Our journey with solids didn’t quite go the way I had planned. I think as moms, we sometimes put a vision in our mind for how we expect things to go with our kiddos. I was expecting to exclusively breastfeed Layla for 6 months and then start baby led weaning. Let me explain why. I’ll also be answering some FAQ at the end.
So, what is it? Baby Led Weaning (BLW) is a method of introducing solid foods to infants. The idea behind BLW is that infants can feed themselves around 6 months of age, and should be allowed to do so. BLW skips pureed food and starts with finger foods the rest of the family are eating. Baby eats with the family, as an active family member! BLW has been around since the beginning of time. Only recently, thanks to Gill Rapley, did BLW get it’s name. Infants were fed this way before the invention of commercial baby food and the blender.
But around 4.5 months, Layla started showing that she was interested in food. I was so hesitant to start feeding her real food then, because all the research I did said the guidelines were to start at 6 months. I just have to say this, mama. This is YOUR baby. If you’ve been following me for awhile, then you know I’m a firm believer in doing things however they work for you. You have to do whatever makes you comfortable. And so I did. I started making my own purees with a Beaba Babycook. I purchased this book (linked at the end) and it was fun making Layla’s food homemade. I also gave her organic oatmeal. And after a few weeks, I made her food chunkier and she was learning to chew.
I’m no expert, and I’m simply just sharing what we did. It’s important to note that it’s not recommended to do purees and blw. Something about confusing the baby to swallow before chewing with the purees can cause a bigger risk of choking with blw. Also, the baby should be sitting up independently + 6 months old. Baby needs to have lost the extrusion reflex (commonly known as the tongue-thrust reflex). This is the reflex that involuntarily pushes food and foreign objects out of an infant’s mouth to prevent choking. It will typically disappear between 4-6 months of age.
I joined this Facebook group to learn all the things blw. It is literally my saving grace. When Layla turned 5.5 months old, we decided to just start blw and ditch purées. Whenever I would cook things for Layla, I typed the food in the search bar of the group to see exactly how others cut it. Gosh, it was scary at first. You’re giving your baby chunks of food and your family thinks your crazy and trust me people will judge you, but honestly? Now that we’ve been doing it for 3 months, I’m SO happy we did it. Everyone is so surprised at what a great eater Layla is. She has tried easily over 100 foods, including squid, star fruit, shrimp, okra, plantains, and spinach! She’s 9 months old. She choked once on a carrot. It was terrifying, and I waited forever to give her another carrot after that. You guys always ask how we feel about her gagging and choking. Gagging is totally normal as they are figuring things out and trying different textures. I would recommend taking a CPR course or check out the lifevac which is a device that helps dislodge food if the child is choking.
Now that we have been doing BLW for over 3 months, I feel so much more comfortable and things are going smoothly. It is amazing to sit down as a family and be able to give your baby the same food you are eating and not worry about spoon feeding. We just had Lay’s 9 month checkup and the doctor was shocked she feeds herself and eats what we eat! At first, we cut up her food finger length so she could grab it. As time went on, we were able to make the pieces smaller and smaller cause she can pick them up easier now.
Okay, now I’m going to answer some of your FAQ that you guys have asked about our BLW journey.
What was the first food she tried? – the first time we did blw was on Thanksgiving, so Lay had thanksgiving meal with us! Honestly, I don’t think there’s a ‘wrong’ food to start with (obviously not grapes or hotdogs and things of that nature). Some good ones to start off with would be sweet potatos, banana, avocado, stewed meats, spinach or strawberries.
Do you guys trust anyone else to feed her? – we didn’t at first, but now that she has the hang of things, we’re cool with it.
When did you start water? – so we started giving Layla water at meal times the same time we started BLW. We don’t do juice. A few times a week I will put a splash of ningxia red in her water, which is young living’s natural wolfberry supplement and is incredible for immune support.
What do you do if you want to cook something seasoned or spicy? – we really don’t cook spicy things around here much. In regards to the seasonings though, we pretty much do whatever except salt. If we want any salt, we’ll just add it after she gets her serving.
Does she eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner? – now she does! We started off with very little oatmeal in the morning and then dinner. Then we incorporated breakfast and ditched the oatmeal around 6.5 months. Around lunchtime we would give her a small snack, but since a few weeks ago she eats lunch with us now too.
Do you breastfeed Layla at any point throughout the day still? If so, how long do feedings last and how often? – YES YES YES. Breastmilk and formula are the most important source of nutrition until age 1. I make sure to feed her breastmilk first and then about 30 min later offer solids. I breastfeed Layla every time she wakes up. So, when she wakes up for the day and when she wakes up for naps. Then, I also feed her right before bed and whenever she wakes up in the middle of the night. She nurses for about 5-10 minutes now.
I really hope this was helpful for you guys! If you find that you have any other questions, shoot me a message on IG or comment here.