As your baby starts to get older, you may be thinking about introducing solid foods into their diet! It’s recommended to exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months of your baby’s life, and then that’s when the real fun begins. Let’s get into baby led weaning and how you can make this transition from exclusively breastfeeding with ease!
What is Baby Led Weaning?
Baby led weaning is a term used to describe how you introduce food to your little one. It’s recommended to start introducing solid foods after 6 months, but there are also some other important considerations to keep in mind. For example, before you introduce solids your baby should be able to hold their head up, be able to sit upright, and bring food up to their mouth.
Additionally, there are some pediatricians who believe solid foods aren’t as important during the first year. The focus on baby led weaning should be on introducing this new skill to your little one and getting them comfortable with a range of food options.
Baby led weaning is different from other feeding options because the focus is on the child being able to independently discover foods. Rather than spoon-feeding dishes to your child, you can use baby led weaning to make the experience more focused on your baby!
In addition, your baby gets to try foods that you would typically serve to the rest of your family. While you should still introduce food items slowly to ensure there aren’t allergic reactions or other issues, baby led weaning can actually make mom-life a little easier in the long run!
Concerns With Baby Led Weaning
However, you might run into some obstacles with baby led weaning. Messes are bound to happen and it may take some time for your baby to get the hang of it… but that’s okay! This is a great learning experience for your child and will help prepare them for harder-to-eat foods in the future.
Another concern that parents have is that their baby will choke on food. However, as long as the food is prepared properly, it is perfectly safe to use this approach! Your child may gag more often as they get the hang of it, but as long as you are nearby and watching for signs of active choking (face turning blue, inaudible, etc), it is perfectly normal for them to experience a little bit of gagging during the process.
Solid Starts also talks about how your baby’s natural “tongue thrusts” can be a huge help during this solid-food process! They explain that a baby’s ability to “push” food out can prevent choking and allow them to get used to the feel of solid foods in their mouth.
Lastly, a big concern for families who want to start baby led weaning is that it can be harder to pinpoint allergies… However, it is still possible to use this form of introducing solids at a slow-enough pace to detect allergies without issue! In fact, Peanut Allergy Facts explains that using baby led weaning allows parents to introduce many of the top allergens early and frequently in a child’s life. This means that the risk of your baby getting an allergy can actually be reduced, or at the very least, caught earlier on!
Some other common concerns that parents may have are:
- A negative mealtime experience due to choking or other scary situations
- Additional prep needed vs. pureed foods
- Whether or not baby led weaning can provide a nutritious diet
How Does Baby Led Weaning Affect Breastfeeding?
One of the most obvious results of baby led weaning or introducing solids to your baby is that your breastmilk supply may decrease. This is completely normal as your child will continue to grow and may replace breastfeeding sessions for solid meals!
Your breastmilk supply changes depending on the needs of your child. If you want to continue breastfeeding, it is important to still pump or nurse as often as your baby needs to keep your supply up. You can also continue to use breastfeeding as a source of comfort for your child rather than just nutrition!
The most important thing to remember is that, although you can start to wean your baby, you don’t have to yet! It is normal (and still beneficial) for your child to breastfeed until 2 years and beyond!
Nutritious Meals to Try With Baby Led Weaning
If you want to try baby led weaning, there are so many recipes out there! In fact, some recipes allow you to include breast milk so you can continue to use your supply and add something familiar to the dish. Andrea from My Little Brickhouse has three amazing recipes so you can try out baby led weaning with your little one!
1. Avocado Mashed Potatoes
Ages: 6 months (and older!)
|1 tsp||Unsalted Butter|
|1 tsp||Garlic Powder|
Add black paper for taste (optional)
- Cut and peel the potato, and boil until soft
- In a large bowl, add cooked potato, avocado, butter, breast milk, and seasonings. Mash until well combined and it has a smooth consistency.
- Serve and enjoy!
2. Blueberry Banana Oat Pancakes
These baby-friendly pancakes are so delicious and easy to make in your blender. Sugar and flour-free!
Ages: 6 months (older!)
Allergens: Dairy, Eggs (can be replaced with flax egg)
|1/2 cup||Rolled Oats|
|1 tsp||Vanilla Extract|
|1/2 tsp||Baking Powder|
Butter or cooking oil of choice
- In a blender or food processor add the banana, egg, breast milk, and vanilla extract. Blend until you get a smooth texture
- Add in oats, cinnamon, and baking powder. Blend on high until smooth, about 1-2 minutes
- Pour batter into a bowl and add blueberries. No need to smash the blueberries as they will get soft when cooked and will be safe for your baby to swallow
- Heat skillet over medium to low heat. I like to cook my baby’s pancakes in grass-fed butter, but you can use the oil of your choice
- Pour batter mix into small pancakes and cook for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned. Flip carefully and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Serve topped with fruits or like I did with a side of Greek yogurt and strawberries
Leftover pancakes can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months for an easy breakfast.
3. Veggie Pasta Sauce
Ages: 6 months (older!)
|1||Red Bell Pepper|
|1||Head of Garlic|
|2 tbsp||Olive Oil|
|1 tsp||Black Pepper|
|1 tsp||Dried Basil|
|1 tsp||Salt (optional)|
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Wash and dry veggies. Slice tomatoes in half and roughly chop the carrots, zucchini, onions, and bell pepper. Slice the top off the head of the garlic.
- Place veggies in a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
- Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle seasonings. Mix them well to make sure each piece is covered.
- Bake veggies for 40 minutes until roasted
- Remove from the oven and let cool. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of the head and discard the skin. Add all of the veggies to a blender and blend until combined
- Add the breast milk and blend again
- Cook your pasta of choice (note: to offer pasta to babies, you want to make sure it is cooked very soft. Bigger pieces of pasta such as penne or rigatoni are perfect to practice self-feeding).
- Mix the pasta with the sauce under low heat and sprinkle with your choice of cheese before serving. Enjoy!
Will You Try Baby Led Weaning?
And if you’re struggling to go from breastfeeding to baby led weaning, you can always book a call with me and we can figure out the best way to make the transition a good one!
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