Top Tips for Baby Led Weaning from Piccolo
This week we asked our friends at Piccolo to share their guide to baby led weaning. Piccolo is a family brand that makes organic, healthy and naturally delicious meals and snacks for growing families. Balance, variety and eating together are at the heart of everything they do, so we thought who better to chat to about baby weaning ideas, than their infant nutritional expert, Alice Fotheringham. So, let’s get started!
WHAT IS BABY LED WEANING?
If you thought that weaning your little one was going to be unknown-acronym-free you were mistaken. Luckily, there aren’t that many and we’re going to get you all clued up on one of the main ones right now: BLW aka Baby Led Weaning.
While this doesn’t actually mean that your baby’s going to take control of the weekly shop – it does involve letting them take charge of the actual eating part of baby weaning.
Baby led weaning is where purees are bypassed and the baby instead feeds themselves with food that’s been cut up into manageable, baby-sized bites.
The main difference between spoon feeding your little one and baby led weaning is that, when doing BLW, babies learn to chew before they learn to swallow, whereas with purees, they learn to swallow first.
WHAT AGE SHOULD WE START WEANING?
Baby weaning begins when your little one is ready for solid foods.
We recommend following the WHO guidelines on when to start offering solid food, which is around 6 months – especially if you plan on doing finger foods straight away.
Key requirements before weaning are: your baby should be able to sit up unassisted, they should have lost their tongue thrust reflex, and they should be able to grasp and hold onto foods (this one is key for BLW anyway!)
HOW TO START WEANING
We think that getting your little one involved with family meals is always a great approach! It encourages them to do like everyone else – well they’ll also add in a bit of screaming and take out most of the eating (at least at first) – but it makes it a fun activity they now get to join in on!
There are lots of foods you can go for to start weaning – check which ones are appropriate for a 6 month old (or whatever age your little one may be) and go for a nice variety of them. Cut them down into sizes that your baby’s little hands can pick up (and are not too big for them to eat) and let them dig in.
For this, at the start, you’ll want foods that their hands can naturally grasp: carrot and cucumber batons or even some steamed broccoli florets (they’re all like little handles they can get their hands around).
At first there’ll be lots of grabbing and playing and not much eating, but don’t worry – this is all very new and exciting for them so they’ll be a bit distracted (and also won’t quite grasp that the food is for eating). In the early stages of baby weaning, they’ll be getting most of their nutrients and calories from breastmilk or formula, so it doesn’t matter if not much actual eating gets done!
WHAT TO THINK ABOUT WHEN MAKING A BABY WEANING PLAN
- Begin with the simple stuff – babies are the easiest dinner guest. A carrot stick? Gourmet! A soft fruit puree? Couldn't be more impressed! Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be.
- Set time aside to wean – it’s going to be a slow process so don’t try to rush it. You want a calm, quiet environment combined with a baby that isn’t starving. Nobody’s good at learning new things when they’re hangry!
- There will be mess – food will go everywhere and it might, at times, be overwhelming. But try to embrace it and storm on.
- Stick at it – it can take up to 12 tries for a baby to decide they like something new. Can you blame them? So, just stick at it, it may just take some time.
- High five! High chair! – it may sound obvious, but a high chair helps with a lot of aspects of weaning. It creates a constant setting for feeding, it makes sure they’re safe and it leaves your knees and arms to be free for other things!
FIRST FOOD SUGGESTIONS
There’s no ‘best food’ to start with when it comes to how to wean your baby, but simply prepped vegetables and fruits make great options (by themselves rather than mixed in together too much so you know which one your baby loves and which one they don’t love quite as much). We’d recommend:
- Cooked broccoli
- Cooked courgette
- Cooked spinach
- Mashed avocado
- Cooked carrots
- Cooked sweet potato
- Ripe pear
- Chopped up banana
For more blogs, recipes and advice on your baby weaning journey join Piccolo’s Family Club. Members also receive exclusive discounts from fantastic brands, including Great Little Trading Company!
A big thanks to Piccolo for sharing this handy guide! We hope you learnt a thing or two about baby led weaning.
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