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April 18, 2024

The day is finally here! Your precious little bub who once survived purely on the goodness of milk is now ready to explore the exhilarating world of food. How exciting! But as you prepare your little one for this exciting journey ahead, you may be feeling lost and overwhelmed on how to navigate introducing solids, especially if you’re looking to try baby-led weaning (BLW). The good news? It’s not nearly as scary as it seems. This article will walk you through what baby-

led weaning is, good foods to start with and helpful tips and tricks learned along the way by real-life mothers well-versed in this thoughtful pastime. Stick around for everything you need to know.

 

What is baby-led weaning?

 

In contrast to starting your child on purees, baby-led weaning skips this step and instead introduces your little one to solid foods straight away. Revered for promoting good eating behaviours and healthy weight gain, this popular approach gives littles more control over what they eat.

 

Children are naturally inquisitive by nature and baby-led weaning celebrates that. This eating method lets your child feel and taste food on their own terms, helping them become familiar with new and exciting textures and flavours while promoting fine motor skill development.

 

And just because you’re introducing your child to solid food and bypassing purees doesn’t mean they’re going to be chomping down on typical adult-sized portions. When you start the BLW journey, there are countless recommendations out there on how small to cut up food to reduce any chance of choking.

 

Is there anything to be aware of with baby-led weaning?

 

While baby-led weaning has tons of perks, it’s worth noting some downsides. Namely - it’s messy. As your child is using their hands to feed themselves, you’ll likely end up with food everywhere, including up and down their bodies! This is completely normal and part of the fun. Once you accept that this is part of the learning process, you’ll become a pro at wiping up any mess within seconds and getting them straight into the bath to clean up.

 

Another thing that some parents worry about is the risk of choking. While it may seem like purees are the safer option when starting your child on solids, there’s actually no significant association found between baby-led weaning and choking. But it’s important to note that your child may gag during the exploratory process. This is completely normal - your child is learning to regulate the amount of food they are able to swallow at once. The gagging reflex helps them quickly learn how to cope with different textures and styles of food.

 

What foods should I start with?

 

While it may be tempting to jump the gun and introduce your baby to all the exciting foods straight away, there’s no need to rush. It’s best to start with thick finger-size pieces of food that are soft and easy to squish to make them easy to hold while being safe at the same time. Here are some recommended foods to start with:

 

  • Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges
  • Skin-on Roasted Apple Wedges
  • Toast Sticks
  • Avocado Spears
  • Half a Banana (With Half Skin-On for Easy Holding)
  • Roasted Carrot Sticks
  • Steamed Broccoli
  • Cooked Chicken

 

You may have grown up watching adults cut food in bite-sized portions for kids. With baby-led weaning, you actually want to avoid small foods to start with and instead focus on bigger chunks. This allows your baby to grip the food while being able to chew the ends. As they get older and more experienced with eating, you can then move on to bite-sized pieces.

 

What foods should I avoid?

 

While most foods are safe for your little one to eat, there are some things you should avoid at this age. It’s generally recommended not to feed children under the age of 1 honey or corn syrup due to the risk of Clostridium Botulinum, a harmful bacteria that can cause a toxic reaction in babies. It’s also important to avoid sticky foods or things that are hard to chew such as popcorn or bread with a hard crust.

 

How can I transport baby food on the go?

 

If you want to try baby-led weaning but are feeling discouraged when it comes to packing food on the go, fear not! There are plenty of options to allow you to safely store different kinds of food when you’re out and about. Opt for lunch boxes with separate compartments to allow for easy access to different types of food. Our Largo Bento Box is made from 18/8 steel and contains 5 compartments, making it easier than ever to pack a healthy meal on the go.

 

Is my baby ready to start baby-led weaning?

 

Generally speaking, people tend to try baby-led weaning with their babies at around six months of age. If you’re not sure whether or not your baby is ready for solids, look out for these telltale signs that they’re ready:

 

  • Your baby can sit upright with little to no support
  • Your baby can hold their head steady
  • Your baby can confidently hold items
  • Your baby brings objects to their mouth

 

How long does the process take?

 

Every baby is different. While some children take to baby-led weaning straight away, a large majority start the process by playing with their food and ingesting very little. While this may feel worrying to start with, they usually catch on fairly quickly and begin experimenting with other foods. Expect mess, food on the floor, and silly and sweet reactions! Keep nourishing your baby with milk to ensure they’re satisfied and give them a chance to explore this exciting new change.

 

As time goes on, your little one will become more confident and inquisitive with food. While they once started with large chunks of vegetables, they’ll soon be enjoying bite-sized food that they can confidently chew and swallow.

 

Set your baby up for success with baby-led weaning

 

Baby-led weaning puts your child in charge of the exploration process with food. By letting them explore new flavours and textures on their own terms, they’ll develop the skills needed to taste, chew and swallow with ease. This promotes healthy eating patterns and is linked to decreased childhood obesity. If you’re thinking about starting baby-led weaning with your child, remember to have a sense of humour, expect a bit of mess and enjoy the journey! Learning what foods your child does and doesn’t like is an exciting part of watching their personalities form. Happy eating!