About Baby Led Weaning
From its name, the term ‘Baby Led Weaning‘ means to put the baby in charge of mealtimes, and the adults follow the baby’s lead.
There are many benefits to BLW. I would highly recommend parents to try, but I am also aware of BLW’s difficulty. BLW would work well for families, who:
- Has the time to clean up after the child (it can get really messy!)
- Able to differentiate between gagging and choking (a life skill a caregiver should have! You can easily learn this online!)
- Are willing to cook for the family, and portion out for the child before adding the ‘adult yummy seasonings
- Want to groom an adventurous foodie
Why Should You Trust Me
I am a proud mama of a 28-month-old girl (as of March 2023!) who, in my heart, has successfully gone through BLW from 6 months of age. My 2-year BLW journey has been all about trial and error. As I took a hiatus from work and personally took care of my daughter since birth, I was able to try a hand at BLW and have never looked back.
Almost two years on, I feel that I am finally reaping the benefits of BLW. She is able to:
- Feed herself with utensils
- Try new foods and even able to compare to different foods (for example, she tells me that radish doesn’t taste like potatoes, but it feels similar)
- Sit by the table and hold conversations with the family while eating
- Gauge her own hunger and fullness: she asks for more when she’s still hungry and stops when she is done
Pros of Baby Led Weaning
There are many benefits to trying baby led weaning. BLW fosters independence, exposes one to a huge variety of foods, values social interactions, develops fine motor skills and saves time and money.
Cons of Baby Led Weaning
Many parents are concerned about BLW and are not willing to try a hand at it because they are worried about the possibility of choking, the cleaning up and the uncertainty of meeting the baby’s nutritional needs.
When Can Your Child Start Baby Led Weaning?
If you’re wondering when your baby can sit in a high chair and start BLW, here are the various developmental milestones your baby needs to achieve before offering finger foods, according to Solidstarts:
- Age: 6 months or older
- Posture: able to sit upright independently
- Head control: hold head upright independently and steadily
- Reach & grab: able to pick up objects and bring them to their mouth
- Interest: mouths and leans forward to food (I used to carry my daughter to the dining table while we ate when she’s 5 months old!)
100 Foods to Feed Your Child Before 1
While you are doing BLW, it is important to record your journey. I chose to record (1) the date and (2) the food that was being fed. This is so that I can trace back the food in case of an allergic reaction. Also, it helps me to keep count of the different foods that I have already offered.
|Fruits||Vegetables||Meats & Proteins||Dairy & Eggs||Baked & Prepared Food||Starches|
Spare pork ribs
Panko bread crumbs
Si Shen powder
Gerber rice cereal
This is the general rule of thumb that I realised while preparing food for my daughter when she was 1 year old.
|Type of foods||How are they prepared for a baby between 6-9 months old|
|Whole fruits (e.g. apples, pears, cantaloupe)||Steamed or cooked|
|Small round fruits (e.g. cherry tomatoes, berries, grapes, lychee)||Either squashed (with a fork will do), or halved or quartered (if too big)|
|Vegetables (e.g. bok choy, broccoli)|
|In small florets (for their small hands to hold), or long strips|
|Whole meats (e.g. chicken, duck)||With bones (e.g. offer drumstick, or entire spare rib)|
|Meat/Fish||Squashed or minced|
|Mashed and served on bread/biscuit sticks|
You can always visit the handy Solid Starts App where they tell you all about how you can prepare the foods for different ages – 6 – 9 months, 9 – 12 months, and 12 months and above.
Image credit: Solid Starts App
Foods That Commonly Cause an Allergic Reaction
Here are some common food allergens:
- Cow’s milk
- Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, cashews)
It is important to offer these foods in small amounts and monitor for any signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives, swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, or difficulty breathing. I would personally choose to feed these foods in the morning, so I can monitor my daughter throughout the day. I try not to offer these at dinner time because I do not want the reaction to occur at night, without me knowing. Should you ever be in doubt, please do not hesitate to see a doctor.
My personal experience was my daughter’s allergic reaction to soy, particularly silken tofu, and salmon. The areas in touch with the foods (mouth, chin, cheeks, hands) would turn red and some parts would even swell. After eating, I would immediately clean her up and I would monitor her allergic reaction closely. As her allergic reaction subsided (her skin became less red) after a few hours, I was not too concerned about it. The next day, it would almost be gone. I would then choose to offer the same foods again, after a few days and monitor her reaction again. After exposing her to the same foods for about 3-4 times, I realised she outgrew the allergic reaction, and all was well.
Regular exposure to food allergens can help prevent food allergies. Allergists often recommend aiming for the inclusion of common allergens 2-3 times per week because that was the median frequency of allergen exposure reported in major studies on food allergy prevention.
However, it is also important to note that not all allergic reactions go off that easily. Hence, as parents, we should always monitor our children very closely as allergic reactions can be very serious.
What Not to Feed Before Your Child Turns 1
According to the United Kingdom National Health Service, babies under 1 year old should not be given these foods:
- Sugar (avoiding sugary snacks and drinks can help prevent tooth decay too)
- Saturated fat
- Honey (occasionally, honey contains bacteria that can produce toxins in a baby’s intestines, leading to infant botulism, which is a very serious illness)
- Whole nuts and peanuts (choking hazard)
- Some cheeses like brie or camembert (higher risk that these cheeses might carry a bacteria called listeria)
- Raw and lightly cooked eggs, meat and fish (these can contain harmful bacteria that can use foodborne illness)
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