Updated: Jun 4, 2020
I asked on my social media accounts if you wanted a blog about Baby Led Weaning and 89% of you said yes, so here it is!
It’s going to be a bit of a long read but I’ll break it down as much as I can.
Before you carry on reading it’s important to note the following.
I am not a health professional and can only share my personal experience.
Weaning is very personal to both parents and how ever you wean has to be the right choice for you.
I breastfed on demand for 13 months so have no experience of how much milk or how many bottles your baby needs.
Please do your own research to ensure you’re comfortable when you start the weaning process.
I followed NHS guidelines and started weaning at 6 months old. I am aware that this is just a guide and some health professionals may have advised you to wean earlier or later.
Every child is different and has different needs.
I decided I wanted to do Baby Led Weaning when Daisy was around 5 months old so I started researching. I like to feel prepared so I usually research things thoroughly before I start most things. I love food and so I really wanted it to be a positive experience and I’m happy to say that it was. We absolutely loved weaning. I felt empowered with the knowledge I gathered and so always felt relaxed about the process. It really helped as 6 weeks after I started weaning my friends joined in too. This helped because we could bounce off each other.
I did my research by looking online, searching BLW hashtags on social media and listening to other parents’ experiences. I felt confident with the information gained through these channels however there are books available online too.
Before you wean it’s important to learn the difference between gagging and choking and when to intervene.
A lot of parents main worry will be about choking but it’s important to know that it’s very rare to witness someone choking. In my daughters life at 2.5 years I’ve never witnessed her choking. BUT if she were to choke you need to know what to do.
This is where I feel like you need to be relaxed and I truly believe if you have researched enough then you absolutely will feel relaxed, knowledge is power. I have heard stories of people hooking food out there children’s mouth when they are gagging, this is very dangerous as you could cause a choking event.
I think its very important to attend a Baby/Child First Aid course or at least learn some basic First Aid on what to do in the event your baby is choking.
I will link a great video filmed by The Red Cross here.
I hosted a group First Aid session at my home for friends and family members with a company called Daisy First Aid. You can also attend sessions hosted by Daisy First Aid at various locations. I highly recommend you do, I ensured any of my daughters caregivers attended too. I never minded coming across as pushy to family members when it concerned my child’s safety however I was a bit worried that at first I’d sound patronising but soon got over it!
I’ve managed to get you a small discount if you book a First Aid session with Daisy First Aid Milton Keynes. Scroll to the bottom of this post for all the details.
Lastly, this is hugely important. Never leave your child unattended while eating and always watch them during meal and snack times. We used to sit at the table and I’d watch her even if I was eating myself. Choking is silent and if you’re not paying attention you will not know.
WHAT IS BABY LED WEANING?
I don’t want to ‘google’ anything for this blog. I want, like all my writing, to come from my heart and so I’m going to tell you my understanding of Baby Led Weaning. It’s important you do your own research.
Baby Led Weaning means the baby leads the way on their weaning journey. So in my case, I served and prepared food for Daisy in it’s whole form, never blended or mashed unless I would eat it for example mashed potato. I never fed Daisy myself, it all had to come from her, using her fingers and gradually cutlery.
After the first few weeks she was served the same food we would eat as a family except takeaways and sweet treats but I choose to limit Daisy’s Chocolate and Cake intake even now shes 2.5 yrs old, this is super personal.
I never limited spices or herbs I only followed salt and sugar guidelines set by the NHS. I cook from scratch as a norm anyway so it wasn’t an issue for me, I just didn’t add salt until after I’d dished up hers and I used baby stock cubes if needed which you can find here, they’re quite bland but safe for babies.
Daisy was familiar with chilli and although some of the food she ate was spicy we never had issues with nappies or illness. I never adapted meals for her and if anything was a little too spicy I would add more rice or plain yogurt but this was rare.
With Baby Led Weaning we ate with Daisy where possible so breakfast and lunch, her dinner was always a bit early for us as a baby. Baby Led Weaning is incredibly social. They learn to sit at the table with other people eating, I never had to skip my meals or go hungry because I was feeding Daisy. We would take Daisy out to dinner and serve her some of our food in restaurants so again, hassle free and we could eat and enjoy food together. They can learn by watching you as well.
The benefits are that the baby learns to chew the food before just swallowing, we chew with our molars which we get around 2 years old so I used to ignore comments on how little teeth Daisy had. She still chewed food before teeth. Daisy learnt to use cutlery early as her hand to mouth co-ordination was so good from starting to self feed so early and her pincer grip came fairly early due to her being able to pick up a little pea on her plate.
Baby Led weaned babies can also ignore the age limits on packaging too as this is aimed at the progress of traditionally weaned babies who may not have been introduced lumpy or solid textures yet. So for example a baby cheese puff which says 10 months plus can be given to a Baby Led weaned baby earlier as they will be used to handling smaller or more solid foods.
I think it’s important to learn about expectations. I was in a Facebook group called Baby Led Weaning UK and I’d read lots of supportive posts on there about how little babies may eat so I was prepared. It’s a brand new skill and so if your baby even picks the food up, that’s an achievement and to then go and try it is an even bigger one. Don’t expect them to eat any food at first but it’s a bonus if they do.
I completely believe wholeheartedly the phrase, which I know people find irritating, ‘food before One is just for fun’. I used to tell myself this all the time, whenever I felt paranoid Daisy hadn’t eaten. I truly believed that milk was enough for Daisy until One and that food which is given from 6 months is all about learning new textures, tastes and exploring flavours. Because I trusted this, weaning wasn’t all that stressful for me. I knew if Daisy didn’t eat any food that day that she was getting everything she needed from milk.
I’m not saying I didn’t used to worry though but I fixed that worry by getting her weighed almost every week, which I know isn’t always possible. Some weeks Daisy didn’t gain at all and I remember crying but the health workers reminded me of how active she was and how healthy she looked. Other than this, she maintained the 50% centile from birth until I stopped taking her when she was almost 1.
I also believe until this day (Daisy’s 2.5 yrs) that children are clever and wont starve themselves. I made the decision early on to not offer endless options until she ate. I simply offered a variety and if she didn’t fancy it, then that was ok and I happily offered more milk if needed. Even now sometimes she won’t eat her dinner or her lunch, it annoys me but she’s not silly and won’t stay hungry. I have to have a level of trust with her.
FIRST FOODS AND HOW TO SERVE IT
Once you start weaning nothing is off limits with the exception of, whole nuts and honey before One years old.
Food must be served in the following way during the first few months, approximately finger sized. This for safety but also because your baby will get frustrated that they can’t pick up any of the food as they won’t develop their pincer grip for a few months.
Things like grapes and berries need to be cut length ways as usual.
I personally started with vegetables, I served lightly steamed broccoli and avocado. Then progressed a few days later to toast with avocado, porridge fingers, omelette, pasta and pinwheels. I never purchased different bread so Daisy’s always had wholemeal seeded and always left the crusts on. I didn’t dress food up either as it’s not something I can keep up.
I know lots of people who start feeding their baby what they ate from the start and this is fine too, I eased myself in a little bit more but still followed the BLW ethos.
After a few months Daisy was full on eating anything we ate, low salt sausages and mash, vegetables, fruit, curries, chillis, wraps, fresh rolls, yogurts, roast dinners and spaghetti.
As well as placing food onto a plate or highchair for them to explore we also did loaded spoons until she learnt to use a spoon herself. For yogurt, thick soups or similar, I would pre-load the spoon and hand it to Daisy or place it on the highchair or plate for her to pick up and use. At first she’d miss her mouth of course but it’s fascinating to watch them learn and Daisy enjoyed it.
I wanted to share a couple of recipes that kept me going during the first few weeks and some which I carried on serving throughout. They can be eaten by the whole family not just your baby. Unfortunately I’m not that great at measurements so some of these recipes require a bit of guess work from you!
Porridge Fingers, Porridge Oats, 1 banana, cinnamon, full fat milk / breast or formula.
On the hob in a pan mix the oats, milk and sprinkle of cinnamon, stir and simmer until porridge is ready. Then mash in your banana. Pour the thick porridge into a container and leave to fully cool. You’ll then be able to slice into finger sized portions for your baby to explore, squeeze and maybe even eat!
Omelette Bites, 3 eggs, grated cheese, pepper, milk, steamed broccoli.
Whisk your eggs, then mix in the grated cheese, steamed broccoli, some pepper and a splash of full fat milk. Pour into a loaf tin and into the oven at 180 for 25 minutes. Remove, leave to cool and slice into finger sized portions. This will make 6. Alternatively pour into muffin cases. Using the oven makes the omelette easy to make and makes them puff up lovely.
Chicken Oven Wraps, Roast Chicken, Sundried Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Cumin, Rice, Wraps, Sweetcorn.
Roast your chicken as per instructions and pull the chicken off into a bowl. Mix in pieces of torn mozzarella, cumin to taste, cooked rice, sliced sun dried tomatoes and half a can of sweetcorn. Mix this all up in a bowl. Then spoon onto your wraps on baking sheet and roll them up right. You can roll or fold but make sure they’re a good shape and size for little hands to hold. Then put them in the oven at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes. These wraps are delicious. The reason they’re good for babies and small children is because they’re baked in the oven. This means the wrap stays closed when being eaten. You can also put ham and cheese inside a wrap and then oven bake, the cheese acts as a glue to hold them closed.
Pinwheels, Tomato Purée, Ham, Cheese, Spinach, pre rolled puff pastry, 1 whisked egg.
Unroll the puff pastry, slather on some tomato purée, spinach leaves and your topping, in this case ham and cheese. You can add any ingredients. I’ve also used green pesto as a base before and pulled chicken. Or you can use thick Greek yoghurt and berries for sweet ones. Roll the pastry, coat in egg, and then slice into inch sized slices. Pop into the oven on 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes or as per packets instructions.
THE HARD PARTS
I occasionally found the criticism hard, usually from people who didn’t understand BLW and I also found people got heated when I tried to explain why I chose to wean this way. I would always have to stress that it’s personal and I had no issues with traditional weaning what so ever. I found the mess a little hard sometimes and as she got older she would throw food on the floor which I tried not to acknowledge but that was tough. I found eating out hard sometimes due to unhealthy kids options, why do restaurants assume all kids want is pizza and chips or nuggets and chips. Most restaurants let you choose from the adults menu for half the price and I’d take any leftovers home for another meal so as to not waste money.
This would be the case with all weaning but remembering to take snacks and lunches out with me. That’s just because for me I never had to remember anything but nappies, wipes and clothes and suddenly I had a baby who needed to be fed food! So it was just transitioning really. I’d bulk cook in the end so I wasn’t caught short or buying lunch out like I would have for myself before.
I bought an EasyMat for eating out. I couldn’t trust her with a plate all the time so would pop this onto the table and put her food in this. It suctioned onto the table and had a lid and a bag so I could store leftovers in there too.
I used to always take out anti bacterial wipes with me to clean before but also to clean up any mess that had been dropped down the sides of highchairs or on the floor, I don’t think restaurants should have to clean up unnecessary mess.
We used the 360 water cup which I thought was brilliant.
We had the IKEA highchair, I found this the easiest to clean.
I used Tommee Tippee spoons but to be fair we never explored cutlery options. I found Daisy could hold these comfortably and the spoon was small enough to fit in her mouth.
DAISY FIRST AID DISCOUNT
Only valid with classes offered by Daisy First Aid Milton Keynes. The discount can not be used in conjunction with any other offer. Only valid for new bookings.
My 2.5 hour baby & child first aid class for parents & carers are relaxed and informal. There are no tests or role plays just opportunities to practice and ask questions. They are not a qualification, but for those that use CPD points they are worth 2 hours of CPD as we are accredited by the CPD Standards office.
Daisy First Aid classes cover:
Dealing with an emergency (recovery positions, CPR, choking) Injuries and accidents (head injuries, fractures, poisons, burns, bleeding) Awareness of childhood conditions (meningitis, sepsis, anaphylaxis (allergic reaction), fever, febrile convulsions)
£25 per person/£45 per couple. Includes a paediatric first aid manual (one per couple) as well as meningitis and sepsis symptom cards.