If you have set your heart on Baby-led weaning for whatever reason, I am sure you are not stress-free right now. I have been there and I remember going crazy reading about where to start and how to start. But, lastly I had to rely on my own judgement.
So, here, I will try to make it easier for other parents like me who are starting up with baby-led weaning. Read my previous BLW post to read about the initial struggles and what to do about it. https://www.blablablacksheep.com/2019/10/26/baby-led-weaning-pros-cons/
My baby is self-fed since the beginning and now 16-months old, has become adept with the spoon too. Can’t go by my word? How about see it for yourself on my Instagram page?
Disclaimer – This may not be the ideal way, but it has certainly worked well for us.
Let us break the journey into 3 parts-
1. Starting off
2. 6-9 months – Exploration, palmer grasp, texture recognition
3. 9-12 months – More independent, pincer grasp, family food
How many meals to offer & when?
6 months – 1 meal (preferably breakfast, to know of any allergies in the day time)
7 months – 2 meals (breakfast and lunch/dinner)
8 months – 2 meals + 1 snack (Make your pick according to the baby’s schedule, we did breakfast, lunch and evening snack)
9 months – All 3 meals + 1 snack
10 months – 3 meals + 2 snacks ( My son’s schedule did not allow, so we introduced 1 more snack much later)
And the above schedule continues…
As breastmilk remains the primary source of nutrition for the baby until 1 year of age, make sure there is no drop in feeds until at least 10 months of age. If you notice a drop, reduce 1 snack or meal and introduce it after a week or fortnight.
- Primarily, our objective is to make the child more independent & aware of his hunger.
- Child should be exposed to all kinds of tastes and textures. Even if he/she rejects something, keep offering, at least once a weak
- We want to transition baby to family food, to alleviate the chances of having a picky eater amongst us.
Palmar grasp – Wherein the fingers squeeze against the palm, generally fully develops by 6 months of age.
Pincer grasp – Wherein the pointer finger and the thumb squeeze to grasp an object, develops between 9-10 months.
- I suggest you start with breakfast. If there are any allergies, you have the day to look into it.
- Offer only one thing at a time when you start, to rule out allergies.
- All the fruits and vegetables to be offered should be cut into finger length size, width to fit in the palms easily as the baby only has palmer grasp.
- The consistency of the fruits and vegetables should be such that it presses between fingers but not too squishy.
- Do not panic if baby gags. Let him/her take control. If the bite is too big, she will gag it out.
- Sit with the child and eat. Mirroring what you do, is how the baby learns the quickest. Make exaggerated jaw movements to teach chewing to the baby.
- Control the urge to force feed the baby & be prepared to clean the mess. Read the previous BLW post now, if you still haven’t.
- It is important the baby is able to hold food and move it till the mouth, otherwise frustration entails. If something is slippery, coat it in some powdered food like oats, for easy grasping.
- First few weeks, offer from a list of easy to cook and explore kind of meals like –
Boiled carrots (you can sauté in drop of ghee)
Steamed apples & pears
Steamed broccoli & cauliflower
(Cauliflower & broccoli should be sautéed in a drop of ghee & add roasted jeera powder because it can cause gas issues)
Boiled bottle gourd
Avocado (appropriately ripe)
Banana (Keep a little peal on, or coat in powdered oats)
Mango, musk melon, water melon
Boiled & sautéed potato and sweet potato
Overcooked rice or khichdi (not too watery, such as to make balls)
6 to 9 months
- Once you have started with above easy meals, start exploring ways to transition to family food. Eg. If the family is having rice, the baby should too.
- Depending on your level of confidence, it is a good time to introduce chapati, paratha, idly, dosa, chilla, pancake, omelette too.
- Chapati/Paratha and idly/dosa dipped in dal/curd and sambhar respectively and chilla and pancakes should be soft and greased so that not too dry.
- Cut them in finger length strips too.
- If the family is having some vegetable, offer it on the side.
- Offer upma or poha, cooked to form balls, or in pre-loaded spoons.
- Boiled egg can be offered in length-wise quarters.
- Try not to replace a rejected food every time. You want to try your best to make the child accept all the food tastes and textures.
- In the later period, you can occasionally offer pomegranate seeds or halved roasted foxnuts (makhana), for practice of pincer grasp.
- Reinforce the expression of being full, so that the baby understands his/her hunger and is able to communicate the same. We taught my son ‘DONE’ with both his hands raised.
9 to 12 months
- This is the time when the baby develops pincer grasp. You can freely offer pomegranate seeds, puffed rice (murmura) & halved roasted foxnuts (makhana).
- The roti, dosa, etc can be cut into bite sized pieces now. Same goes for fruits and vegetables too.
- Apples can be offered grated or in very thin slices. My son did not take to thin slices immediately so I offered grated first, slowly transitioning to thin slices. It should be as thin as sliced with peeler.
- This should be the period, that the child perfectly transitions to family food, if not done so sooner.
- Everything you make, remove a mildly spiced portion for the baby.
- This is a good time to introduce spoons as well. If not pre-loaded, then let them explore a little with their spoon to understand scooping and wrist movements.
- This is also the time when the baby discovers gravity and enjoys throwing food. Try ignoring and continue eating. Once in a while try explaining that food should be eaten and not thrown. DO NOT LOOSE YOUR COOL.
- Sometimes, throwing is also a sign of feeling full. This is something you need to judge.
With the passing time baby becomes mobile, as he/she learns to crawl and then walk. so, it always makes sense to have something specific associated with meal-time. It can be a place or a thing like his/her plate, etc. For us, sitting on the highchair always means food and that has helped us a good deal in maintaining our routine.
I gained a great deal by joining a few facebook groups, one of which was https://www.facebook.com/groups/blwindia/
If there are any more questions, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Instagram and I am sure, all your doubts will be cleared.