A couple months ago I was sitting down with my website design guy Lucas (who also happens to be my husband Mike’s best friend from childhood) and we stumbled upon the topic of Baby Led Weaning (BLW). Up until this point I had heard a little about BLW here and there from some of my crunchier mommy friends but pretty quickly dismissed it as crazy hippy parenting. Something about it from coming from Lucas made me pay attention. Lucas and his wife Kaylea have an 18 month old son Henry and they had massive success with BLW. Now Henry eats whatever they eat. That sounded amazing to me. That’s right, we have become THOSE parents who cook separate meals for our older kids, especially our son Holden who hasn’t eaten a vegetable knowingly since 2009. Typically when you have multiple children you just continue doing what you know and what has worked in the past, but when it comes to spoon feeding our older kids and meal time we have crashed and burned.Holden after a meal of pureed sweet potatoes
Holden was a sensitive little guy right from when he made his entrance into the world. As Holden grew, his sensitivities turned into anxiety. Holden’s biggest anxiety trigger is food. Spoon feeding Holden purees was a dreaded task in our home. As Holden grew we succumbed to his narrow palette as we were just too burnt out to fight him on it. To this day when we place even one of his favourite meals in front of him just the thought of eating it can set off a panic attack. This terrible habit of offering our kids a very basic menu rubbed off on our fantastic eater, Beau. Although she is much more adventurous than Holden, when she is around her brother, it’s monkey see, monkey do. It truly saddens me that Holden purely eats out of necessity and doesn’t enjoy a delicious meal.
The concept of BLW is simple: your baby eats finger foods only. No purees. Instead of spoon feeding purees, then lumpy food and eventually graduating to finger foods, your baby gets finger foods right from start and teaches herself to eat. Although this concept has been around for years, Gill Rapley, a public health nurse became curious about this method and while researching it Gill started calling it Baby Lead Weaning. Nancy Murkett, a freelance writer became curious about BLW and decided to put it to use with her own children. After Nancy’s success the two teamed up and put all of their knowledge on the subject into a book: Baby Lead Weaning, The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up to Be a Happy and Confident Leader.
For the first while, introducing finger foods will be all about exploration. Not about filling our girl’s tummies. Mia and Everly are very satisfied with their bottles, so I am completely fine with them getting down and dirty with learning about textures and tastes for a while. I love that the food should be presented on a full tummy, so just after a bottle has been given. That way there will be no frustration. At first the foods need to be longer stick sizes so they can grip it with their fists. Almost any foods go, keeping within the traditional guidelines such as holding off nuts, egg yolk and honey for the first year or so. Also keeping obvious sizes and textures age appropriate as well. It is also important to keep the salt intake to a minimum or none at all as it is difficult for babies to digest at such a young age. Once our girls get a hang of it we can start offering a few different food groups at once. I think our first foods will be steamed carrots and toast sticks. Because we will never be bringing the foods to Mia and Everly’s mouths, they will be in control and should develop a great relationship with food.
Aside from the healthier eating habits and positive experience with food I am really excited about how much time will be saved by not spooning each bite into our girl’s mouths. I look forward to having Mia and Everly join our family at the table for meals in their high chairs and while keeping a close eye on them eating, we also can be enjoying the same meal. The messy exploration that is sure to ensue will also add a lot of entertainment to meal time, especially for Holden and Beau!
We can start BLW at six months when our girls show signs of readiness. Those signs are: they are able to sit up with little or no support, they can bring objects to their mouths and are making chewing movements and gnawing on their toys. Our girls just need to work a little more on their sitting over the next few weeks before they turn six months.
Mike and I are looking at this new journey as an opportunity to overhaul our whole family’s nutrition. We are planning on getting back to the basics, eating a lot of plant based meals and eliminating the pre packaged boxed foods that we have unfortunately have turned to in times of desperation. We will be documenting our journey along the way, including each win and fail. I can truly say I am very excited to allow Mia and Everly to explore food instead of denying them the food they have been trying to steal off our plates for a couple months now.
Let’s start a conversation about BLW! I would love to hear your success stories and struggles about starting solids with your little ones! Follow Nesting Story on Facebook and Instagram for frequent updates!