This time final 12 months, I don’t suppose I had ever heard of child led weaning. My good friend Emily launched me to the idea when she began it together with her son, and I stored it at the back of my thoughts all through my being pregnant and the primary few months of Millie’s life. Now, right here we’re – Millie is sort of 8 months outdated, we’ve been doing child led weaning for nearly 2 months, and she or he has cherished each second of it!
Weaning is the method of reducing again on breastmilk and/or system feedings, till ultimately a toddler is consuming a food regimen of strong meals. Historically, infants are supplied cereal between 4-6 months and through that very same window of time, skinny purees of vegetables and fruit are launched slowly. With child led weaning (BLW), solids are postponed fully till 6 months, and at the moment, the infant is launched to all kinds of finger meals as an alternative of being spoon-fed cereals and purees.
Consider it like nearly another talent that infants be taught or milestone they attain – when positioned on the ground and given the chance to roll over, a child will ultimately be taught to roll over. When given the chance to be taught to crawl, to stroll, to wave, a usually growing youngster will be taught to do this stuff on their very own. When given the chance to be taught to feed themselves, a child will just do that.
Typically, individuals who attempt BLW with their youngsters find it irresistible! Lots of the mothers I’ve talked to took a extra conventional route with their first youngster and a BLW-appraoch with their second and say that the distinction is staggering as the youngsters develop. I made a decision to learn up on BLW due to these optimistic suggestions. At first, it appeared formidable to stray off the “accepted” path that our dad and mom and pediatricians might suggest, however I did my analysis and made the perfect choice for Millie.
Child led weaning goals to do a number of issues:
- Give the kid management of what and the way a lot they’re consuming, in addition to how typically they’re breastfeeding
- Enable the kid to be taught to chew and safely transfer meals round their mouth, stopping choking
- Give the kid confidence to feed themselves
- Train the kid to be an adventurous eater
- Train the kid the social features of consuming at a desk
- Make meal instances gratifying for all concerned
After studying Child-Led Weaning by Gill Rapley, PhD and Tracey Murkett, I used to be pretty sure that Millie would thrive with this method. Since she was extraordinarily younger, she’s been fairly unbiased and inquisitive. She’s additionally at all times been extraordinarily centered on her fingers and analyzing objects (versus being extra bodily; she’s been a bit of late to the sport with rolling and crawling, and so forth). I knew that if I approached her with a spoon loaded up with an unknown substance, she would refuse it till she was capable of discover it together with her fingers and her mouth on her personal!
The Most important Factors
Solely breastfeed till 6 months. Whereas medical doctors might suggest beginning cereal or purees as early as 4 months, many infants’ digestive methods are usually not prepared for strong meals at that time. Providing solids too early may cause weight achieve to sluggish, since their tiny stomachs replenish with cereal or purees as an alternative of the calorie- and nutrient-rich breastmilk (or system). Plus infants who’re solely breastfed for six months could also be higher protected towards allergic reactions.
Begin solids when the infant is prepared. There are various wives tales about when a child is able to eat strong meals. In reality, a child is able to eat strong meals once they can safely sit up, attain out, and produce strong meals to their mouths. Observe your youngster and you’ll know when they’re prepared. With Millie, we began proper after she turned 6 months outdated as a result of she cherished to make use of her fingers to deliver teethers and toys to her mouth.
Proceed to supply breastmilk on demand. Till 12 months, the kid’s most important vitamin will nonetheless come from breastmilk (or system). The breast or bottle ought to at all times be supplied first, earlier than a meal of strong meals. Enable the infant to chop again on milk feeds on their very own.
Serve meals in sizes and shapes that the kid can deal with simply. As a result of a toddler doing BLW doesn’t have something other than breastmilk till 6 months, the section throughout which they would wish pureed meals has already handed. Meals ought to be lower into strips or “fingers” which are simple for the kid to select up and produce to their mouth. Meals with “handles” (like broccoli or a roasted carrot) are excellent for a child beginning out! Steamed apples or pears may be lower into fourths. Tiny items are troublesome for infants to select up till they grasp the pincer grip, so cut-up finger meals could also be irritating to a 6 month outdated simply getting began on their BLW journey.
The child eats what you eat and when you eat. As a result of BLW waits till the kid’s system is prepared for solids (not less than 6 months), most infants are able to eat a wide range of meals. In case you are already maintaining a healthy diet meals, then your youngster ought to be capable to take part straight away. After we began with Millie, we did principally simply vegetables and fruit for the primary week or so, after which launched wheat (toast, easy pancakes), eggs, dairy, and peanut butter over the following week or so. I do know this considerations some individuals who have considerations about meals allergic reactions, so you possibly can at all times introduce issues extra slowly (although strict BLW signifies that you soar in straight away).
The child additionally ought to at all times eat with the household. On this means, they’ve folks to observe and imitate. They really feel concerned. They find out how a meal at a desk with others works. This bullet level was particularly vital to me, as I need to have the ability to get pleasure from mealtimes with Millie as she will get older – not combat together with her to remain on the desk.
Watch the sodium and sugar. A child of 6 months can most likely deal with consuming absolutely anything, so long as it’s low in sodium and never excessive in added sugars. In response to Child-Led Weaning by Gill Rapley, PhD, a child beneath 12 months of age should not have any greater than 400mg of sodium in a day. Clearly, there are different meals to keep away from – junk meals, processed meals, honey, arduous nuts that pose a choking hazard, fish excessive in mercury, and so forth.
Don’t fear about how a lot they’re consuming. At first, numerous time shall be spent exploring, tasting, and shifting meals round within the mouth. A number of meals will find yourself on the ground and spit out on the bib! Keep in mind, at first, all of their vitamins are nonetheless coming from their milk feedings, so their mealtimes are actually a time for exploration and studying. Ultimately, they may flip a nook and begin really consuming. At about 7.5 months, Millie began actually consuming meals – she stopped spitting issues out that went in her mouth (and…the poop modified!).
Put together for lengthy mealtimes. As a result of there may be such a stage of exploration (and play!) related to BLW meals, they’ll take fairly a little bit of time. Enable the kid to work by their meals till they’re performed. You’ll be taught their alerts. Millie is usually in her highchair for 45 minutes to an hour for every meal.
On Choking & Gagging
The #1 query I get when folks ask about Millie’s BLW food regimen is Isn’t she going to choke?!?!!! BLW infants may very well be much less more likely to choke due to the abilities they be taught by the method of feeding themselves. When BLW is adopted, a toddler will develop abilities in an order that permit them to eat safely: curiously mouthing meals → gnawing and gumming meals → chewing meals → shifting meals to the again of the mouth to swallow. The delicate gag reflex will assist train your child to not try to swallow meals that isn’t correctly chewed. As a result of every child learns these abilities in their very own time, you don’t need to drive or push them. Additionally, doing a mixture of BLW and spoon-feeding is just not advisable because it interferes with this course of; the infant will let you realize when they’re prepared to make use of utensils.
Whereas gagging may be alarming to oldsters, basically, infants can deal with the scenario themselves by shifting the meals ahead and out of their mouths. When a child is spoon-fed, they don’t get the advantage of studying from their gag reflex and they don’t have sufficient apply with chewing when finger meals are ultimately launched.
After following BLW strictly (no spoon-feeding in any respect), I’ve seen these abilities develop with Millie. At first, she didn’t eat a lot of something. Typically, she wasn’t even serious about enjoying with the meals and wished out of her highchair rapidly. After a couple of week, I began noticing tiny items of candy potato or seeds from kiwi or complete grain bread in her diapers. After about six weeks, her poops fully modified and I observed that she was not spitting meals out after she chewed it – she had realized to maneuver chewed meals together with her tongue to the again of her mouth and successfully swallow! I’ve additionally observed her motor abilities growing – her pincer grip is getting increasingly exact.
Sure, Millie does gag on occasion. It’s positively scarier for me than it’s for her – she gags, strikes the meals ahead and out of her mouth (which is the aim of the gag reflex!), and continues on consuming. I by no means depart her alone whereas she has meals on her tray, so my concern about her choking is minimal.
Identical to all the things to do with infants, there may be loads of gear to go together with the BLW course of. Don’t go overboard – I feel you’ll discover that it may be a quite simple course of in order for you it to be.
THE IKEA ANTILOP HIGHCHAIR. So, as mothers, all of us get to make our personal decisions; as girls, we must always all assist one another and elevate one another up. However after I see different mothers utilizing different highchairs than the IKEA ANTILOP Highchair, I’m like WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?! It’s lower than $25 in retailer, it’s sturdy, it’s not gross colours, and most significantly – it’s all arduous plastic that’s so so really easy to wipe down. For those who’re doing BLW, simply get this highchair. For those who’re not near an IKEA and don’t need to pay transport, you can even order it on Amazon and it could come out cheaper that means.
Plates & Utensils. I’ve seen lots of people use bowls or plates that suction onto the highchair or desk, and whereas we now have an inexpensive one I grabbed at Walmart, I solely use it after I provide her softer meals, like yogurt or hummus. I additionally purchased some child spoons that I’ve given her pre-loaded with gentle meals (for instance, I put yogurt within the spoon after which place all the spoon down on her highchair tray, permitting her to select it up and discover it).
Sippy cups. You possibly can provide water with each meal, simply in case the infant will get thirsty. I’ve taken the method of simply putting the sippy cup on her tray and letting her experiment with it. She’s nonetheless not successfully consuming from it, however she’s getting nearer. We’ve tried a number of varieties and are open to solutions if in case you have favorites!
Bibs & safety. There are all kinds of loopy bibs and bodysuits on the market, however I’ve discovered it’s best to take the just-let-her-get-messy method! Millie typically eats in only a diaper or considered one of her Kelly Dorsey bibs (our favorites!). A fast sink bathtub after every meal has change into routine for us.
The Child-Led Weaning Cookbook. Whereas I extremely recommend studying Child-Led Weaning by Gill Rapley earlier than you begin your BLW journey, the companion cookbook is a good place to start out as effectively. It’s given me numerous confidence to prepare dinner and bake for Millie.
Millie’s BLW Journey
After watching Millie progress with BLW, I’m 100% assured within the choice I made to feed her this manner. I knew from her temperament and pursuits that she would most probably do effectively with it, and she or he is really thriving!
We began proper after she turned 6 months with vegetables and fruit:
- avocado quarters
- cucumber sticks
- steamed broccoli, cauliflower, inexperienced beans
- roasted candy potato sticks
- roasted carrot sticks
- steamed apple quarters
- pears, peaches, bananas, and so forth
After a couple of week, I launched the next over the course of a number of days:
- complete wheat toast, evenly buttered, lower into sticks
- oatmeal fingers (recipe from The Child-Led Weaning Cookbook)
- scrambled eggs
- acidic fruits like strawberries and clementines
- rice desserts
- peanut butter
As soon as she had been profitable launched to all the most important allergens (wheat, dairy, eggs, peanuts), I began providing her easy combos of meals and home made objects:
- grilled cheese sandwiches
- buttered noodles
- cheese quesadilla
- tacos (black beans, pico, lettuce, cheese)
- BLW pancakes (recipe from The Child-Led Weaning Cookbook)
- banana muffins (recipe from The Child-Led Weaning Cookbook)
- savory spinach muffins (recipe from The Child-Led Weaning Cookbook)
At this level, at practically 8 months outdated, Millie can principally eat no matter we’re consuming, so long as it’s low in sodium, low in added sugars, and ready in a means that isn’t a hazard to her. We’re at present introducing smaller meals, like corn, blueberries, and yogurt bites, as her pincer grip develops.
Now that we’re actually getting right into a groove, I’m getting extra assured permitting Millie to eat with us out and about. She ate her very personal taco at our favourite restaurant in Cleveland Heights (Barrio!!!). She sat on a bench in Downtown Cleveland and ate a snack of rice desserts and she or he had a muffin, sitting on a bench within the meals court docket on the mall. I’ve truthfully seen folks level at her and smile/chuckle, as a result of they’re not used to seeing a toddler as small as her feeding themselves. However I do know Millie, and she or he can be so upset if she needed to miss out on these experiences as a result of she wasn’t consuming solids.
As a last notice, I’ll say that if in case you have considerations about your youngster’s food regimen, you need to discuss to your pediatrician or a dietician. And naturally, solely YOU can determine what’s greatest on your child and your loved ones. I didn’t have considerations about meals allergic reactions with Millie (Benn and I don’t have meals allergic reactions, she was solely breastfed, and she or he didn’t have any pores and skin points) and truthfully – most of the youngsters I’ve noticed who’ve been launched to strong meals in a standard method have a typical, American child monodiet of hen fingers, french fries, and corn canine anyway. I felt like I didn’t have a lot to lose by attempting one thing that might assist her be a assured, adventurous eater with a wholesome relationship to meals. Hopefully, as she will get older, the fundamentals she’s studying now with BLW will proceed to profit her?