Friday, March 31, 2017

Baby-led-weaning (BLW) - in my words!

In my previous post I had mentioned BLW, which is Baby Led Weaning. Let me give a quick overview :-)

The first 6 months, a baby's intake is only milk. Either breast milk (BM) or formula milk (FM). No other fluids such as -  cow's milk, honey, sugar water, gripe water, etc. Once the baby completes 6 months of age (180 days), solids can be started gradually. Milk (BM or FM) continues to be the primary source of nutrition till 1 year of age.

Another criteria for starting solids is losing the 'Tongue thrust reflex' and ability to maintain sitting posture independently, without support. This does not mean that the child should be able to sit up on their own - just that if made to sit, should be able to continue sitting for a few minutes without support.

Traditionally, at this stage, a baby is spoon fed with watered down rice porridge or mashed foods. But BLW is all about self-feeding, and family food. No special or separate food is prepared for the baby.

Surprised? How can a six month old self feed? That too regular family food?

Well, doesn't your baby keep everything from toys to books to her mouth? That is the natural hand-mouth co-ordination movement. See something nearby, grab it and take it to your mouth. Comes naturally to all babies. The parent just has to discourage that with toys and books, and instead offer food in a plate for the baby to touch, feel, grab and mouth. A baby is hard-wired by nature to self feed and knows to regulate quantity too - meaning, a baby will eat as much as needed, and stop! Quantity is set by baby's appetite and hunger and not by mother's expectation ;-)

BLW is more about introducing different flavours and textures to the baby and less about replacing a milk feed with solid food. In fact, please make sure that milk feeds are not skipped or replaced by solid meal till the baby completes 1 year of age.

Another important aspect of BLW is that baby eats family food (without salt, sugar, chilly and honey for a baby less than 1 year). She sits in the dining table or floor with the rest of the family and eats what they eat. This way baby learns eating habits from the rest of the family and will mimic usage of cutlery, etc.

Disclaimer - Please do your own research before trying BLW with your baby. Check YouTube videos for differentiating between chocking and gagging. When beginning solids, it is but natural and normal for the baby to gag out larger pieces of the food. But there is sometimes danger of choking and you should be prepared for that.

Over the next few weeks I ll be following up with details on first foods that I offered to my baby, the no-salt no-sugar rule and much more :-)

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