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After months of struggling with my baby’s feeding aversion, we are on a feeding plan that is looking hopeful and we could not be more excited. After our daughter starts to willingly eat milk on her own, she will be ready to start solids, but her strong-willed personality that caused her to stop eating in the first place means we have to be careful with the way in which we introduce solid foods. This is why we have been encouraged to try baby-led weaning.
What is baby-led weaning?
Baby-led weaning is an approach to starting solid foods in which a baby self-feeds herself chunks of mashable food, rather than being fed purees by a parent or caregiver. This is not about leading the baby away from breastmilk or formula. These milks should still be the baby’s primary source of nutrition. BLW is a way to gradually introduce solid foods into baby’s diet, complementing baby’s milk intake at her own pace. The baby feeds herself age-appropriate finger foods at family mealtime, deiciding how much she wants to eat. In this way, she begins to get used to textures and tastes and to practice the chewing and swallowing skills needed for later in life.
I will admit, this practice was foreign to me when I first heard of it. As the oldest of seven siblings, I watched my siblings devour purees until they had enough teeth to chew their food, and I assumed that was the only way children learned to eat. Baby-led weaning scared me. The idea of my baby putting chunks of food into her mouth had me on high choking alert.
However, as I begin to read more about the practice, chat with friends and family who have gone this route, and begin introducing foods one at a time to my daughter, I can see that baby led weaning may be a lot easier in the long run than other feeding alternatives.
However, there are some products that I am finding make the process of baby-led weaning a lot smoother.
1. Baby-Led Weaning by Gill Rapley
The term “baby-led weaning” was first coined in this book, which is a guide to confidently introducing your baby to solid foods. I am only halfway through this book and am already feeling more at ease about baby-led weaning by following the suggestions and practices outline in this informational book. I would highly suggest it to any parent hoping to take this approach to infant feeding, rather than going into it blindly.
2. Baby Led Weaning Cookbook
Written by the same two authors who wrote the first guide to baby-led weaning, this cookbook provides recipes that can be cooked for the family as you begin the journey of baby-led weaning, so that you are feeding baby age-appropriate foods without having to cook one meal for her and one for the family.
3. Training Spoons These soft, silicone spoons are perfect for a baby who is practicing the art of feeding herself with silverware. Allowing baby to practice with her own spoons helps to tune fine motor skills and hand and eye coordination needed for self-feeding as she grows.
4. Self-Feeders These self feeders were a serious game changer for me. My daughter is still figuring out how to mash food with her gums and can get pretty grossed out by the texture of food chunks, but she loves this little feeder. You just put a chunk of food such as avacado or banana in it and the baby holds it and chews on the feeder. The food comes out of little holes at the end of the feeder, so your baby can practice chewing and swallowing without fear of choking. I love it!
5. Food Grinder
Have you had success with baby-led weaning in the past? We would love to hear your story! Let us know in the comments!