Baby Led Weaning

Ok, before we begin. I'm no expert. I'm an early childhood teacher yes, but have limited experience with under 2s. This is simply what I've learnt from the research I've done and learnt "on the job" (as a mum to Camilla for 9 months and since starting food 3 months ago). 

Having such a negative relationship with food most of my life, it was very important to me to give Camilla the best chance of a healthy food relationship from day one. 
I did lots of research - Facebook forums, internet research and talking to friends who are mums and an allied health professionals, and decided that Baby Led Weaning (BLW) was right for us.

So what is BLW?
Essentially, it is when the baby leads the weaning process from milk to solids. It involves eating solids in all forms and textures in a process where the baby feeds themselves with a mixture of hands and/or cutlery. 
Why did we choose it? 
There are pros and cons to both BLW and Traditional Weaning (aka purée foods). The stand out benefits, and the reason we went with it, is it allows for intuitive eating, it helps develop hand coordination and grip coordination and strength, it broadens the types of foods, flavours and textures the baby can eat from a very young age, and it's easy - bub can eat what you're eating - no extra purée prep required!
Gagging and Coughing Are Okay
Good even! Learn the difference between choking and your baby's natural reflexes. I read that red and loud were good, blue and quiet were signs of choking. That helped me differentiate - I hope it helps you too.
Try Allllll The Foods
With supervision, there's not many foods your baby can't eat. So there's no need to stick to boring, bland foods. We've done soft tacos, risotto, lamb cutlets, fritters, pizza, omelettes, enchiladas, sushi, steak, salad, jaffles, wraps, sandwiches......the list goes on. 
There Will Be Mess
BLW isn't for those who can't handle mess. High chair, baby, floor. Food will be everywhere. It's kind of gross, but less gross than I thought. Somehow a sticky, messy baby that belongs to you is much more appealing than one that doesn't (in my experience!) 

Your Baby Might Not Eat Much
I reckon it took a week for Millie to start actually swallowing food. In the beginning - and still now - it's very much about exploring the food with all the senses. There's a lot of squishing, sucking, missing mouths, dropping on the floor. It's all normal. I use the "food is fun before one" theory - which believes a baby gets the nutrition they need from milk (boob or formula), and food is just a bonus.
Food Size
I read that, to start with, food should be the right size to hold in the hand in a Palmer grasp - and that's what I've gone with. As they mature and master eating and the pincer grip (I'll add photos of both grasps) the food can be served to suit that.
The theory behind bigger, palm sized portions is that it's less of a choking hazard (note I say less of - everything a baby puts in their mouth is a hazard and a risk (purée included). But it's how you , and they, manage the risk) because they can suck, chew and bite how much they can manage.

Anyway, BLW isn't for everyone - but it's right for us!! We are having so much fun with food and definitely learning every day.
Side note - the palmer grasp and pincer grip photos aren't mine. The pincer grip is from Feeding Littlies and palmer grasp is from Teach Early Years.

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