By Laura Lotte:
I probably would have gone with the baby food that’s recommended everywhere if I hadn’t stumbled over the baby-led weaning book. (Even though I never felt quite comfortable with the idea of feeding my baby mashes that hardly taste of what’s actually in them.) Allowing my baby to lead the way — to a certain degree, of course— allowing babies to explore with all senses in their own time and trusting in nature made so much sense to me. We often forget how exciting this actually is. Feeling or maybe squashing a strawberry, observing the juices drop, a hesitant first lick, not to forget the test of how far it can fly … Besides giving your baby some sort of autonomy and feeling of trust, practicing hand-eye coordination is a nice side effect.
Well, it all started at around 6 months of age with just stuffing into his mouth whatever he could grab from my plate. To start weaning on that day wasn’t planned; he just went for it and I watched, astounded. It was funny, though, because I expected some unusual expressions on his face — but nothing — as if it were an everyday thing. Even with lemon! The faces came later.
So, exactly what is baby-led weaning (BLW)? It’s choosing to skip the thin and runny purées, and not feeding your baby with a spoon. BLW means you offer your baby age appropriate foods that are soft-cooked and mashed or cut into small, easily manageable pieces. You may offer your baby a large hunk of apple that s/he can easily hold and gnaw on, or a bowl full of soft cooked mashed apples. Babies are offered the foods without their being pureed, and they are not spoon-fed. So basically, you do the cooking, the cutting or mashing and the offering of the foods. Your baby does the rest☺
Is it messy? Oh, yes. But so worth watching him/her exploring this new world. Is it worrisome? Yes. But it will be anyhow at some point. I certainly soft cook squash or cut the food into tiny pieces to prevent choking. Now 18 months old, my son is still exploring full scale. Sometimes it’s almost painful to watch the mess he’s making, and I wonder how much will end up in his tummy. What I’ve learned, though, is that by allowing him to eat this way, he seems to be more adventurous about trying new things because through play he often ends up giving new foods at least a lick.
It’s important that the baby should be at least 6 months old if you wish to use the BLW method. They should be able to sit up unassisted, have lost the tongue thrust reflex, and be able to grasp and hold on to foods.
If it’s important to have a poster child, then baby-led weaning might not be for you. Yes, when you are
out and about, often it would be easier to just spoon-feed your baby quickly and if the baby is up for it, why not. If not, you might have to live with the skeptical looks or good advice from those around you. I don’t see the point of allowing my baby to be free then tie myself to rules.
Clearly, every child is different: for some families it works and for others it doesn’t. I think it’s just amazing to let baby lead the way whenever possible because you get taught things you had never thought of. For my son, it was the perfect decision, as he generally uses all his senses intensely.
To learn more about baby-led weaning, check out these sites:
Laura Lotte is a graphic designer and single mom in Germany. She has lived in various countries, loves travelling and embracing her spiritual path. Laura is looking for new horizons, ways to communicate and encourage my son to live a self determined live early on. Student of life and interested in so called alternative lifestyles.