If you are reading this, I’m going to go ahead and assume that you’ve decided on going the baby-led weaning route. Congratulations!!! This is exciting news, and I promise you will be glad you’ve made this choice and will not look back (well, maybe just to see if your babe really flung that spaghetti sauce onto the wall, ha!)! As I mentioned in my last post, Baby-Led Weaning (BLW): What It Is & The Benefits, you are doing you and your child a HUGE service by choosing this method. So, what’s next?! I get loads of questions from people wondering how to prepare for baby-led weaning. In this post, I share all my favorite tips to help you prepare to make baby-led weaning as safe, easy, fun, and stress-free as possible.
Side note for timeline purposes: The baby-led weaning method recommends that you introduce solids no earlier than six months (when most babies’ digestive tracts are developed and ready to digest food) so preparing any time before this is ideal so you’re ready as soon as they’re ready. That said, you can start baby-led weaning anytime after six months, it’s never too late! For Little Miss, I remember starting to read the baby-led weaning book I recommend below when she was about four months and took a “read as you go” approach. Without further ado, I present you with tips to prepare for baby-led weaning so you can go into it with confidence!
How to Prepare For Baby-Led Weaning
Buy and Start Reading: Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods-and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater
- I recommend getting this book when your little one is around 4 months or earlier so you can get started.
- This book will be your go-to resource for all things baby-led weaning. I took a “read as you go” approach so the information was fresh in my brain as we moved through different stages.
Learn the Difference Between Gagging and Choking [http://foodandwellnessfix.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/720p.mov]
- Choking is the biggest anxiety parents typically have when it comes to starting baby-led weaning. And you may also be anxious about what everyone around you who hasn’t heard of or seen baby-led weaning in action might think. The baby-led weaning book above addresses this and also gives encouraging examples of how you can talk to concerned family members and friends. DON’T let people deter you from going forward with it; put on your trailblazer pants people! Once they see the benefits of baby-led weaning they will be wondering why they didn’t use it!
- “…there is no evidence to suggest that your baby is at higher risk of choking with BLW than with spoon-feeding. This is thanks to your baby’s in-built gag reflex, which is located close to the front of her mouth. Your baby’s gag reflex triggers automatic retching, if food or other objects get too close to her airways. Because her gag reflex is much closer to the front of her mouth, you may even see your baby gag if she puts her hands or a teething toy in her mouth.” Julie Clark
- Watch this video to learn about choking vs gagging and what to do if choking does occur.
- On a personal note, my girls never choked. However, they did gag multiple times as a natural result of learning to swallow and manipulate food. You’ll be amazed by how quickly they become masters of clearing food that isn’t the right size, shape, or texture. An added bonus to this learned skill is that it reaches beyond food . . . not that my babies ever put non-food items in their mouths . . . ;).
Get Your Hands on This Kitchen Gear
- Upright highchair or baby feeding seat: Look for an option that will be easy to clean (minimal nooks, crannies, and cloth). I liked this one because of its versatility and easy to clean design. I could put it on the counter so my babes could be part of the cooking experience, secure it to a chair for meal times, or even bring it with us camping.
- Durable bowl and cup: Look for a simple, durable, open cup that they can easily hold. You don’t need anything fancy and probably already have one around. I found that bowls with suction cups on the bottom are nice during the throwing phases. Plates? I didn’t bother until they got older and just used the built-in tray of their high chair (less clean-up!).
- Eating Utensils: Choose something that is easy to grip and the appropriate size for their little mouths. The spoon above is great when they haven’t quite mastered getting food into their mouths (a smaller silicon one would be even better as this one is a bit wide). Once their aim improves I recommend the set below.
- Silicone bib: This bib takes two seconds to clean up, catches loads of food (that you will see your babe dig around for when they are ready for seconds), and doesn’t require laundry. YES PLEASE!!! If the weather is nice go au natural and let your babe dine in their diaper. This is honestly my favorite (hence the origins of “Naked Eating”) because clean up is a breeze with a fun sink bath that allows you to clean up baby and meal mess!
Connect with Baby-Led Weaning Resources
- Explore and bookmark baby-led weaning websites, YouTube channels, and Instagram accounts. This will not only provide inspiration for recipe ideas, but will also show you that you are not alone in your journey and give you ideas to make this a fun process!
After Six Months, Look for Signs that Your Baby is Ready
- Can sit up and hold head up on own
- Shows interest in food
- Tries to grab food when near it
- Developing a “pincer” grasp, where babe picks up objects between thumb and forefinger
- Even if they are showing all these signs before six months, try to hold out to prevent upset tummies from mal-digested foods
Go Into It with the Right Mindset
- Baby-led weaning has so many benefits, but it can also be hard to give up control to your little one as you support them to build a healthy and fulfilling relationship with food. Things are not going to be a tidy as feeding your babe yourself, BUT if you can shift your perspective from trying to hurry things along and keeping everything clean to one of fun, exploration, and building independence for your little one everything seems to come together; including a larger shift in life to one of enjoying the moment and placing emphasis on what really matters: being fully present in the experiences we get to share together.
As you prep for baby-led weaning, enjoy the process and don’t psych yourself out, like most things in life, you prepare the best you can and then the “real” learning takes place through doing it. Now, get your to-do list and highlighter out and prepare yourself for the FUN and WILD meal times coming your way!
Help me out baby led weaning veterans, what did I miss??? Please share your favorite tips on prepping for baby-led weaning below.
To your commitment in raising healthy, happy, and independent eaters! Chris