A few friends have asked about this over the past few months so here is some more information.
Baby led weaning means letting your child feed themselves from the very start of weaning. There’s no purees, no mashing, no bowls and spoons. Just your child eating what you’re eating with the family.
With BLW you need to wait until your child is 6 months, or thereabouts, as it’s by this age our children are developmentally able to feed themselves.
So getting started.
You don’t need much really. Just a simple, easy to clean highchair will do for starters. I recommend the Ikea Antilop. At £15 including the tray it’s a must have for all messy monsters. Other extras you could buy are a wipe clean table cloth for under the highchair, some catch all bibs and maybe a spoon or two for baby for when you start introducing yoghurts, porridge and other runny foods. Of course they can use their hands for these too but eventually they will need to learn the use of a spoon and there is no harm starting them with one early.
Another thing I would recommend is a crinkle cutter, the type you use for making crinkle chips. These make slippery foods easier to hold.
Once you have the highchair and your baby is sitting upright, has the hand to mouth action and has lost the tongue thrust reflex you are ready to go! Just give them whatever you are eating minus the salt. I leave all salt out of cooking and Luke and I add to taste once we have our own. Makes things much easier!
Gagging can be a problem however this is just baby’s way of moving the food around their mouth. Don’t panic. 99% of the time, babies will bring up the troublesome piece of food with no problem and resume their eating. If they do start to choke, stay calm, remove them from their highchair and lay them across your knee with their head lower than their body. Give five firm blows to the back between the shoudler blades with the flat of your hand. If the airway is still blocked, turn them over on your arm with the head still low. Using two fingers in the middle of the chest, push down a third of the depth of the chest. Check the mouth after each push and remove any obvious obstruction. After three cycles of back blows followed by chest thrusts, dial 999 and continue cycles. Never do abdominal thrusts.
A sure sign they are choking and not gagging is the silence. When a baby or child gags there is the noise, a hacking sound, like they are retching. With choking there is no noise and often just a wild panic in the child’s eyes. This is the reason they should never be left alone whilst eating.
My one piece of advice which I can’t stress enough is CUT THINGS UP!!! Grapes, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, even blueberries. Cut them in half at least and quarters if they’re big enough especially if your child is under 1. I have had other parents snigger and laugh at me, I’ve had people say I’m crazy for still cutting my 4 year olds grapes in half and think I’m crazy for refusing them to be allowed ones that aren’t but quite frankly I don’t care. They are my children and I will do my upmost to protect them and if that means asking for a knife at a children’s party so I can cut Joseph’s grapes in half before he eats them then so be it. And woe betide anyone who gives my children anything that could be a choking risk, you won’t do it a second time. Choking is the 3rd most common cause of infant death in the UK so if it’s possible I urge you to take a first aid cause particularly one that focuses on infants and young children.
As scary as that sounds though, please don’t be put off BLW. My son gagged more than my daughter during weaning and he was puree weaned.
Another piece of advice I have is the 4 day rule. This is especially useful in the first few weeks of weaning and what it means is giving your baby a new food and then waiting 4 days before introducing another therefore making it easier to work out if a certain food is causing a reaction.
For example, give them a chunk of carrot for their first food, then only carrot for the next 4 days. Once you are sure this has produced no reaction you can introduce another food, say potato, and they can have carrot and potato for 4 days. It sounds like a faff at first but as the mother to a baby with an intolerence, it’s worth the hassle to know what’s causing the pain and discomfort then you can avoid it in future.
I have a 7 day menu plan that I am happy to send to people if you would like it and will pop links at the bottom of this so you can have a read of other websites.
Enjoy this experience with your little ones and most of all relax! If you want to spoonfeed certain things then do it. If you want to give them curry or chilli that you’re having then do it. Just stir a spoonfull of sour cream or natural yoghurt through first and prepare for the nappy that will follow.
If there is anything else you want to know then give me a shout on here, either of my FB pages or one of the forums you can usually find me hanging out on.