Baby Led Weaning

Baby led weaning.
It's a weaning process for babies that is very fun but incredibly messy! You have to be able to cope with lots of squashed food all over the floor, not to mention the child taking part in it.
Why baby led wean?
There are many good valid reasons why baby led weaning is one of the best ways to wean a child onto solids, it's gentle and so much easier than other weaning ways such as spoon feeding.

BLW according to a few studies by The Independent & psychologists at The University of Nottingham have shown that children who feed themselves rather than being spoon fed grow up with less health problems and grow up to be a lot healthier.
Although spoon feeding is favoured by busy families because all you have to do is feed a child by spoon quickly at breakfast lunch and dinner it's not necessary the best way forward.
If a child is always spoon fed they will take longer to gain basic skills such as chewing because they don't get the opportunity to do so, their food is already a mushy pulp so they have no need to chew, just swallow.
Yes BLW takes time, but it's a more natural way for children to eat, I don't know about you but I wouldn't want to be force fed mashed up bits of dinner.
Some parents also prefer spoon feeding because they are afraid their children will choke if they feed themselves, yes there is always that possibility, but with BLW children learn very quickly how to gag and prevent themselves from choking, the longer you spoon feed the longer it will take for a child to learn that skill too.
Most people who start their children with BLW start around six months (sometimes later on, you shouldn't start weaning before six months but that's a whole different blog), even when a child starts BLW they don't start really swallowing foods till they are eight or nine months, BLW is about exploring new foods, tastes and textures, giving a child the freedom to choose what and when they want to eat. They themselves will decide how much food is enough to fill them up, many parents find that their children don't eat much at all because the children don't really need the extra food on top of their milk feeds (whether breastfed or formula), some children may surprise their parents by scoffing everything in front of them when they first start BLW, but most will just spit food out and play with it until they actually feel hungry and feel like they want it.
People need to remember that food before one is just for fun.
Baby led weaning is much easier because you don't need any special equipment to do it, you just cook your own meal and give it to your child, just make sure to watch the salt and fat intake, if your family has any allergies to anything then you should contact your health advisor or doctor before starting, generally if your family has any allergies the main advice would be to introduce all different foods slowly, keep an eye on the child to see if they have any reactions to the foods and if so make a note of them and contact your medical advisor as soon as you can.
People ask often, what about fruit and veg that are hard like carrots? Simply just boil them so they are soft enough to grip and bite but not soft enough to squish to a pulp, you want your child to be able to hold food without mushing it instantly.
Children also don't need teeth to eat, they suck and chew food with their gums, they can make the food mushy enough for them to eat themselves.
You probably shouldn't bother with plates etc when you first start BLW too, chances are they will just end up on the floor, do introduce a doidy cup and spoons though as soon as you can, children learn quickly and gain really quick hand eye coordination, but still don't be surprised if they end up on the floor within seconds.
One thing that is handy during BLW is either newspaper or splash mats on the floor under the high chair, it just makes the clean up time a lot quicker and prevents your floor from having lots of squished food on it.
Our BLW Story;
So far Eppy is only (almost) eight months, we started BLW when she turned six months, we read a very good book by Gill Rapley called 'Baby-Led Weaning', we found it very insightful as a family and although BLW is a very easy weaning process it's actually also very clever, we learnt a lot about the skills babies develop whilst BLW and it really prepared us as a family for something we hadn't done before (Edward was spoon fed).

Eppy's first foods were different veggies, cooked enough so she could still hold them but soft enough so she could gum them with her gums (although she already had one tooth already), she didn't really eat anything that she was given, she just played with it, made a mess, did everything we were prepare for, we didn't have to clean it up off the floor too much though, Sky hoovered it all up!

As weeks have gone by Eppy has played with all different food, such as burritos, enchiladas, spaghetti, fish cakes, toast, sausages etc. She seems to really enjoy toast because that and the spicy chicken from the enchiladas are all she's really eaten so far. We're quite lucky to not have any food allergies in our family, although Edward is slightly intolerant to dairy because if he has too much he gets a slight upset tummy, so we have to restrict him on how much dairy he can actually have.

Everything Eppy eats is home cooked, we haven't introduced cereals into her diet, we won't be introducing any baby specially made foods such as rusks because they are just full of sugar, we are currently planning on making her some so we can control how much sugar she has, we also don't let her have sweet things such as ice cream because she doesn't need it and to us she is too young, we don't want to ruin her lovely teeth (6 now!) already! There really is no need for us to give her baby based food because we believe if we give her home cooked food she is getting a healthier diet and we like to know everything that is in her food.

There is so much more advice to give on BLW, but with this blog I just wanted to share the basic information, if you would like more information on baby-led weaning then please feel free to contact me through the contact page, or you can click on the some of the links i'm now about to provide and they will lead you to different websites which can also help you on your BLW journey. I would love to hear some of your stories on your children and weaning, so do feel free to email me them and I'll happily share them on here.
Helpful websites;
The actual Baby Led Weaning website is a wonderful place to start to help you get started!
You can purchase the Baby Led Weaning book I mentioned earlier on Amazon here.
The University of Nottingham's study on Baby Led Weaning can be viewed here.