If you haven’t noticed by now, I love food. And I am trying to share that love and appreciation for food with my daughter. In doing so, we’ve chosen to explore Baby-Led Weaning. Over the last couple months, I’ve received lots of questions about that, and I want to address some of them here.
Please remember that I am not a dietician or a doctor, and nothing I say should be taken as advice. I am simply sharing our journey and what we do in the kitchen – please do your own research.
I did share a previous post about Baby-Led Weaning for Beginners where I share all about resources that have benefited us, from podcasts, to books, to items in the kitchen that keep baby safe and comfortable!
Why does BLW help make baby a less picky eater?
As the name suggests, baby-led weaning allows baby to take the lead. Because of that, they become intuitive eaters. They listen to their body’s signals that are telling them when they are hungry and when they are full. As the grown-up, I choose when we are eating and what I’m serving, but I let my baby decide if she’s hungry and how much she wants to eat. If I was feeding her myself, I may accidentally overfeed her, because I’m not able to listen to her internal cues. On top of that, because of how food is served, by 8-months of age, my daughter has already tried over 60 different foods. So, even once she likely hits the “picky” stage of eating and drops 10-15 foods for a period of time, she will still have many foods to select from!
Does gagging and choking scare you? How often does C gag? Have you had any choking incidents?
These questions are probably the most common I get about BLW. Baby-Led Weaning actually doesn’t cause a higher chance of choking. Gagging, however, is normal for babies. I recommend watching some videos of babies gagging on YouTube, so you, as the grown-up, don’t overreact and scare baby. It’s important to know what to do if choking were to occur (which, knock on wood, I hope it never does), Shannon Tripp and Little Lungs First are great resources for this! C has only really ever gagged maybe five times in her life and that was closer to the 6-month mark, so, I don’t have a ton of experience with that. We also, thankfully, have never had a choking incident. I make sure to always prepare foods safely for baby, so that food is the right sizes/shapes and textures! I recommend everyone doing their own research on this, but something I can say is that you want to avoid anything perfectly round (think hot dog, carrot, grape) as that is the perfect size to block the airway – you can cut many round food items lengthwise to make them safer to eat. Also, something like a carrot, or an apple, would be too hard and would need to be cooked first.
How fast are you introducing the big 8 allergens? What are the top allergens? How many days are you waiting in between?
You can look up the allergens for more accurate descriptions. I shall describe as – dairy, eggs, peanuts (legumes), tree nuts, fish, shell fish, wheat (gluten), soy, and a 9th recognized one, sesame seeds (tahini).
For these allergens, we introduced one at a time, for 3 consecutive days. For example, when introduced dairy, with yogurt, we ate it for 3 days straight, before moving on to another allergen. While we ate the allergen, we also ate lots of other foods that are not “top allergens.”
Once baby has proved to be all good with an allergen, it’s recommended that you serve it often (ie. don’t go more than a month without having it). And yes, it is now recommended to even serve something like peanuts (in blended form, such as a natural peanut butter) “early and often.”
Did you start any solids or introduce the open cup prior to 6-months-old?
I only started 4 days before C’s 6-month “birthday”…and she was born 9 days past her “due date.” I wanted to wait as close to 6 months as possible, make sure she was showing interest in food, and sitting up unassisted.
Same with the cup – she started drinking liquids from the open cup (we use the Tiny Cup from ezpz) at around 6 months. Although, she did play with it prior to starting solids, to practise without liquid in her high chair!
Do you prep all her foods in the morning? Big batch and freeze?
I’m a food prepper by nature, so most of her meals are prepped for the week, or half the week! I have frozen some purees that I made extra of, for example, butternut squash.
How did you know C was ready for solids? What did you base your decision to start BLW on?
Again – gestational age, interest, and core stability. I love the benefits of BLW in terms of exposing babes to so many foods (hopefully less picky eater), helping them to be intuitive eaters and listen to their own bodies, and the ease of preparing for them what the rest of the family is eating.
Has C had a favourite so far?
My primal pancakes from my first cookbook (shameless plug, I know…but so many of my friends say their babies are also addicted!). Girl knows square is where it’s at!
How do you make eggs for C? I’m struggling to find ways my girl will take!
So far, Brownie Pan style, and hard boiled. She loves both!
How have you exposed C to meat?
I made a baby-friendly pulled pork (recipe here). Salmon is great! And I’ve used ground turkey and ground beef to make sliders in the brownie pan. She’s a happy meat-eater so far!
How did you introduce shellfish?
We butterflied shrimp, but I’ve heard some great ideas, like blending into pasta sauce, to give them the introduction and taste, without the challenging texture.
How did you introduce nuts? Do you thin out your nut butters?
I serve natural nut butters – on toast, in oatmeal, in yogurt, in smoothie bowls. On toast, I’ll often put butter beforehand. For the rest, I will add olive oil to the jar and stir it up if I find the nut butter is thickening too much!
Do you season or add anything or are the foods you give her more plain?
Season! I just avoid salt, processed sugar [and honey, until they are 1-year-old…even if it’s baked in – Warning: some breads use honey]. I’m hoping to give her a very diverse palate!
What kind of yogurt do you feed C?
I tried to find one with a high milk fat content, and my fav is Olympic Krema Plain with 11% MF.
Have there been any foods that C just does not eat?
Mango wasn’t her thing, but she still tried some of it. I will always offer again…it takes many exposures for people to take likings to certain foods!
Are you feeding solids for every meal or depends on the day? How often?
Although baby only “needs” solids 1-2 times a day until they are around 8 months, C was so interested in it and always wanted to eat when I was, that it quickly rose to 3 times a day! But it often was minimum twice. Now that she’s around 8-months, we will always do 3 meals a day, and start to introduce snacks around her 1-year.
Do you try multiple new foods on the same day?
Not usually. Normally with the new food, I offer it to her first, let her enjoy it for a while, and then add in the rest of her meal.
Can you explain the reason for adding the footrest on C’s high chair?
The main reason is for core stability (to avoid choking) – baby’s legs should ideally stay at a 90-degree angle. Also, to help with focus and comfort. The one you see on her high chair is from Little Bodhi Grey.
Have you been teaching C sign language?
Yes! She signs “milk” and “all done”! I love having an extra way to communicate with her sweet, little brain! Hopefully “more” will come soon!
Are there any Instagram resources you suggest?
You can always check out my BLW highlights to see what we are eating. Some other accounts that I follow are: Playingatyourplate, Solidstarts, Kids.eat.in.color, Yourbloomnutrition, and Babyledweanteam.
Happy Eating, little ones!