So, I was asked to write a little guide to baby led weaning (BLW) and detail everything I know…I can’t say it’s going to be the same for everybody, but here is my story.
A little bit of background:
My little one is Travis. He was born at nearly 33 weeks and spent some time in the neonatal unit. This is important to our BLW journey because we were unable to breastfeed due to him being so early. Breastfeeding was always how I wanted to feed my baby and because we had such difficulty I felt that the choice was taken away from me. This made me even more determined to wean the way I wanted to. Which brings me nicely to my first point…
Lots of people just won’t get it!!
When I talk about BLW to others, there are some who have never heard of it and some who just don’t understand. I’ve had people saying, “won’t he choke?” “but he has no teeth, how will he chew?” and my personal favourite “just give him some baby rice and rusks, it’ll soon fill him up.” In the beginning, I laughed it off, but now everyone knows my feelings about it!! Don’t let anyone put you off. Yes, there will be gagging, yes, he has no teeth but he has gums and they work very well thank you very much! Enjoy the experience, it is a lot of fun!
We started our journey when Travis was 2 days off being 6 months (actual age not adjusted. Premature babies are fine to start before 6 months actual age as their gut will start to mature as soon as they’re born). However, you need to make sure that they are able to sit up without slouching to avoid choking.
So, what equipment might you need for BLW? This is what we went with:
- a steamer. We bought an electric steamer as I read that when you boil vegetables you boil all of the nutrients and flavour out. I now steam all of the veg in the house, it’s so much nicer!
- highchair. We jumped on the bandwagon and went for the Ikea Antilop highchair. In case you haven’t heard of this, it is all plastic with a tray that clips on and off. It is so easy to just wipe it clean as trust me things will get messy! You can also buy an inflatable insert that goes inside which is perfect for Travis to make sure he’s snug. If you were to buy the whole thing it would cost £21! Bargain!!
- beaker. When you begin BLW, it is recommended that you start to offer water at the same time. We started off with a sippy cup. Travis just couldn’t get the hang of this and spent the whole time chewing on the spout rather than sucking. A friend mentioned the Doidy cup. It’s a slanted cup with no lid and Travis has taken to it much better! We got ours from Asda but you should get one from your Health Visitor if you ask nicely.
- highchair wipes. These are great for just wiping the highchair down afterwards and for wiping tables down in restaurants when there is no tray on the highchair. We started off using the Tommee Tippee highchair wipes but they worked out expensive as we were using so many. We now use Little Angel highchair wipes from Asda which are just as good.
And that is it! You shouldn’t need anything else to get you started.
When I decided what Travis’ first food was going to be and told my husband he said I was a mean Mammy. However, I pressed on and served up some delicious broccoli. I’m proud to say, he got stuck right in and rammed it straight in his mouth. This was swiftly followed by him gagging and then projectile vomiting over the floor and over me. This will happen again and still happens now 4 weeks in. However, I pressed on and he has had broccoli since and has managed to not gag on it. Success!!
When it comes to serving food, make sure it is cut into fingers so baby can grip it and have some poking out of the top of their hand. I just pop some on the tray and let him dig in. I never cook anything different for Travis, he eats what we eat. I just make sure that I don’t add any salt to food until I have dished his up and choose the low salt version of things where I can.
I try to offer Travis 3 meals a day. However, this isn’t always possible due to routines and grouchiness level so I’m happy if we manage 1 meal a day at the moment. At first, I was reluctant to offer food when we were eating out as I was worried about the mess. I soon got over it and he enjoys eating out with us. I always make sure I clean up any mess but everywhere we have been have said not to worry about it.
Travis already has an array of favourite foods. These include:
- toast and butter,
- cheese spread wrap,
- chilli con carne and stew (these I offer on a pre-loaded spoon and he feeds himself),
- melon, (serve in wedges- looks huge but Travis manages it surprisingly well),
- cucumber, (he uses it as a teether, rubbing it on his gums until it squeaks- whatever works for you buddy!)
- (keep some of the skin on so they can grip it).
Just remember that babies under 1 cannot have honey and children under 5 shouldn’t have whole nuts. When it comes to grapes they need to be cut lengthways to avoid choking (we haven’t ventured there yet).
We are still very early in our journey and still have a lot to learn but we are enjoying what we’ve experienced so far!
Here’s to lots more mess and hilarity!
Aimee & Travis x x
This guide is written from the point of view of one of our trusted parents, based on their experiences of what worked, and in some cases, didn’t, work for them. Before embarking on your own baby led weaning adventure, please speak to your health visitor.