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Baby-Led Weaning

Vanessa T.
VANESSA T.
Pediatric Dietitian
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Make weaning baby a breeze with the support of Tinyhood Pediatric Nutritionist, Vanessa Thornton. Learn more about the baby-led approach, and whether or not it's the right fit for you and baby.

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VANESSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Starting to BLW
LAUREN, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

What are some good foods to start off with when BLW? We currently only feed breastmilk & cereal 2x a day. We have tried pureed veggies (bananas, sweet potatoes) and he gags and throws up. Why is this??

Vanessa
VANESSA

Hi Lauren,

Typically avocado, banana and sweet potato are good foods to try BLW with. Instead of puréed, offer them in strips (peeled, cooked and cooled for potatoes).

The gagging and vomiting is interesting. Tell me more about what is happening- is he upset when it happens? Interested in eating? Does it happen every time he eats? With every food? Always when spoon fed? What else might be different about the occasions when this happens?

Let me know and I’ll see if I can help you get to the bottom of this!

LAUREN

i mixed some sweet potato puree with some oatmeal cereal (for weakened flavor) and he did the gagging thing and a bite or two later he threw up. I thought maybe it was a texture thing? He eats well with a spoon, we have been doing alternating oatmeal and rice, and he eats it just fine. The few times we tried banana and sweet potato he's just not into it, so i'm scared to keep trying.

Vanessa
VANESSA

Hi Lauren,

You may be right- it could be texture related. You could try different foods puréed like pears or peas. You can also try some soft solids cut into strips to do some BLW. He may not actually swallow and eat much to start, but if he struggles with texture this will allow him to explore different textures and takes some of the pressure/stress out of eating. Make sure to feed him when he is happy and interested in trying. If you push it when he isn’t engaged, he is more likely to have a bad reaction and resist meal time.

If he does keep vomiting, check in with your pediatrician to make sure nothing else is going on.

LAUREN

Is it a good idea to mix the pureed food with some breast milk to thin out? Or keep the way it is.

Vanessa
VANESSA

You can absolutely mix with breast milk to change consistency. This is a great idea when starting out on solids. Eventually as he gets used to the taste and texture, you can add less and less breast milk until
He is eating plain solids.

VANESSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
5.5 month plan
MEGHA, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

My almost 6 month old has four 7oz bottles a day plus cereal in the day time and 1 puréed food around lunch. Both of them are about 1 hour after his bottle (around 7:30a and 11a).
He enjoys eating a lot and seems to want more after 1 tablespoon. Can I give him more? How much each serving can he have?

Also - can I blend flavors? Banana and oatmeal cereal? Carrots and apple? Etc?

When can I introduce meat? Eggs? And what are safe ways to season since I shouldn’t use salt?

Thank you!
Megha

Vanessa
VANESSA

Hi Megha,

Good questions!

You can give your son more as long as he is still taking all of his formula (he likely needs somewhere between 24-32 ounces per day). I would increase to 2 -3 tbsp two times per day and see how he does.

You can absolutely blend flavors, but only combine foods he has had before so that if he does have an allergic reaction, you can identify which food caused it immediately.

Puréed meat is fine to introduce now and can provide a good source of iron. Egg whites are known to have a high prevalence of allergic response, so we typically ask parents to wait until 8 months or so to introduce.

You can explore herbs and citrus squeezed on food to flavor, but I think the best thing to do is just leave all foods in their natural form. It may seem boring to us adults, but these foods pack a huge flavor punch to babies who have never had them before! If you can get your son enjoying the taste of fruits and veggies in their most simple form, he is more likely to enjoy them as he gets older, rather than just liking the taste of different herbs and spices.

MEGHA

Perfect thank you!
He gets about 28oz in a 24 hour period.

I try to make most of the food - how would I make the chicken? Just boil it? Steam?
What about lentils? Beans?
Is butter or ghee off limits because it’s dairy?

Vanessa
VANESSA

You can cook the chicken by boiling, steaming or baking. Be sure to cook thoroughly via your preferred method, then purée with a bit of water to a smooth consistency.

Same thing goes for beans and lentils! Purée and add water until smooth or cook well and mash if you’d prefer- just watch closely for signs of choking.

Butter and ghee are okay to add but do so gradually and don’t use more than 1/2 to 1 teaspoon at a time. There isn’t a lot of milk protein so an allergic reaction is unlikely, but both are high in fat content so a little goes a long way. Unless your son is struggling to gain weight, you don’t need to add a significant amount of fat to his diet just yet. And, similar to herbs and spices, we don’t want to add a ton to healthy foods to make them more palatable- a child who learns to like the true taste of fruits, veggies and healthy proteins is better off in the long run!

MEGHA

Fabulous! That is so helpful!

How many times a day would you suggest giving solids?
My son has no problem with weight (20lbs, 29inches).
He seems to be hungry before the 4 hour mark for the bottle so right now he gets 1 tablespoon whole grain oatmeal or whole grain rice cereal in the morning an hour after his first bottle, then 2 tablespoons veggies an hour after his second and third bottle. Last solid around 2:30p. His last bottle is around 6p.

Is that too much?

Vanessa
VANESSA

I think that sounds perfect! He will gradually start to take more over the next weeks but should maintain good formula intake. If you think solids are getting in the way of bottles, let me know and we can reassess.

VANESSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Suddenly stopped feeding himself
MEGAN, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

At 5,6, & 7 months my LO would feed himself if I put the spoon in his hand. Suddenly he won’t do it anymore! He just opens his mouth and waits for us to shovel it in. He eats tons too! Like today he ate 3 baby bullet servings with chicken & a container of applesauce!

How can I start baby led weaning? Why is he suddenly not using the spoon. I put little bites on his tray and he doesn’t put them in his mouth either, which confuses me cause he puts everything else in his mouth. But if I put up the finger foods he opens his mouth.

Not too sure what’s going on here. He is breastfed and I have him drinking water once or twice a day from a toddler bottle with a straw.

Vanessa
VANESSA

Hi Megan,

How long has it been since he started refusing to self-feed? If it has only been a few days, it may just be a phase he is trying out and might resolve on its own. It is interesting that he’s eating more, too— perhaps he is going through a growth spurt and feeling more hungry. He may be doing this as a way to satisfy his big hunger faster.

Either way, I would just keep offering finger foods or the spoon and let him keep playing with it. Some parents will do a sort of “modified BLW” and offer a mix of parent and self-fed foods. You could offer 1 serving of baby bullet chicken to help curb his hunger and then try some finger foods to see if he will take some on his own.

As always, remember to remain calm and positive at meals. Praise him for feeding himself but try not to show frustration when food doesn’t end up in his mouth. Let him play with and explore foods, then move on with your day.

Good luck!

MEGAN

It has been about a week of this behavior. I will follow your advice and see what happens. Prior each time he successfully got the spoon in his mouth I would clap and yell , “yay!” So I really don’t know why he would stop.

If I look at this on a timeline i would say it started about the same time I started the sleep training, there’s been some crying. I’m doing a combo of Ferber and soothe, he won’t cry for more than 10 min.

Vanessa
VANESSA

This could be his way of trying to figure out how Your relationship works and who is in charge of what when it comes to sleeping, eating, etc. Hang in there and keep doing what you’re doing. If it doesn’t resolve, let me know and we can troubleshoot!

MEGAN

I was more persistent this morning and he started feeding himself again! Very satisfied, thank you!

How do I know if baby led weaning is right for him? I am a little confused as to what it entails... I just put steamed vegetable in front of him and let him eat them? It seems dangerous and my baby tends to choke on non-puréed foods. I try to arrange my meals around his meal time... it’s tough though because I am not eating much anymore as I am trying to loose weight. And as for dinner with the husband... he doesn’t get home time after bedtime so we can’t all have dinner together anyways.

Vanessa
VANESSA

Glad to hear it! It sounds like you guys make a great team.

BLW might not be right for every family and you can absolutely raise a healthy eater using a more traditional approach, so don’t feel pressure. That being said, it can be a good route for kids who are interested in eating and like to try it on their own. As you pointed out, there is a risk of choking so it’s important to monitor closely. You can expect your child to gag with some foods, but this won’t necessarily lead to choking. BLW enthusiasts feel this is actually a good learning experience for babies and helps them to eat safely in the future.

If you do choose to try BLW, put easy to grasp foods on his tray and let him try to feed himself. One important point is to make sure the food is in larger sized pieces that he can grab himself- not tiny bite-sized pieces as this can increase the choking hazard.