Although I absolutely LOVE social media and the community feel it brings, it can also be a very overwhelming place when you start to compare yourself to others. This is especially true in the mommy world. Whether that be how quick another woman loses her pregnancy weight, your baby’s milestones (ig. sitting up) or how soon another baby is fed solids… we compare. Try to remember that every baby, mama, and schedule is different than the next and you are doing amazing!
Of course, I am guilty of it too. I often find myself amazed at babies who are much younger than Vivienne passing milestones that she hasn’t mastered yet. It makes you feel like you are doing something wrong. As a first time mom, you don’t know what to expect or what the next steps are… so we go off of our pediatrician and the people around us with kids. We were recommended to start introducing solids when she turned 6 months. At around 5 months, I planned to look into BLW and see what my options were before making a decision on BLW or starting with purees. I truthfully never heard of BLW until I saw it as an option for an educational class taught at Modern Milk. The class is held once a month and taught by Megan of Feeding Littles. Since I couldn’t attend the class in April yet was eager to learn all about it as she had recently turned 6 months (feeling the pressure) I reached out to Megan and she was nice enough to have an hour and a 1/2 call with me on how to get started. I was clueless. So, thank you Megan for giving me this option.
Since JJ, Vivienne, and I are learning all about BLW for the first time, some questions were not easily answered from our personal experience so far. Therefore, I have included some answers from Megan, who is a Registered Dietician (how awesome is she?)
So, what exactly is Baby-led weaning?
A new trend in infant feeding where babies pass on purees and self-feed real food from the start.
Megan would include that the baby learns to feed him/herself in a safe way that honors his developmental stage, preferences, sensory experiences, and physiology. If you would like to also include purees while doing BLW, there are ways to integrate both approaches. This is what we are currently doing. We spoon feed Vivienne purees/mashed foods as well as offer whole food for her to feed herself.
Why would someone choose BLW over introducing purees to babies?
Per Megan: BLW is what has always been done with babies, before commercial baby food became en vogue about 100 years ago. Essentially, parents give babies pieces of their own food that babies can pick up independently (strips for a 6 month old who doesn’t have a pincer grasp), and baby gradually increases her intake of foods over the next few months as she learns to eat and experiences new flavors and textures. The benefits of BLW are being studied in research settings across the world right now, but the commonly reported reasons why parents love it is that it’s easier than offering pureed foods, it promotes hand/eye coordination and chewing skills, it teaches baby how to eat real food from the start, and baby becomes a skilled eater very quickly. Some people theorize that it helps prevent – or minimize – picky eating, and I’m excited to see the data on that when it’s available.
Advantages of BLW:
Everyone eats together, being exposed to more textures and flavors. It also helps develop hand-eye coordination , dexterity and eating skills.
Disadvantages of BLW:
Ask your pediatrician if BLW is inappropriate for babies with media issues or developmental delays. Parents also tend to worry about choking and how messy it can be.
So, how do you get started?
Our pediatrician recommended that we wait to introduce solids when Vivienne was 6 months old. Of course, you always see random 4 month olds eating purees online, which semi stressed me out, feeling behind and all. But at that point, I knew I wanted to do BLW to some extent so I was fine about waiting for her to be ready. Even at 7 months, Vivienne still does not sit up on her own. She’s pretty close and does really well in the highchair, but she’s not quite there yet.
You’ll need some meal time products. Below are the current items that we are using during meal time.
What foods did Vivienne start eating first?
We started with avocado, mashed banana, and then weaned into some options Megan had provided. It quickly went from mashed banana to toasted bread strips with hummus. I am not going to lie, it was SO scary. It took every ounce of me to not grab every large piece that she bit off out of her mouth. I ended up taking infant CPR at Modern Milk just to refresh myself on what to do if there was an emergency.
Has Vivienne choked?
No, thank god!! But did you know that gagging looks a lot like choking? Sigh. It’s scary. It’s very scary. Once you get passed the fact that they are going to gag and in fact, gagging is a good thing… you feel a lot better about the entire process. Since the gag reflex is in the front of a babies mouth (vs back like ours) it helps protect them from choking.
How often is she eating solids during the day?
To start, it is recommended that the baby has one meal a day, then progress to three at age 9 months. We have been doing two meals a day: Breakfast and dinner.
What’s an example of the meals you make?
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with avocado and tomato slices
Dinner: Salmon with broccoli and sticky brown rice.
I’ve been told to cut up the whole foods into small pieces for my baby. Why do you suggest otherwise?
Per Megan: Babies at 6, 7 or even 8-10 months of age don’t have the pincer grasp necessary to pick up small pieces of food. Offering food in a shape a baby can’t pick up is similar to asking you to tie your hands behind your back and eat with a fork – you don’t know how to do it and will get frustrated trying! We want to offer strips of food to start so that baby can pick it up and bring it to her mouth, eating the part of the strip that sticks out the top of her hand.
What are the 8 allergen foods and why does Megan recommend introducing them to your baby early on?
Eggs, Cow’s milk, Peanuts, Tree nuts, Wheat/Gluten, Soybeans, Shellfish, Non-shellfish. Introducing the 8 allergens early on may help prevent food allergies.
What are the signs if your baby has a food allergy and how do you treat?
Per Megan: Allergy to a given food can manifest in many ways – difficulty breathing (the most serious), swelling of the face, lips or tongue, rash or hives, vomiting and diarrhea are the most common if an allergy does occur. If the allergic reaction is causing wheezing or difficulty breathing, or if you’re very worried about your baby’s safety, call 911 immediately. Otherwise, call your pediatrician and ask what to do next. Make sure you know the correct dosage of Children’s Benadryl to use if your baby does have a reaction – this is something you should ask your doctor at your 6 month well check.
What should you NOT do while practicing BLW?
– Never offer choking hazards like whole nuts, raw apples, uncut grapes/cherries/cherry tomatoes, popcorn, thick globs of nut butter, marshmallows, uncut hotdogs or chips. These are considered choking hazards until age 4!
– Avoid honey and don’t salt baby’s food.
– Never put food directly into baby’s mouth, as this can be a choking hazard if you bypass the gag reflex.
Why is it suggested for the baby to drink water with their meal?
Helps to prevent gas and digestive issues.
Thank you SO much to Megan of Feeding Littles for talking me through this as well as providing some more information to my readers. If you are local to Arizona, Megan teaches the BLW class at Modern Milk once a month. Sign up for the class here, and use code WHATBABYLIKES for 10% off. Megan is also working on an infant BLW online course as well – head over to feedinglittles.com for more information.
Later this week, I will be doing a really fun giveaway with some of these amazing brands and people that have made our experience with BLW so much easier! Stay tuned!
To continue with some update questions on where we are today with Vivienne turning 7 months old:
Does Vivienne take less milk since eating solids?
No. Especially since we are still at the beginning stages of introducing solids, it hasn’t been enough to change her milk intake. She still eats 5 times a day, 6 oz. of breastmilk.
Do you nurse or strictly bottle-feed?
Ever since Vivienne turned 5 months and I went back to work full days, I have been pumping and bottle feeding. To me, its a little bit of a break as nursing is very time consuming. Yet, so it pumping! We have yet to supplement formula and she is strictly on breastmilk. The only time I will nurse is in the middle of the night or if she seems unsatisfied with the 6 oz. offered. Pretty rare at this point.
What are Vivienne’s current milestones?
Clapping, “chatting,” ALMOST sitting up, practicing eating solids/purees.
What are we currently working on with Vivienne’s development?
Mastering sitting up, rolling over from back to front (still doesn’t know what to do with the one arm). Always interested in learning new ways of playing and developing.
How is Vivienne sleeping at night?
Vivienne sleeps through the night, going to bed at 7pm and waking up around 6am.
How many naps does she take?
Vivienne is an excellent napper. She typically still takes hour 1/2-2 hour naps 3-4x a day.
When did you stop swaddling with her arms in?
We noticed that Vivienne really hated going down for naps/bedtime with the swaddle. We decided to swaddle her torso and keep her arms free. I didn’t truthfully think it would work as she was so used to her routine and isn’t one of those babies that randomly sleeps anywhere if she is tired. We gave her two stuffed animals (wubba and lovey) that have become her “going to sleep” toys that she plays with and then falls asleep on her own. It’s amazing how well the transition went.
Did you have to sleep train?
No. I am personally not a believer in the sleep training method. Since Vivienne is still young, if she is crying in the middle of the night, she needs something. For an example, she has been sleeping through the night then for about a week or so was was waking up hungry around 2-3am. I would wake up, change her, feed her, and put her back down to bed. After a week went by, she went back to sleeping through the night. This makes me believe that she was only going through a growth spurt. I am more interested in making sure she is happy and fed vs. attempting to sleep train and deal with screaming. It’s a personal theory.
Does she have any teeth?
No teeth in sight.
How has being a mother changed your outcome on life?
Everything has changed. I’ve become my most patient, silly, protective, and happy self. I’ve found a new respect for my hard working husband. Life honestly couldn’t be better. I won’t sit here and act like it is the easiest job in the world. It’s the complete opposite. Being a parent is HARD work, but it is the most rewarding job there is. I couldn’t be more grateful that Vivienne is ours.