We have had a few comments recently about how well the little guy eats. Literally…how well he handles his food in his mouth, his hands…his hair! Actually he is becoming a lot more accurate at meal times, so much so that the shower curtain covering up the floor has been lifted.
It got me thinking back to the reasons why I chose to take the baby led weaning path (BLW), or more accurately, why I let my guy choose his own food destiny with BLW. You can read my tips on getting started here.
Before I start, I have to say that I am of the camp that exclusive breast milk up to six months is essential. As parents, it is our duty to protect the delicate gut lining of our precious bundles. Starting to wean before six months can upset the fragile balance of gut flora that is protecting their digestive system while it fully develops. Too many people confuse a growth spurt at around four months with a hungry baby, instead of the developmental milestone that it is. Around this age babies may need less sleep than you are accustomed too, they want to explore their world, and they are interested in watching you eating, but they are not necessarily hungry. It can be challenging, but you are still producing enough milk to totally fulfil their requirements, however big, hungry or wide awake, just maybe bigger feeds from you more often.
That said, BLW works for any breastfed of bottle fed baby, the principles are the same.
I never want to let my little guy feel left out at a meal time, I never want to trick him into eating just one more mouthful, I don’t want to stress him out or pressure him to eat anything he may not like and I have no real desire for him to wean him quickly from my breast. BLW addresses all of these issues…here are my favourite reasons to hopefully convince you to give it a try.
- Babies learn through play, they explore, touch and taste almost everything that crosses their path. Food should be no different, you can let them play with it, explore the textures, temperatures, shapes and tastes. This way, they can start to distinguish different flavours, they can pick out things they don’t like, and they can eat at their own pace.
- Because BLW babies are allowed to explore food themselves, they are less suspicious of food and more willing to try new foods. They can stop eating when they have had enough and they can demand more if they are still hungry. This means they learn about their own appetite from an early age and will hopefully carry this through into healthy eating habits later in life.
- By six months, the digestive system is more likely to be able to tolerate anything, so there is no need to follow the outdated rules of one new food at a time. This means food can always be exciting, tasty, varied and never bland, mushy and boring! The only limit might be your cooking skills!
- You all get to eat together. Even if its just you and baby, you can eat your meals hot, together, and enjoyably. Baby can learn about conversation and table manners at the same time as learning about food. There is no need to feed baby, and then entertain baby while everyone else tries to eat and he will never feel left out at a meal time.
- Progression happens naturally and safely. At the start of the BLW journey, very little food actually goes in, most ends up in a gummed up mess back on the table or floor. Slowly the gag reflex moves from the front of the tongue, further and further back. This happens as the baby learns to move food around and break food down into manageable pieces before finally swallowing. This natural progression is the safest progression.
- No more revolting bland mush, no ‘baby food’, just one meal suits all. Meal times become easier, you can create one meal, be it traditional, exotic, experimental or a family favourite. You can adapt a little portion for baby if you like things particularly spicy or salty but you get accustomed to lowering your salt intake pretty quickly.
Imagine someone coming at your face with a garden shovel full of food. They hold it really close to your face so you cant focus on what is piled on the end of the shovel. They try and get the shovel into your mouth and you try and push the shovel away to see what you are being forced to taste. This must be what that teaspoon of food seems like to a little person. Scary.
Stop the slop!!
Read my tips on getting started on your BLW journey here!