15 June 2020, by E-van and Terry
Have you ever heard of Baby-Led Weaning? It has become popular amongst parents these days and more across the globe seem to be adopting this new trend for their babies.
Baby-Led Weaning (BLW): A method of food progression, BLW facilitates the development of age-appropriate oral motor control while maintaining eating as a positive, interactive experience. In a nutshell, baby-led weaning means skipping spoon-feeding purees and letting babies feed themselves finger foods right from the start—at about age 6 months.
I came to learn about it through my sister, years ago when my nephew practiced BLW:
What a cute Lil pea! So of course, seeing how this little guy self-fed at such a young age got me really interested to try it out with Raphael.
When we first started the BLW journey, to be honest, it was quite nerve-racking to see your baby gagging on his food. I held it off after a couple of episodes of gagging because it made me anxious. It is perfectly normal for them to gag as they are fine-tuning their skills of learning how to eat; chew and swallow.
Babies have a very good gag reflex, better than us adults! Gagging is nature’s way of protecting their airway and a normal response to new tastes, temperatures, or textures. Also, do not belittle these toothless babies. Their gums are actually very strong and they are well capable of chewing food! Of course, during the first few months, I made sure to steam his food to the point where it was very soft.
A baby can learn to feed themselves with a spoon as early as 6 months old. But maybe only 2% of the food, with a spoon or not, actually makes it into their mouth/stomach. I have decided not to let Raphael use a spoon until he’s older, maybe after 12 or 18 months, when I feel that he understands the concept of using a spoon better because truth be told, I can’t get over the [even] more messy meal.
I would still spoon feed him foods like porridge, oatmeal, or yogurt. Otherwise he will be smacking it or swirling the food violently albeit happily. The nearby carpet and Terry’s toy collection as well as paintings will get the brunt of it. And I actually also enjoy feeding him when I get to!
For a long while, there were many foods I didn’t dare to introduce to him as I was afraid of an allergic reaction, a fear that is very common amongst parents. Raphael showed some mild reactions (a red patch near his mouth) toward food like wheat, eggs and tomatoes. We have seen the specialist for this and the results came back negative for allergies. YAY! But still, we will be taking it slow for high allergenic foods. These are what most of his meals look like.
Now that he’s 11 months old (omg), he is getting better at his pincer grip, meaning his thumb and index finger. Which explains why the food is cut up that way, to help him practice that motor skill. Before that everything has to be cut up in long strips so it’s easier for younger babies to grab food with their palmar grasp.
And since I’m on this topic, here are some foods that are a big no-no for babies:
1) Honey – clostridium bacteria usually thrive in soil and dust, can be found in honey, and can cause infant botulism.
2) Round foods such as blueberries or grapes and even the rounded end of a carrot should be smashed or cut into quarter-sized to avoid it being choking hazards.
3) High allergenic foods like egg whites, shellfish, wheat, and peanut (butter). Get the clear from your pediatrician first! We got ours 😊
And lastly, hard nuts. Here is why:
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this entry and learned some things about baby-led weaning. Raphael definitely enjoys this journey very much. Ending off this entry with a cheeky, messy Raphael!