BLW is an abbreviation for the Baby-Led Weaning method and it consists in bypassing the weaning stage according to standard patterns. The child is offered what is on the table of adults without the use of a spoon and auxiliary means of grinding food.
History of occurrence
The founders of the BLW method were the authors of the book “Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater” by Jill Rapley and Tracy Merkett.
The name translates as “natural food”, despite the word “Weaning” (weaning, considered here as weaning from the period of infancy).
Jill Rapley came up with the idea to write the book while doing her magistracy paper on the topic of first feeding, the author herself is a mother of three children, a breastfeeding consultant and an obstetrician.
Book co-author Tracey Merkett is a writer, journalist and mother who first tried this method of introducing complementary foods.
Interestingly, a similar “rule” for the introduction of complementary foods is found on the website of the UK Department of Health, which indicates that feeding from a spoon is not necessary and the crumbs should be fed at a common family table. In our country, the BLW method is known as “pre-feeding”.
BLW method – what is the point?
Complementary foods consist in a complete rejection of the standard rules for the introduction of complementary foods – you do not need to buy jars of mashed potatoes or make it yourself, you do not need to spoon-feed and calculate the grams required for the baby.
After six months of life, the child is not seated at a separate table, but at a common table with parents, where healthy food is prepared. By the way, this is the main rule – adult dishes must certainly be healthy, dishes with foods that the baby is allergic to are also excluded.
The child is offered a whole vegetable, a piece of meat or an egg, and the baby has the right to ask for more if he really liked this food. First, he licks or tries to suck it, then by watching adults, he learns to bite, chew and swallow solid food.
Before he learns to do this, most of the food will be spoiled – they will end up on the floor or simply not be eaten.
In the first 2-3 weeks of introducing a new diet, breast milk or formula remains the main menu. The BLW method does not exclude children who do not yet have teeth, since baked meals can be offered.
What are the benefits?
BLW is a sensational way to complement foods when it comes to self-regulating food intake and appetite. Nowadays, the problem of obesity affects more and more societies, and thanks to this method of complementary feeding, the habit of overeating and consuming unhealthy foods is eliminated.
Children from an early age are introduced to different textures, temperatures, tastes, food names and their shape, size and weight. Preferences, color perception develop, the child learns to compare and distinguish one fruit from another.
All this is not available if they are fed with mashed potatoes or finely chopped fruits, because then there are only two differences between the products – taste and color. The BLW method also has a positive result in the case when the capricious refuses to eat from a spoon after the sixth month of life and longer, which, of course, harms its development.
It will be more interesting for the kid to receive the apple whole and examine it, and then proceed to study the taste. Another advantage is the development of self-care skills in a natural way.
When is the baby ready to feed?
The child must sit upright without support and this is a prerequisite for the introduction of complementary foods by any method. Another sign of readiness is the ability to grasp small objects, bring them to the mouth and make movements with the jaw, reminiscent of biting or chewing.
Where to begin?
It is best with steamed vegetables and, after about two weeks, fruits, after removing the seeds from them.
The pieces of food should be the size of the child’s palm so that they are comfortable to hold. Nuts are introduced crushed and used as a seasoning for ready meals. Fruits and vegetables do not need to be peeled if their purity allows it.
Featured: BLW Method – Frequently Asked Questions
After fruits and vegetables, they offer boiled or baked animal meat, and then fish meat. Salt and sugar are used in dishes in a minimal amount. Since the BLW method consists of eating with adults, the presence of carbonated drinks, fast foods, salted fish, sausages and smoked meats on the table is strongly discouraged.
BLW method and risk of suffocation
When a baby is fed from a spoon, he does not know how quickly he should swallow and when another portion is brought to him, the chance of choking in this case is higher than when eating on his own.
If the baby eats on his own, then he has complete control over what is in his mouth, he slowly chews and swallows or spits out the food. The probability of choking is insignificant, but still it is, to avoid a dangerous situation, read the rules below:
- To ensure your baby eats safely, sit them upright and comfortably, such as on their mother’s lap or in a high chair.
- Serve large pieces according to the size of a small hand, so it is easier for the child to bite off a piece of the right size.
- Give a little gourmet half a grape, if he takes it without difficulty, then he can chew the berry without the risk of suffocation.
- Try to cook vegetables so that they are not too soft – this can lead to a large amount of food being swallowed.
Allergies are easier to control during the standard method of introducing complementary foods, but this is not required at all when practicing BLW complementary foods.
The child decides for himself what he likes and whether it is worth eating. Do not force him to eat a fruit or vegetable that he does not want, children intuitively feel which product can harm.
Accessories that promote cleanliness
Of course, the BLW method is not very convenient – you will have to wash floors more often, wipe the table, wash children’s clothes. Accessories will help facilitate the work of parents:
- Use dishes with suction cups on the bottom, this will prevent accidental tipping of the plate with the contents on the floor.
- Cover the place where the baby will sit with foil or a towel, this also applies to the floor and the table.
- Dress your baby in an apron before feeding.