Baby-Led Weaning Dinnertime Secrets

baby-led weaning dinnertime secretsWe did baby-led weaning with two of our three girls, so we have definitely learned a few things along the way. Here is some of the most pertinent advice that I regularly give to friends asking about how to go about baby-led weaning.

  • Wait. Your antsyness to begin the weaning process may be directly linked to how well nursing is going. If you are having a hard time with nursing, try to evaluate other aspects of your baby before going straight for food. Is she crawling? Using a pincer grasp? Still have her tongue-thrust reflex? If you said yes, baby may not be ready for real food. Nope, not even if she is grabbing things off your plate.
  • No assembly required. Sometimes it made sense not to combine the food items for baby that I was making for everyone else, such as pizza. I have a pizza I love to make that has grilled chicken, avocado, bacon and tomatoes that is perfect for toddlers just starting to feed themselves. But instead of putting the slice of pizza on her plate, I save off a portion of the individual toppings and serve them to her loose.
  • Don’t dumb down your food. The whole luxury of baby-led weaning is not having to make special meals, so it kind of makes me laugh when I see websites devoted to special baby-led weaning recipes. Our kids ate what we ate once we had introduced them to everything in plain, whole-food form. The only accommodations I made were keeping the spicy/hot factor low and not making large-scale finger food, like hamburgers. Other than that, there were no special recipes.
  • Learn to look for baby-friendly recipes. What makes the perfect BLW recipe? For me it’s something that won’t be super messy when she feeds herself, contains whole foods and not prepared ingredients like canned soups or processed cheeses, and doesn’t have crunchy bits, like nuts, croutons or hard veggies. I love this recipe from vegan foodie Thug Kitchen—the Tamale Pie is great, but we enjoy the filling alone as a great side to Mexican dishes, too. Just about anything with penne pasta is great for little ones, too. It’s a larger pasta and the recipes it’s in usually do not include much sauce.
  • Don’t overthink it. This is supposed to be easy and time saving! When in doubt, you can always offer and if it’s not a success, no big deal. Remember, food before one is just for fun anyway.

Remember to always supervise your baby while she’s eating. They seem so independent at this stage, but often you’ll find them trying to eat everything at once. If your baby doesn’t seem to understand that you have to swallow before you can eat more, limit what’s in her reach.

If they are having trouble with a particular food, resist the urge to help problem solve. BLW is all about the learning curve, and at this stage, much of what they are doing is learning about how to handle different shapes and forms of food. Baby will figure it out eventually, and that is what it’s all about—being there to help if needed but let baby doing the hard work of exploring her world.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.

 

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