Baby-Led Weaning & Nutrition

This weekend, I was asked why I chose to use the technique of "Baby-Led Weaning" to feed my son.  And honestly I didn't have a clear answer for them.  This challenged my husband and me to really research the process of Baby Led Weaning (BLW) and why we do it.

Just so we are on the same page, Baby-Led Weaning, or BLW is described as,

"BLW, encourages a baby's confidence and independence by following his cues. Solid feeding starts when the baby demonstrates that he can feed himself and progresses at his unique pace.  It allows him to follow his instincts to copy his parents and [siblings] to develop his feeding skills in a natural, fun way, learning as he goes." (Baby-Led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett)

So basically, instead of spoon feeding  my baby the "normal" pureed baby foods, I give him whole foods, cut into strips that he can easily grasp, and he feeds himself. You can read more about why we decided to use this method in my post Start 'em Young.

As we have begun researching, we have learned so many health benefits that it has for a baby, and encourages even through their adult years. Plus allowing the baby to make choices about what foods to pick up and eat, etc. builds confidence and creates an ability to make decisions, which I love.  Here are some of the awesome Nutritional Facts we have found with BLW.

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(All quotes come from the book "Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater" by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett)

APPETITE CONTROL.

As we all know very well, and I have discussed frequently on my blog, eating habits that we develop as children can last a lifetime, and when they are bad habits, it is very hard to break them. So according to research, "...babies who are allowed to choose what to eat from a range of nutritious foods, at their own pace, and to decide when they've had enough, continue to eat according to their appetite and are less likely to overeat when they are older." And my favorite part, {bold added} "This may be an important part of preventing obesity."

BETTER NUTRITION.

Evidence suggests that when children are involved with meals at an early age, they are less likely to choose unhealthy foods when they are older.  They are "more likely to be better nourished, long term. This is partly because they are used to copying what their parents do, and to eating adult food wherever they are, and partly because they tend to be more adventurous eaters anyway."

This also shows how important it is for us, as adults to choose healthy foods as well, because our children watch us and mimic what we do. It is so important for me that my son has a good shot at living a healthy lifestyle.  Meaning, I want to teach him early what is healthy, so that those are the habits he picks up naturally.  Even the other day I ate a cookie at a friend's house, (I'm not saying this is TERRIBLE), but at the moment, my infant watching me, I thought, "Oh no, you can't have this." Then I realized, if I don't want him having it, then why am I having it.  He will mirror what I do!

A POSITIVE ATTITUDE TOWARD FOOD.

"If a baby's early experiences with food are healthy and happy, problems such as food refusal and food phobias are much less likely." Also with BLW, pickiness or refusing certain foods aren't as common, because eating is an enjoyable thing for the baby.  You lay the foods on their tray, and they choose what to pick up and put in their mouth.  They also choose when to be done eating.  When spoon-feeding, the parent is in control, and many times forcing the spoon or bribing the spoon into the baby's mouth, making the experience less enjoyable for the baby, and the parent.

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Here are some of the foods that I have pre-made for my son. I cut them into strips that are easy for him to pick-up, and steam or roast them, then freeze them.  I love that he is getting whole foods that I would normally eat as well.  One great thing with BLW is you don't necessarily have to pre-make food, but most foods you make for the family you can feed the baby.  Although this is true, some nights our house is crazy and we have leftovers or something, so it's nice to have pre-made food frozen for him.

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Here is the book referenced throughout the post.

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[Tweet "Baby-Led Weaning helps to prevent child obesity! #BlW @NFSisters #nutrition"]

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