Everything they taught us about starting solids in training is wrong…
The majority of tips you’ve heard as a mother about starting solids are old wives’ tales….
No it is NOT too late to turn around with your feeding strategy!
Hello and welcome to my page, as well as my very first blog post! I am so excited you’ve decided to take a spin around this neighborhood to discover all of the most pertinent information to supporting both you and your baby’s nutrition. As a pediatric Registered Dietitian Nutritionist baby led weaning is something I am most passionate about, but honestly is something that many healthcare professionals and clinicians are only starting to realize is important to your child’s development.
What is Baby Led Weaning?
If you’re here you’ve probably heard the term “baby led weaning” (BLW) before and are curious to try with your baby who is just starting solids. Or maybe you’re planning your second pregnancy and are wanting to do things differently this time around. In a nutshell, baby led weaning is an alternative style of solid food introduction that completely skips over purees in an effort to enhance oral motor skills, increase sensory awareness, and honor your baby’s intuitive hunger and fullness cues.
I know, I know–all of the warning signs are probably alarming in your head and you’re already planning a long list of everything that could go wrong right now... “What if they choke?!” “Don’t they need teeth to chew?” “How do I know they’re getting enough?”
All of these questions are valid and ones I answer in my baby led weaning ebook, but in short, it is entirely possible to teach your baby to eat this way. I have helped hundreds of parents overcome their fears to get started, and once they do, the results are incredible—less picky eating, appropriate growth, and fast-tracked development!
Here are some of the nutritious littles who have worked with me!
What Foods Do I Start With?
Great question, and something I talk frequently about on my Instagram page as well as my book. There are key factors we want to focus on, assuming your baby is developmentally ready to start eating.
The first is safety of the shape and texture of the food. You’re not going to want to start with a slice of toast or even meat right away, this might take some practice. You also want to avoid any potential choking hazards such as uncooked vegetables, round coin-shaped foods like hot dogs, or foods with a tough skin like unpeeled apples.
The proper shape for 6 months is a stick, strip, or wedge shape food. See the below example. This is because your baby only has the developmental skills to scoop or rake things up into the palm of their hand.
The second most important thing to focus on with complementary foods is iron. Right around the time your baby becomes ready to eat foods, iron requirements jump significantly and rely on food to get enough to grow. Some good examples?
- A fork-tender strip of crock-pot cooked pot roast
- Fortified cereals
- Beans or cooked lentils
- Leafy greens like spinach
In my baby led weaning ebook I walk through step by step how to include iron rich foods in your baby’s day and I also share some easy recipes!
How Many Times Should My Baby Eat In a Day?
Before age 1, breastmilk or formula should be your baby’s main source of nutrition. They’re called complementary foods for a reason! In terms of amounts, it’s very hard to say how much your baby should eat without a full nutritional assessment. Remember, you should always follow baby’s hunger cues and feed responsively. To paint with a broad brush, however, a 6-month old generally should get around 6 feedings of breastmilk or formula per day (more or less is okay too) and should begin with just 1 “meal” of solid foods. From a pediatric dietitian’s standpoint, a meal should contain around 2-3 different food groups with one or more being iron-rich. I will discuss more on my Instagram page about portions for when baby grows older.
What Do I Need to Get Started?
Getting started with BLW is much easier than you think, and you don’t need to spend a fortune on high tech gadgets and gizmos. I have a free “Get Started Guide” download on my website you’ll want to grab, but essentially to get started all you need is a supportive high chair, suction plate, and age appropriate utensils. For my favorite brands and examples, click here!
Family mealtimes are a component of baby led weaning, and it saves time and stress to offer baby what you prepare for the whole family! Allowing baby to observe you and the family eat at mealtimes will also help them catch on with more advanced feeding skills. Remember, a distraction-free environment is essential to success with feeding at an age.
So there you have it, a basic overview of baby led weaning! If you still feel like you have unanswered questions, or want more individualized guidance, send me a message letting me know how I can best support you! I want nothing more than to help all families learn the ropes with this feeding style.