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Do’s and Don’ts of starting solids with Baby led Weaning (BLW)

There are lots of questions floating around the internet about starting solids with Baby led Weaning: Can you start with purees and switch to baby led weaning? Is it ok to mix purees and finger foods? When is baby ready to start BLW? How do you serve food and in what shape? Can baby have added sugars, salt, eggs, peanuts? What about introducing your baby to cow’s milk??

Here are a few tips to get started answering some of these Baby led Weaning FAQs. For a more in-depth info and 125 recipes, check out my book “The Parents’ Guide to Babyled Weaning.”

Baby led Weaning Do’s

1) Timing is important:

Don’t rush into starting solids, but don’t wait too long either! Wait until your baby can actually sit on their own, with  support. They need enough neck and trunk strength to get food to their mouth, without needing arms for balance. An interest in food is another sign of readiness. As is age (around 6 months). For more about when to start Baby...

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When can I start solids with Baby Led Weaning?

"My baby is six months or older doesn't sit unsupported, so I'm not feeding him solids yet." I hear this over and over in my Baby Led Weaning Facebook Group. There's seems to be this myth out there that baby needs to sit on his own independently for a minute, two minutes, maybe five minutes - before starting baby led weaning or self feeding. I'm not sure where this came from. Even Gill Rapley, the creator of the term "Baby Led Weaning" has an article on her website and she explicitly states there's NO "60- second rule".

Two of my own babies didn't sit fully unsupported on their own for any length of time until they were eight, maybe closer to nine months. But certainly they were able to self feed before this age. I've also confirmed this with the Occupational Therapist that I work with: baby does not need to sit unsupported on their own before starting solids.

They do, however, need to be able to sit with support. Your baby does need to have enough strength in their trunk or body...

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Best Tools for Baby Led Weaning

babyled weaning blw Oct 12, 2018

What do you NEED to start your baby on solids? A high chair and food- that's it really! I do get questions about the best cup, bib, spoons etc for Baby Led Weaning a lot though. So here are (affiliate) links to some of my favourites!

Stokke Tripp Trapp high chairs are great, and pull right up to the table. You can get an infant attachment for a baby, and the chair can grow with your child. I have two, and adults frequently use them too (they hold up to 200 lbs).

Another similar option is the Keekaroo

For the budget-friendly high chair, try the Ikea Antilop for $20 (+$5 for a tray)

I used a standard Graco high chair. I like the large tray with a lip, making it slightly more difficult for your child to swipe food on the floor!

Under High-Chair Mess

Plastic Computer Mat for under the high chair. Easy to wipe off. You can also get these at an office supply store, like Staples.

Other options include a drop cloth or plastic table cloth, that you can shake outside...

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Help, my baby is not eating enough!

Are you worried that your baby is not eating enough food? Wondering how they subsist mostly on milk (or even air?!) some days?

Or maybe you just came from a visit to the doctor or health nurse, and were concerned about your baby's (or toddler's or child's) growth. First of all, you are the parent. You know your baby best. Trust your baby - and you will do a great job! Often recommendations about how much your baby should be eating come from health care providers who are short on time and are just following the standard (and sometimes old) recommendations. Some are not parents themselves, or they may not be very familiar with current infant feeding practices.

It's common to see government-produced handouts with a days worth of food for the average baby or toddler. I have had many parents come to me, concerned that their baby isn't eating even close to the amounts listed in these guidelines. Heck, my 18 month old doesn't eat this much and some days my 5 year old doesn't either!


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Should you Delay Introducing Grains to your Baby?

I keep on hearing around the internet that babies should not be fed grains before age 1. Maybe age 2.  The reason given is that until that age, babies don’t make enough amylase, an enzyme that digests complex carbohydrates. Sounds scientific. But what about the complex carbs in fruits and veggies. I’ve never heard to delay vegetables…this theory sounds like a bit fishy. A shoot-off from the anti-grain-diet popularity in the adult world. Which is a bit sad, really. Transferring the newest fad diet onto our babies?! But maybe there is proof of this. Although I haven’t seen one reference on the opinion blogs I read on this topic, so I am skeptical. But if there is, I certainly want to know, as a mom of young kids and dietitian specializing in babies! So here’s what I found out.

Amylase is present in saliva as well as produced by the pancreas. To look first at salivary amylase, it’s important to know that very little digestion occurs in the...

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Baby Led Weaning on Global Calgary

Check out my appearance on Global Calgary for Calgary's Child Magazine. I was discussing Baby Led Weaning including why you would choose this method of introducing solids, the risks and how to alleviate them, and some good starter foods:

If you want to learn more, click here to sign up for my free webinar: "How to Get Started With Baby Led Weaning."

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When to Start Solids

I’m often surprised by at hearing from moms that their under 4 month-old baby has started solids. Sometimes it’s even under doctor recommendation! How I would love to give some health professionals an update on infant nutrition more recent than 1982….. Anyways, many parents are eager to start solids too young. Common excuses include “my baby is too big” (but…. Breast milk is more calorie-dense than most solids!). Or at the other end of the spectrum “My baby is too small” (but again…. Breast milk is more calorie-dense than most solids!).

So when should you start your baby on solids? There are lots of things to consider. While official guidelines have changed over the years, the current guideline in Canada is to start solids at about 6 months of age. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended until 6 months to protect your baby from GI and respiratory infections. But besides just age, it’s also important to look for...

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Gagging vs Choking

Watch my video discussing how to prevent gagging and choking here:

When introducing lumpy pureeds or finger foods to their baby, many parents are afraid of choking. Especially if their baby has a sensitive gag reflex and makes those awful gagging noises every time they eat! However, it’s important to know that gagging isn’t the same thing as choking. Gagging is normal and it’s not dangerous, just bringing up the food to chew some more before it goes back down! Gagging is a part of the learning to eat process for many infants. With choking on the other hand, your baby won’t be making any noise (so those gagging sounds are actually a good thing!), as their air pipe is blocked. They will turn blue and can’t breathe. This is why it’s important to know infant CPR, always watch your baby while they eat, and avoid choking hazards

Choking hazards for kids less than 4 years old include popcorn, full peanuts or nuts, seeds, fish with bones, hard candies,...

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Responsive feeding for baby

The newest Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants encourages "Responsive Feeding." This is based on baby's hunger and fullness cues. It also encourages offering some finger foods from age 6 months, and offering fluids using only an open cup. What does all of this look like? My 7 month old son will demonstrate in this video:

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5 Tips to Get Enough Iron when using Baby Led Weaning

One of the main 'beefs' many health professionals have with Baby Led Weaning (BLW) is the challenge of feeding your baby iron-rich foods.  As much as I love BLW, the concern about iron intake is real. A variety of studies in Canadian children show the prevalence of iron deficiency to range from 12% - 64%. And this can lead to anemia, which may cause irreversible physical and mental effects, like delayed attention and social withdrawal. So in contrast to a common quote: food before 1 is not just for fun.

By 4-6 months, your babies iron stores from before birth start to run out, depending on many things: mom's iron levels during pregnancy, delayed cord clamping at birth and gestational age at birth. Eighty percent of babe’s iron stores are built up in the third trimester of pregnancy. So I guess that's one benefit to those extra 17, 9 and 9 days I went "overdue" with my own babies :)

Babies need 11 mg iron per day from 7-12 months of age...

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