Saturday, June 09, 2007

Eat All We Can

The other week Olivia and I went to a 'Wicked Weaning Workshop' at our local family centre with my NCT gang. I was expecting it to be just the basics on how to wean, purees etc. but it actually introduced a completely new concept I hadn't come across in any of my books or magazines - baby-led weaning (BLW). The idea of this is that rather than just pureeing everything and feeding the baby with a spoon, you offer the baby appropriate sizes pieces of fruit and veg and let them explore, taste, suck and learn to chew them. Basically you wait till the child is 6 months to start weaning and then skip the puree stage and go straight to finger foods.

My first instinct was that the child would surely choke but experts in this technique argue that actually they are more likely to choke when moving from the traditional stage 1 purees to the stage 2 puree with lumpy bits as they have learn to eat by sucking the food straight to the back of their mouths and haven't yet learned to deal with the lumps and basically inhale them. They argue that with BLW the child physically cannot move the food to the back of the throat until they are ready to actually swallow it. In the early days the baby will suck and gnaw on food and spit it back out. You continue with their normal milk feeds to ensure they get the energy they need until they start actually swallowing stuff and then you start reducing milk according to their demand. They may not be digesting much but are learning about tastes and textures of individual foods rather than pureed-up mush of lots of different foods. Experts argue that this makes the move to babies eating with the family quicker and makes for less fussy eaters as the child has control over what they eat. The more I find out about it the more I like it as an approach.

For anyone interested there is a great blog with excellent great photos, recipies and tips covering all aspects of BLW at:

As ever there is also a Yahoo group dedicated to the subject.

One thing which rather amused me (as well as making me a bit cross inside) was the reaction I got from the health visitor when I asked how I could get Olivia to feed herself lentils , as she will not be eating meat. The emergency 'HELP BAD PARENTING - SOMEONE CALL SOCIAL SERVICES' siren sounded and the room went into emergency lockdown at amber alert. 'What no meat at all' she said, face aghast. ' we don't eat it at home'. She and the other two ladies running the session looked at each other and didn't really have an answer. All she could come up with was 'well you can't give them Quorn till they are 2 you know' . I bit my tongue and resisted the temptation to correct her and say that it was actually not recommended under 3 on the Quorn website :) Apparently it is too low in fat and calories and fills a baby or toddler up without them getting enought nutrients.

Now we live in an affluent middle-class area, full of delis and farmers' markets and people who shop at Waitrose. I find it hard to believe that I am the first person ever to indicate that they intended not to feed their child meat but they looked so confused and stuck for an answer so I am obviously the first person ever in the history of the world to have a vegetarian baby. Do I get some sort of certificate or will social services be round to place her for adoption with a good upstanding steak-eating family by the end of the week? Luckily on the BLW blog I have found lots of recipes for lentil patties, tofu etc. Actually, I will also feed Olivia wild or organic fish since we do eat some fish at home. I don't object to her eating good quality, organic meat at her grandparents or somewhere - we just don't have meat at home.

Come on now all you parents out there - how did you start the weaning process, how did you find it; any tips? Please leave us comments as we would love to hear your weaning experiences.


  1. When you say "weaning", I think of "Weaning off the breast".

    With regard to that: my child led that. He was ready to stop nursing before I was ready for him to stop!

    The foods....I don't know...
    We did the traditional jars of baby food...1 & then stage worked for us.

    But, we also gave him a whole wide variety of things to chew on, suck on, & explore. And....they have these things that we didn't use, but I've heard other moms rave about them.
    They are like...well, they aren't really LIKE anything. They're hard to describe. Imagine a plastic popsicle stick. Now, put a round top on it with a little net thing.
    You can put fruit in there, or veggies. It lets the kiddo explore tastes & textures without fear of them choking.
    i'll see if I can't find it online for you. You know---since it's hard to describe!

  2. At, they have them under the solid feedings area, it's called the Baby Safe Feeder.

  3. Anonymous11:07 pm

    i think i did baby-led weaning without knowing it's name! when i was pregnant with my first baby, i saw another mum give her baby a whole peach to gnaw. Hugely messy, but the baby was abviously extremely gratified, and i made a mental note that my baby would get peaches and all sorts as soon as they moved on to solids, and they seem to love it!

  4. Anonymous11:08 pm

    i'm not really anonymous, just having trouble logging in as usual! it suzy of course btw