If you’re thinking, oh you’re doing baby-led weaning? You cannot have the same fears that I do. Let me tell you… WE ARE THE SAME.
I really wanted to do baby-led weaning, but then I had to hand my baby food…
I started learning about baby-led weaning and all of its benefits and was like “YAAAS this is what I want to do with my baby!!” And then I actually had to hand her food and let her *gulp* feed herself?!
What if she took too big of a bite?
What if the food “slipped” into the back of her throat and she couldn’t get it out?
How much time would I have to get it out?
In an emergency like that I wouldn’t even use a car seat would I?! Or wait, do I call an ambulance and just stand around until it gets here?
I started to sweat when the doctor told me to feed her 2x/day
When I finally started dabbling in “solids”… aka purees, yogurt, and hummus, she got a reaction to hummus on her cheek.
Ten min later when she was in front of her doctor, the doctor told me it was just skin irritation and it’s okay but (wait for it) I should start feeding her 2x/day!
The absolute genuine anxiety I got from this was alarming… even to me. I legit started to sweat and my chest got tight.
Seth was even worse than me! When we first started we tried jojos, a soft potato wedge. She was gagging and Seth popped her out of her high chair to perform the baby Heimlich so fast that food legit started flying out of her clothing.
Well, he got it out and to this day he’ll tell you she was choking. To be totally honest, I’m glad he did it. If he really thought she was choking, I want him to react that quickly.
Our nurse is also our neighbor and when I was expressing my fears, she offered to come over and help us feed her.
This did not help.
She was surprised by how much she was gagging and said it must be a texture thing. She also said that she was “inhaling her food”😑
So, Seth and I decided we were going to start with purees.
Pretty consistently we hyped each other up talking about why it was such a good idea for us!
My first fear with feeding her was allergies
I legit thought that if she had peanut butter and was allergic, it would be traumatic. And that I would have exactly 2 seconds to get her to the ER, or we would have a terrifying situation. When I asked about it, my doctor said she’d likely get a rash and a little red if she was allergic and with repeated exposure, it would get worse. Aka she most likely wouldn’t have an anaphylactic reaction right away.
This was the biggest relief of my life.
Second, she told me the old advice used to be to wait to expose babies to allergenic food until after one. Well, that resulted in a ton of children’s allergies. So now they recommend introducing potentially allergenic foods in small amounts early on and doing so one at a time.
Don’t wait for the weekend. No really, do it on a weekday.
There is a program that suggests you feed your baby 100 new foods before they are one. She says one new food a day and a “challenge” food on the weekend for 3 days straight to see if there’s a reaction.
However, a friend of mine says she only introduces new foods during the week in case they need to go in because of a reaction.
So we do a mix, we introduce the allergenic food and wait for a reaction on weekdays.
Why the French introduce one at a time
(not because of allergies)
A book I’m reading (listening to) discusses how the French raise their babies. It says they give babies one food at a time so they can understand the flavor of each! They suggest not offering a second food in a meal if the baby doesn’t “like” it.
Science says it takes several (7) exposures to a new food for us to understand the flavor and enjoy it. They also recommend talking about the food instead of asking “do you like it”. For example, questions like “is that sweet?” “is it crunchy?”. They also offer it prepared in different ways, scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, pickled eggs etc.
I dreaded meal time.
I’m fairly certain this fear is common with new parents and their children. I get messages from people like “I’m a nanny and I feed kids their first foods all the time, it’s not scary”. OKAY BECKY, HAVE A BABY AND TELL ME THIS!
Okay, that was aggressive… maybe if you’re once a nanny you don’t have the fear. But for those of us that do, this fear is the reason I wrote this. I started with anxiety over choking and now (to my own surprise), I’m more comfortable with it and wanted to share how I got here.
First, stop comparing.
Admittedly, Instagram makes this so hard! My cousin had a baby one week before I did and her baby was eating BROCCOLI while mine was just starting purees! When sent her the 😱 emoji, she said she couldn’t believe it either. She shared with me that her first baby would gag on everything until 8 months while her second is eating broccoli at 7 months! This made me feel way better.
Another friend said her firstborn was eating ENTIRE SLICES OF PIZZA at 10 months and her second still needs them cut up into tiny pieces.
The point? Every baby is different. So once again, like sleep training, we follow baby-led.
Second, THIS podcast
It discusses the difference between gagging and choking and was a huuuuuge help to starting baby-led weaning… and also just in general. One thing it explained that really made sense was that our baby’s teeth are right below the gums. This means they are very able to mash food well, they just can’t tear it. So now I test foods by trying to “chew” them with my fingertips to see how easily they separate. If I can mash up the food easily by doing that, I feel so much better! Do I sound a little crazy? Maybe, but likely if you’re reading this, you’re my kind of crazy.
Shouldn’t we learn baby heimlich?!
Why wouldn’t you want to learn it?! I was going to take a class but Seth is CPR certified and showed me how to do it on our baby! This was actually a huge help to see how he would maneuver her. I would recommend taking a class or at the very least looking it up on YouTube and actually practicing on your baby (without the hard-hitting). I felt much much more comfortable when we did it.
There are also a suction devices you can buy for babies and adults that are made to suck it out.
If you don’t start baby-led weaning, your child will have speech problems
One thing Baby-Led Weaning courses will tell you is it can help with oral development that comes from eating solids. This of course puts an extra fire (and stress) under our butts. When I told my doctor this concern she said that is true if we wait 16 months, but at 6 months, we can ease into it.
I have a friend who told me with their firstborn she didn’t know was BLW was, never did it with him, and he speaks fine. With her second they did and she has a bit of a hang-up with speech.
NO STRESS, MA!
When did we start baby-led weaning?
So “they” (whoever that is) recommends starting baby-led weaning between 4 and 6 months.
However, your baby needs to meet all of the requirements before they start:
1. Good head and neck control
2. Can sit up unsupported
3. Reaches for your food
4. Opens their mouth when you try to feed them
If they’re not, you’re off the hook (for a while). This is just like any other developmental thing, each child will move at their own pace, don’t sweat it. Our daughter wasn’t even close to ready until 5.5 – 6 months. She was interested in my food, but wouldn’t open her mouth.
How we actually got started (not solids)
So we started with these mesh teether bags I would fill them up with frozen foods to expose her to different flavors. We did frozen fruits (the ones for smoothies), ice cubes, clementines, raspberries, or anything else that would give her some flavor to play with!
We even graduated to bananas, sweet potatoes, and avocados that I would “chew” with my fingers and then feed her off my finger.
She was doing really well but then… around 7 months she 👏 was 👏 not 👏 interested 👏. I’d put her in her high chair and she wanted nothing to do with the food I put in front of her.
She was bored.
Raspberry was my gateway food to baby-led weaning
Instead of thinking “I need to feed my baby” (because I know the majority of her nutrition at this point comes from breastmilk or formula). I thought I want to expose her to as many different flavors and textures as I can!
This was liberating.
Essentially I would mash up the raspberry enough that made it one chew away from a puree but there were seeds! To me, this was perfect for the “oral development” that I was so concerned about. It was still giving her something to move around, but I was not afraid of her choking.
I ran with this.
The next thing I tried was similar: orange cells. What the hell are orange cells?
Well, let me tell you! I would peel the orange and then I would peel the white transparent skin around each slice and feed her the calls. Was this unnecessary? Probably, but was it a necessary step to make me feel comfortable? Yes, and it worked!
Everyone kept saying eggs but I didn’t believe it, it felt too solid to me. But when I tried the “only chew it with my tongue” test (my personal made-up method) I realized it dissolves pretty easily so I gave it to her in little egg strips.
I made a little soft egg omelet and then cut a strip for her and she loved it.
Seth and I make “banana pancakes” with 2 eggs and one banana (you have to cook it at low heat, which is the bane of my existence) but it’s delicious, Little Lady thinks so too!
100 foods before one?
Then we got on The Baby-Led Wean Team’s 100 foods program and that’s when things started to get a little crazy.
We tried tuna both with mayo and just the tiniest (wettest) flake of tuna from the can. She loved it at first but once we switched to bigger foods she preferred feeding herself.
Then the Baby-Led Wean Team suggested sardines. It was as gross as it sounds, that was a one and done. But it really was great for baby-led weaning because she could grab it easily, and (after inspecting for bones) it broke up very quickly and easily and she seemed to enjoy it. But I likely won’t do it again.
I also gave her some peanut butter off my finger and she loved it. I have been eating peanut butter while breastfeeding her. In my mind, that gave her mini doses. Idk if that’s even real or not but she didn’t have a reaction. I watched her closely both during and afterward.
All baby-led wean courses recommend foods to be cut to about the size of an adult finger. This allows baby to grab it and feed themselves. But some, like avocado, orange slice, etc are slippery. The baby-led wean team recommended rolling it in something like chia seeds, nutritional yeast, or bread crumbs.
My Montessori book suggests eating with your baby so they have an example of manners and what eating is like instead of simply breathing down their neck the whole time.
Resources that really helped me get started with baby led weaning:
Hopefully you have a doctor you trust. They are the first person you should talk to when deciding what is right for your child.
It was so helpful in explaining the difference between gagging and choking and why our babes are capable of baby-led weaning. They have a great course if you are looking for all the info in one spot.
My Favorite Instagram Account:
BabyLedWeanTeams Instagram: Legit my favorite baby-led wean Instagram. The gagging videos are horrible but sooooo helpful in understanding what is normal.
She also offered a free webinar and gives you the 100 foods before 1 checklist.
I’ve taken a couple of baby-led weaning courses and this one is absolutely the best in my opinion. If you’re like JUST TAKE MY MONEY AND GIVE ME ALL THE INFO IN ONE SPOT My Little Eater has a great course that is about $60. What I like about it is she says FOLLOW YOUR BABY. If your baby isn’t ready to eat solids, start with purees. She stresses that it’s not about the age but the developmental readiness.
She walks you through items that will be helpful, what to look for in a high chair, signs to look for in your baby, and then how to prepare the foods (puree and finger foods to start)! I first heard her on this podcast I keep recommending and it just clicked for me.
Items you may find helpful when starting baby-led weaning:
EZPZ: They make great bowls that stick to the table. I recently bought the cup and straw which you can start using at 6 months!
Recently I realized that I have ten thousand baby spoons and zero forks so some are on the way. I like this because they’re small, fat, and easy for baby to hold.
She recently has gotten bored (again) of the soft foods, so I hope introducing a fork will help! I would grab the bowl and a gootensiles (below) to start.
GOOtensils: Spoons can be hard! I didn’t have this for when we did purées but I wish I had! The babies can dunk and feed, so much easier.
Mat for the floor: Or a dog. We don’t’ have a dog (yet… still trying to get a grip on a baby) currently going back to these daily… will purchase soon.
Bib: I originally bought this bib, but we just strip her down for every meal so I hardly ever use it. I have started using it now that we’re introducing the open cup and she’s mostly like wtf is this? I’m usually just naked!
I hope this blog was helpful! If you have any questions please comment on this blog post and I’ll share with you more of what we’ve done. Like I said I’m no expert, but I’m finally moving in the right direction with less fear!
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