As promised, here is my guide to BLW success.

1) Take an Infant/Child CPR course. This is not just if you choose to do BLW. Babies and Toddlers can choke on many household items, not just food. It is important to know what to do in an emergency situation. St. John Ambulence surveyed 4,000 parents and found that 4 out of 5 didn’t know how to save a choking baby – they made this video to help educate.

2) Before you begin BLW, do research on it so that you know what to expect, how to prepare the food and most importantly that you feel ready and confident to start. I read this book as well as spent a lot of time on the Facebook group – Baby Led Weaning for Beginners. (If you have trouble finding it, I can add you)

**Make sure your 6 month old baby meets the signs of readiness, taken from Rapley’s Baby Led Weaning:

*Sitting up with little or no support
*Reaching out to grab things and taking them to their mouth
*Making chewing movements
*Starting to put food in their mouth ….if given the opportunity

3) If you don’t have a highchair yet, I use the Ikea Antilop chair. It is super easy to clean and has a large tray area which is useful because you need space to put the food down on. (and only $20!)

4) BLW is MESSY. I use the full out smock bibs by Bumkins. I always put down a Splat Mat underneath the highchair – it makes cleaning up much easier.

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5) When I give yogurt, I use Num Num Dips. I sometimes pre-load the spoon and hand it to my baby and other times I hold the spoon and he opens his mouth and leans into it.

6) Offer water when you offer food. I use the Munchkin Weighted Straw Cup. (Make sure to remove the plastic over the weight) He didn’t catch on to this right away, but I kept offering and then he got the hang of it.

7) At the beginning, babies don’t need 3 meals a day. BLW is an experience for you and your baby. Can start once a day, whichever time you prefer. Before we were ready to start, we started having our baby sit with us at meals in his highchair and gave him a toy to play with. This helped us all get used to the idea of him joining our meals. At the beginning, their main source of nutrition is still breastmilk/formula so don’t stress about amount of food and how often they eat.

With BLW, the baby eats what the family eats – one meal gets prepared. (If a lot of salt is going to be used, it is best to take a portion off for the baby first as you need to be careful of the salt intake)

When I introduced food to my older son, I introduced one fruit or vegetable every 3 days to see if there was any allergic reaction. BLW has a different approach – you offer anything and everything starting at 6 months of age with one exception – Honey. Babies under 1 year can not eat honey. If you or your family members have allergies than you should be careful with those foods that you are allergic to and wait to offer those (and of course speak to your doctor). My husband and I do not have any allergies so I offered foods in combination and was not worried. When it came to peanut butter or other foods that are common allergies, I offered them at a time that I knew my pediatrician was around and kept an eye for any reactions — but I didn’t wait 3 days between broccoli and carrots, I gave them the same night.

8) Shape of first foods: At the beginning I used a Crinkle Cutter to cut vegetables before I steamed them to help my baby be able to have a grip on them.

9) Size of first foods: Often people will say to me, “Oh, so you just cut the food really small and feed it to the baby?” This is actually the opposite of BLW. With BLW, the baby feeds himself, and at 6 months of age he does not yet have his pincer grasp which is needed to pick up small pieces. When you are cutting your carrot stick, think about that the baby needs to hold it. You want your carrot stick to come several inches out from the babies fist so they can put it in their mouth. Around 9 months, when the pincer grasp is developed, you can place bite-size pieces on their tray that they can pick up.

10) First foods to try: Steamed Vegetables (Broccoli, Carrot, Sweet Potato etc)
In the very beginning, we had success with broccoli — Cut into florets and steamed. The stem is a natural handle for the baby to hold. We also had lots of success with fruits – chinese mango was a favorite. Rapley also suggests Toast fingers – finger slices of toasted bread with spreads (cream-cheese, hummus, etc).

11) Slippery foods – Best to keep the peel on for slippery foods. For example, the first food we gave was a slice of avocado with the peel on. Another example – this is how we gave bananas.

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@blwideas source

@blwideas source

12) Have your Camera ready. There is nothing cuter than when a baby is holding a whole strawberry and taking bites from it.

13) Crowdsource. There are TONS of blogs and instagram accounts with meal ideas, or just pictures of babies eating food so you can picture what it will look like. Some that I used – A mom posted what she offered each week starting at 6 months – 12 months: http://baby-led-solids.blogspot.ca/p/search-by-week.html
Instagram accounts: @blwideas, @blwfun, @babyledgourmet, @blwmamauq

14) Every baby is different, but it is a learning process and many babies gag at the beginning as they learn. Gagging is a part of the process and you need to resist the urge to stick your hands in your baby’s mouth. You can turn an innocent gagging (natural reflex) into a chocking situation if you push the food backwards by accident. If you can’t handle it, don’t force yourself. Give pureed food until you feel ready. Eventually all babies are offered table food and pieces, but you have to do it when you feel ready.

15) Have FUN! It doesn’t happen overnight, and at the beginning most babies barely eat and more just play with the food. Be patient, one day they will start chewing and swallowing. I remember that day, I took videos and sent to my family “He is CHEWING!!” I was so excited.

I sent this picture – the peel left from the slice of mango he actually ate. I couldn’t believe it, he ate the mango and left the peel!

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16) Last but not least – safety reminder. Babies should always be in an upright position when eating and should always be watched while eating — never leave your baby alone with food.

Eating a rib – no teeth!!

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As always, e-mail askbabyconcierge@gmail.com with any questions!

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