help from an LLL Leader. All our Leaders are volunteers and answer calls from home while looking after their families.

The new 8th edition of La Leche League International’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding was published on July 13th 2010 and can be purchased from the LLLGB SHOP

Written by Anna Burbidge, Chair, Council of Directors, on behalf of La Leche League GB”

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I do itch a little when faced with ‘creative parenting’ blogs, however…

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

This looks like a reasonably non-allergenic one for people who want to do something other than switch on CBeebies first thing in the morning. (I will NOT hear a word said against Rastamouse, btw). It all looks messy and good-natured, and not too controlled. Haven’t looked at it all so don’t blame me if there is a ‘paint-your -own-monkey’s-backside-mask’ on there but the spaghetti paintings look like fun, don’t they?

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You’ve got 6 months to get this weaning thing cracked…

Monday, October 9th, 2006

So don't sweat it.

It really irritates me that so many Health Visitors I hear about seem to be making a virtue out of the fact that if you feed your babies puree 'you can have him on three meals a day within a fortnight'. Honest, my friend's HV told her that only last week.

I just don't understand what the rush is… is it not true that babies should be getting the bulk of their nutrients from their milk for the first 12 months? Did I pick that up wrong?

Well, I suppose that if I was spoon feeding my child every day while my own meal got cold then I'd be highly motivated to get onto the 'self-feeding' stage, but don't people who are doing baby led weaning get a free pass in that regard? Or is it just me who truly does not give a flying bollock how quickly Babybear takes to solids?

Now, I'm not saying that if she was refusing all food that I would be quite so relaxed, and I do understand that I am fortunate that she is prepared to give most things at least a try before letting them dangle precariously over the side of her highchair in the manner of a gangland boss dealing with a copper's nark. But if you read the BLW FAQ you will see that a lot, really, a lot of the Yahoo Group babies didn't take to self-feeding until they got to 12 months. Which is, not by coincidence I think, the same time as their milk needs to be supplemented…

So if you are new to BLW and freaking out because your friends' puree-fed babies seem to be wolfing down chickenandapricotandsweetpotato mush as fast as their mums can spoon it in, don't worry, your baby will get there when they are ready. To be perfectly honest Babybear rarely has three square meals a day and she's nearly ten months old, but that is I admit largely down to my lack of organisation. I reckon I've got another couple of months before I need to crack it so I'm not at all worried.

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Monday, August 14th, 2006

Who needs an alarm clock? Not me, baby…

I'd have to say that Babybear is an excellent sleeper (although she is currently playing with her baby gym beside me and it's nearly 1am sowhat'sallthatabout?) but her parents are a couple of disorganised layabouts who like to stay up late and get up later. So we obviously knew from the minute I peed on the stick that we weren't going to be following any strict childcare regime. (Well, that and the fact that the likes of Gina Ford's routine is SO badly written that it makes your skin itch. Say what you like about letting babies cry it out – and I'd prefer you say that it's unnecessarily cruel – but, my GOD that woman's writing gave me the heebie-jeebies.)

So when she was first born, we consciously decided not to stress about Babybear's sleeping habits, so once we got throught the first six weeks of constant night-time breastfeeding, we all used to go to bed as a family at about 12midnight and watched DVDs while I breastfed and the bub dropped off at about 1am. She would then generally sleep 'til 9 or 10am, the good little sausage. (Actually, these were pretty much the hours I kept while pregnant, which I don't think can be a coincidence).

It was the baby herself who dialled that back to 11pm, then 9pm then 7.30pm and more recently since weaning her we've noticed that she needs to go to bed at 6.30pm if we want to avoid that hellish 'over-tired' thing. (That bloody Vauxhall advert has so re-programmed the Husband's puny brain that he cannot pronounce it any other way than 'ooooveh-tiad' so for that reason alone I find it's best to get the baby down before she gets to that stage. )

I'm not sure if it got worse because of weaning, teething, or learning to crawl so that she is now more fatigued, but we did have a bad spell quite recently where she was just roaring with pain and exhaustion for a couple of hours at night – bearing in mind we have been so spoilt we thought our world was coming to an end – and it took us a while and a few frantic 'help me oh dear god help me' posts on Mumsnet before we got to the bottom of it and decided that we were feeding her solids too close to her last milk feed. See, you knew this would come back to baby led weaning eventually, you just had to stick with me…

So for interest I can tell you that I tend to treat her milk feeds and solids as something quite different to her solids, and insofar as we have a schedule it goes a little seomthing like this:

She normally wakes up at 7.52am – you think I'm kidding? – has a bottle at about 8-ish, then solids
(cheese, porridge pancakes, peaches) at 9-ish then a bath or a wipe-up and another
bottle before another nap from about 10 or 11 till 12-ish or 1-ish…

Then some snacks (rice cakes, a banana, Organix moon biscuits and her water) as we
are out and about and probably another bottle after an afternoon nap in
the buggy, then if we are at home she has some solids (fruit, pasta,
whatever is around) at 4 ish and then her last bottle at 6-ish.

It's all very -ish, isn't it? But basically all I am saying is that if I want her to drink her bottles
properly I know I have to leave a good couple of hours without snacks. And even at that her daytime bottles are often left half-empty… which I have just had to chill right out about because as you know, baby led weaning is all about responding to the child's cues, not your poxy paranoia that they are about to starve to death…

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