The most frequently asked question I get, and I had myself was how to start Baby Led Weaning more commonly known as BLW. When Inaaya was going to turn 5 months, I started reading more and more about BLW.
Disclaimer: This blog is what worked for Inaaya and I. This may or may not work for you and your little one. I will do my best to provide links to all the resources I used, that was helpful to us, In our BLW journey.
What is Baby Led Weaning?
This by no means is a definition from the books. But, from what I understand, this concept gives the freedom to our little ones to get exposed to different fruits and vegetables, different textures, and develop fine motor skills. Exploring a larger variety of foods helps babies to be less picky eaters. So I decided to embark on our journey of BLW.
Few Things to Keep in Mind Before Starting BLW
- Make sure your baby can hold their head up independently and sit up with or without support.
- Consent with your Pediatrician at 5 month appointment, if your baby is ready for their solid food journey, and a few things the pediatrician would recommend for you to start with.
- Remember, in the beginning you are just exposing your baby to different foods, their main souce of diet and nutrition will still be milk, and this will change over time.
- You need a good quality high chair, suction plates, and bowls and cutleries.
- Ask yourself, if your child is ready for solids.
- Please don't associate too many expectations from your child eating solids, there will be up and downs in this feeding journey, due to a lot of factors, like picky eaters, teething, growth spurts, just tantrums, etc. Be patient. I am learning this every day.
- No feeding journey is perfect and nor is mine. Everyday is a day of trial and errors, somethings work, while others don't.
- Watch CPR videos, or even better learn CPR before Introducing solids to your baby.
- Baby's gag on certain fingers food. Don't be afraid, gagging is a part of learning to eat solids, and baby's know how to manage gagging.
- If your baby gags, help themby rubbing their back. If you show stress, your little one can get more stressed. I know its easier said than done, but I have been here and Done this.
- Be sure to sit with them and pay attention to the bites they take. If your baby takes bigger bites of food, teach them to take smaller bites by demonstration.
BLW and Inaaya
I started exposing Inaaya to solid foods at around 5 and half months. I took the cues from her, like her eyeing my plate, trying to grab food from our plates. At this age, she started putting anything and everything in her mouth. So listen and understand what your baby is trying to do.
One thing I firmly believe in is our littles are smarter than we know. So give them wings to fly and they will show you wonders. It is important to be patient, give our littles their space and food to play with and explore.
We started our eating solids journey with Pureed Foods and Finger Foods. I used to scoop the puree in the spoon and hand the spoon over to her. It took her a few tries, but she figured how to put the spoon in her mouth. Now you might ask, if the purees fell from the spoon. I gave her purees thick enough that could hold up in the spoon and not fall off. I also used to steam veggies and fruits like apples, pears, nectarines to offer her alond side the pureed vegetables.
I offered one single vegetable for three consecutive days to make sure she is doing well with solids. It means she ate steamed carrots 3 days in a row, steamed broccoli for another 3 days, Apples for the next 3 days. So consider your first month to be this way. From seven month onwards is when you really start experimenting with more varieties of foods on their plates.
Our mother's and grandmother's introduced solids to us very differently than what we do now. BLW is a totally new concept for us, so it can be hard to accept sometimes. In Gujarati culture, baby's first foods are usually rice water, or dal water. Sometimes, it is hard for our elders to understand BLW and approve of it. But, I was lucky that my parents were very supportive of this concept.
Inaaya is a girl, who loves her spices. She has a palette of an adult, who loves tasty and delicious food, and girl loves her garlic. She really gave me a hard time when I offered her steamed vegetables. So, if your child is refusing vegetables, maybe its time to spice things up a little.
Inaaya's First Foods and Spices
Inaaya was continuously facing diaper rash issues, right before it was time for her to start solids. It was probably just a phase. Her Pediatrician recommended me to start her on Iron Fortefied, Singe Grain Cereal. I prefered giving Inaaya Earth's Best Oatmeal Cereal.
Inaaya was on Formula + Breastmilk when we started solids, so she was exposed to iron already. Iron can make babies constipated, so offering them fiber with it is important. I never gave her just the cereal mixed in breastmilk/ formula. I always offered her the cereal mixed in fruit or vegetable puree. This, I guess helped her not being constipated. Apples, Pears, Berries, Oranges and Nectarines are usually my go-to's. Vegetables like spinach, carrots, beetroots, are a part of our everyday diet.
I have a whole highlight on meals that I started giving to Inaaya. I will link it along with all the resources at the end of this blog,
I introduced Inaaya to spices like turmeric, cumin powder, Garlic Powder, Black Pepper and Dry Mango Powder in the beginning. With Different Fruits I used to Sauté them with fresh thyme, a pinch cinnamon powder, grated nutmeg and even a dash of vanilla extract and a stribg of saffron. Spices play a huge role not just tingling our tastebuds, but also manage our gut health.
Solid Starts is a great resource to find on how to introduce different fruits and vegetables to your little one. They have a huge date base of foods on their app, their website and on their instagram page, that provides with information on nutrition value, how to serve and offer different foods to your little one.
I refered to them endlessly with every fruit and vegetable I offered Inaaya. And with time you just get a hang of feeding your baby and you roll with your own ideas. I steamed fruits and veggies over boiling them. Steaming Fruits and Vegetables can help retain the nutritional value in the foods and can hold up it's shape, which helps babies hold their foods on their own and eat.
Crinkle cutter was a big win in the beginning to cut her foods so it provided a grip for Inaaya to hold her foods, and not get frustrated.
Click the Link below and learn more about how I serve Inaaya's food. I save her meals on Instagram and save them under this highlight.
Please remember, that I serve Inaaya food but she doesn't necessarily finish all of it. We have good and bad days.
Introducing Allergens and Dairy
I was confortable to introduce Inaaya with allergens and dairy around 7 month mark. I did introduce them when my husband was home on paternity leave, so if in case we had to rush to the emergency, he an keep me sane while we rush to the emergency. Luckily, Inaaya hasn't shown allergies to foods until now. I kept a few medicines and ointments at home, recommended by our Pediatrician, just in case if Inaaya got hives, but that hasn't happened either. Precaution is better than cure. So just speak with your pediatrician, about the medicines, ointments they recommend to have handy.
Inaaya has nut butters and yogurt as a part of her daily diet. Yogurt is a great source of protein and probiotic for babies, so try to introduce it early in tiny quantities. I shredd apples, cucumbers, carrots, beetroots and pears in her yogurt, and she loves it. I also use Plain Whole Milk Full Fat Greek Yogurt for her, which is her most favorite.
Learnings from Our BLW Journey
- Give your little one freedom to discover their own taste prefrences and palettes.
- Diet builds slowly and gradually.
- Being consistent with the same routine is the key
- There will be ups and downs throughout the feeding journey, but it does get better with time
- Teething is hard on babies, and sometimes they refuse to eat. We are in this boat right now, and god it definitely takes a toll on mom's and babies.
- Force Feeding will not establish positive relationship between food and our little ones. I let Inaaya go without food for a couple of hours and once when she is hungry, I offer her food again, She eats better then.
- Do what works for you and your family. Inaaya now eats what we eat minus the green chilies, garam masala, and hot foods. I just remove a portion of food for her and then add the hot spices.
I hope this blog helps you, to know how to start solids with your little one. Every journey is unique. Throwing food, playing with food is common in babies, when they are learning. We can only teach them over time that these habits are not sustainable. We are currently working this.
Here are the Sources that helped me Start BLW