Ever since I started this blog and wrote about our success with baby led weaning many moms have written to me asking for baby led weaning tips. Everyone wants to know what it is that we do at home that leads to a non-fussy eater at age 2.
Yes, baby led weaning plays a huge role in independence and confidence at the table from the very beginning. In fact I spoke about the many benefits of baby led weaning in a recent post.
But there were also things we did as parents that set him up for success.
I will share here my top 5 tips to baby led weaning success.
BABY LED WEANING TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- Educate yourself
Before you start baby led weaning, educate yourself on the basics of infant nutrition. As parents, you should know which foods are rich in iron, calcium, protein. Which foods are easy for baby to digest?
Plan your family meals keeping in mind your baby’s need for a well-balanced meal. Read the previous post for baby led weaning ideas for first foods.
Just because its okay to give finger foods to baby led weaning babies does not mean you toss other infant nutrition advice out the window.
Many baby led weaning families modify their diets to a more balanced and clean eating one, in order to set an example for their children. In turn, you gain some new healthy eating habits yourself. It’s a win-win for all.
Offer a variety of fruits and veggies at meal time and expose the baby to a variety of textures and flavors of foods.
Research about the different allergenic foods and your own family history with these foods in order to avoid any last minute doctor visits.
Rules like no salt, sugar or honey before age 1 should be followed regardless of weaning styles. In short, in order to succeed at baby led weaning, do your research before you start the weaning process.
- Prepare for the mess
Carve out a routine for meal times, so it doesn’t end up becoming overwhelming for you to handle the mess.
Sometimes, well if I am honest, many a time you may need to give your child a mini shower after the meal. Food gets stuck in hair and behind the ears.
Once you go in mentally prepared for anything you are more relaxed and willing to continue on the baby led weaning route.
- Non-choking foods
Personally, I didn’t risk it with any food that felt even a little hard when pressed between my fingers. The rule was offer foods that can be smushed between your thumb and forefinger.
Do not shove your finger in the babies mouth to place or remove any pieces. This can in fact cause choking. They need to move their own tongue and manage it.
Always check that baby is sitting upright when eating. I found it easier to keep straps off the high chair to facilitate quick movement in case I needed to pat him on the back.
Here is a list of foods that are considered a choking hazard.
- Whole Nuts
- Whole Seeds
- Hard raw fruits (e.g. Apples and Pears)
- Foods with thick peel (e.g. grapes, plums, tomatoes)
- Lotus Seeds (e.g. Makhane)
- Raw salad leaves
- Big chunks of meat
- Bony Fish
For a more detailed idea of what foods to avoid, I found this link by the New Zealand Ministry of Health very helpful.
It is also highly recommended you take an infant CPR class. Just so you can calm those anxious nerves.
There will be gagging and lots of it. But it’s important to note that this is a normal part of learning how to chew. When babies take a big bite of food the gag reflex helps protect them from choking and pushes food out.
You need to sit close and watch how your baby is managing. As long as baby is coughing and making sounds it’s a normal gag reflex. When choking the baby stops making sounds and may turn blue. Read here to understand choking signs in infants under 1.
Choking rarely happens in baby led weaning babies that are offered appropriate foods.
- Parental modeling of good eating behavior
This is the key to success with baby led weaning. Sit with your baby at the table and model eating behaviors. Show them how you dip the patty in the sauce and then eat. How you mix the dal and rice with a spoon and feed yourself.
Your baby will learn how to eat correctly and even use cutlery just by observing you every day at the table. By 11 months of age, our son was eating his oat porridge with a spoon. We had great success with this mirroring technique.
Parental modeling shows how you enjoy different foods on the plate too, be it beans and rice or veggies. Your child sees you eat a variety of foods and this encourages him to try everything you try.
Many parents show great interest and give huge applause when their babies taste ice creams or chocolates the first time.
Why not try this technique of positive reinforcement with vegetables and other foods too. Applaud their efforts when they try a new food for the first time.
It all boils down to your own personal likes and dislikes when it comes to healthy eating. Your children are going to follow suit. They learn about foods from you. So let’s encourage healthy eating and participate as a family to make it long lasting.
- Don’t stress
I was a fussy eater myself as a child, so I know first hand what effect parental stress can have on a child’s eating behavior. Relax, no baby is going to eat everything in the exact same quantity every time.
There will be days with no appetite, there will be days with no interest. Learn to go with the flow. This is one of the biggest baby led weaning tips I can give as an experienced mother.
The more you stress, the more you start to exert control and from there on it’s a never-ending battle with fussy eating.
It takes babies and toddlers up to 10 exposures to start enjoying a new flavor. So give them time to learn to like things on their plate. Don’t be in a rush to make them eat everything.
Trust me when I say this, the less you stress on the quantity of food your child eats, the more your child eats.
Even when baby led weaning babies enter their toddler years, understand common toddler eating problems and learn to tackle them skillfully.
These are the 5 baby led weaning tips that I can give you as an experienced mom. Like everything else in parenting, baby led weaning also requires patience and a relaxed attitude by the parent for true success.
Related reading : Baby led weaning ideas for lazy/buzy days
I hope this article helps calm your nerves as you start the process of baby led weaning. Are you an experienced baby led weaning mom, what points do you believe contributed to success with baby led weaning in your home? Drop me a line below.