I’m not going to go in to the exact theory and mechanics behind baby-led weaning. If you’d like to read more, I suggest checking out the baby-led weaning website, Gill Rapley’s website and maybe even the wikipedia entry on it. The NHS also do a great leaflet on introducing solid foods that doesn’t exactly recommend BLW but does say that children who are weaned at six months don’t need to be spoon-fed for long. It’s also important to check out their guidelines as to what constitutes readiness in terms of weaning.
So, what are the rules for BLW in our house?
1. Seth eats what we eat, mainly. I don’t prepare him special meals at all, which means that we all eat healthily. I wouldn’t eat a mashed up combination of parnsip and apple and I wouldn’t expect him to eat a Big Mac.
2. He feeds himself. This is kind of an obvious one but still worth stating. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t eat with a spoon, he LOVES a spoon! It gets put on his highchair along with other finger foods so that he can pick and choose what he wants.
3. He eats at the same time as us. This means that he gets to enjoy a meal with mum and dad, or whoever’s house he happens to be at. I’m pretty insistent on this one actually because if he ate on his own, it would mean that whoever was looking after him would just be staring at him, watching him eat – not a pleasant experience. My mum came round to give him his tea whilst D and I had a financial advisor round once. It wasn’t tea time for my mum but it sure was for Seth so she brought a few snacks round to eat whilst he was having his food.
4. We don’t eat in silence. I learned this from the very first time we gave Seth food and filmed it sneakily: when I watched it back the silence was deafening! Since then, I always have the radio on and I talk to him a lot when we are on our own. We don’t watch TV though, that’s a no-no.
5. Relax. I don’t rush to his aid every time he seems to be struggling to pick up a piece of carrot or has shoved the spoon in his ear – he’ll figure it out. He also went through a phase of putting All The Food in his mouth at the same time and then not being able to swallow or spit anything out because there was just too much in there. My instinct was to dive in and scoop it all out for him but I let him work it out (whilst I quietly sweated in my seat). Eventually, he just reached in and pulled strips of pear, sweet potato and goodness knows what else out with his hand. Genius.
Other tips are: pelican bibs (great for catching stuff that would otherwise end up lap-bound), Sainsbury’s Basics shower curtains cut in half and laid down underneath the highchair (prevents too much mess on your floor and because they’re clean, you can offer food that accidentally ended up there), and a steam mop!
There are also some great hints and tips about the whole thing here.