Baby Led Weaning: But Where Do I Start?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Now that we have been doing Baby Led Weaning (BLW) for about 6 weeks, I feel like I am at the point where I can talk about it with some knowledge. I am obviously a proponent for BLW, but this is not going to be a post on why you should do it, it’s a post on how we did (started) it. If you have specific questions on why we did it I am happy to answer those too.

The weeks leading up to E’s 6 month mark (when we decided we would start solids) I really started to search into BLW. I had always known that is what I wanted to do, but I just needed to read more about it. I bought the books and read a ton of blogs, all of which were very helpful, but I felt lost with starting BLW. They all seemed to talk about recipes and gave helpful hints for once you had been doing BLW for several months. I needed to know where to start. In fact, I was so overwhelmed with how to start that I almost didn’t go the BLW route after all. I found one blog post about their first few weeks of BLW and basically went by that for the first week until I was comfortable (I honestly cannot remember the blog, I think I found it by searching “BLW” on Pinterest).  I am so happy we found it because I love BLW.

BLW

One of the main reasons I wanted to do BLW is so that E can eat what we eat. I do not want to make separate meals for her, she gets what we eat for dinner, and nothing else. No special meals in my kitchen :). However, these first few weeks (months) are a little bit of a different story. In the beginning they are learning how to eat and not really eating out of hunger. In fact, you aren’t supposed to feed them when they are hungry or else they will become frustrated and not eat. Babies learn through play, and the first three weeks are definitely play (read: hot mess) with the food.

After E’s 6 month check-up and being given the green light to go ahead with solids by our pediatrician, we started BLW. The BLW book recommends offering babies a variety of food so they can explore different tastes and textures. Her first foods were avocado, carrot (boiled so they were soft), and broccoli (also boiled soft).

She LOVED them all.

I gave those same things to her for a few days and then added banana into the mix.

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After that I started introducing a new fruit or vegetable every couple of days. Her favorites:

  • Broccoli (boiled soft)
  • Avocado
  • Green Beans (boiled soft)
  • Carrots (boiled or baked soft)
  • Sweet Potato Wedges (baked soft)
  • Yellow Squash (oh my, LOVES LOVES LOVES yellow squash – boiled or baked soft)
  • Bananas
  • Apples (boiled soft)
  • Zucchini (boiled or baked soft)

I fed her solids about an hour after her first breastfeeding (around 8am), again about an hour after her afternoon feeding (around 11:30) and then again an hour after her evening feeding (around 3:30p). Like I said above, at first she wasn’t eating out of hunger, just play/learning time. As we went forward with this schedule she went a little longer in between breastfeeding and one feeding naturally was dropped (we went from 5 to 4) this probably happened about 2 to 3 weeks after we began. Since a breastfeeding session was dropped, she needed to get extra calories from the food to make up for it. When that happened I started to try and make her meals more balanced, rather than just fruit and vegetables. I wanted to make sure she was getting enough calories and protein to keep her full. Instead of just a banana for breakfast I made her an egg and a banana or pancakes and a banana (not the traditional recipe for pancakes – I’ll share my favorite recipes in an upcoming post!). Lunch and dinner are things like hummus toast (her favorite thing by far!) and broccoli and carrots instead of just broccoli and carrots, etc.…

As for how she is doing with BLW, she’s doing great. At first it was just a hot mess while she figured it out and while it’s still a mess, she’s so much better at it. I first gave her food that was long and would stick out of her hand when she held it (because at six months they don’t open their hand to put things in their mouth). She gagged the first few times once or twice, but it was really nothing. Choking was never a concern for me (well no more than with anything else). I found the choking section in the BLW book to be extremely helpful and informative. Definitely read it. My mom and husband were so concerned with choking and BLW, I made them read it and they never said another word. Now she rarely gags (she’s never choked), takes proper bite sizes (seriously, if it’s too big of a bite she will spit half of it out) and can pick up small things, open her hand and eat it. May not seem like much, but that’s actually a 9 month milestone and I 100% credit BLW to her doing it so soon (OMG, my baby is a GENIUS<- sarcasm font).

This above schedule transition I mentioned also went along with MOC recommended schedule. I am still somewhat following MOC and use it as a general guideline, but I don’t follow it exactly. I don’t give her breastmilk in a sippy cup a meal times (just water in a straw cup), if I feel like she is hungry or tired I feed her or put her down. As she is getting older I find myself doing ‘our own thing’, though I will still refer to MOC if I feel lost about why she isn’t sleeping well and I also read up on what the next stage schedule should look like. I would say that I 70% follow it. Like I said, I really like to refer to it, but don’t feel the need to be glued to what they say. That’s what works for us. I have a friend that follows it religiously and it works awesome for her family (she doesn’t do BLW though, just FYI).

Once the first few weeks of “exploring” were done this is what I aim our schedule to look like:

  • 7am – Breastfeed
  • 8am – Breakfast
  • 9am – Nap
  • 11am – Breastfeed
  • 12pm – Lunch
  • 1pm (ish) – Nap (this nap changes daily, it’s anywhere from 12:30 – 1:30 depending on the day)
  • 3pm (ish) – Breastfeed (whenever she wakes up from her nap)
  • 4pm – Dinner
  • 5pm – Cat nap (depending on what time she woke up from her afternoon nap, if she woke up late we don’t do this cat nap)
  • 6:30pm – Breastfeed
  • 7pm – Bed

Very similar to MOC.

Here are some examples of what our meals have looked like the past couple weeks (again, we’ve only been doing this for 6 weeks):

Breakfast:

  • Banana and eggs
  • Apple wedges and baby pancakes
  • Baked oatmeal sticks

Lunch & Dinner:

  • Hummus toast and vegetables
  • Turkey breast (organic, nitrate-free) and avocado
  • Baby Meatballs (beef, bison, chicken, or turkey) and tomato sauce
  • Chicken (shredded, boiled and/or baked) and veggies
  • Hard boiled egg and sweet potato wedges
  • Fish and green beans

At the point we are at now, I feel like I can give her whatever we eat I just am careful with the salt content. For example, if I’m making meatballs I’ll make a few separate for her that don’t have salt in them. Also, she still cannot tolerate dairy, which is why there is none mentioned here. For milk I use mostly almond milk, but sometimes we use soy. My pediatrician gave me the go ahead to give her ANY food accept for honey. She’s tried my breakfast smoothies that have almond butter or peanut butter, she’s tried strawberry jelly and we have not had any problems. Just do whatever you and your pediatrician have discussed and are comfortable with.

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I was thinking about doing a BLW recipe recap once a week. Just posting my favorite recipes that we use (meatballs, pancakes, fish, etc). Is that something you would be interested in? Let me know and I can (try to) make it a weekly thing!

I hope you found this helpful! I have received a lot of questions and I tried my best to answer them all. If I missed any please let me know in the comment section!

(our high chair is the OXO Sprout and the pink high chair she is in is the Fisher Price Space Saver high chair that we have at my parents house)

15 comments:

  1. Loved this post!
    My daughter is 9 months old and we haven't done blw mostly due to the fact that I didn't know about this method when we introduced solids.
    Our daughters' schedules are quite similar! Can't wait for the baby pancakes recipe!
    Sara
    Life with Baby Sophia

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    1. It's never too late to start! Though at 9 months you are probably starting to introduce finger foods!

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  2. Thank you for posting this! We are about to start solids and this is SO helpful! I love this, and the fact that she is eating so many different foods - it's awesome. I would love to hear more about it, and see what recipes have been successful for you!

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    1. Yes, that is what I really LOVE about BLW.

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  3. Would love to know how those pancakes r done, my baby loves avocados, but I need to introduce her to broccoli n carrots, so u don't process the food for her or smash it? U just give it to her whole? Hmmmm gotta try that, I am scared of her choking

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    1. No, I have never pureed or smashed any of her food up, though I do cook hard things (like carrots) soft. Definitely read up on BLW and choking. It's not really an issue, as long as you are doing it correctly (no whole grapes, hot dogs, etc.). And remember, gagging is NOT the same thing as choking. Gagging is more of a safety response to keep food from going too far back into their mouth.. to keep them from choking. Also, babies gag reflex is more towards the center of their mouth, so they gag much easier than you or I do. This is to essentially "teach" them proper bite sizes.

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  4. Thanks! I've been looking forward to this post! How long would you say it took Emerson to start getting more food in her mouth than just smeared on the tray? (and in our case in her hair, face and floor!)

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    1. I'm glad you liked it! I would say that it took a few weeks (maybe 4?) for me to feel like she was really eating. Though she was getting food in her mouth from day one... the proof was in her diaper (TMI?) :)

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  5. I have a little one a month younger than your's. Thanks for posting this.

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  6. Thanks, I tried giving her boiled carrots n she liked them, gave them to her whole too, so we survived. Can't wait to see ur recipes

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  7. Another question - did her doc do an allergy test? We had a check up today and her doc asked me to stay away from dairy, citrus all nuts and honey. He was concerned about her having an allergy. I'm just curious since I know yours said to pretty much go for any food. I had already let her have egg in a pancake and she was fine. Thanks for all your help!

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  8. Thank you for talking specifically about getting started. I find myself in the same place you were at the beginning. I've read all the info, but still feel unsure as we start. We are at the end of the first week and it is good to know that it may take a few weeks of play/practice before any real eating for nutrition happens. I have to occasionally remind my husband to let the baby lead...he really wants to mash stuff up and feed it to him with his fingers.

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  9. Hi Brooke I love your blog, I was introduced to it by my BFF Laura Berman! I am starting to introduce solids to my daughter in two weeks at 6 months and want to do BLW what books did you use and read?

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  10. Also what sippy cup are you using and when did you introduce that to E?

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