As Avery has approached 6 months, I started to think about introducing solid food to her. Recommendations have changed over the years, and Dr.’s are no longer recommending feeding babies under 6 months old anything but formula or breastmilk.
 
As any new mom does, I searched online for information on starting her on food, to get some ideas for recipes and to find out what kind of order to introduce foods in. It was then that I came across an article on Baby Led Weaning, also known as BLW.
 
The entire premise behind BLW is that the baby controls it’s intake of food from the very beginning. A variety of foods are offered to the child, and in the beginning most babies will play with and explore the foods. Slowly, so the article claims, over time, babies will go from licking and sucking goods to chewing and eventually swallowing. There are no purees, there is no fuss- just a baby exploring its world through taste and texture.

It sounded really logical to me. Let the baby feed herself from the get go. No stress. Nothing for me to make, nothing for me to get frustrated about when she spit back out whatever pureed concoction I spooned into her mouth. All it would be a matter of would be to offer fruit and vegetables(and eventually meat and grains) in manageable sized pieces while she sits supervised in her high chair.
 
Some people might worry that choking is a hazard for babies who are given chunks of food from the start and allowed at have at it. But, apparently, choking is not a hazard at all, because babies are not able to move food to the back of their mouths until they have learned how to chew. To quote one study:
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Many parents are used to the idea of giving babies puréed food and to some, giving such a young child finger food might sound dangerous. However, babies weaned using the baby-led method are actually less likely to choke on their food, as they are not capable of moving food from the front of the mouth to the back until they have learned to chew.[1] In turn, they do not learn to chew until they have learned to grasp objects and place them in their mouth. Therefore the baby's general development keeps pace with her ability to manage food.


 As the child sits upright while eating, if it gets a piece of food too far back in its mouth, it will generally promptly clear it itself by gagging or coughing the piece out.
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Even though Avery is not quite 6 months, we have gone ahead and started, because she was showing us she was ready. She would grab at our food and watch intently while we ate. And, since it is baby led, why not let her start to explore?


Here are a few photos from her first experience with banana:
There are a few things to remember about BLW

 - Babies must be showing signs of readiness before food is offered
 - Babies should be 6 months old
 - Ideally BLW works best for breastfed babies, as the jaw motion required for breastfeeding is a
pre-cursor to chewing
- Babies should always be supervised when eating

For more information on BLW, see this website or check out the Wikipedia article.
 


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