Baby Led Weaning Food Ideas
Baby-led weaning (BLW) food ideas is a guide for parents who are looking for ideas to introduce starter solid food to your little ones who are going to be 6 months old soon. This guide is not only giving examples of food ideas but also covers safety tips when introducing baby-led weaning and how it helps in baby’s development.
Baby Led Weaning (BLW)
Baby-led weaning or in short BLW is an approach to let babies have control of “self-feeding” and experience food other than breast milk or formula milk. Unlike the traditional method of spoon-feeding, babies get to choose the food, hold it and taste it at their own pace. Babies get to taste the same food that the rest of the family is eating, prefer to cover a wide range of foods to provide them a balanced diet after 6 months of age.
It began to gain popularity about a decade ago when the baby-led weaning method was introduced. This process intends to help babies to learn how to self-feed and self-regulate. They will have ample opportunity to explore the taste, textures, aroma, and colors of different food offered to them. They will learn how to stop eating when they are full.
Inculcation of good eating habits from a very young age will help fine-tuning motor development, eye-hand coordination, chewing skills, and dexterity.
BLW versus traditional
Here is a simple comparison between BLW and traditional spoon-feeding.
|Self-feeding||Spoon feeding by parents or caregivers|
|Pick up food and explore the taste|
(eye-hand coordination & motor skill development)
|spoon-feeding the food directly to the mouth|
|stop eating when full||overfeeding|
|eat and play, sometimes digest less||eat more than needed|
From the initial stage of BLW, usually babies will play with the food, lick it and explore the taste more than swallowing it and they will end up not eating enough. Therefore, it is important to maintain their breast milk or formula milk for their daily nutrient intake. Do not worry, babies will learn how to swallow and digest the food offered to them sooner or later.
Based on research done in 2011, experts are suggesting combining both BLW and spoon feeding when babies start eating solid food to avoid the nutritional problems in small groups of children who develop slowly. By doing BLW, experts found there is a close relationship between the time babies reach out for food, walking without support, and being able to speak meaningful words. It means BLW helps some babies to develop new skills earlier and faster than others.
BLW will lead to less obesity in childhood. Due to its methodology, babies will learn how to self-regulate and stop eating when they are full. Babies who choose to eat a wide range of food during BLW will help babies to accept most of the food offered to them and become less picky.
How to start Baby Led Weaning?
We have you covered. There are safety tips on how to start baby led weaning and what you should know before you start introducing solid foods to your little one.
Don’t rush, take it slowly
There is a suitable time for the baby to start on solid food. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, exclusive breastfeeding your baby to six months of age and gradually introducing solid food between the age of 6 – 12 months. Some babies may need to wait later than 6 months, look for the sign when babies are ready.
- Babies are able to sit in a high chair without support
- Good neck strength
- Able to put toys in their mouth – they are ready to put food in their mouth too!
- show some interest in your food.
If you are unsure whether your baby is ready for solid food, check with your pediatrician.
Prepare weaning tools
Before you start BLW, you need to prepare some weaning tools. We have listed all the weaning tools that you need:
- High chair or baby floor seat with a small counter / table
- Fork and spoon with silicone tips
- Bowl or plate
- Sippy cup
- Bibs with catch pocket
- Splat mat to be placed under a high chair. Save your time for cleaning up.
Choose easy-to-manage weaning foods such as fruits, shredded meat, puffed cereals, cooked pasta, and vegetables. Cut the fruits and vegetables into long thin strips to make it easier for the baby to grasp and manage. For the first few attempts, babies will usually play with the food by grasping it, licking it, and biting it. Let them explore the taste of different foods.
Offering wholesome options for the baby to choose from, will help to ensure there will be something that your baby will like. Do not worry about the nutrient intake. At the initial stage, your baby is learning the skills, focus on the food, grasp the food with hands, put them in the mouth, and lick it. He will learn how to chew and swallow it by the time he is about 8-9 months old.
Always serve the food based on the progress of how far your baby learns to eat. Ways of cooking and cutting the food are important, to make sure there will be no choking hazards. You can puree or mash the food or cut them into long thin slices. Remember, make sure no bone on the meat, allergenic food that contains nuts, egg, soy, and raw food are served. Start with food that is not too sweet or salty.
Here are some examples of food you can offer to your little one.
- Iron fortified puffed cereals, cookies, oatmeal
- Pasta, rice, pancake, wholemeal bread
- Shredded chicken, meat or fish
- Vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, cucumber, pumpkin, different colors of pepper etc. Cook them until soft pieces.
- Fruits such as banana, apple, pear, avocado, melons, papaya, kiwi
The texture of the food is important as babies will learn how to pick up and grasp, help with their chewing skills and coarser texture will prevent constipation. Prepare various color foods as they have different vital nutrients and vitamins needed for the baby to thrive.
Even though BLW is a weaning stage, it should be done slowly. Breast milk or formula milk should continue to be the biggest nutrient source until he is 1 year old.
Never put your baby unattended
Accompany your baby. Babies shall not be left alone to do self-feeding. Sit by your little one’s side, offer encouragement and keep an eye on what or how he is doing. Allow your baby to eat at the table during family meals. Let your baby try the cooked food from the table e.g cooked sweet potatoes etc. It will also help in social development too.
Monitor your baby health condition after you introduce BLW
Once your baby starts eating solid food, monitor your baby’s health condition as eating solid food is a major change in their digestive system. At this stage, eating solid food will affect:
- Poo – change in colors, quantity, texture, smell, and bowel frequency
- Wind – some babies will have bloated tummy and passing wind
- Urine – the color and smell
- Skin condition – eczema or skin rashes due to allergic reaction to certain food
There’ll be messes
Your baby will have lots of practice to get the eating skills right, there will be an inevitable mess on your floor, baby’s chair, and clothing, so bear with it. You may consider a good bib with a catch pocket and a splat mat on the floor. Save your cleaning up time!
Read more ” Baby’s first year essentials (Part 1)“, “Homemade vs store-bought organic baby food“
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