Today we have our resident Nursery Collective Kid Approved Food Blogger Rachel Cassidy, from Little Peeps Eats, chatting to us about starting baby on solids, and her experience with BLW (Baby Led Weaning) vs traditional weaning. Thank you Rachel! x
I distinctly remember having my first son over five years ago now. I was a first time mum, and like many of you, trying to navigate through the ever so complex journey of motherhood. This started with learning more about breastfeeding, sleeping patterns, and by the time we hit the four month mark, it was time to work out what was going to be the best way to introduce solids for my baby.
INTRODUCING FIRST FOODS TO BABY NUMBER 1
My way of making these sorts of decisions was to do as much research as possible on the topic, and be guided by health professionals that knew much more about starting baby on solids than I did.
At that time, the advice was to follow a traditional weaning approach when introducing first foods.
Starting Baby on Solids – What is Traditional Weaning?
The traditional weaning approach that I followed was:
• Starting baby on solids from four months old.
• Introducing different foods on different weeks (no meat until six months).
• Start with food pureed to a silky smooth consistency, and slowly increasing to lumpier textures as time went on.
• I felt like I had a rule book to follow, and was doing the ‘right’ thing.
• I had no concerns about choking or gagging.
• My son took to it instantly, enjoyed his first foods and to this day has always been a great eater.
• I spent hours upon hours pureeing baby foods.
• I spent a lot of money on a baby food maker to make the process easier.
• I felt restricted in what foods I could introduce and when, due to the specific guidelines I was given.
I was part of a mothers group of about 10 women, all going through this process at the same time. I distinctly remember there was one mum from the group who chose to go down the baby led weaning (often referred to as BLW) route. I was amazed at her daughter’s ability to pick up food and feed herself, whilst the rest of us were still feeding our bubs with spoons.
Starting Baby on Solids – What is Baby Led Weaning (BLW)?
Broadly, Baby Led Weaning, or BLW, entails:
• Introducing first foods from six months of age.
• Offering soft finger foods for your baby to eat that are easy to hold, for example steamed carrot sticks.
• Baby chooses which foods they would like to eat, based on what is presented to them.
• All foods (except honey) can be introduced from six months.
INTRODUCING FIRST FOODS TO BABY NUMBER 2
Two years later when I had my second son, I had a very active two year old boy, and life was very busy. The thought of the hours upon hours pureeing food was not at all appealing to me, and my thoughts went back to my friend at Mothers Group whose daughter took to BLW so well, and really enjoyed her finger food.
So once again I hit the books and did as much research as I could, and spoke to some other friends who had been down the BLW route. I decided to give it a try.
This time around my son’s first food was a wedge of avocado, which he enjoyed touching, squishing, and licking. From there we moved onto wedges of orange, steamed vegetables such as zucchini and carrot sticks.
We quickly progressed to giving him things like a lamb cutlet at dinner, which he would hold the bone and gnaw away at the meat. Whilst in the early stages he was unable to bite chunks off, he was still able to suck at the meat juices and get all of the goodness from what he was eating.
I was in awe of how well he could manage his food, from such a young age.
• I did very little food preparation specifically for him, he generally ate what we ate. I loved not having to stand at that kitchen bench and puree!
• He seemed to get such enjoyment from his food exploration – right from his very first experience of touching, squishing and licking that avocado.
• He has always been a great eater and he really seemed to enjoy his introduction to solids.
• When I first started the BLW process, I was worried about him choking. Many parents mistake gagging for choking. Gagging is completely normal for babies and is their way of pushing pieces foods that are slightly too big for them to swallow to the front of their mouth. A useful video to watch on identifying the difference can be found here.
• Be prepared for a lot of mess, and food to be cleaned up off the floor. This in turn means that a lot of food can be wasted. I know friends who have used a drop sheet or old shower curtain under the high chair and there are also new products now which can help with this aspect of BLW. Check out my fellow Nursery Collective Expert and Mama Blogger, Fi Morrison’s review of the BIBaDO coverall bib here!
Starting Baby on Solids : My verdict on Traditional Weaning vs Baby Led Weaning
Both of my sons are equally good eaters, despite the difference in their introduction to solids. They have both gone through various stages of fussy eating, but overall are great eaters that enjoy a wide variety of foods. If I were to have baby number three I would do BLW again in a heartbeat, due to its simplicity and not having to spend a lot of time pureeing baby foods.
My advice is to choose whichever method you are most comfortable with!
Important things to remember
• Educate yourself on what to do if your baby chokes.
• Solids should not replace breast milk or formula. It is recommended that you provide this to your baby until at least 12 months of age.
• Ensure your baby is showing signs of being ready for solids before you start their food journey (good head and neck control, shows interest and reaches for food, and is at least four months old (traditional weaning) or six months old (baby led weaning).
• It is recommended to not delay introducing solids past six months as your baby needs additional iron and nutrients found in food.
• The information in this article is general in nature and it is always recommended you speak with a qualified health professional regarding introducing solids to your baby.
Thank you, Rachel, for sharing your experience with introducing first foods to your little ones! My story is similar – baby number 1 was very much a traditional weaning approach, and I spent ages making different purees and spoon feeding before introducing finger foods. When number 2 came along, I simply didn’t have the time, and she took to BLW very easily and with great gusto! The only downside was the mess, unfortunately I didn’t have the fantastic BIBaDO available to me at the time as it would have been a lifesaver!
We have an EXCLUSIVE FREE SHIPPING to Australia offer on the BIBaDO bib – simply use the code NURSERYCOLLECTIVE at checkout to redeem and get your hands on this fabulous new product – the only bib you’ll need for your entire weaning journey!
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Rachel is the Founder of Little Peeps Eats, as well as being a mum to two cheeky boys, aged 5 and 3. Rachel has experienced fussy eating from her kids and understands how stressful mealtimes can be. Little Peeps Eats was developed for Rachel to share her own experiences, tips and tricks, healthy recipes, lunchbox ideas, and inspiration on how to make mealtimes fun!