Monday, January 26, 2015

Baby Led Weaning

I don't really like the term 'baby led weaning'.  It feels misleading to me.  I would call it 'self feeding' or 'baby led eating'. 

We are starting to dabble in feeding our baby solids!  I know she is just over 5 months old, but our attempts at giving her some food has been successful so far, so I think we will continue on. 

Baby led weaning is a different approach to feeding a baby, than what is typically used.  You skip the purees and go right to feeding your baby finger foods.  So far, Fiona has tried broccoli, apple and carrot.  I think for supper tonight we will let her try some sweet potato and probably some more broccoli.

I read/skimmed through the book "Baby-Led Weaning" by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett.  It reassured me about the fact that babies don't need to eat a whole lot in the first few months, as they are still getting most of their nutrition from formula or breast milk.  So, when you watch a baby eating finger foods early on, probably very little will actually go down their throats, but that is okay.

I was a bit concerned about choking, but after reading the book I have a better understanding of the physiology of eating.  Basically, babies who eat purees learn to swallow before they learn to chew.  And with BLW, babies learn to chew before they swallow.  So early on, they will chew food and most of it will get drooled/gagged back out. Also, the gag reflex of a baby is a lot further forward than an child/adult.  So a bigger piece of food doesn't need to get very far back on their tongue before their gag reflex kicks in and should move it forward.  It is unpleasant to watch a baby gagging, but gagging actually helps them not choke.

Also, it is not necessary for a baby to have teeth to do this.  You start out giving them vegetables/fruits that have been steamed so they are soft enough to gum.  As for meat, they will probably mostly just suck on it intially but will figure out how gum pieces off.

This appeals to me because it will allow Fiona to eat what we are eating.  Intially we may need to leave out unseasoned pieces of food for her, but she should be able to eat pieces of meat  and vegetables that we are having for supper.  Once she develops the ability to use a pincer grasp (thumb and pointer finger) it will make the options a lot more varied.  In the beginning you have to start out with food that a baby can hold with a fist and still eat, so food that can be cut in to strips or sticks.     


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