If you’ve already started baby-led weaning, you know about the mess.
My Instagram may show the fun finished product, but my husband will attest that the kitchen is in shambles 90% of the time.
I have two set-ups in our kitchen/family room, depending on what and when she’s eating and how messy I know it’s going to get. There are so many options for baby bowls out there, and I highly recommend using one rather than putting food on the tray. Since babies don’t develop their pincer grasp until month 9-10, they need something to push their food up against.
Maya eats the majority of her meals in this setup, sitting on top of the kitchen island. I love this chair because it’s almost impossible for her to move around in (though I always stand very close by) and the whole thing comes apart and can go straight into the sink to be hosed down. We took this chair on vacation and it was perfect. The Goobie Baby bowls are miraculously strong enough that she can’t break the suction from the tray. I portion the food out in the bowl but she always mixes it up anyway and doesn’t seem to mind things comingling. The bibs are great at catching the 65% of food that doesn’t make into her mouth. They’re very easy to clean. I recommend having two bowls and two bibs, at least.
Maya rarely sits over here unless we are all eating breakfast together or she’s having a relatively “clean” snack, like puffs. This chair is great in theory but much harder to clean and dry out. In order for her to have a footrest, we’ve sacrificed a dining chair to the cause so she can stand on it, rather than have her legs dangling. The mat sticks some of the time, but recently she’s been able to peel it off and throw it like a frisbee, food ‘n all, to the patiently waiting dog. As she gets older and (hopefully) less acrobatic at meals, this will probably be a great option.
A note on spoons: While spoon-feeding your baby directly is not the goal of BLW, pre-loading a spoon and handing it to her or setting it down in the bowl for her to grasp is a great way to help her learn how to serve herself.
I have a confession: I stocked up on piles of purees before I started learning about baby-led weaning. It freaked me out until I learned from the very best, the BabyLedWeanTeam, and I armed myself with all of the knowledge I’d need to feel confident.
Here are some of the biggest things to know before you start:
Gagging is GOOD, choking is not. Google “baby gagging videos” and watch a lot of them. If your baby is making sounds, they are learning to clear their airways. No sound=no breathing. Brush up on your baby CPR just in case.
On that note, never leave baby unattended while eating. Sit with them and watch them closely. Try to avoid reaching for them if they are gagging. It could cause them to inhale and then start choking.
Pay attention to sodium! Try to stay under 100mg per serving and don’t add any additional salt to the food you are serving. Aromatics are great: cinnamon, pepper, garlic powder, etc. Rinsing canned food such as beans helps remove an additional 30% of sodium.
This may be a no-brainer, but serve food at room temperature or cool.
If possible, put baby in a chair that has a footrest. If their feet dangle, they have little to no core stability. Read more about it here. We solved this problem with our Inglesina table chair by sliding a dining chair underneath it. Maya’s feet are flat so can focus her energy on swallowing safely.
So…where to start? These 10 foods are also some of my favorite BLW staples that I always have on hand.
Sweet Potato: Peel, slice into wedges about the size of your pinky, toss in olive oil and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.
Avocado: These can be hard to pick up, so offer as wedges and smash a few up with a fork.
Chicken: Boneless skinless thighs are less of a choking hazard than chicken breasts. Put the thighs in a small saucepan and add water or low sodium chicken broth until they are just covered. Bring to a boil and then simmer until meal shreds easily with a fork, about 10 minutes (internal temp of 165 degrees.) Serve in strips.
Pineapple: Canned is just fine! I like Dole pineapple slices in 100% pineapple juice. Cut into strips and serve.
Yogurt: Look for full-fat, low sodium options. And be ready for a BIG mess!
Carrots: Peel and cut into matchsticks. Drizzle olive oil over the top and season with pepper and garlic or ginger. Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes, until very soft.
Oatmeal: For the first time introducing this, I pulverized the oats in a blender to make them a little smaller. In a small saucepan, combine 1c water, 1/2c oats, and 1/2t of cinnamon. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed. -Toppings to add to the boiling water after week 1: Diced apples, hemp hearts, chia seeds.
Cantaloupe: This one can also be hard to pick up. If baby is struggling, try rolling one end in flax seeds.
Cauliflower: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut one large head of cauliflower into florets. Leave a little bit of them the stem as a handle. Toss in olive oil and season with your favorite savory (low-to no sodium) spices: garlic powder, basil, turmeric, curry. Pick 1-2 flavors to start. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes until fork tender.
Applesauce: Look for no-sugar-added options. **not sugar-free.**