Baby Led Weaning

Minna - posted on 04/07/2010 ( 24 moms have responded )

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I was sort of inspired to bring up this subject because of some responses to the cereal in formula thread. Some folks said the point of cereal is to learn to use a spoon... this I kind of disagree with.

For those who don't know, baby led weaning is where you give your baby the chance to start solids on his or her own, skipping the step where you spoon feed mush foods. Just for quick simple reference: http://babyledweaning.com/

There is a lot of controversy on the topic. People say that giving your kid the chance to feed independently increases the chance of choking, and boy what a mess! Even my pediatrician was concerned when I told her this was what we were doing with my daughter. She mentioned that because cereal is so vitamin and mineral rich we might be depriving our daughter of nutrition.

A lot of docs will speak against it because it is not what they are taught. I think this is the same with a lot of moms also. What are your opinions on the matter? Have you tried it?

In the long run, it has been an amazingly easy and wonderful route for us. My 1 year old can and will eat ANYTHING we put in front of her. We haven't ever struggled with preparing separate meals or spending 30 minutes trying to feed her when she just doesn't have the attention span. We plan to keep on using this method with our son when he is born and old enough. No baby cereal for us, bottled or spoon fed!

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Lady - posted on 04/08/2010

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We did a mixture of baby lead weaning and some ceral and pureed food - fruits and vegetables. It worked well because he was getting the best of both words and so was I. He got the food he needed to fill his tummy but also got to experience feeding himself - the textures and physical manipulatoin. We did it with all of them but never had a name for it until I read about it with my youngest. I was always a little afraid with the first three that I was doing something wrong so limited the amount of time they fed themselves but with the fourth because I'd read about it I knew I could let him go for it. He's a year old now and loves all food, feeds himself quite well with a spoon and thankfully has never had a problem with choking of gagging. When he was a bit younger he did on the very odd occassion bite off more than he could manage but was very easily able to cough it up with no real drama, it's something they have to learn how to do anyway.

@Lisa I'm rather shocked at the choice for your childs first meal, shellfish is deffinatley NOT recomended for children under 2 years of age. Obviously it's your choice what you feed your child but I just wanted to point out the recomendation for other people reading this.

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Minnie - posted on 04/08/2010

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That's fine, Gillian. I'm aware of it too. It was an educated decision on our part :).

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Amy, in some countries they say weaning as in weaning onto solids not weaning from breastfeeding. It confused me a bit too when I first came on to Circle of Moms.

Amy - posted on 04/08/2010

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the article seemed a bit off to me. I thought the world health organisation was saying that you should nurse until at leat 2 years of age, not that you should wean at 6 months. ?? hm.

I nursed my son and when he was about 5 months, he was curious about food. He'd take licks of what we were eating and when he was a bit over 6 months, we bought a baby food grinder to grind up our foods we made at home that weren't soft enough or small enough for him. I am sure they use the cheapest grains in the store brand cereals. I just prefered to grind our son's food so no nutrition is lost on hte way. He loves his food now at a year old and only nurses before he goes to sleep at nap and night. He discovered straw cups from his sister's travel cup and loves them. we kinda skipped sippies/bottles. My son has had some of my oatmeal, but it's steel cut - taste better. Don't know how much better they are nutritionally, i just heard it's easier to digest. Then i started giving him tiny pieces of soft foods. and now he eats ANYTHING. We hardly used baby food - I did spoon feed him some that my mom gave us just to use it, though. I just thought it was healthier for him to eat what we did.

Stephany - posted on 04/08/2010

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I don't have a problem with it so long as the parents are still wary for allergy purposes. Feed them whatever, but only start one new 'whatever' food at a time. I say this just because a lot of the food we all eat has a ton of ingredients, and if you feed an infant something with so many ingredients and they have an allergic reaction it will be hard to know just what made them react.
My oldest son hated eating and we practically had to force everything into him. My youngest is a food hound and will eat anything in reach. He even steals fruit from the basket on our table. I didn't stick to any one method- I just did what I felt was right at the time.
I do think, either way, it is important to have a feeding schedule. A designated time and place for a child to sit and eat their food, especially with food they may choke on.

[deleted account]

I've never used baby food or cereals. I bought a magic bullet a couple of years ago and would just blend up whatever we were eating (before adding salt and spices). But even then it only kept them entertained for a few weeks at the most. I would just chop up everything into tiny pieces and gradually increase the size. My kids never liked being even spoon fed. I would just let them go to town lol Ya it was messy but they learned to feed themselves alot quicker. And I actually got to eat my own food while they entertained themselves with their own. My daughter just turned 2 and I haven't used bibs for months so I figure shes doing pretty good. My kids did get their teeth very early though. By 6 months my kids usually had 8 teeth already so maybe they were ready before other kids.

April - posted on 04/08/2010

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i'm a big fan of BLW. my son just would not open his mouth for mush and there wasn't another way to feed him otherwise

Amy - posted on 04/08/2010

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We tried that for a little bit, but our son would just chock on things, he would get so excited (as if he'd never seen food before), and gulp it down. We spoon fed for a few months until he got the hang of needing to not just "drink" his food. By 8 or 9 months (I believe) he was eating a lot of table food and actually rejected the other baby food. He's an amazing eater, eats a LOT of food and will eat basically everything.

Jackie - posted on 04/08/2010

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It's also not recommended in the US, but in the US I believe the age is 1 year.

We gave my daughter cereal....and it wasn't empty anything...the label lists all the nutrition facts and it is not empty AND it was mixed with breastmilk, so she was still getting all the good stuff, but she was learning to eat versus drink. Apparently what I did is what you would all consider forced feeding....but I don't see it that way at all. My daughter was very actively interested in eating her cereal from the spoon from her very first feeding. If she had shown no interested we would have just waited a few weeks and tried again. And that will be the same process with baby #2 when the time comes.

I just couldnt' imagine putting a chunk of anything in front of a baby with no teeth that has never had something solid in their mouth...don't get me wrong, I agree that they do not choke very easily. Now at 15 mos on all table food my daughter can cough back up almost anything she wants, but I just couldn't imagine her trying to figure it out when she had never swallowed anything but milk.

Besides, by giving baby food it was easy to know she was getting a balanced meal rather than worrying about all the different pieces I was putting together.

Lady - posted on 04/08/2010

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Like I said it's your choice Lisa - it's also a UK recomendation and I just wanted people aware of it.

Minnie - posted on 04/08/2010

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Gillian:



There are plenty of cultures around the world that do not follow guidelines in the US about which particular food to introduce first and when. I am completely comfortable with my choice.

LaCi - posted on 04/08/2010

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Children's choking reflex is much different than ours. They'll gag very well before they actually choke. I gave my kid mush foods. I don't really care what other people do though, whatever works for you and yours. ;)

Sunny - posted on 04/07/2010

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I guess i dont have a problem either way.....everyone does what works for them...

Sunny - posted on 04/07/2010

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Lisa- thanks i was just wondering thats all lol. I guess it would be different with breast feeding. My son couldnt, he only had soy milk so cereal, was needed for him to get everything he needed. Even now he loves wheat bix and fruit or porridge.

C. - posted on 04/07/2010

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Yadda, yadda.. Too tired to read the whole thing. But I did get as far as the "baby led weaning is where you give your baby the chance to start solids on his or her own, skipping the step where you spoon feed mush foods"..



First of all, baby-led weaning didn't hit a big boom until within the last several years. So really all the people (myself included) who were saying that a huge point of cereal was to teach a baby how to eat with a spoon were right b/c that IS a huge part of it. It is also rich in nutrients, so if you don't have the luxury of being able to breastfeed that long- or you just don't want to, whatever the case happens to be, your baby can get a lot of nutrients from the cereal.



Have I tried it? No. Do I plan on it? No.

Jocelyn - posted on 04/07/2010

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I follow baby led weaning for the most part. With my son he started eating solids around 6 months (picked up a french fry and demolished it) so that's how I knew he was ready. After that I would offer him some baby food (not the really thin stuff, the jars with actual food lol) but I would offer it in between breast feeds, when he was just sorta hungry. That stage didn't last long tho; by 10 months he was eating everything we were eating. He's three now and he will eat anything! But he was still breastfed until he was 21 months. I didn't push to stop breastfeeding either, he'd cut himself down to one night time feed a few months before. Although I was the one to cut out the final night feed (with no problems what so ever I might add, also proof that it was time). My daughter is now 6 months, and I tried giving her a little bit of food the other day. Mashed potatoes, she was trying to get them so hard lol. But it was a no go, she just spit them out, so I will wait a bit longer. I won't push her and chances are she's just going to grab what ever her brother is eating and devour it lol. And I will still continue to breast feed, using the don't offer-don't deny method to eventually wean.

Minnie - posted on 04/07/2010

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If the child can feed himself (doesn't matter what it is) it is baby-led weaning.

I personally don't give my babies infant cereal because my milk is so much better- and there are so many more solids much more interesting and tasty. Why go for the glorified wall paper paste when baby can have toast with pesto and cheese or beef stew?

Sunny - posted on 04/07/2010

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Just wondering, because im not sure i understand, is it ok (in your mind) if the child feeds themselves the baby cereal? Is it the parent feeding, the constancy or the cereal? I tried to feed my son cereal at around 4 months but he only wanted to do it himself. He has feed himself ever since. He wasnt very messy, he ate cereal, custard, soup, all on his own. I sould add though that he was crawling at 4 months and standing and walking at 7 months so holding a spoon was no issue, and i watched him at all times. So yeah just wondering, because you said that your child will eat anything you put in front of them, yet they have never had cereal, so just wondering why.

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If it works for you and your kid, great. :) I don't have an actual objection to it, but it's not how we did things and I won't be having any more babies.



The girls started baby food at 3.5 months and it worked well for them.



My son first started eating around 6 months, but he was only interested at random. He wasn't really interested in baby food, so I suppose we did a tiny bit of 'baby-led weaning' though not much. He had quite a few choking issues though since he liked to eat man sized bites w/ a baby sized mouth. I guess that would be my only objection to it since my son was a choker. :)

Minnie - posted on 04/07/2010

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We did/are doing baby-led weaning with our second. I simply waited until she began to pick things up and put them in her mouth to offer solids. She went straight to table food at ten months. Her first meal was lobster, potato salad, and an orange slice. No issue with choking, because the pieces were either big enough to be wedges in her hand and she could gnaw on them, or flaky and small enough to melt or mush in her mouth. It's common sense to stay away from things that are hard and easily choked on.



I see no purpose in shoveling goo into a baby before she can feed herself.

Rosie - posted on 04/07/2010

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i'm not opposed to it, i just wouldn't do it. i'm too afraid of my kids choking or gagging. plus, i prefer to start things off slowly instead of going full force with new experiences (at least when i'm introducing new things-not taking away things, like binky or bottles).



if i would've tried it with my kids it wouldn't of worked anyway. my kids all had a problem with food. baby food made them puke, regular food made them puke, formula made them puke, pretty much my kids are puke factories and i know for a fact that this would've just exasperated that situation. i might be more open to the idea if i havn't been through all i have with my kids and their eating issues, who knows?

Johnny - posted on 04/07/2010

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LOL Sara. Avocado was my daughter's first food as well. It was her favorite then and it's still her favorite today.

Johnny - posted on 04/07/2010

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I did baby-led weaning at the recommendation of my doctor, but we started earlier than normal. We were trying to get her off formula and just breastfeed, so to make up those calories, we followed a special diet starting just after 5 months. High calorie food pieces. It worked wonderfully for us, and our daughter's weight gain drastically improved (she hated formula!!). It was however, somewhat of a different approach than the normal course of baby-led weaning that I have read about. In my case, neither her nutritionist, her public health nurse, her pediatrician, nor my doctor felt that baby cereals were necessary. The only time I ran into opposition was when I took her to a walk-in clinic for an eye infection. The doctor was horrified that I hadn't started her on baby cereal at 4 months, I think he was practically ready to call Child Protection when I told him what she was eating. But I trust walk-in clinic doctors about as far as I could throw them, so I just completely ignored him and left.



At our weekly Well-Baby drop-in groups, the nutritionists don't necessarily suggest the baby-led weaning approach, but they make it very clear that it is not at all necessary to use infant cereals ever as long as the child is still receiving breast milk or formula. In the case of breast fed babies, they do recommend an iron supplement for babies over 6 months who are not eating cereal or meats. In fact, they suggested that parents be cautious of a full diet of just formula and rice cereal because it is often known to cause constipation.

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I loved the idea of baby led weaning. It just seems so natural. I planned on doing it this way, but got a lot of pressure to do cereal. So I tried it for a week and it constipated my daughter. I was so mad at myself for not sticking with my plan. I threw out the cereal and went straight to steamed veggies and fruits. My daughter loved avocado and it was so easy, just cut it open and serve. It was the first thing she fed herself and I plan on making it the first food of my next baby.

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