In the first part of this Baby Led Weaning blog post series, I shared answers to some common questions behind the Baby Led Weaning (BLW) concept. In this section, I am going to share our personal experience with BLW.
Our son is 2 years old and enjoys eating a variety of foods. We get comments all the time (in person and via social media) about how he is such a good eater. People are surprised he eats so healthy and that he basically eats everything, including brussels sprouts!
It’s true that he is a good eater, and will try most anything! We have worked hard and have been very diligent at providing an environment where he has the ability to try a variety of foods. Thanks to BLW, he was able to teach himself how to eat, chew, and select his own foods at a young age.
It’s important to remember that we, as parents, are the main influence in regards to how our children eat.
We started BLW when Jack was eight months old. Before that, he was exclusively breastfed, and was nursing enough that he didn’t need other nutrition. He started showing interest in food when we ate, and we felt the timing was right for our family. We wanted to use BLW as a way to teach him to eat, as well as set him up with good eating habits that would serve him well for years to come. He had four teeth (two top, two bottom) when we started BLW.
Jack’s first foods were egg yolk and cooked sweet potato. Each day we would give him a new vegetable, meat, or fruit to try. At the beginning, he didn’t really eat much. He would pick things up and put them in his mouth. Sometimes that would lead to eating it, and other times he would spit it out. He was still getting breast milk about four times a day in addition to the BLW foods. At this phase, it was more for him to learn about textures, shapes, colors, smells, and tastes.
We never fed him. Instead, we let him choose what he wanted to pick up and feed himself. Now, this can be a bit messy. You can imagine an eight-month-old trying his best to get food into his mouth! Over time, he gained confidence and the motor mechanics needed to pick up larger pieces and eat them.
It took Jack five to six weeks of BLW (and lots of patience) before he really started eating and enjoying food. I’ve rounded up a few key suggestions from our experience that I wanted to share for those who are interested in trying BLW for the first time.
What do I need to start BLW?
BLW is very simple. You don’t need any utensils, plates, or bowls. Putting food in front of baby so he/she can grab it directly off of their highchair is easy for everyone. I would suggest getting an easy-to-clean high chair that doesn’t have a lot of fabric or crevices. As our son got better at eating, we purchased a little bowl that stuck to the tray so he couldn’t pull it off/knock it over. We used the bowl mostly for chili, soups, and curries.
Is it messy?
Yes! I will not lie, this was my least favorite part about BLW. I like to have a clean space, and with BLW there just wasn’t ever a clean space during meal time. Food would end up on the floor from dropping it as he learned to eat. This ceased after a few months, but it was messy as he was learning.
Here are some examples of foods we gave Jack, and the months at which we gave them:
First two weeks:
- Eggs (scrambled/omelet style so it’s easy to pick up)
- Cooked sweet potato
- Cinnamon applesauce
- Egg yolks (soft boiled so they were not too dry)
- Shredded beef/ground beef
- Cooked white/yellow potato
Weeks three and four:
- Turkey sausage
- Cooked broccoli
- Green beans
Weeks five to seven:
- Chili with tomato sauce
- Fish – salmon/white fish like tilapia or cod
Weeks eight to ten:
- Toast with ghee/butter
- Homemade hummus (garbanzo beans)
- Cooked butternut squash
- LaraBar- almond, walnut and peanut butter