We decided that we would NOT do baby food or baby cereal with Mackenzie when she was finally ready to start solids. We always knew we would never do baby cereal but finding out about baby led weaning just made it more clear to skip all baby food. We found out about a method called baby led weaning (BLW) and it was perfect for us! BLW is not a new concept but you could imagine the looks we got when people found out our 6 month old was eating whatever we were eating. Her first meal was chicken, rice, and peas. Here are other great ideas for BLW meals. No baby mush just straight table food. The first few weeks were hard since she wasn’t really interested in eating. She did a lot of playing (aka throwing food all over the floor) and lots and lots of gagging, which is completely normal.
BLW is done when the baby is around 6 months old, they can sit up unassisted, they have lost their tongue-thrust reflex, they developed a pincher grasp, they are ready and willing to chew, and eager to participate in mealtime. Teeth are not a requirement for BLW. Mackenzie just got her first two teeth a few weeks ago and has been able to eat everything we have given her without any issues. Recommendations say these should all be meet in order to start BLW but each child is different so some of these ‘requirements’ might not appear until the baby is older. Looking back on it we could have held off a little bit on giving Mackenzie food but now at almost 9 months old she eats any and everything you give her.
With BLW, babies feed themselves instead of being spoon fed. But what about foods that need spoons? Well that’s easy, you preload the spoon and give it to your baby and they feed themselves. With BLW, babies learn to chew their food than swallow and they control how much food they eat. It’s pretty awesome watching a 6 or 7 month old eating table food. The only foods to avoid are honey and foods that are choking hazards such as nuts. New studies now say the earlier you introduce foods the less likely of food allergies.
BLW is messy, but that’s to be expected. We bought this highchair from IKEA and it is very easy to clean. We just take it to the shower and hose it off. Mealtime is usually just done in a diaper so if she does get messy we just bathe her. Learning the difference between choking and gagging was hard at first but after the first few times it was clear she did a ton of gagging. After reading and talking to many parents who do BLW, I think the biggest piece of advice I have seen is to learn the difference between the two. I love that we are able to give Mackenzie what we are eating and learn about what she likes and dislikes. We have only had one slight allergic reaction since we started but I’m hoping when we try again it will go a little better!
The Rivers Family