The past week has been the start of a new journey: feeding Luca solid foods!
That’s right! He’s no longer drinking just breastmilk, now he’s starting to eat solid foods! Well, he doesn’t really swallow or get much of it in his mouth, but he’s practicing everyday.
I’m going to talk all about what baby led weaning is, why we chose it, my favorite resources for it so far, all of the feeding products that have gotten us through our first week, and of course: what he ate!
And if you’re not following along on Instagram already, make sure you follow @inspiralizedkids!
What is baby led weaning?
Baby led weaning (BLW) is a way to introduce foods by skipping purees and instead, offering solid foods that are cut and cooked appropriately for baby. Most importantly, BLW encourages self feeding, so you’ll never put food into the baby’s mouth, the baby will choose what he/she wants to eat and how much of it. There is NO spoon feeding in baby led weaning.
It’s INCREDIBLE. In his first week, Luca tried so many exciting foods, from quinoa to spaghetti squash. I watched him as he curiously grabbed ahold of a piece of toast with peanut butter, led it into his mouth, and gnawed on it – and then went for seconds!
There is only ONE major drawback of baby led weaning: having to struggle through your baby gagging. The gagging is a good thing – it shows that your baby is learning how to chew and swallow foods, which is so important (and inevitable anyway, whenever your baby starts eating solid foods)! Choking is different – choking is when their airway passage is blocked, but gagging is completely normal.
It’s tough, though, watching your baby gag – but after the first few times, I started trusting Luca more and more. He started to learn, “Ok, I can’t take in this big of a piece and if I do, I have to gnaw on it some more.” Plus, unlike adults, baby’s gag reflexes are on the middle of their tongue (instead of the way back), so although they’re gagging, the food isn’t really near the back of their throat! That’s why they gag so much – the gag reflex is right there!
How do you feel more confident and power through the gags? Get CPR certified! It’s the best thing Lu and I ever did, because I feel confident now that in the event that we had a scare, I’d know how to handle it. However, I’d never offer Luca a choking hazard (like a full cherry tomato or a whole nut), so actually, research shows that the risk of choking is the same between baby led weaning and purees!
There are a few rules on when to start BLW-ing, but basically, the baby has to sit unassisted for at least a minute and be at least 6 months old. There are other preferred requirements, but those are the two big ones.
And to clarify, Luca is still breastfeeding as his main source of nourishment – he probably eats a teaspoon of food a day IF that, right now it’s just an exploratory activity for him! Luca will eventually eat more, discover that food can fill his tummy, and then he’ll start drinking less milk. For now, he nurses 4-5 per day. I usually feed him 30-45 minutes after a breastfeeding!
Why I chose baby led weaning
Before I explain why I chose baby led weaning, let me say this: if you chose to do purees with your baby, I’m not judging you. I’m simply sharing MY personal beliefs and why I believe BLW to be the best for ME. FED is best, always. And, if Luca didn’t take to BLW, I would’ve then tried purees, so I’m not “against” purees, I just found a way of feeding my baby that I believe to be the best for our family and is working so far. And heck, I was formula and puree fed, and I turned out just fine! Please don’t take offense to any of my opinions, they’re just opinions, and I’m open-minded, I expect you to be too. Do you!
There are really three ways to feed your baby: purees, baby led weaning, or a combo. After doing all of my research and knowing myself, my husband, and my baby, I chose baby led weaning.
Here are some of the reasons why I went with BLW:
- Research shows BLW-eaters end up having better table manners – they sit and eat with you, instead of you having to feed them separately and then expect them to wait for you to finish eating.
- Research shows that BLW-eaters are less picky eaters – think about it, Luca has already had curry powder roasted cauliflower, quinoa, brussels sprouts, and a lentil loaf! His tastebuds are already evolving!
- BLW helps develop baby’s motor skills early on.
- BLW is easier for the family – you don’t have to prepare anything “special” (like a puree) for baby – they just have what you eat (just sliced a little differently). I love to cook, so this was a huge deciding factor for me!
- BLW is restaurant friendly – you can simply offer the baby the food you’re having and they can eat alongside you, instead of having to bring pre-made baby food everywhere you go. It’s just like the boob, which is what I am used to!
- BLW lets the baby practice intuitive eating – they eat until they’re full (like with breastfeeding – they’ll never overeat.) With spoon feeding, you may want to get that “last spoonful” in or finish a jar of puree, when in reality, your baby is full, they just can’t tell you. :/ Studies even show due to this intuitive eating, babies who are BLW-ed are less likely to be obese!
What really put me over the edge, was the research showing that baby led weaning starts building a healthy relationship between the baby and food at an early age. Instead of “having” to eat a certain food, baby gets to choose what baby likes and eat until they’re full. There’s no games (like a spoon airplane-ing into your mouth) to get you to eat, it’s this: here’s the food, eat what you’d like until you’re full. I LOVED that principle, and it was what finally brought me to the decision to start baby led weaning with Luca.
My favorite resources for starting baby led weaning
I am NOT an infant feeding expert by any means. My baby has been eating for a total of ONE week. I have been researching and reading for months in preparation for this, so I feel informed, but I am not trained nor an expert.
There are three major resources that I’ve read/studied for this food journey with Luca and they are:
Feeding Littles Infant Feeding Course
The Infant Feeding Course by Feeding Littles (a resource started by two women – an occupational therapist and a registered dietician) The best $59 you can spend for your baby (and because they are amazing ladies, they offered me a discount for my readers – code INSPIRALIZED gets you $10 off the course!)
I can’t recommend this course enough. If this is all you do, you’re set. It literally takes you step-by-step through the entire baby led weaning process. There are printable cheat sheets along the way (I have the choking hazards one taped to the inside of my cabinet right now) like suggested meal plans, how to prepare food safely for baby, suggested foods to start with, and more.
After taking this course, I was fully confident that I could safely and healthfully feed baby Luca through baby led weaning, and I wouldn’t have felt this way if I hadn’t discovered the course. Thanks to my friend Jamie for recommending them!
And I fully intend on taking the toddler course, once I’m done with baby led weaning as an infant!
Book 1: Baby Led Weaning
The first book I read on baby led weaning is literally called Baby Led Weaning. This is the book that “sold” me on baby led weaning. The book gets into logistics (what to feed the baby, how to feed the baby, etc), but more importantly (and what I found of most value), was the background and philosophy behind baby led weaning – why it’s the best way to feed your baby if you want a child with a long-lasting healthy relationship with food!
It was a super quick read, I basically read it in two days! I read it when Luca was about 4-5 months old.
Book #2: Born to Eat
I’m still reading this book Born To Eat, even though I’m well into baby led weaning with my son. It’s FASCINATING! It’s such an enjoyable read, and puts a lot into perspective. I really recommend it, not only as a starter guide to baby led weaning, but as a supplementary read to understand more about foods and your baby’s health and development. There have been so many “aha” moments in this process. It also shocks me at how marketing can convince us we need to do certain things, even though centuries of history tell us its not necessary! From Amazon:
For thousands of years, humans have thrived without “baby food” (which was invented in the late nineteenth century). Think about it: the human race has made it this far largely on whole food. Only in recent decades have we begun overthinking and over-processing our foods, which has led to chronic dieting, chronic disease, disordered eating, body distrust, and epidemic confusion about the best way to feed ourselves and families. Eating is an innate skill that has been overcomplicated by marketing schemes and a dieting culture. It’s time to leave the dieting culture behind for the whole family. It starts with the baby’s first bite!
Favorite products for baby led weaning
You actually don’t need anything to start baby led weaning, you could literally sit your baby upright in your lap and put food on the table for baby to grab. BUT, since that’s not convenient and doesn’t really help with the good table manners thing, there are a few products you’ll want to buy to ensure a seamless experience.
Here are the products that I’m using and loving so far:
4Moms High Chair – this high chair has a magnetic tray which is easy to pull on and off to get the baby out quickly (which is important if there’s ever a choking situation) and the entire seat is extremely easy to clean. I love it and have zero complaints!
Bumkins bibs – these bibs are the best, they’re so easy to clean (I just rinse them in the sink with soap and water – but they’re also washing machine safe), come in cute patterns, and go on and off easily with velcro.
Bumkins sleeve bibs – for the really messy meals, these are AMAZING. They cover him entirely!
Bumkins floor mat – baby led weaning is certainly messy and the older they get, the more they throw food. Luca accidentally throws things on the ground now, and I love how large this mat is – it catches everything, is waterproof, and thus, easy to cleanup. And I love the cactus print, of course!
ezpz Mini Mat – this suctions right onto the tray on my high chair and is adorable. It helps me portion out my meals, since offering 3 types of foods to start is recommended. They’re easy to clean and Luca can’t peel them off (yet!)
NumNum spoon set – these are great and Luca already loves them. You’re supposed to encourage baby to eat with their hands at first, but offering them spoons here and there helps to familiarize them with forks and spoons. There are two in the pack – one is for thin foods like applesauce and the other is for thick foods like oatmeal or hummus.
Baby Bjorn cups – these are the cups we’re starting with and so far, they’re great. It’s amazing how quickly Luca is getting the hang of cups! Now, when I put out a cup, he tries to sip from it like his cup! It’s the cutest.
What Luca ate in his first week
For the first few days, I was taking it easy (it’s nerve-racking and exhilarating all at the same time!) and wanted to start Luca off with one food at a time until we both got the hang of it. On the first day, we tried banana. On the second day, avocado. And on the third day, sweet potato and broccoli. After that and seeing how well Luca responded to food, I got more creative!
And aside from choking hazards, the only thing you can’t give babies at this age is honey and salt.
- Banana – with peel on, cut off so baby can hold it (like this)
- Avocado – sliced into spears
- Strawberry – halved
- Blueberries – squished
- Apple spear
- Pear spear
- String bean – steamed
- Sweet potato – roasted with olive oil
- Brussels sprouts – roasted with olive oil, garlic powder, balsamic
- Mashed cauliflower “potatoes” seasoned with garlic and onion powder
- Steamed crinkle-cut carrots
- Roasted spaghetti squash with salt-free homemade, veggie-packed marinara sauce (recipe coming soon!)
- Bell pepper spear
- Cucumber spear
- Broccoli – roasted with olive oil, garlic powder and also steamed
- Potato toast dippers with mashed green-pea avocado (from my next cookbook)
Proteins & more
- Hummus mixed with quinoa, offered on the NumNum spoon
- Lentil loaf from my next cookbook
- Ezekial toast sticks with thinly spread peanut butter
- Hard boiled eggs
- Scrambled eggs
- Oatmeal with bananas
And that’s it! That’s everything Luca tested in week one. Of course, he didn’t eat all of this food – 95% of it (or more) ended up smashed on his face, in his hair, caught in his bib, or on the floor.
We had SO much fun! I’ll be sharing monthly updates and in the meantime, posting everything he eats on @inspiralizedkids!