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The Basics of Holistic Baby Led Weaning

If you want to know what the hype is about Baby Led Weaning, this post is for you! I feel like BLW has become more talked about lately although the concept has been around for years.


There are 2 main methods of feeding your baby- the Baby Led Weaning route or the traditional spoon fed purees. BUT it doesn't have to be one or the other, do what you (and your babe) are comfortable with! And as with everything, consult your pediatrician for any concerns you have.

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First off, What IS Baby Led Weaning?


Baby Led Weaning is a method of feeding your baby by letting them have all of the control. Babies are given solid foods (think table foods or "real people food") that are prepared and served based on their age and ability to chew and swallow. I love using the Solid Starts app for looking up HOW to serve different foods to Addy.


The goal is to give babies a chance to learn how to chew foods before their gag reflex becomes less sensitive (which happens around 9 months old). The gag reflex is so important because this prevents baby from choking, so when baby gagging is normal and good! There are some amazing stories of babies finding a small object on the floor, putting it in their mouths, and spitting it out because of the skills they learned doing BLW!


It also gives them the independence of learning to feed themselves while helping them realize when they're full. They are introduced to a variety of textures which can limit picky eating later on, plus they have access to some extremely good nutrient dense whole foods.


WAIT! What should you know before you start?


It is advised to start BLW when your child shows ALL signs of readiness.





CPR Classes


The most important must have for doing BLW or just in general is knowing how to help a choking baby and an unresponsive baby. Regardless of what method you do, this is a lifesaving skill that you NEED to know.. and I promise it will make you feel more at ease as your little one grows! *Make sure anyone caring for your child is also CPR Certified like babysitters, grandparents, etc!


Learn the difference between Choking Vs. Gagging


I recommend learning the difference between choking and gagging before starting solids.


Choking is when food gets lodged in the throat and blocks the airway. Baby will not be able to breath and first aid will need to be performed immediately. This is every parents worst nightmare and the exact reason you should be CPR certified, so that you know the exact steps to take if this were to happen.


Gagging is a natural response that your body does to bring food forward that was too big to be swallowed and needs to be chewed. At 7-9 months old, the gag reflex is located around the middle of the tongue (intentionally so food isn't near the throat and won't result in choking!) As babies get older, the gag reflex moves backwards towards the back of the throat like an adults. Gagging is a big part of learning to eat (its an entirely new skill!) but it is a natural response and you'll want to let baby work this out themselves. Intervening can actually cause more harm so it's important to learn the difference.


You can make yourself familiar by watching videos of other BLW babies, following some BLW accounts, and spending some time researching until you feel completely confident.


Both Solid Starts and Thriving Foundations have great resources that teach you the difference and can help prepare you for your BLW journey.


What Supplies do you need to start BLW?

You don't have to run out and buy a bunch of things to start BLW with your baby, they will be using their hands for most of it anyways! (although I did!)


We chose to go a unique route with a more Montessori approach (think, real world items)


Below are the items we use & why!


Plates and Utensils

-We chose real glass plates and glasses. My reason for doing this is to teach Addy to respect our dishes from early on. Plus, I think it's too enticing for a baby to rip off a suctioned plate from their highchair. Not having a suctioned silicone plate is less temptation to throw it off the table, and means less flying dishes! We tried several different utensils and Addy loves them all, but she is most successful with these!





Highchair

-We love this highchair! It's a bit on the pricey side but it has so many great features and is created so that baby is in the most ergonomic position. Babies get SO messy while eating regardless of the method you choose and this highchair makes clean up a breeze. It also has an adjustable footrest which can be adjusted with just the turn of a knob, which allows their feet to brace and ensure they have good posture while eating. The restraints can be removed and it can be used as a regular chair too!


Bib

-Any kind of bib will work but we really like this silicone bib that catches food that Addy drops. Plus it's easy to wipe down after each meal and she sometimes digs inside for more food to eat!


Placemat

-Although the Nomi does come with a tray attachment, we choose to have Addy at the table with us. This is so important as we foster a family relationship, socialization, and act as role models for her. We put this placemat down for easy clean up.

Storage Containers

-When it comes to storage we always opt for plastic free options to make sure nothing is getting into her food. These glass containers are a smaller version of what we use and are great quality!



You can find all of our favorite BLW products here.






What should you FEED your baby?

What you feed your baby matters! We want to give Addy the best chance at living a long healthy life and the food we initially feed her plays a huge role in that!


Spoiler alert; baby oatmeal that you find at the grocery store most likely isn't the best option!


Click here to listen to my podcast with Dr. Alyssa Schrank from ThrivingFoundations where we discuss all things Holistic BLW and what foods will support baby and their growing bodies and set them up for success!






What was your baby's first food? Let me know in the comments!


Always, Jess

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