Introduction to baby led weaning, BLW

Introduction to baby led weaning, BLW

Table of Contents

  • 1 Baby Led Weaning
    • 1.1 When to start
    • 1.2 How to practice it
    • 1.3 Advantages of BLW
    • 1.4 Safety comes first
    • 1.5 What do I do if I choke?
  • 2 Prohibited foods up to 1 year of age (in some up to 2)
  • 3 My personal experience

Baby Led Weaning

Baby led weaning could be translated as “learning to eat alone” or “complementary feeding directed by the baby” . It is a very common trend and more in recent years to introduce complementary feeding in babies from 6 months . Let us remember that WHO and UNICEF recommend:

  • immediate initiation of breastfeeding in the first hour of life;
  • exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of life ;
  • introduction of safe and nutritionally adequate complementary foods from six months , continuing breastfeeding until two years or more .

When to start

Baby on his birthday

There are several factors to take into account to be able to practice Baby Led Weaning with your little one, in addition to age.

  • The minimum age of 6 months, as we have already said
  • Ability to stay seated or better yet, to reach that position without help (or with very little).
  • Loss of the extrusion reflex, which causes your tongue to systematically push anything that goes into your mouth. This is a fairly obvious requirement, since trying to feed a baby that spits everything out of inertia seems like a “mission impossible”.

If he also shows interest in food and already has the ability to pick up objects and put them in his mouth, he is probably ready, although the best and definitive way to check this is by offering him the opportunity to do so.

How to practice it

The first thing to remember is that breastfeeding or artificial feeding will be your main source of food, it should never be interrupted or replaced by complementary feeding.

  • Make sure the baby is sitting upright and sitting up.
  • It starts with easy-to-handle food : the pieces that we offer you should be easy to take, adapted to your hands and not slippery. This way we will also avoid your frustration.
  • It offers variety, always within a healthy offer . By offering different food groups, we are giving the child the opportunity to choose, to eat what he wants and most likely what his body really needs.
  • Explain the method to your caregivers . If for work and / or economic reasons you leave your baby with a caregiver or family member, explain the method well to them so that they know how to manage it. You should also show them some first aid video in case an accident happens, they know how to react.
  • Do not give him complementary feeding when he asks for breast or milk .
  • Don’t put food in or out of his mouth. He must be the one to decide what, how much and how he eats. On the other hand, trying to remove food from the mouth may push the piece of food back and there is a risk of choking.
  • Don’t pressure him to eat more . It is about them regulating themselves.
  • Never leave him alone while he eats . There should always be adult supervision in case there is an accident.

Advantages of BLW

  • Family integration. The baby eats with the family, which implies a greater variety of foods and more integration.
  • It favors the motor skills and the autonomy of the baby.
  • Stimulates the baby to discover for himself, experiencing flavors, textures, colors and smells.
  • Encourages the baby’s early independence.
  • Babies enjoy what they eat, as they do not suffer from negative impositions or associations with food.
  • They display their full potential, not only learning to eat safely, but also enjoying the process, which in turn promotes self-confidence and a healthy relationship with food, which contributes to good long-term health .
  • It favors the acquisition of good eating habits that manage to avoid overweight and / or obesity in the short and long term.
  • As “baby cereals”, “infant yogurts”, “worms”, etc. are practically not used. the baby does not consume added sugars or salt, which are ingredients to avoid both in the first year of life and in the rest.

As for the drawbacks, the main and most dangerous is the risk of choking , although knowing how to practice BLW well and having basic first aid knowledge, you can rest easy. The misunderstanding and pressure to which the family that has decided to feed their baby relying on self-regulated feeding is also presented as a disadvantage may be subjected due to the lack of knowledge about the subject in their environment. And the least important, is what they can get dirty 😛

Safety first

  • Remember: the baby must meet the following requirements to safely start complementary feeding: Have reached 6 months, remain seated and have lost the extrusion reflex.
  • Avoid sitting him down to eat if he is hungry or sleepy
  • Do not put or remove food from the baby’s mouth
  • Never leave him alone while eating
  • Provide a quiet environment and avoid distractions such as television, tablets, etc.

What do I do if he chokes?

First of all, you must be sure that he is choking . Many times they retch, since it is an involuntary reflection to a foreign body inside their mouth, it may be due to the texture, the taste or because the piece of food slips backwards. They can also cough, another involuntary reflex. Therefore, it is a good self-control technique to count to 5 or 10 when a child has management difficulties (such as retching or coughing) to give him the opportunity to solve it on his own instead of intervening. We will probably not get past the first few numbers and we will be surprised how quickly it solves it.

Choking occurs when a piece of food or object totally obstructs the airways, which means that oxygen is not reaching the lungs, the child is unable to cough or articulate sounds and begins to acquire a bluish tone . This is when you have to act. The maneuver to be performed is called the Helmich maneuver and it is simple. To make it clear I leave you this video of the Red Cross where it is explained.

Prohibited foods up to 1 year of age (in some up to 2)

Finally, it is important that you know what foods are prohibited until the first year of life. To expand this information you can read the recommended article by Apothecary Garcia: 10 “forbidden” foods for a baby during the first year of life.

  1. Honey
  2. Cow milk
  3. Big blue fish
  4. Nuts
  5. Seafood heads
  6. Spinach, chard, cabbage, borage and beets
  7. Raw milk
  8. Bushmeat
  9. Salt
  10. Sugar and sweeteners

My personal experience

I practiced baby led weaning with my baby when I was 6 months old despite opposition from my relatives. I have to say that it has been a good and rewarding experience for me, seeing how my son enjoyed food. I don’t know if it’s thanks to the BLW or not, but now he wants to try everything he sees, everything he eats and everything that catches his attention.

On the other hand, I have to say that it did give me the occasional scare but it never went beyond vomiting. The key or the secret? trust him without letting outside comments influence you. If someone asked me if I recommend the method, definitely YES . Always under supervision, knowing first aid well and, above all, trusting the little one.

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