Adventures of a BLW mom

I am Samantha, a first time mom and a first time blogger. I have a beautiful daughter “M” who is just turned 7 months old! M was born looking just like her father, but is starting to look more like me every day.  She has an infectious laugh and cheeks that jiggle when she is tickled.  My husband and I are completely in love with her!

I had heard about BLW sometime during my pregnancy. After talking with my husband, we decided to give it a try.  I decided to start blogging about our experience because it is very different from what most of my friends and family with young children are doing.  We just started feeding her 1 month ago and already it has been quite the experience with plenty of bumps along the road.  I am hoping this blog will document our journey and encourage others who are interested but hesitant to start BLW.

What is BLW?

BLW stands for Baby-Led Weaning, which is a method of introducing and offering foods to infants and toddlers.  It is named BLW because the concept is that the baby eats when (s)he is ready, and will lead their own weaning away from breast milk or formula. I have also heard it called “Baby-led feeding” but it is more widely known as BLW so that is what I will refer to it as here. The most obvious difference in BLW from traditional weaning is there are no purees!

What? How do you feed your infant if you don’t start with purees?

Although BLW is becoming more popular, many people have still not heard of it.  Most people who haven’t heard of it automatically assume some of the same fears.

Won’t they choke? How can they chew food if they have no teeth?

While they may choke on solid foods, the same can be said for children who are fed purees. A recent article showed there was no difference in choking risk between those babies that follow baby led weaning and those that had started with purees (if both minimize foods that pose a choking risk.)  Here is a list from the American Academy of Pediatrics list of foods that pose a choking risk.  This does not mean that these foods cannot be given with BLW but that you should be aware these things may increase chances of choking.  We have given M raw apple, raw pineapple, meat & sausage. The idea of your child choking on food is scary for any parent.  Some information that may help as you start your own BLW journey is knowing the difference between choking and gagging.
Gagging: A reflex that children regulate as they learn to manipulate food in their mouth.  The gag reflex is to prevent the child from choking!  When your child is gagging he will appear pink, may push food forward or out of his mouth, or may do a retching movement as he tries to move the food forward.  Some children vomit from gagging. Gagging is normal!
Choking: Occurs when the airway is partially or completely blocked.  Choking prevents your child from breathing.  Your child may cough.  He may not be able to make noise.  He may turn blue.
My advice to anyone who is new to or about to start BLW is make sure both parents and main caregivers have a good understanding of choking vs gagging.  My husband and I had discussed the differences before and have been on the same page.  When she gags and I start getting nervous he reassures me that she is working it out herself.  I have read about couples who argue about BLW and TW because they are not on the same comfort level.  We have also learned that when we share a meal with other people to inform them about the basics of BLW and the differences between choking & gagging. We learned this in the first few meals out, when we are chatting up normally and our visitors think our baby is choking!  My husband and I have been trained in infant CPR and first aid for our jobs.  I personally recommend every parent take this course, it gives me peace of mind.
Why BLW?
There are two main concepts for BLW. First, the child picks up the food and explores the color, texture and taste at their own pace so the belief is that they may be less picky as a toddler and older child.  Second, if we put the child in control of when, what, and how much they eat they will learn their bodies natural “full” cues.  Knowing when they are full instead of eating an expected amount may help prevent obesity and overeating in the future.
The main concepts are really just a brief summary of BLW. I read “Baby-led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food” By Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett.  I recommend this read to get a more thorough understanding of the basics and ideas behind BLW.  It is a quick read and has some great tips.
AAP/WHO recommends starting solids for babies who are 6 months old.  Other signs that your baby may be ready to start eating are: sitting unassisted, interested in food,  and has lost the tongue thrust reflex.  M has met the criteria, we read the book, and we are trained in infant CPR/first aid!  We felt ready to begin.
So, welcome to Adventures of a BLW mom! I invite you to comment with your experiences or questions!
Remember, you are the parent, trust your instincts and do your own research.  This blog is just about our personal experience!
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