What does BLW look like?
The idea behind baby led weaning is that from 6 months (providing baby is showing signs of readiness) baby joins you for family meals and eats what you eat.
There is no right or wrong way to wean your baby, provided that it is safe, you do whatever is right for you and your baby.
This, however, is my experience of BLW. I want to share it with you so that you can see what it looks like, what it really looks like. I am no Instagrammer/photographer, I cook for 4 kids and finding a second to take a photo before baby dives out of my arms to demolish the food is hard! I hope to give confidence to those who would like to go down this path but are unsure how.
This is Arthur, we started BLW at 6 months, and he was more than ready. He has no teeth at this point.
His first meal; neither of us is sure what we are doing. Egg and banana. Do I cut the banana in to fingers or chop the peel so that he has a handle? As you can see I was as yet undecided and did neither. Turns out baby is absolutely fine either way or neither, Arthur snapped a bit off and started eating it.
At this point, expect most of the food to be spat back out and end up on the floor! This is normal and expected as babies need to learn how to chew, move the food around and swallow, if they are unsure they push it out.
Curried swede, left over from dinner. With carrot, tomatoes, cucumber and hummus.
Grated carrot was always going to be a tricky one for a beginner as he hadn't developed his pincer grip yet, but I didn't want to serve raw carrot stick, and he enjoyed the challenge any way. For beginners especially, the finger shaped food is great for them to be able to grab, hold and break pieces off in their mouth. This allows them to learn what size they can manage.
There is no need for baby food to be bland! They love flavours just as much as we do.
Salmon, rice, broccoli and green beans
With banana pancakes and strawberries (cut strawberries into halves or quarters)
The pancakes are made with oats, egg and banana, very quick and easy and quite tasty.
Fish is a big hit for Arthur, he does love any fish we give him.
Being one of his first meals, I suddenly panicked before handing him the food and sliced the green beans down the middle. There was no need, but it made me feel more comfortable. Choking is always a worry for parents, follow the guidelines for baby led weaning to minimise risk and know the difference between choking and gagging.
These guidelines are not made by me, but I find them easy to understand and may be helpful to you as well.
Pears and Eggs and sauteed kale. Nice and simple, I know he cant chew the kale at this point but the taste and texture is great and he loves it.
Boiled egg and scrambled to try the different textures, baked beans (out of a tin! low salt and sugar) kale, mushrooms, spring onions, potato sweetcorn, spinach and vegetable hash.
With lots of kids and allergies in the house to cater for lunch is often either left overs or many different options to pick and choose from for us.
Natural, live, unsweetened yoghurt with smushed blueberries (blueberries should be quartered or smushed)
Buckwheat Pasta, homemade sauce with carrot and onion meatball. The meatball is huge so left it whole so he could hold it and take licks or nibbles.
As you can see, he loved it. Did I mention the mess you should expect?! Every meal, no matter what it is, will be messy. Baby, the chair, and the floor will be covered so make sure seats and floor are easy to wipe down. Cloth wipes have been a life saver for us, 20 wet ones or 2 cloth wipes? I know what I choose, and as a bonus Arthur doesn't protest one bit to a cloth wipe clean up!
Wholemeal toast with raspberry chia seed jam, egg and spinach.
Note to self - make sure to use sweeter raspberries/fruit next time! Arthur was not impressed and now inspects his toast before eating to make sure it doesn't have jam
Omelette, left over chilli (from freezer), peppers, cucumber and hummus, melon.
See the notches on the melon? That helps him grip otherwise slippery food.
Carrot meatball again! Leftovers; everyone eats this meal so I make a big batch.
Rice pudding (no photo, starting to forget as it's the holidays and lots of hungry children!) Made with two ingredients, pudding rice and tinned coconut milk.
For now we aren't introducing any refined sugars, (remember no honey until baby is one) but I am not going to worry when he does have some, everything needs to have a balance.
Peanut butter and banana on toast
Mackerel, lentils with garlic, ginger and kale, courgette and peppers.
Muffins (Oats, egg, banana, baking powder, apple cider vinegar and blueberries)
Getting to grips with utensils is a difficult task especially for a 6 month old, but necessary for those tricky to pick up foods. Baby led weaning is all about the child being in control, and they are the only ones who put food in their mouths. So we use "pre-loaded spoons", load up the spoon and leave on the plate or let baby take the spoon from your hand.
At first I put the spoon down for Arthur to pick up, he enjoyed the shower of food that rained around him. Now I let him take it from my hands and he gets it in is mouth most of the time, although he is nearly as happy just to chew on the handle.
Roast Dinner, Lamb. Always double check your meat cut, straight after taking this photo I realised I had cut the meat with the grain! Quickly swapped before serving. I didn't give him any roast potatoes as I thought they were too crunchy on this day. At 7 months, I would now be confident with him having a large one to chew on.
I love these little cups, I serve a very small amount of cooled boiled water with each meal.
This is a useful infograph; always cut across the grain when serving meats.
Porridge Organic oats, with whole milk, cashew butter, stewed apple and cinnamon
Avocado wrap, tomatoes, strawberries
Big sister insisted Arthur have a wrap just like her. He had no chance of eating it yet, but he enjoyed sucking the filling out.
Sweet potato fries, Spiced pork, peppers, butternut squash, kale, spinach and peas
Ice lolly; frozen natural yoghurt can add fruit puree
Yes; all four strips of pork went in his mouth immediately and all at once. he decided to take two out before I could take a photo.
Omelette, Spinach and Mango
Homemade organic wholemeal flour pizza, topped with organic cheese and tomato, Broccoli, green beans, beans and sweetcorn
Christmas turkey and vegetable soup (I froze lots after Christmas) I wasn't sure how soup would go down so spooned out some of the veg and turkey to serve as finger food along with tomatoes and bread.
Untoasted bread is difficult as it is so sticky, you know your baby and decide if you want to serve it. I would just say, make sure you are certain there is no bread stuck to the roof of their mouth before laying baby down to avoid chocking risk. At this age baby doesn't have the skills to clear food from the roof of their mouth with their tongue. Arthur has found a new use for those cloth wet wipes, he uses them to chew and drag any left over food out of his mouth!
So I just about managed to record 5 days, it gives you an insight into how I approached it and what it looks like. Babies can eat real food right off the bat, it is normal for them to get messy, and to push food out if they don't know how to swallow it at first. They all develop at their own pace, there is no rush and as long as they are offered milk as normal there are no worries. You'll be surprised how much they do consume though: the nappies will give you a clue.
My food will look different to your food and that is ok! Baby should eat what you eat, good motivation to keep a balanced diet.
Babies are hard work, enjoy every moment.
Remember, it's not a competition!