Baby-Led Weaning. What is it all about?

First off, what is Baby-Led Weaning (BLW)? 

This is the practice of introducing foods by having the infant feed themselves rather than being spoon-fed by an adult. We are also talking about solid foods that are provided in addition to breastfeeding or formula.

 Things to know: 

Photo by bit245/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by bit245/iStock / Getty Images

  • If you choose to start BLW, it should be at a point when the infant can sit upright, and can hold their head up
  • Provide Iron-rich foods, examples include: Poultry, cooked tofu, legumes, enriched infant cereals, and pureed meats.

WHY?

  • During pregnancy, newborns have stored sufficient Iron for their first 6 months. Afterwards, they need to consume Iron-rich foods along with being breastfed, to maintain Iron levels.

Choking? 

Many people avoid this method because to the fear of their child choking. 

General Rule for Avoiding Choking with BLW: width of infants' 5th finger (pinky) can be used to estimate the size of their airway. Keep this in may as a reference for size of food that can block the airway.

 

References:

Cichero, AJY. (2016). Introducing solid foods using Baby-Led Weaning vs. spoon-feeding. Nutrition Bulletin, 41:72-77

Cameron, SL., Heath, M., Taylor, RW. (2012). How feasible is Baby-Led Weaning as an approach to infant feeding? Nutrients, 4:1575-1609.

 

Let's Talk About Texture

Texture can be a tricky substance. We worry about what we feed our children, and how we serve it because we do not want they to choke on anything. This is a concern everywhere. Different countries have come up with there own food texture recommendations, and the main agreed on recommendation between them is that food consistency and variety should increase as the child grows older.  

In Canada, the recommendation is: 

* But before note that every child develops at their own pace, therefore remember that these are recommendations and not guidelines.  

At 6 months

Offer variety of texture: Pureed, Softly mashed, lumpy, grated, ground, finely minced.

No later than 9 months

Offer lumpy foods.

Before 10 months: 

Based on observations, there seems to be a window of opportunity  for the introduction of texture-modified solid foods to prevent risk of feeding difficulties later on.

At 12 months

Offer texture modified food family food. This means it is chopped, ground or mashed.

Chocking Hazards:

  • Hard, small, round, smooth and sticky solid foods

For example: Raw Vegetables, nuts, wieners, Hard Candies, Cough Drops, Gum, Raisins, Grapes, Pumpkin Seeds, Fish with Bones, Popcorn, Marshmallows, Peanut Butter spread thickly

However, what you can do is...

  • Cut into smaller pieces, ex: Grapes
  • Remove pits from fruits
  • Grate hard fruit and vegetable like carrots and apples
  • Dice or cut lengthwise like foods like sausages or wieners
  • Finely chop stringy fibrous and textured foods like pineapple and celery

References

Health Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada, Breastfeeding Committee for Canada. Nutrition for healthy term infants: recommendations from birth to six months. 2012 [cited 2012 Nov 21]. Available from: http://hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/infant-nourisson/recom/index-eng.php

Health Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada, Breastfeeding Committee for Canada. Nutrition for healthy term infants: recommendations from six to 24 months. 2014 [cited 2014 Apr 25]. Available from: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/infant-feeding/nutrition-healthy-term-infants-recommendations-birth-six-months/6-24-months.html

Harris CS, Baker S.P, Smith GA, Harris RM. Childhood asphyxiation by food: a national analysis and overview. JAMA. 1984 May 4 [cited 2012 May 16];251(17):2231-5. Abstract available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6708272

Shim JE, Kim J, Mathai RA; STRONG Kids Research Team. Associations of infant feeding practices and picky eating behaviors of preschool children. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Sep [cited 2012 Jul 30];111(9):1363-8. Abstract available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21872699

 

Welcome to the Nutrition Corner

Hi there,

My name is Meera. I am currently finishing my Nutrition and Food degree at Ryerson University.

Through this blog, I will be sharing evidence-based Nutrition information on some of the Hot Topics I hear on a daily basis at the Centre. For instance, Baby-Led Weaning (BLW), picky eaters, food textures are often conversation subjects between parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers. 

 

Picky Eaters

To start off, let's acknowledge how different our children are. Some parents and caregivers may have no issues feeding their children, and to others that is something completely unheard off as their children may refuse anything laid in front of them. So what do parents do in such cases? 

I would like to introduce you to Dietitians of Canada, this is a professional association of Registered Dietitians who's purpose is to advance health through food and nutrition. They have put together "Tips on Feeding Your Picky Toddler or Preschooler" which I will be summarizing in this Blog post.

Note that there is a shared responsibility between Parents/Caregivers and Child when feeding a child.

As the Parent/Caregiver, you would decide the What, Where & When

What foods...

- Try to make one family meal because when you child watches you eat they learn to eat those foods too

- Include a variety of healthy foods

- Canada's Food Guide, recommends 4 servings of Fruits and Vegetables for children 2-3 years of age 

 

When to eat...

- Set meal times

- Kids more likely to come to the table being hungry and willing to try new foods

- Have 3 meals and 2-3 snacks at regular times. Offer water in between. Even a bit of milk, juice or some crackers can spoil their appetite.

 

Where to eat

- Eating together is preferred. So that means Family Meal Tables

- Eating is a social process. Eating together helps your child learn healthy eating habits and is a time for you to a role model for healthy eating.

Your child will decide...

If and How much to eat..

- Your child will  tell you when he is full or hungry.

Other Tips from DC: 

Include Children in the Meal-Prep work (growing, shopping, picking & cooking together)

  • children will become more open-minded to new foods
  • Include them in your trips to the Grocery Stores. This would be great exposure to foods in their whole state

We want children to get excited and want to come back to the meal table .. SO Keep meal times pleasant and relaxed

  • For example, let children eat with their fingers

Have children focus on eating

  • Seat them at the meal table in a high chair or booster seat 
  • Avoid using phones, TV, computer, radios, toy to distract them

Kids do not eat well under pressure

  • Avoid praising, rewarding, tricking or punishing them for eating/not eating

Offer a variety of foods at each meal

  • Offer new foods in the presence of familiar foods
  • Try serving new foods in different ways. Change it up! Like Mashing or soft-boiling carrots, or grating them to put them in muffins or soups
  • Don't lose hope, DC says sometimes it takes 15 tastes before a child likes a new food

 

Reference

Dietitians of Canada. <PEN Handout/Tips for Feeding you Picky Toddlers and Preschoolers>. Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition [PEN] Knowledge Pathway <Population Health/Lifestyle>.<27 October 2014>. Available from :http://www.pennutrition.com. Access only by suscription. Free trials available.