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Baby-led weaning

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2010-12-14 -

 

I can’t tell you how pleasant it is not to have to fight my infant every spoonful I feed her. And I swear it’s all thanks to baby-led weaning (BLW) .

BLW, in a nutshell, means avoiding puréed foods as your baby’s first solids. Instead, give them a range of soft finger foods and let them feed themselves. You can read more details about it here, but the idea is that by giving your baby independence and a variety of textures up front, they’ll be more relaxed and open to trying new textures and flavours as toddlers and beyond.

I came across BLW after I asked my favourite child health nurse for advice when Orion refused to take food from a spoon at 6- 7 months of age. Kym suggested I try BLW, as Orion was likely watching her big brother feed himself and wanting to do likewise.

As BLW proponents admit, it will take some weeks for your baby to get the hang of swallowing the food. And it’s a messy process. But for me it’s been worth every minute I spend scraping food off the floor.

We used the traditional method of introducing solids to Tycho (purées-mashed-soft lumps). He baulked at anything that wasn’t puréed and has always been a finicky and unadventurous eater.

Orion is completely different – she’ll put any new food in her mouth and give it a work-over. And soon after she got the taste for BLW (pun intended), she went back to accepting both puréed and stewed foods from the spoon. No fights, no mealtime stress, no offering 8 courses in order to get the right amount of nutrients into her system. Within 10 weeks Orion was eating the same food as the rest of the family – something Tycho wouldn’t do for at least 6 months, and then only sometimes.

Now, I feed Orion her dinner at 4.30pm – usually slow-cooked meals or saucy family meals leftovers. Then she sits with us for the family meal and has chunks of whatever we’re eating.

Orion is a sample size of one, which is not nearly large enough to arrive at some sort of evidence-based findings. I can’t be sure that she eats well as a result of BLW. I might just be lucky to have a good eater for a daughter. But I do feel that she is quite adventurous with foods because we’ve been willing to let her explore a wide variety of things from very early on.

If you’re ready to introduce solids and want some tips of things to offer your infant, try soft foods that are sliced in the shape of chips, or that have a handle baby can hold on to – foods baby can easily mush in their mouth. Here are some suggestions:
• cooked flowerets of broccoli, broccolini and cauliflower
• very well cooked sticks of carrot and green beans
• steamed asparagus and zucchini sticks
• oven-baked potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, apple and pear
• sticks of uncooked avocado and banana.

Happy eating!

Kate

 


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