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Exploring Baby-Led Weaning: My Top 7 Tips for a Successful and Safe Journey

Welcoming a new baby into your life is a time of joy, wonder, and discovery. One of the many exciting milestones on this journey, but also one of the most concerning for parents, is the introduction of solid foods. As a parent, you want to provide the best nutrition for your little one while fostering their development and independence. Making the transition from milk to solid food is a whole new chapter for both you and your baby.

In most of my consultations for introducing solid foods, parents express a fear of their baby choking when practicing baby led weaning (BLW), especially when compared to starting with purees. There’s a lot of controversial information about weaning, so it’s very important to provide you with all the information and tools so you can start this journey confidently and safely.

In this blog, we’ll explore what baby-led weaning is, when the best time to start is, which signs your baby will show you when they are ready, and, as usual I will share with you my Top 7 Tips for a successful baby-led weaning journey.

What is Baby-Led Weaning? 

As you may know, weaning your baby is nothing more than introducing solid food when they are ready. Breastmilk or formula will cover all your baby’s nutritional needs until they are around 6 months old. The latest research by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that babies’ digestive system is not develop enough to cope with solid food before this age. 

From this age, the milk will continue to be the main nutritional source during your baby’s first year, with the addition of other foods necessary to ensure optimal health, growth and development.  

Baby-led weaning is an approach to introducing complementary foods to your baby. Unlike traditional spoon-feeding, where purees are spooned into your baby’s mouth, BLW encourages babies to feed themselves from the very beginning. The idea is to offer age-appropriate solid foods in a safe and manageable way, allowing your baby to explore different tastes, textures, and shapes independently.

How do I know if my Baby is Ready? 

It’s very important to be aware of some signs that your baby is going to show you when they are ready to make sure everything is safe. Your baby will be ready when: 

  • They can sit in a sitting position and hold their head up without support.
  • They are interested in food; they follow the food when parents are eating around. 
  • They can coordinate their eyes, hands, and mouth and look at the food.
  • They can pick up objects and put them in their mouth by themselves.
  • The extrusion reflex is over, so they can swallow food without pushing it back out with their tongue. 
  • They start teething, although it’s not strictly necessary to have teeth to start with solid foods (some parents think that without teeth they can’t start the transition). Gums are very strong, and front teeth aren’t used for chewing. 
My Top 7 Tips for a Successful and Safe BLW Journey

1. Safety first: Always supervise your baby during mealtime to prevent choking hazards. Sit with your baby and watch them try to eat. They are your best guide for adjusting the foods you serve. 

2. Variety is key: Offer a wide variety of foods to expose your baby to different flavours and textures. Recent studies show that there’s no need to wait for potentially allergic food to be postponed, just follow the process of introducing them safely. 

3. Avoid chocking hazards: The food should generally be soft enough to squeeze between your fingers, about the size of a finger. That why it’s called finger food. Allow your baby to hold food with their hands. Avoid chunks and foods like whole grapes, nuts, popcorn and raw vegetables. 

4. Choosing the right highchair: Look for a highchair that allows your baby to sit up relatively straight and provides good back support so they can swallow properly. 

5. Gagging is normal: It’s a sign that your baby is doing what they need to do in order to move the food around in their mouth and to practice how much food they can manage to swallow. It sounds more dangerous than it actually is. 

6. Don’t force your baby: If your baby starts to fuss, turns his head away, or shows any other signs of not wanting to continue, they’re probably done. 

7. Consider a First Aid Course: If you still don’t feel very confident, you can complete a baby first aid course. It will make you feel a lot more confident and help ease your nerves about how to approach an unlikely situation of choking. 

Baby-led weaning is a wonderful way to introduce solids to your baby while encouraging their independence and nurturing a positive relationship with food. It’s a gradual process, and every baby is unique, so be patient and flexible in your approach. Remember that BLW allows them to progress at their own pace. 

Enjoy the messy, delightful journey of discovery as your little one explores the world of food. If you need any help to gain more confidence and guidance at the beginning of this journey, please feel free to contact me and book a Weaning Consultation with me. 

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