What is Baby Led Weaning?
As your baby grows, surely at some point you have wondered what it will be like to start complementary feeding. And, when is the best time to do it? In what order of foods? How should you prepare your meals? How much should you eat?
I understand that it is a subject, that generates many doubts and that is why in this article I will explain everything; you need to know about the Baby Led Weaning (BLW) and what is the best high chair for baby led weaning. So that you can decide if you want to apply it at the beginning of the complementary feeding of your little one.
WHAT IS BABY LED WEANING?
The Baby Led Weaning is a baby-guided feeding. Some understand it as a new fad but, in reality, it is the way to feed babies of a lifetime carried out according to current scientific evidence on infant feeding.
With this method, the baby eats by himself, taking solid, non-crushed food to his mouth, properly prepared according to his needs and respecting his maturational development.
WHEN TO IMPLEMENT THE BLW?
Babies should be exclusively fed milk until 6 months of age, without giving them anything else, not even water (they do not need it and it makes them satiating, reducing their milk intake).
Introducing other foods before 6 months increases the risk of infections and choking in the child and before 4 months can be fatal due to the immaturity of their digestive, neurological, renal and immune systems.
In addition to the general age recommendation, each child’s psychomotor preparation must be assessed to begin eating other foods. So it will be if:
The introduction of complementary feeding should not be delayed beyond the 7th month of life, to avoid nutritional deficiencies and, contrary to popular belief, to avoid allergies. It is believed that allergenic foods are better to be given when they are older, when in fact what is advised is not to delay their introduction to prevent allergies precisely in this way.
If you have any doubts, consult your pediatrician, since he or she is the professional who knows the development of your child best and may individually decide to advance the introduction of food or delay it. As well as orient, a specific mode of complementary feeding that is more in line with the needs of the child in the event that it has been premature or has any neurological or psychomotor development difficulty.
Remember that, during the first year of life, milk will continue to be the main food for the baby, so the teat or bottle will be offered first and the other foods will be the second course, never the other way around. If we only offer milk “for dessert”, you will not receive the nutrients and calories you need.
From the second year, the child will decide to reduce milk intakes and increase the intake of the rest of the foods (it is advisable, however, to maintain breastfeeding until at least 2 years of age).
ADVANTAGES OF BABY LED WEANING
What leads many families to choose BLW as a method of feeding their babies are its many advantages:
- Eating is an apprenticeship in which you experiment with different textures in your hands and mouth and discover different flavors. A puree is always the same and the baby is unable to differentiate the different foods it contains. But being able to touch, squeeze, and put a piece of chicken breast, a handful of rice, or a piece of banana in your mouth is so much more fun! In addition, trying to take pieces of food of different sizes and consistencies will develop a great psychomotor job. When he is a little older, you can give him a learning spoon so that he gets used to using utensils in addition to his hands.
- The muscles involved in chewing have been training since their first milk intake, especially in breast-fed babies. With the BLW they chew with the gums keeping these muscles active. For when your child can drink water, a non- spill glass can be useful since they work with this same chew. The great thing about this glass is that, when children are older and know how to drink perfectly, they can use it at night. It is very useful because they do not need to sit up and they can drink lying down without getting wet.
- The baby learns to identify and regulate his feelings of hunger and satiety. When he doesn’t feel like eating more, he will stop putting food in his mouth. If puree is given, his attitude is much more passive, favoring excessive intake.
- You avoid having to learn to eat solids when you are older and the rejection that some textures can create is reduced. There are children who eat pureed fruits without problem because they have become used to them that way, but they do not like the texture of the fruit in pieces.
- Eating at the adult table includes it in family dynamics and, at the same time, represents a new social activity.
- Better organization of time: it is not necessary to make different meals. This may also lead to adults eating healthier.
- It is not necessary to sit with the child to convince him to eat.
- Saving money: “baby foods”, in addition to not always being the healthiest option due to the amount of sugar they contain or their level of processing, have a higher cost.
- Greater comfort when planning meals. There are no rigid lists of foods to enter. Each family will flexibly incorporate their own food, adapted to the baby, in the feeding of the baby.
DOES THE BLW HAVE DRAWBACKS?
The Baby Led Weaning makes a mess.
Babies experiment a lot with food: they pick it up and squeeze it, rub it over their heads, throw it … It’s normal and part of their learning, so we must be willing to let everything get a little (or a lot) more dirty. For these situations, bibs with long sleeves or that include a tray, tablecloths on the floor are very useful to catch the food that falls and offer it again, and delay the bath until after dinner.
It is also necessary to talk about other disadvantages in complementary feeding that are not exclusive to BLW, such as insufficient supply of nutrients, choking or suffocation.
At 6 months, it is necessary to supplement breastfeeding because it begins to not meet the daily iron needs of the infant. Therefore, we must prioritize introducing foods rich in iron such as animal meat or eggs. To promote its absorption, vitamin C should be included: strawberry, orange wedges or broccoli is a good complement.
Choking is one of the main concerns of parents for BLW, although children do not choke more on pieces of food than on purees. It is important to differentiate the relevance of a gagging or eating cough from that of a choking, which can be extremely serious.
The recommendations to avoid suffocation are common to all children up to 3-5 years:
ADVANTAGES OF BABY LED WEANING
Take into account the forbidden foods in children’s meals:
To finish, I can only say that you enjoy this stage! It is very satisfying to see how your baby is acquiring motor skills and how he has a good time eating everything.