We have absolutely loved our baby led weaning journey and have learnt a lot along the way, so I thought I would share our top tips!
1. Make sure your baby is ready.
The NHS and World Health Organisation both recommend waiting until at least 6 months to wean your baby to allow the gut enough time to mature. Other signs of readiness include being able to sit up straight in a high chair without slumping, being able to bring objects accurately to their mouth and losing their tongue thrust. Watching you eat and being interested in food are not signs of readiness, your baby watches you do everything, they don’t know what food is and don’t know that it will make them full.
2. Prepare for the mess.
Baby led weaning is messy! I’d recommend a high chair that is easy to clean, we have this Hauck high chair and the Ikea Antelop is also a great choice. Something to protect your floor is very useful, and also allows you to hand back any dropped food to your baby. We have this floor protector that can go in the washing machine but a cheap shower curtain would also work well. I stripped Teddy down to a nappy for most meals at first, and still do at dinner when he goes straight into the bath afterwards. Long sleeve bibs are a good buy, I prefer towelling bibs to plasticy ones so have these from M&S, although that’s just personal choice. A muslin tied around the neck works well too.
3. Share your meal with your baby.
This is my favourite part of BLW. There’s no extra time or effort in preparing food, which means its less frustrating when a lot of it ends up on the floor at first or if your baby isn’t interested or hungry at a particular meal time. Just be wary of salt content and know that babies cannot eat honey before 1 or whole nuts before 5. If there are any allergies in your family seek advice from a doctor or health visitor first.
4. Learn the difference between gagging and choking.
Babies have a more sensitive gag reflex than adults in order to protect themselves from choking. Its important to let your baby work it out for themselves so you shouldn’t try and take any food from their mouths as this can actually push it further back and make choking more likely. Its nerve wracking at first but remember the rhyme ‘Loud and red, let them go ahead, quiet and blue they need help from you.’. Its amazing how they can manage foods themselves and BLW teaches them to chew before swallow so they will only eat pieces they can manage,
5. Do a baby first aid course.
In the very rare event of choking you should know how to help your baby. Doing a first aid course will enable you to do this and make you feel more confident about your baby starting solids.
6. Do some research.
The Gill Rapley baby led weaning books are a great source of information, as is the Baby Led Weaning UK Facebook group, as well as providing lots of meal ideas. Instagram am also has lots of accounts sharing their weaning journeys (you can follow us here to see our weaning story highlights). A particular favourite of ours is Fox Fairy Led Weaning and Hayley has just produced some amazing recipe cards too.
7. Eat together
Actually I think this is my favourite part of BLW! Teddy and I always eat our meals together and Tom too for evenings and weekends. It’s a lovely time to spend together and as we’re not spoon feeding Teddy we are hands free to eat our own meals. Your baby will learn the skills of eating from you.
8. Offer milk first
You should continue to offer milk feeds as normal and then food half an hour to an hour later. Your baby will not be happy to explore food if they are too hungry as they don’t understand that it will make them full, they also won’t eat enough to fill them up at first either. In the very early days I made sure to leave an hour as sometimes gagging would cause Teddy to be sick if he ate too soon after milk. A couple of months on this is no longer an issue so I’m more relaxed about it.
9. Have fun!
And take lots of photos too.