This is one of the things I am quite passionate about, its fairly simple, you wait until baby is around 6 months old and give them real solids straight away – no baby rice, no mushy puree’s just proper food. There seem to be a lot of misconceptions about it so here’s my little myth buster.
1. Its a government initiative to encourage people to exclusively BF for 6 months.
Actually you can carry on BF’ing after you wean onto some solids in any case and a formula fed baby can go onto baby led weaning just as easily (Ben was formula fed and he BLW’d brilliantly). I don’t have an up to date version of the birth to five book given out but in my old one the advice was not to wean before 4 months. With BLW you hold out the extra couple of months.
2. I’m the baby’s Mum I’ll know when they are ready to eat – not some government guideline.
Actually I remember reading somewhere that you can give the baby solid food when ever you want, they aren’t going to be developmentally ready to hold it, put it their mouth and eat it until their tummies are ready to digest it. Ben shyed away from meat for quite a while until he had enough teeth to be able to mush it up nicely in his mouth. He was happy to swallow large chunks of veggies (you see the evidence in the poo) but not meat – his choice and when he was good and ready he turned into a little carnivore.
3. Baby needs food in his tummy to sleep through around 3-4 months.
I tried weaning Ben at around 4 1/2 months onto wallpaper paste (baby rice). He did miraculously start sleeping through but I realised one evening that I had forgotten to spoon slops into his screaming mouth for a couple of days and he was still sleeping through. Weaning before 4 months is dangerous as the babies digestive system isn’t fully formed and can only cope with milk.
4. My Mum weaned me at 8 weeks (etc…) and I am fine.
Yes in the 70’s and 80’s people weaned earlier. However, the marvellous thing about progress and research is that we learn new things. In the 80’s my Mum put me in a carry cot on the back seat of the car and drove off, she was also told to put me to sleep on my tummy and all sorts of other things. The argument that we are still alive / mummy knows best is bunkum. Infant mortality rates have declined because scientists have researched things and given us new guidelines and advise to help our LO’s grow up healthy and strong (not to say you need to slavishly follow every piece of guidance, my 3 month old is in a stroller rather than lying flat in a buggy, but you need to look at the facts carefully before making a decision).
5. I want my child to have good table manners and learn how to use cutlery.
Children like to mimic, when Ben was first weaning I loaded spoons of yoghurt etc… (I chickened out of letting him explore that with his hands!) and put it in his mouth, when he was slightly older he started grabbing the loaded spoon and putting it in his own mouth. When he wanted a fork, I started by stabbing his chicken etc.. and letting him put it in his mouth, he now (2 years and a month) insists on using the fork himself, no help from mummy. He would love to have a knife but I’m to chicken to let him loose with a knife.
I would imagine that this is how spoon fed babies learn to use cutlery as well. As for table manners, as I said they like to mimic and will learn how you behave at the table is the correct way.
For more information see Gill Rapley for the scientific basis of BLW.
The following sites might also be helpful for anyone trying to find out about the ups and downs of BLW
(you can of course look at my entries from Dec 07 onwards for my experience with Ben as well :-))
Baby Banana’s excellent site (this was the site that got me into BLW!) and Baby Led Weaning.com will give you an insight into how to do it (simply give them the food lol!) and what to expect in their nappies (it’s a bit gross to start with).
Good luck to anyone starting out on this – if you want to post a question I’ll do my best to answer it.