Baby led weaning has hit modern parenting with a bang, and the trend is growing fast. As a Continuum parent, I love the concept behind BLW and the huge step it has taken in respecting our children and their bodies.
We trust them to know what they need and how much, and we respect their decision when they choose not to eat any more of a meal.
We can let them help themselves from our plates, and mealtimes become a time for being social and interactive, rather than strained and baby centred as we huddle over a high-chair trying to spoon feed a reluctant child.
We can offer them a range of fresh foods, and tuck in to the same things at the same time.
But where does this leave the traditional baby foods, the purees and the mushy vegetables? Well, for some of it, we can happily wave goodbye. Jars filled with preservatives and unnatural ingredients, powdered food that looks and smells as unappetising as a bowl of sawdust.
But not all smooth foods deserve our expressions of disgust. There is a reason that many health food advocates, and nutritionists alike recommend giving our system a break every now and then, by drinking fresh juices, home made smoothies and eating delicious vegetable soups. These smooth foods are packed with easily absorbed nutrients, and are easy on our digestive system. Without the need to waste precious energy breaking down a heavy meal, our bodies can concentrate on healing, and in the case of a baby, growing.
Babies have delicate and brand new digestive systems, and giving them something delicious and smooth to delve in to, is actually very good for them. Baby led weaners can get carried away, rushing headlong in to offering up the family roast dinner and shunning those traditionally used simpler foods. But simple is good, especially in those early days of weaning. Soft fruits offered as finger foods (As BLW recommends) enable your baby to experience and explore the act of eating, without bombarding the digestive system with too much, too soon, and blended fruits in a nutritionally dense smoothie are great to dig in to either in a cup or with a spoon. Both have their place. I enjoy a smoothie for breakfast every day and find that it is a very gentle way to start the day without weighing down my digestive system unnecessarily.
So where does this leave baby led weaning?
Smooth foods don’t have to mean abandoning the wonderful principals of BLW. Most babies are quite capable of directing a preloaded spoon in to their mouths from around six months old. They can use their fingers to explore thick smoothies or drink from a doidy cup. They can still choose when to eat and when to say no. We can still trust them and respect their decisions. And they can still enjoy a good old roast potato! It’s all about balance, and accepting that just because a food doesn’t come in the form of a finger food or an adult meal, doesn’t mean you aren’t a baby led parent. Being baby led is about so much more than offering finger foods. It’s about having a respectful and loving connection between parent and child, that can include “baby food.”
How have you approached weaning with your own child? Do you subscribe to the principals of baby led weaning? Do you agree that our children are capable of deciding for themselves how much and how often to eat? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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