Updated: Jul 5, 2020
When one of the parents in our infant care asked if we support baby-led weaning (BLW), I was apprehensive and curious at the same time. Back then, her baby daughter was not on solids yet but I guess she was considering whether to try it out. This same persistent mummy worked hard at getting her precious one accustomed to BLW at home during the two-month circuit breaker and proudly told me just before we resumed school in mid-June that her baby was ready for BLW in school. Again, I was feeling worried with all these questions in my mind “What if the baby chokes”, “What should be the consistency”, “What if she doesn’t have enough to eat”, and so on. Three weeks later, Baby S is now happily chowing down soft solids like a champ in school. You can see for yourself from these pictures.
So what exactly is BLW and should you consider it? Here is a summary of what I have gleaned from my own research on BLW and through observing S in our infant care. In no particular order of importance, here are my top 5 things to note for any mother who might be considering BLW for their infant.
#1 Mummy knows best
The internet has suggested that you can start at 6 months. I have to say I do not think that this is the magical timeline for every baby. I would think that it is crucial that your baby can sit upright and steady before you embark on this otherwise there is a real risk of choking. You should also observe if your child has a keen interest in picking up items or generally has some level of eye hand coordination. Remember that all babies have some slight variations in timing when it comes to achieving the different gross and fine motor skills so it could also mean waiting out for another 2 weeks to a month after the 6-month mark.
#2 Start at home first
For two reasons – (1) It is important to find out how your baby reacts to solids first hand. I always make sure I am the first one to try out new things with all my three children (ahem because mothers know best). It is such an important milestone – why miss it? (2) Allergies! I find that it is safer that allergies be found out at home rather than in school. I also strongly recommend starting with single foods to weed out potential unknown allergies more easily. Note down the food that you have tried and check if these items are in the school menu.
#3 Breast milk or formula milk should still be the main source of nutrient
BLW is said to help infants monitor their own intake of food as they will be able to self-regulate if they have had enough to eat/drink. Generally, I think this is true but I have also heard of some “easy-going” babies who can be “insisted” into drinking more milk even when they are supposedly full and then there are also the feisty ones who require more coaxing. The temperament of the baby can play a part. Again, back to point #1 – be aware of the amount of milk your child takes in before and after BLW to be doubly sure that that bottle of milk that was skipped is due to the extra solids that was consumed by your baby. Of course, there is also the possibility that the baby is increasing his/her intake due to growth. Therefore, the key is to note patterns and trends so do jot down quantity of milk and food intake religiously in the beginning.
#4 Communicate with the school if you wish to embark on BLW
Work with the school if you want to embark on BLW to wean your infant into solids. Share everything about what you have tried at home with the baby, the texture, timing of feeds, how the baby is taking to it, etc. At Little Kinder Montessori Infant care, we believe that every baby is a unique individual. We actively engage families to know more and to work things out together to best suit the needs of the children under our care.
#5 Enjoy the process with baby
Think big picture - It need not be all or nothing. BLW or not, your baby will eventually learn to eat. So it is important that both yourself AND baby enjoy this special milestone. If the baby is receptive and is making good progress with independent food handling and chewing, great! If the baby is not as receptive and you do not feel confident enough, you could also consider implementing it partially (maybe just for snacks) - that is entirely fine too! In full spirit of BLW, let the baby take the lead…
Cheers and thank you, Mummy P! You really walked the talk. I am glad you persisted. Both myself and my teachers learnt something new and interesting through this journey too