One of the first things I registered for and was most excited about receiving during the pregnancy was a Baby Bullet! I had decided several years ago that I would make our own baby food at home rather than spending all that money on already prepared food. Over the past few months though, I kept coming across this term, “Baby Led Weaning” and hearing several other moms say that’s what they were doing with their baby. So, of course I had to research this! There are several resources on the internet talking about Baby Led Weaning; one of them, wholesomebabyfood.com explains, “In short, Baby Led Weaning (BLW) is skipping thin and runny purées and not feeding your baby with a spoon. BLW means offering your baby (age appropriate) foods that are soft-cooked and cut or mashed into small easily manageable pieces…The foods are then given to your baby to eat without being pureed and without being spoon-fed. You do the cooking, the cutting or mashing and the offering of the foods and your baby does the rest.” I was intrigued immediately!
No purees? How can this be? Surely a 6 month old cannot eat foods that have not been pureed. Wouldn’t they choke?!? These questions led me to researching the history of baby food purees. In an article discussing infant feeding throughout the past century (Fomon, 2001), I realized for many years (and still today), many infants are starting solid (pureed) foods much earlier than 6 months. The first introduction of food (usually cereal) ranged from 2 days to about 5 months of age. With introducing foods this early, the baby will still have the tongue-thrust reflex where they reject foods that hit their tongue as well as a very immature swallowing reflex preventing them from moving food from the front to back of their mouth. The only way to accomplish feeding an infant this young would be to spoon-feed pureed foods into the back of their mouth. So my thought- if we are waiting until 6 months and he is truly ready for solids, maybe we don’t need to puree foods. But what about the choking? Well it turns out that the baby’s gag reflex starts out closer to the front of the mouth and gradually moves back further as they get older. Because their gag reflex is not all the way in the back of their mouth yet, you may hear them gag when they are first learning, but choking is not common.
Are purees a bad thing? No, not necessarily. So why would we want to try BLW? A few reasons.
1. Anything that saves money can be good thing! Dino will be able to eat the same foods we will be eating (minus salt and sugar).
2. Anything that saves time is a good thing! Making my own purees would require the extra time of food preparation.
3. Research looks promising! A new article was published this past February concluding that the spoon-fed infants favored more sweet foods compared with the BLW group as well as the BLW group having a lower BMI (Townsend, 2012). BLW is gaining much popularity in the UK and is starting to catch on here in the US, but because it is a newer approach, research is limited. I have yet to read or hear a mom say anything negative about BLW that has used this method, but only positive, great things.
Although I don’t think this is necessarily the best feeding method for every child, I think it could really work well for our little Dino. Hey- It’s worth a try!
Fomon, S. J. (2001). Infant feeding in the 20th century: Formula and beikost. The Journal of Nutrition, 131(2), 4095-4205. Retrieved from http://jn.nutrition.org/content/131/2/409S.full
Townsend , E. (2012). Baby knows best? the impact of weaning style on food preferences and body mass index in early childhood in a case–controlled sample. BMJ: Nutrition and metabolism, 2(1), Retrieved from http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/2/1/e000298.full