Baby-Led Weaning – the Simpleton Edition



(It is with great excitement that I get to present today's post by Guest Blogger, Mrs. Loquacious, author of, The Loquacious Family!  She is one of my very favorite Mommy bloggers, a childhood development specialist and a modern day pioneer for Baby-Led Weaning.  I find this concept very interesting and have begun feeding Ollie snacks using this method. I asked Mrs. Loquacious to share her understanding and experience with us today.  Enjoy!)


Baby-Led Weaning – the Simpleton Edition
In my adventures as a new momma with a slightly crunchy bent, I’ve been consulting with Dr. Google on how to introduce solid foods to my 5-month old in the most natural, granola-y, and developmentally appropriate way possible.

Which led me to this “revolutionary” idea called Baby-Led Weaning.  I use parentheses because the truth is, there is nothing new under the sun, and BLW is actually what was practiced by mommas all over the globe prior to the invention of jarred baby mush and kitchen appliances like blenders and food processors.  So really, it’s not new at all.  It’s just new again, much like how breastfeeding sort of fell out of vogue when infant formula was created, and is only now (in the past decade or so) getting back into prominence.  

Anyway, what is BLW? If you Google it, you’ll come across Gill Rapley’s name, an informative Wiki page, and tons of very useful sites with info and recipes and tips, so I’ll let you just go ahead and do that on your free time (ha! What free time?).  Exactly.  So here it is in a nutshell: 

  • Baby eats what you eat (real food - no mush!) but in smaller, softer, unsalted finger-food-sized pieces
  • Baby feeds herself (I’ll use the feminine since my baby’s a girl) without parents feeding her
  • Baby learns to chew before she learns to swallow (the opposite of what occurs when baby eats purees and learns to swallow first)
  • Baby explores all sorts of food flavours, textures, smells and colours and develops a diverse palate for (hopefully) different kinds of healthy food
  • Baby approaches food as a fun exploratory activity rather than as nourishment for the first year of life, and eventually develops a healthy attitude towards eating that seems to minimize the risk of obesity

Yeah, I know.  Sounds kind of hokey and non-intuitive at first, no? I thought so, too.  (And BTW, I am by no means an expert on this; I’ve just been spending a lot of my “free” time reading about it over the past few weeks, so here’s my two cents, for what it’s worth).  But in keeping with my slightly-crunchy perspective on child-rearing, it made sense to me to “teach” her to chew before swallowing.  That is actually one of the critiques of the puree-first approach: babes learn to swallow from a spoon before they learn to chew, so when “solids” (aka Stage 2 foods) are introduced, many infants will want to swallow without chewing first, resulting in a choking hazard.  Not so with BLW, since the wee one needs to actually do some sort of chewing to get the food into her mouth in the first place.
In fact, Baby Loquacious hasn’t choked on her food yet, despite shoving a giant piece of MumMum cracker into her mouth.  I was worried when half a wedge of her orange also disappeared between her lips, so I went in to try and fish it out.  Baby L clamped down and wouldn’t let me get very far, so half of that piece stayed inside her mouth.  She promptly swallowed it, without choking or gagging or anything (and keep in mind, this is a pulpy piece of orange – she must have really gummed it up well).  She did gag slightly when she gummed off a larger piece of banana, but again she swallowed that chunk within seconds, averting crisis and the need for the Heimlich.

BLW suggests beginning to introduce solids at 6 months, but we started at 5 because Baby L told us she was ready.  How? Well, she is strong enough to sit up.  She stops, stares, drools, mimics chewing and then gives us the stink eye whenever we eat in front of her without sharing.  And the other day, while Hubbs was talking with a yam fry in his hand, she actually reached out and stole it from him, shoving it straight into her mouth.  

We’ve already given her avocado, oranges, MumMum crackers, strawberries, lasagna (pasta only), yam fries, toast, bananas, spinach, and steamed carrots.  We’ll soon be offering her steamed broccoli, steamed zucchini, and peaches. 

The biggest weakness of BLW, I think, is the mess factor.  Letting your baby feed herself is like inviting a tornado to tear through your dining area.  There is food everywhere, in her hair, on her clothes, in cracks and crevices of the floor and the high chair, on the walls, on you… so it’s not for the super clean freaks out there.  You pretty much sign up for nightly baby baths and high chair scrub-downs if you decide to go the BLW route. 

But is it fun? Heck yeah.  Baby L has totally enjoyed sitting at the dining table and eating when we eat, making a big ol’ mess all the while.  LOL!).  

Anyway, I’m pretty sold on BLW even though I know that it is a pretty radical shift from the “conventional” approach, and probably doesn’t sit well with all those baby food manufacturers out there.  Very little research exists to support the puree-first method, and only a handful of studies on BLW (all of the ones I’ve seen have been favourable) have been done.  But as with all mommas, in the end it’s not the research or the reviews that sway me (nor you); it’s my own gut feeling, and this gut is telling me that BLW is the way to go. 



     



Two confused parents=One amused baby Hopelessly we are trying raise a baby who is clearly smarter than both of us. April is an award-winning writer, blogger and proud debut novelist - The Devlyn Disguise. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more about April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com

19 comments:

Kitten said...

My husband and I are currently in one of our FIRST parenting fights over this. I want to try this for child 2 and he wants to go with our cereals/purees approach for child 2 that we used with child 1. I'm already offer, on my fingers, small bits of food to see if child 2 will take it, but so far, no real interest. I'll offer more when she sits on her own! thanks for this post, though!!

Shay Grant said...

What a gorgeous wee girl!
off the top of your head Mrs L., do you know what the LBW theory says about mixed feeding? (as in pureed food and chunks of 'real' food). I'll look into it further myself when I get a chance :)

britmouth said...

I'm so ignorant, I had no idea this even existed! What an interesting option!! I will discuss with the hubs when we start solids in a month or so. Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I was looking for alternatives to purees! I'll look into this more. Thanks again!

First Time Mom (April) said...

Us too Kitten! Yesterday I held onto a slice of advacado while Ollie gummed away. When a peice broke off hubs was not thrilled. Luckily Ollie gummed and swelled like a pro. I was amazed that when I stuck the slice back in Ollie's mouth, hubs didn't say a word! I think I'm winning the battle!

First Time Mom (April) said...

Haaaaaay shaaaaay!! In doing the mixed feeding method myself. I ended up mashing an advacado for Ollie for his dinner, after he did so well at lucy with it. I mashed it well but left some small bits for him to gum. By the end he gummed every bit I out in! I'm doing finger food snacks and chunky dinners. Still... I forwarded you comment to Mrs. L to answer.

First Time Mom (April) said...

No worries Britmouth! I was ignorant too! I followed a few of Mrs Loquacious' blog posts before being totally sold, and asking her to write this post. So far I'm very happy with how Ollie is responding! I'm going to write a follow up in Monday on how we are doing with the mixed method!

First Time Mom (April) said...

Sure thing!

Mrs. Loquacious said...

I find the argument is lost if you have to persuade the SO. It's easier to ask him to read up on it (per Dr. Google - and let's face it, our men have more time than we do!) and draw his own conclusions. There are some pretty convincing articles out there!

Mrs. Loquacious said...

According to BLW purists (from what I've read), the point is for *baby* to take the lead. This is also the case with yogurt and oatmeal and the like. "Loaded" spoons are only advocated if baby feeds herself with it; you can place the loaded spoon on the table and she can try to grab it herself, or else you can hold it and offer it and see if she wants to take it from you. So, the end result is still baby deciding if she wants to eat it or not, and how. Some have foregone the spoon and just put the mush on the table, but to me that's just messy for no good reason. One blogger (mummyinprovence.com) wrote post that suggests maybe introducing forks is easier than spoons for the BLW child. As for cereals, the BLW perspective (again, as far as I can tell) is that it is wholly unnecessary since breastmilk and/or formula have all of the nutrients that baby needs, and the solids that she is eating are supplementary. Most rice cereals don't actually offer any nutritional value beyond what baby would already otherwise be taking in from real food or from milk.

Mrs. Loquacious said...

Oh - to clarify: I'm actually an elementary teacher with a psychology background, and I think "childhood development specialist" is simply an overly-flattering term my dear Ms April decided to honour me with! ;) But when it comes to babies (my own in particular), I'm just a newbie like everyone else! :)

First Time Mom (April) said...

I don't think it's too far from the truth. ;). Thanks again for this post!

Shay Grant said...

Thanks for your responses ladies, we don't use baby cereal, Isaiah loves his fruit and vegies too much! Think we may try a mixed approach though, we already let him feed himself with his spoon (by feed I mean wave the spoon in the general vicinity of his face until he gets some of the food in or near his mouth lol), and he chows down on rusks, so it's not a particularly big leap to other finger food. And what's more, hubby has agreed already! Woop woop for him :-)

Mama in the City said...

Really great well rounded information on BLW. Thanks!

First Time Mom (April) said...

You are very welcome! I just knew Mrs. Loquacious would do it justice!

Mrs. Loquacious said...

Haha! I found that response funny because my Hubbs' name really is Justice :) always hilarious when people use that particular phrase ;)

First Time Mom (April) said...

Lol! I will never use it again without thinking of you! ...and your husband.

Fancy Pants said...

I think I will try this as well as letting her have some purees. She is already watching us eat with great interest and I often nurse her while I eat. She sometimes will stop nursing and look at me like "give me some" it's pretty awesome. I can't wait till she starts eating although we are still in disagreement over when this process should begin, he says that his mom gave them cereal at 3 months. We are alomst at the 3rd month and I just don't know! Guess I will continue to nurse and torture her with my eating in front of her for a while!

Leslie @ Violet Imperfection said...

I just started BLW with my daughter and it is awesome and I loved this post. New follower from TGIF Blog hop.

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