Starting solids and what is BLW (baby led weaning)?

Starting solids and what is BLW (baby led weaning)?

Have you noticed your little one watching you intently as you eat and drink? Maybe they're reaching for things as you are literally putting them in your mouth, or making babbling sounds to get your attention! Yep, they are getting ready to start eating solids (or more accurately- puree's in the beginning).

Its important to know, that your baby gets all the nutrition they need to grow and develop in the first 6 months, from breast milk, or formula. You do not need to worry about introducing solids earlier than 6 months because your babies kidneys and digestion might not be developed enough to cope with solid food. Also they may not be able to cope with swallowing food, and this poses a choking risk.

Your baby is probably around the 6 month age. This is when most babies start showing interest, and readiness to start solids. All babies are different, and will show these signs at different times. But for most, its around 4-6 months.

So what are the signs? Here are some things that your baby might be doing, or that you might be noticing, that show them preparing and being ready to try solids for the first time

  • can hold their head up well, and sit upright when supported
  • are interested in watching you eat
  • they reach out, or open their mouth when watching you eat
  • put their hands and toys in their mouth
  • making chewing movements
  • easily open their mouth when you touch their lip with a spoon, or bring a spoon to their mouth, and their tongue doesn't push the food out
  • move food to the back of their mouth and swallow
  • get excited when they see you preparing food, and open their mouth
  • lean towards you in their highchair
  • open their mouth as your about to feed them

These are some signs to watch out for that show your baby is NOT ready to start solids

  • turn their head away when offered food
  • shut their mouth
  • losing interest or getting distracted
  • pushing the spoon away

Once you have established that your baby is ready to start solids, you can begin to have some fun!

Try a range of nutritious foods, ensuring that the texture of the food is nice and smooth (like puree) at first, until your baby is confident chewing and swallowing. You can then gradually make the texture more of a soft mash. Offering a range of foods allows your baby to enjoy a variety of food tastes and textures.

Soft foods are those that can be easily squished between your finger and thumb or on the roof of your mouth with your tongue. Use this as a guide if your not sure if the food is soft enough.

Its also important to note, than when you first start solids, you should be satisfying your babies immediate hunger with breastmilk, or formula before offering food so they are calm, and content.

Now as much as the market throws these special baby food making products in our faces, and insists we need them for making our babies food, you absolutely do not. Simply boiling, or mashing food until it is the desired consistency and texture that's right for you baby, will be fine. You can use a hand held masher, a fork, a stick blender or a food processor to break food down.

There is 1 product which I have found very handy, easy, and efficient to use for making my babies first foods. The Beaba Baby cooker. I bought this for my second bub and am using it again now for my third baby. I absolutely did not need it, and could have got by perfectly fine without spending any money, BUT it is really handy. So that would be my 1 recommendation if you want to buy a baby cooker. I'm sure Temu also makes a dupe which works just as well too!

Also silicone bowls and spoons from The Warehouse, or Kmart are great. They suction to the high chair tray or bench top so they cant be tipped out, and are soft on babies mouth. They can also be put in the dishwasher, bonus!

I wanted to also touch on "baby led weaning" (BLW). This is probably a phrase you have heard of, or seen somewhere. Personally, I have never understood it! Like why would the baby need to wean?! Well lets find out together.

Baby led weaning, is a method of introducing solid food to your baby, where you skip the purees, and go straight to finger food at around 6 months of age.

First foods are given to your baby in whole form, and the baby self selects what they want to eat, pick it up and put it in their mouth.

Of course the baby must be developmentally ready for this style of starting solids.

Te Whatu Ora (Health New Zealand) doesn't currently recommend BLW due to the very little research done in New Zealand.

So there you have it! That is what baby led weaning is, in a nutshell. I found that really interesting!

Personally I feel like I would stress that my baby wasn't actually swallowing the food he was putting in his mouth, and that he would get frustrated and not actually feel full afterwards. But that is just me!

Whatever way you choose to approach your introduction of solids to your baby, have fun with it, and always seek more information if you feel unsure. Plunket is a great resource!

Some of the things my little guy is loving at the moment

  • pear and mango puree
  • mash banana and natural yogurt
  • mash avocado
  • mince and pasta puree, with homemade tomato pasta sauce
  • courgette and sweet potato puree
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