The importance of ensuring that your little one develops a healthy approach to food as they grow up can’t be understated. And the sooner you get started, the better!
You might have heard of baby led weaning (BLW), but what is it and how can you adopt this approach to mealtimes to make sure that you lay the foundations for your child to have a happy and sensible relationship with food?
What Is Baby Led Weaning?
Baby led weaning is the act of letting your baby feed themselves as opposed to you spoon feeding them. You can offer your little one mashed foods as well as finger foods, such as sticks of fruit and vegetables, rather than the purées traditionally associated with baby food.
Some parents choose to combine baby led weaning with spoon feeding while others adopt a full BLW approach. There’s no right or wrong – it’s all about whatever works best for you.
However there are a few important things to know about how to start baby led weaning. For example, a lot of new parents want to know if baby led weaning is safe and at what age they can start BLW. Let’s take a closer look.
When Can I Start Baby Led Weaning?
You can start baby led weaning from around 6 months old. To begin with your baby will only need a small amount of solid food once a day in addition to their regular diet of breast milk or formula.
There’s no particular time to adhere to either. Breakfast, lunch, dinner – just choose a time that suits the both of you and jump right in with some yummy fruit or veg!
By starting baby led weaning at an early age you will be instilling good eating habits in your child as well as introducing essential nutrients into their diet early on.
How to Start Baby Led Weaning
Getting started with baby led weaning doesn’t have to feel like a big leap and you should find the transition from a pure milk or formula diet to one that incorporates foods fairly easy. Let’s take a look at the steps involved in how to start baby led weaning safely.
Begin with Fruit and Vegetables
Keep things simple at first by choosing a limited amount of fruit or vegetables to start weaning your baby. For example, carrots, apples, pears or potatoes.
Cut these into sticks and cook them until they’re soft enough (and cool enough) for your baby to eat, or blend or mash them. You can play around with different combinations too – try blending apple and pear for example, or carrot and parsnip.
Introduce Other Food Groups
New parents may wonder if baby led weaning is safe. It is, but it’s important to note that foods that could possibly trigger an allergic reaction should be introduced in very small quantities and one at a time so you can identify any potential problems.
However, the sky really is the limit when it comes to expanding your baby’s pallet. Let your little one experience anything from baby rice to fish, eggs, seeds and soya. Even the much-maligned peanut can contribute to a well rounded diet, providing it is ground or crushed up.
It can be tempting to stick to a rather bland menu when you’re starting baby led weaning, but there is absolutely no reason why children from six months and above can’t enjoy meals with flavour and substance just like their parents or older siblings.
And just like us, babies need a balanced diet which includes eating foods that are high in protein such as eggs, fish, meat, pulses and beans, as well as starchy foods like bread and pasta, and dairy.
Vary Flavours and Textures
Nobody wants a fussy eater on their hands, but as almost any parent can tell you, there will usually always be something their child flat out refuses to eat. At Little Angels we believe that mealtimes should be fun which can be a good approach to helping to eliminate mealtime battles!
But to increase your chances of making meals less stressful, you should be offering your baby a wide range of flavours and consistencies. This will help them become more accepting of a greater range of foods as they get older.
For example, if your little one is currently only eating fruits and veggies that are at the sweeter end of the scale, such as sweet potato and carrot, try them with cauliflower and broccoli as well.
If you’ve been feeding your baby only puréed food so far, it’s a good idea to move on to mashed or finger food as soon as possible so that they can start experiencing food that is ‘lumpier’ as this will help prepare them for graduating to solids.
Maintain Consistency with Foods
Once you’ve introduced an item of food and no allergies have been identified, make sure you regularly include it in meals to limit the possibility of your child developing an allergy to it later on.
Research has shown that children may be at higher risk of becoming allergic to foods such as eggs and peanuts if an introduction to those foods is delayed by six to twelve months.
Supporting Your Weaning Baby at Little Angels
When you’ve put so much time and effort into baby led weaning, the last thing you want is for all your good work to be undone when your child is at nursery.
At Little Angels Nursery we fully support your baby led weaning efforts and once your child is ready to be
weaned onto solids, we’ll provide them with three balanced and nutritious meals a day, plus snacks.
These are all freshly prepared onsite in our fully equipped kitchens by our experienced chefs, using only the highest quality, organic ingredients.
Since a big part of baby led weaning is to help ensure children have a positive relationship with food, we also encourage children to make healthy choices by learning about what they eat. We do this through our highly enjoyable cooking classes which enable your child to engage in a fun and educational way with food and nutrition.
Learn More About Little Angels Nursery
Ready to find out more about how Little Angels nurseries near Southwark Bridge and Perkins Square can help your child learn and grow?