Dos and Don’ts of Baby Led Weaning (And 6 Food Mistakes Parents Make)

In a nutshell, here’s a list of things to watch out for when doing BLW.

These guidelines are from Gill Rapley, the author of the book Baby-Led Weaning. I didn’t always follow these dos and don’ts religiously – of course I have tried to hurry him a little by putting food into his mouth (we’re late for church!), and he doesn’t always eat whenever the family is eating (yeah, I know, so contrary to BLW, how dare we! But it works for us).

But some of these things ring true – for instance, keep trying to offer food which baby rejects at first. Best advice ever.

It takes Lil Pea some time to accept certain foods, which is more the exception than the rule, cos he LOVES food – but he comes around and starts eating a previously-rejected food after a few tries. It can take more than 10 tries over several months for a baby to accept a new food.

Giving up too early is one of the common food mistakes that parents can make, according to a nutritionist in a New York Times report.

What are some other food mistakes?

Forcing baby to eat – it will make him associate mealtimes with stress and anxiety, rather than discovery… and other good things.

See the other common food mistakes in the report.

Tip: When it comes to veggies, why not cook or toss them with some fat eg. butter, coconut oil, olive oil? Not only does this make them tastier, it also helps unlock their fat-soluble nutrients. Dress up your veggies and take them to town!

In another post, I talked about some of the myths of baby-led weaning, including parents’ anxieties over whether baby will choke. And if he ever does choke, I’ve included a handy video on first aid for a choking baby. 

Righto, and here’s the guide of Dos and Don’ts of BLW by Gill Rapley!
 

DOs & DON’Ts OF BLW

1. DO offer your baby the chance to participate whenever anyone else in the family is eating. You can begin to do this as soon as he shows an interest in watching you, although he is unlikely to be ready to put food in his mouth until he is about six months old.

2. DO ensure that your baby is supported in an upright position while he is experimenting with food. In the early days you can sit him on your lap, facing the table. Once he is beginning to show skill at picking food up he will almost certainly be mature enough to sit, with minimal support, in a high chair.

3. DO start by offering foods that are baby-fist-sized, preferably chip-shaped (i.e., with a ‘handle’). As far as possible, and provided they are suitable, offer him the same foodsthat you are eating, so that he feels part of what is going on.

4. DO offer a variety of foods. There is no need to limit your baby’s experience with foodany more than you do with toys.

5. DON’T hurry your baby. Allow him to direct the pace of what he is doing. In particular, don’t be tempted to ‘help’ him by putting things in his mouth for him.

6. DON’T expect your baby to eat any food on the first few occasions. Once he has discovered that these new toys taste nice, he will begin to chew and, later, to swallow.

7. DON’T expect a young baby to eat all of each piece of food at first – remember that he won’t yet have developed the ability to get at food which is inside his fist.

8. DO try rejected foods again later – babies often change their minds and later accept foods they originally turned down.

9. DON’T leave your baby on his own with food.

10. DON’T offer foods which present an obvious danger, such as peanuts.

11. DON’T offer ‘fast’ foods, ready meals or foods that have added salt or sugar.

12. DO offer water from a cup but don’t worry if your baby shows no interest in it. A breastfed baby, in particular, is likely to continue for some time to get all the drinks he needs from the breast.

13. DO be prepared for the mess! A clean plastic sheet on the floor under the high chair will protect your carpet and make clearing up easier. It will also enable you to give back foods that have been dropped, so that less is wasted. (You will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly your baby learns to eat with very little mess!)

14. DO continue to allow your baby to breastfeed whenever he wants, for as long as hewants. Expect his feeding pattern to change as he starts to eat more solid foods.

15. If you have a family history of food intolerance, allergy or digestive problems, DO discuss this method of weaning with your health advisers before embarking on it.

16. Finally, DO enjoy watching your baby learn about food – and develop his skills with his hands and mouth in the process!

Sili Squeeze reusable food pouch for mess-free self-feeding: Babies, tots, kids [Giveaway+Review]

I’m always on the lookout for things that would make going out easy.

Alright, easier.

The Sili Squeeze promises mess-free self-feeding for babies, and also a healthy snack option for older kids. Yummy veg and fruit smoothies on a hot day!

So you don’t have to buy expensive ready-made food pouches – now you can make your own healthy, snacks or meals to go.

Founded by a mum in US, The Sili Company makes two versions: The original Sili Squeeze that’s spill-proof, and the newer Sili Squeeze with Eeze that’s free-flow. And each version comes in three sizes: 2oz (60ml), 4oz (120ml), and 6oz (180ml) – and four colours.

I found the Sili Squeeze after trawling through reviews of all kinds of food pouches. See this for a quick overview of the types of food pouches in the market.

The good people at Prettymums.com sent me both the spill-proof Sili Squeeze ($27.90) and free-flow Sili Squeeze with Eeze ($29.90) versions in size 180ml (60z) to review. Here’s the low-down.

What I like about the Sili:

1) Non-toxic material. Silicone is better than BPA-free plastic, because even BPA-free plastic can degrade and leach chemicals.

2) Can stand on its own, much like a bottle – no single-handed fumbling when I’m pouring a smoothie into the squeeze pouch. Most food pouches can’t do this.

3) Wide opening for ease of pouring. Sili Squeeze functions just like a bottle, so you just need a funnel to pour your smoothie in. Some food pouches have fumbly ziplock closures at the base, which sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, especially with repeated use.

4) Easy to clean, disassemble and assemble. No fiddly parts or hard-to-reach nooks and crannies that could grow mould.

Things to watch out for:

1) The Sili Squeeze and the Sili Squeeze with Eeze have different spouts. The original spill-proof version is great for mess-free self feeding, but it could take your child some time to master getting anything out of the pouch.

2) From what I’ve observed of Lil Pea – and I’ve even tried it myself – you need to combine sucking and gnawing to release the leak-proof opening of the spout. I wouldn’t complain about it, because you get what you ask for – it’s leak-proof, which means liquids don’t get out so easily.

3) Lil Pea got the hang of it after a while. But take note that it’s better to use the original spill-proof Sili Squeeze for thinner smoothies or purees which are more liquid.

4) For thicker breakfast smoothies – with chunky ingredients like oats, for example – use the free-flow Sili Squeeze with Eeze. It’s targeted at older kids who want a healthy, easy snack on the go. But if you want to use this with a younger baby, the little one will need help from you. Otherwise you will have a squirting good time (cleaning up) during breakfast!

Tip: To keep your smoothie cold on a day out – freeze a smoothie in your Sili Squeeze and chuck it into the freezer overnight.

Take it out just before going out with your child, and it will thaw nicely in a few hours into a yummy, cold smoothie. Works the same if you want to use the Sili for a pureed meal for baby; just warm it up in hot water before serving it to baby.

Recipes

Here are some recipes I whipped up for Lil Pea; really quick and easy.

 

Avocado and Berry Breakfast Smoothie

Fills one 6 oz. Sili Squeeze (more suitable for Sili Squeeze with Eeze)

80ml plain Greek yogurt or milk or formula

2 Tbsp instant oats, stirred into 20ml hot water

Half a ripe avocado

4 strawberries

Put everything into a blender and blend well till you get a smooth consistency – about 20 seconds. Add a sprig of mint before blending for a nice, refreshing zing.

 

Avocado and Banana Blast

Fills one 6 oz. Sili Squeeze (suitable for both spill-proof and free-flow)

100ml plain Greek yogurt or milk or formula

Half a ripe avocado

Half a banana

Mash the avocado and banana with a fork into the yogurt/milk and mix well. You can use your blender for smoother results; but mashing with a fork is fine, too. Add a dash of ground cinnamon and nutmeg before mixing, if you like, for adventurous taste buds.

Avocados are rich in folate (healthy cells and tissues) and potassium (metabolism and healthy bodily function) and are a good source of Vitamin K (clots blood). They are also full of Omega-3 and -6 goodness. Strawberries are chock-full of antioxidants. Bananas are creamy and give an energy boost, and Lil Pea looooves them. (“Nana! Nana! NANA!!!” he insists on having a banana every time he lays his eyes on one)

More yummy Sili Squeeze recipes here.

This is not a paid review, and the opinions here are entirely my own.

 

SILI SQUEEZE GIVEAWAY

Stardust&Bloom is giving away ONE Sili Squeeze original and ONE Sili Squeeze with Eeze. Click below to enter the contest, sponsored by Prettymums.com.

 

 

 

Myths about Baby Led Weaning

 
I wondered about many things when I was considering whether to let Lil Pea go down the Baby Led Weaning route. Will he choke? Will he eat enough? Will BLW really prevent fussy eaters? Will he be really handsome when he grows up?
 

Answers, please!

Our entire family has really enjoyed BLW with Lil Pea. But of course there are some days where he wolfs down everything and asks for more – and other days where he doesn't feel like eating so much. Just like any adult, really.

So, whether – and how – you adopt BLW is a personal choice based on what you think is best for you baby and your family. You know your baby best! Don't let judgey people get you down.
 

See my other post for an overview of our Baby Led Weaning journey.

Here are some of the common anxieties for parents considering Baby Led Weaning. I will update this list if I think of more!

Baby might choke.

Don't mistake gagging for choking.

In young babies, the gag reflex is very far forward on the tongue (so that baby will spit out food that is too large or goes down too quickly).

When baby is gagging, let him sort it out himself. It's a life skill, like pooping in the toilet and chasing girls. He will get better at it.

What you can do is fight the rising panic and try to look calm, while mentally running the baby Heimlich maneuver in your head. When I first started BLW I was always on the alert for possible choking!

Lil Pea actually choked only once, from being over-enthusiastic about a huge chunk of raw apple at 7 months. I did the baby Heimlich (see below) and it worked. He wasn't afraid, he didn't cry, and went back to the offending apple without missing a best.

Since then, he's learnt and always spat out pieces of food too large to swallow or too difficult to chew. A tip is to steam hard foods lightly to soften them.

See the latest guidelines on choking and infant resuscitation. You can also learn from the videos by Sky News and UK National Health Service on how to help a choking child, and how to perform baby Heimlich.

Parents will need this basic first aid knowledge anyway, as baby becomes more mobile and starts putting things in his mouth.

Alright, back to your gagging baby.

When baby is gagging, he will splutter noisily while trying to spit out the food. When he is actually really choking, you will know – there is almost no sound at all because baby can't breathe, and the face and lips will start turning blue. He will try to cough out the dislodged item.

If you hear gagging noises, baby is fine.

Stay calm, wait a bit, then help him dislodge what's stuck in his airway using the method above.

The idea with BLW is that he will learn to chew, spit and swallow.

 

The cleaning up will kill you.

Yes, it might. Is this something you're prepared to do?

Anyway, having a baby is a lot of cleaning up, whether you are doing BLW or not.

I spent my mornings cleaning Lil Pea up, changing him into fresh clothes, and cleaning up his high chair, the floor, and the surrounding environment. That's after cooking his breakfast, just before I went to work.

Just like changing diapers 20,000 times a day, you get used to it.

 

Baby can't digest large pieces of food.

It's true, he has no teeth. But he can gum foods like steamed apples and carrots and even meats. When he's happily gumming food, it means that he's scraping small bits off – so don't sweat it.

Lil Pea never had tummy troubles even when feeding himself strips of meat.

It was just slightly disturbing to see food in huge chunks in his poop, almost the same way they went in. But that was soon resolved as his digestive system matured.

As he grows older, his chewing skills will become better, and his young intestines will also get better at digesting, so don't worry.

 

Baby will not become a picky eater.

Nothing can guarantee your baby won't become a fussy eater. Babies change all the time. Toddlers, especially, are likely to go through a phase of refusing foods.

What BLW does is that it sets the stage for better eating habits. If meal times are not a battleground but a place of fun and exploration, it makes things easier in future for the baby and the parent.

A study by Dr Ellen Townsend and her colleague suggests that babies on BLW have lower BMI while babies on the weaning style of spoonfeeding have a higher incidence of obesity. But picky eating? Not that much difference.

A more recent study by Sonya Cameron and her colleagues shows that while health professionals are hesitant to recommend BLW, parents have been reporting good experiences with BLW, in this first paper to include interviews with health professionals.

I suppose you can ask me again when Lil Pea goes into the terrible twos when food fussiness kicks in (here are some tips to combat fussy eating), but BLW has been brilliant for us and our entire family had so much fun with Lil Pea.

 

 

 

 

Lookback: The First Year

Some of my friends call my son Ah Huat.

I think it’s because he is so blessed, and gives us much joy. (And also because when I was pregnant with him, I was able to flag down cabs without waiting and win prizes in contests.)

Here are some of his milestones – including daddy’s thoughts – in his first year that I want to ink into digital memory.

Continue reading

Baby Led Weaning and the Singaporean mum

Planking, boomz, and Angry Birds.

Is BLW a fad, like the latest trendy superfood to hit snooty grocery stores?

Is it an ang mo concept for mums with too much free time for cleaning?

Lil Pea using a fork at 15 months

I love Baby Led Weaning, or BLW. It simply means that we let baby feed themselves from the get-go when introducing solid foods. No purees or mush!
It’s a term coined by British health visitor Gill Rapley, who wrote the original book on Baby Led Weaning. (By the way, the Cookbook is a much more concise and useful resource for BLW. It explains BLW clearly and quickly, and offers plenty of useful recipes)

I have been doing BLW with Lil Pea when I first introduced him to solids. Now he is 15 months old, we are both still loving it.

At about 6 months, when baby shows signs of readiness to start solid foods, you can start. Health experts and breastfeeding experts agree that breastfeeding exlusively for the first 6 months and delaying solids till then is recommended.

Finger-sized foods like sticks of cooked carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin, apple, peach; florets of broccoli, and even meat (later on).

Lil Pea wolfs down his first birthday dinner of tray-baked chicken, potato and asparagus.

I must say it’s one if those highly personal choices for parents. BLW has its supporters and detractors, so have a chat with parents who actually do BLW and read up a little before you start the adventures!

See my other post for our experience with some common anxieties about Baby Led Weaning.

A more recent study by Sonya Cameron and her colleagues shows that while health professionals are hesitant to recommend BLW, parents have been reporting good experiences with BLW, in this first paper to include interviews with health professionals.

Another study by Dr Ellen Townsend and her colleague suggests that babies on BLW have lower BMI while babies on the weaning style of spoonfeeding have a higher incidence of obesity. But picky eating? Not that much difference.

I suppose you can ask me again when Lil Pea goes into the terrible twos when food fussiness kicks in (here are some tips to combat fussy eating), but BLW has been brilliant for us and our entire family had so much fun with Lil Pea.

So, munch on some popcorn while I gush.

 

At 10 months, a hearty breakfast of avocado, berries, egg and toasted rice cakes.

Yeah for BLW!

  • Baby gets to explore tastes and textures of food in their real form, not mush
  • Baby gets to practise motor skills like grasping, gnawing and moving food around in the mouth
  • Baby gets to decide what and how much he wants to eat (Lil Pea ate mostly everything, by the way)
  • Baby eats as the family eats – no spoonfeeding battles (I do not do ‘airplane flying’ spoonfeeding)
  • Baby enjoys and learns about interactivity during mealtimes with the family
  • Baby has positive associations and relationship with food

Common worries

  • A LOT of cleaning up to do, including cleaning up baby
  • Having to fight the anxiety that baby might choke (See: Myths of BLW)
  • People might give you the evil eye in public dining places
  • Having to clean up in public dining places or at friends’ homes
  • Did I mention having to clean up?

At 7.5 months, enjoying steamed carrot sticks, avocado wedges, and broccoli-carrot purée.

Traditional spoonfeeding vs BLW

I don’t care much for BLW purists – I just do whatever suits my family’s lifestyle the best. So I did both traditional puree/porridge, as well as BLW finger foods.

I want to be able to feed my baby porridge when we are out and about.

The rule of thumb is – do what is best for baby and your family’s lifestyle. There is no one-size-fits-all.

BLW enthusiasts encourage that parents allow BLW in restaurants and other public dining places, but I prefer not to. So I spoonfed Lil Pea as well, so that he would not refuse the spoon.

Anyway, just like for breastfeeding, follow baby’s cues when spoonfeeding – when he is full, stop feeding and do not force him to eat.

A caveat: BLW is a LOT of cleaning up, because making a mess at mealtimes is part of the fun of exploring the world of new foods.

Brace yourself, mummy!

 

Myths of BLW

Baby might choke. He can’t digest large pieces of food. The cleaning up will kill you. See my other post for our experience with some common anxieties about Baby Led Weaning.

And shimmy over here for the latest guidelines on choking and infant resuscitation. While you’re at it don’t forget the videos by Sky News and UK National Health Service on how to help a choking child, and how to perform baby Heimlich.

You will need this basic first aid knowledge anyway, as baby becomes more mobile and starts putting things in his mouth.

Yahoo, I guess.

Sources and useful resources:

  1. “Baby Lead Weaning – Starting solids with foods straight from the dinner table!.” Baby Led Weaning. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 June 2014. .
  2. “Baby Led Weaning.” Baby Led Weaning. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 June 2014. .
  3. “Baby-led Weaning: A Real Food Approach to Feeding Your Baby.” Nourished Kitchen. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 June 2014. .
  4. Ford, Gina. The contented little baby book of weaning: your one-stop guide to contented feeding. London: Vermilion, 2002. Print.
  5. Karmel, Annabel. Annabel Karmel’s new complete baby and toddler meal planner. 4th ed. London: Ebury, 2008. Print.
  6. Karp, Harvey. The happiest baby on the block. New York: Bantam Books, 2012. Print.
  7. Murkoff, Heidi, and Arlene Eisenberg. What to expect the first year. New York: Workman Pub., 2009. Print.
  8. Rapley, Gill, and Tracey Murkett. Baby-led weaning: helping your baby to love good food. London: Vermilion, 2008. Print.
  9. Rapley, Gill, and Tracey Murkett. Baby-led weaning cookbook: over 130 delicious recipes for the whole family to enjoy. London: Vermilion, 2010. Print.
  10. Yaron, Ruth. Super baby food: your complete guide to what, when and how to feed your baby and toddler. 3rd ed. Peckville, Pa.: F.J. Roberts Pub. Co., 2013. Print.

 

Age guide to introducing solids

 

Whether you’re doing BLW Baby Led Weaning or the usual purée route, you will find this age guide for solids introduction amazingly useful.

I have this on my fridge and ticked off every new food I introduced to Lil Pea.

It also helped to keep track of any allergies (we found out he’s allergic to cow’s milk).

Age guide to introducing solids

What’s good about this’s particular chart is that it’s easy to use, laid out nicely, and takes a more prudent approach (later, rather than earlier for some possibly allergenic foods).

Also, it’s cross-referenced to well-known sources (see bottom of chart for sources).

This chart I pinned to my Pinterest board keeps getting re-pinned; no doubt other parents find it useful too!

You can follow my weaning and solid foods Pinterest boards here:

 

Age guide source: www.design-kat.com

 

Nursing wear by Spring: Review

No mumsy pyjamas-floral potato sacks, please. It’s awful enough fighting morning sickness every day, water retention, and a world globe of a bump.

When I was pregnant with Little Pea, my maternity wardrobe was mostly made up of Spring Maternity apparel. Two things that drew me to this local brand that distributes throughout South-East Asia and other parts of the world: Soft, breathable fabrics and chic styles.

 

From my second trimester onwards, I bought this brand’s nursing wear that could take me from pregnancy to the breastfeeding stage. Clothes that I could wear on the weekend and in the office.

Here’s a tip: Instead of maternity clothes, opt for nursing wear even at the beginning of your pregnancy, if you intend to breastfeed. You can still use nursing wear after giving birth.

Little Pea is one year old now, and I’m still wearing these nursing clothes. How’s that for mileage?

I especially liked the cool, smooth fabrics of their bamboo fabric range.

So when Spring sent me their latest nursing apparel designs for review, I was more than happy to try them out.

 

Virgina Tie Up Dress Red

Virginia tie up nursing dress in red

It may be a bit warm in Singapore for long-sleeved wear, but this nursing dress in striking red bamboo cotton is great for the office, or a dinner date. It’s pretty versatile.

Virginia nursing access

And, it hugs in the right places, too.

It also features an accessible, stretchy nursing opening, artfully hidden in the bust-hugging wrap front. You could also choose where you want the tie front to be – to the side, or straight-centre.

A huge plus for breastfeeding mums – there’s no way you could wear a normal dress and breastfeed.

I could nurse Little Pea easily in this dress. No fumbling about. Yay for nursing in public, easy as you please.

 

 

Flo Layer Sleeveless Top Canary

This cheery, stylish asymmetrical drape top in canary yellow is also made of Green by Spring’s range of bamboo fabric.

Flo Layer sleeveless top in canary yellow

Wonderful in humid Singapore weather, and easy to nurse in.

Flo nursing access

But be sure to try it out before buying it. This top runs a bit big in size.

If you go a size too big, it may hang loosely, kind of like a potato sack in a bad telematch. Get the right fit and it will hug your curves nicely. Mine is, er, slightly too big. That’s because I didn’t try it on first!

 

Spring Macy Bamboo Bra Nude

Macy bamboo nursing bra in nude

This comfortable drop-cup bra in bamboo fabric gives good support and a subtle lift. But like any bra, get yours fitted before buying it.

Women have such differently-shaped bodies, what works for me may not suit your body shape. In fact, some of the other bras I bought from Spring tended to be a bit too wide, and the cups would gape slightly.

This bra, however, fit me nicely, with no awkward gaps.

I remember trying almost the entire range of Spring bras at their shop in my first and second trimester. Truckloads, I tell you! Keep trying until you find a cut that fits you.

 

Maureen Front Clip Bra Cinder

Maureen front clip bra in cinder

This another drop-cup bra that fits me well. And the padding is not too thick, which is what I like. I don’t fancy a bulky front, cos hey, I already went up two bra sizes. So, no thank you.

The fabric is comfortable enough. Smooth and soft on the skin. I’ve worn this since my second trimester.

But the racer back design of the shoulder straps tend to peek out under the wide collars of my tops. And somehow the shoulder straps, which pull towards the nape, would yank the drop-down cup clips a bit out of whack, so that the clips would stick out slightly and dig into the shoulders.

It took a few adjustments, with the clips at a slightly unnatural position, to get them to stop digging in.

Otherwise, the cut of the bra fits me well.

 

Mae Strapless Bamboo Bra

Mae strapless bamboo bra in nude

I’ve worn this since my second trimester.

Strapless bras are a cinch to breastfeed with. Really easy to fold down, no clips to fumble with.

They are way more convenient than drop-down cups, but the downside is that they tend to shift in position slightly and therefore offer less secure support.

The shape of these cups keep well, after many washes.

 

Lacy Lucy Nursing Pads

Lacy Lucy nursing pads

Spring sent me these nursing pads to try out. They come in three colours: Black, peach-nude, and white, with adhesive strips.

I used to leak about 60ml in the early months of breastfeeding – much less now. Little Pea nurses 4 times a day now that he is over one year old.

These pads are highly absorbent, comfortable and keep me dry.

The curve of the pads work well to stay unobtrusive and adhered to bra cups. The lacy scalloped top rim is a nice touch.

But that plastic scalloped edge rubs against the skin slightly and causes some irritation. After some adjustments, that didn’t happen very often.

And the inner cottony pad tends to bunch up, especially when releasing the drop-down cup of a bra or pulling down the cup of a bandeau bra.

I usually use Pigeon nursing pads. Those are also highly absorbent and don’t bunch up so much.

 

You can find Spring shops at these locations, or shop online. They offer free shipping above $80.

Do let me know how you find Spring’s maternity and nursing products. They have a nice range of baby apparel too, also in bamboo fabric!