Itty Bitty Babes

What to Expect During the First Week of Baby-Led Weaning

Today I want to share what to expect during the first week of baby-led weaning. Baby-led weaning has become a popular new trend with parents. However, simply handing your baby a chunk of bread or a banana might feel a little daunting. Here’s a crash course on the first week of baby-led weaning from a mom who’s been there twice!

The First Week of Baby-Led Weaning

Baby-Led Weaning Crash Course

Baby-led weaning (or BLW) is a method of introducing solids to your baby without the traditional purees. It is now recommended to breastfeed or bottle feed exclusively until six months. Purees are not needed by the time baby reaches six months. By six months, babies are ready to eat table food, which a few modifications (food should be well-cooked not heavily salted, and cut into graspable pieces).

The benefits of baby-led weaning are extraordinary (you can read more about them here). It’s no wonder that droves of parents are switching to BLW as a more natural, family friendly and fun way of introducing solids.

I used the baby-led weaning approach to introducing solids with my first child and had enormous success with it. We couldn’t have been happier with her introduction to solids.  It was one of the best decisions I’ve made as a mom (along with cloth diapering). We have been looking forward to starting the same method with my second daughter.

Baby-Led Weaning: The First Week

Although you may have heard great things about baby-led weaning, the first few weeks can seem a little daunting, especially if you’ve only ever watched babies be spoon-fed (since baby-led weaning is a relatively recent phenomenon, this is probably most of us–it was certainly true for me!).

This post is meant to walk you through the first week of baby-led weaning. Although there’s not real ‘wrong’ way to do BLW (except giving the baby honey, too much salt or choking hazards like whole nuts), it is helpful to have a blueprint laid out for you!

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How to Prepare for Baby-Led Weaning

I would definitely recommend doing some research on baby-led weaning before you jump right in. Reading this fantastic book by Gillian Rapely will give you a great background on why and how to introduce baby-led weaning. I also HIGHLY recommend her BLW cookbook, which has a ton of family-friendly recipes that are safe for baby.

In addition to reading Gillian Rapely’s book, it’s important familiarize yourself with infant choking and CPR procedures, just in case baby chokes.  I would definitely recommend this regardless whether you do traditional feeding or baby-led weaning. You may wish to take an infant CPR course, or watch some informational videos like this one, depending on your comfort level.

As this was my second time introducing baby-led weaning, I skimmed Gillian Rapely’s amazing book to re-fresh my memory on the best-practices for BLW. I also gave myself a refresher on infant choking and CPR.

Supplies Needed for the First Week of Baby-Led Weaning

You really only need appropriately cut food to begin baby-led weaning, but to minimize mess I had the following on hand:

How Often to Feed Baby Solids During the First Week of Baby-Led Weaning

Technically, you could include baby in all three family meals. I will lead up to this, but for the first few weeks I take it slow. Baby’s tummy can take some time to adjust to solids and too much food can be a bit of a shock to the system. I don’t want to risk an upset tummy or constipation, so I will offer one meal a day for the first few weeks.

Although this doesn’t really matter for the first few days when baby doesn’t get much in their mouth, they catch on quickly and will be eating plenty before you know it!

After a few weeks, baby will start getting more food in their mouth and into their tummy. If baby is still pooping regularly, I’ll increase to two, then three meal a day.

What Foods Do You Introduce Baby to in First Week of Baby-Led Weaning

Our first baby-led weaning meal was something simple: carrots. I love using carrots as a starter food, because they are a staple in our house. We always have some on hand and I know the whole family will eat them if the baby decides she didn’t care for them. Plus, they are easy to cut into appropriate shapes for baby and can be cooked until mushy without crumbling when baby picks them up.

Preparing Food for the First Week of Baby-Led Weaning

Preparing our first baby-led weaning food was easy-peasy. I peeled the carrots and cut them up into easy-to-grasp sticks, about two inches long. Then I boiled them until they were fairly mushy (I could grasp them easily, but they smushed up if I applied pressure with my fingers).

I did not add salt, as baby’s should have very low salt intake for the first year. You also don’t want your baby to acquire a taste for salt prematurely!

I cooked plenty of carrots, even though I only offered her five or so. The rest would be put in the fridge to be offered again in the next few days. Although I like to start by introducing one food per day (easier to monitor for allergies), in the following days I would offer carrots again along with a new food to give baby some variety.

Other Possible Starter Foods:

Fruits and veggies make the best starter foods for baby-led weaning, especially if you’re a little apprehensive of how baby will manage.

Try these:

  • sweet potatoes
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • bananas
  • avocados
  • well-ripened pear
  • peach or plum
  • asparagus stalks (already in the perfect shape!)
  • mango
  • sliced, baked apple

Be sure to also include some meat in the weeks to come, as breast-fed babies begin to have iron levels depleted around this time. I find pre-cut strips of stewing beef or stir-fry strips to be a good size , perhaps cutting them in half if they seem large. The dark meat of chicken or turkey also works well.

Baby will get the iron needed from sucking the juices from the meat. You don’t have to worry about baby mushing up and swallowing the meat.

How Much Food to Give to Baby During the First Week of Baby-Led Weaning

I usually put three to five pieces of food on baby’s high chair tray at a time. Too much food is dangerous (one swipe of the arm and it could all end up on the floor and mealtime would be cut short). Only giving one piece at a time can get a little boring. Give the baby the choice between a few pieces.

What to Do If Baby Is Not Interested in Eating Solids

Remember that the purpose of introducing solids through BLW is to allow your baby to explore and become familiar with lots of different tastes and textures. They are getting all their nutrition (with the exception of iron if breastfed) from milk.

Don’t stress if baby isn’t showing interest in food or isn’t able to get the food into his/her mouth. This will change quickly as the weeks go on. It’s all about having fun and learning from new experiences right now.

Our First Few Days

Honestly, our first few days didn’t go amazingly well. It was difficult for her to grasp the carrots, which were a little slippery. When she (finally) brought one to her mouth, she grimaced and gagged as soon as she got a taste. She either didn’t care for the taste of carrots, or was shocked that there are tastes beyond her plastic baby toys!

At this point in the process, I didn’t worry too much. She will have plenty of time to adjust to the new tastes, smells and textures of real food (a lot different than plastic toys!). I planned to offer carrots for the next few days, in addition to a new food each day.

After a Week

After a few days, something clicked and our babe started chowing down! I noticed a huge improvement in her fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination over the first few weeks of starting solids. She loved the broccoli and cauliflower we offered on day four and adored the strawberries we added into the rotation on day five.

We still have lots of mess after a couple weeks of eating, but I can tell plenty is getting in her tummy as well!

How Long do Baby-Led Meals Last?

There’s no set time limit for baby-led weaning meals, nor is there an end-goal of how much food baby must eat. At this point, the goal is to expose baby to new tastes, textures and the concept of eating, not to have him/her eat a set amount. It’s all about experimentation and having fun!

Our meals usually last until baby gets fussy (you’ll be able to tell when they’ve lost interest), or until all their food has either gone in their belly or on the floor (usually a mix of both).

It’s nice to have baby interested and occupied for a while so you can enjoy your own meal. However, this may not happen for the first few weeks, especially if baby hasn’t managed to get much food in their mouth yet. Soon they’ll be chowing down like the rest of the family, and you’ll no longer have to inhale your meals! Good times are on the way!

How Many New Foods to Offer When Baby-Led Weaning

Some families give their babies a variety of foods right from the start, mirroring the family meal. Others introduce a new food every three days to monitor for allergies (keep in mind this approach doesn’t prevent allergies, but makes it easier to identify which food has caused the reaction).

We don’t have a history of food allergies in my family, so I take a middle of the road approach. I’m pretty liberal with introducing more than one fruit or vegetable at a time (it’s hard to imagine a baby being allergic to carrots or broccoli). Instead, I introduce a new commonly allergenic food each week. These are foods like nuts, eggs, dairy, soy, etc.

If you are nervous about introducing foods your child may potentially be allergic to, remember that introducing these foods early on actually helps children adjust to them. I once heard someone say you can introduce your child to peanut butter in the parking lot of the hospital if you’re super worried, but be sure to do it early on!

Wrapping It Up

While the first week of baby-led weaning can be daunting, it is the first step on a wonderful journey! You will be amazed at how quickly your baby picks up new skills and enjoys all the variety Mother Nature has to offer!

What are your questions/concerns about beginning the baby-led weaning journey? If you’ve begun your baby-led weaning journey, how did it go? Drop me a line below!

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The First Week of Baby-Led Weaning

The First Week of Baby-Led Weaning

 

5 Comments

  1. Bellissimamma January 7, 2019
  2. A Nation of Moms January 7, 2019
  3. Nadia January 7, 2019
  4. Taylor January 8, 2019
  5. Marissa January 9, 2019

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