Looking for a new fruit to serve your baby? Do you want your little one to experience something other than bananas and oranges while doing baby-led weaning? Why not give the kiwi a try! This fuzzy fruit is actually a berry, and pound for pound contains more vitamin C than oranges.
Ripe kiwi has the ideal texture for an infant just starting their real food journey. All that hairy skin comes in handy too. Not only is it edible, but it helps tiny hands get a good grip on an otherwise slippery fruit. Ki-Oui!
Watch this video to see how easy it is to prep kiwi for your BLW baby:
If you found this video useful and would like to see more like it, subscribe to my channel today!
How to Prepare Kiwi for Your BLW Baby
You want to start by choosing a soft and ripe kiwi. If the fruit is underripe, the white middle section can be tough for babies who are just starting to eat on their own.
Next you want to give the skin a gentle scrub under cold water. It is important that the skin is clean since it will without a doubt go into your curious baby’s mouth.
Take a sharp knife and cut the kiwi into quarters with the skin on. Cut the end corners off each quarter to ensure none of the hard stem area is included.
Serve it just like that to your baby. If you find the middle section is still too tough, you can remove it before serving. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving the skin on and your baby does well without the skin, you can remove it. It’s just that the skin tends to help the kiwi slide less in their mouth. Your choice! Make sure you always supervise your baby when he or she is eating.
Which fruits do you like serving to your BLW baby? Tell us in the comments below!
How to Practice Safe BLW During the Holidays (2 of 3): Foods to Avoid
During this festive season, we want you and your family to stay happy, healthy, and of course, safe. That is why we developed part two of our series on how to practice safe BLW during the holidays.
There are many holiday foods, during any occasion whether it be Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanzaa, that are safe for baby with modifications. However, certain foods should be avoided if you want the challah-days to stay safe, and we have listed several of them in this post.
Watch this video to see which foods should be avoided during the holiday season for BLW infants:
Like this video and want to see more free BLW content by a registered dietitian? Subscribe to my channel today!
Traditional Holiday Foods to Avoid in BLW
Certain Appetizers or Snack Foods
Any small, hard and round snack food is a choking hazard for baby. This includes festive popcorn, fancy escargot and many items on a charcuterie board, including olives, nuts, grapes or hard cheeses. Holiday candies or chocolate should also be completely avoided.
Certain Fruits and Vegetables
The cherry tomatoes or raw vegetables you see on a holiday platter are often too hard or are the wrong shape for baby. Other common holiday foods to be avoided are peas, cranberries (including sauces), and pomegranate seeds.
Fresh White Bread
Fresh white bread is often an accompaniment to holiday meals, but for baby it can become very sticky while they try to manipulate it in their mouth. Fresh bread mixed with saliva can get stuck on the roof of the mouth and is therefore a choking hazard.
Raw Fish or Raw Meats
Even though smoked salmon or oysters may seem like the right texture, they have not been properly heat treated to remove the risk of contamination. For this reason, they should be avoided.
Do you feel comfortable about which foods to avoid during the holidays? Let us know in the comments below!
How to Practice Safe BLW During the Holidays (1 of 3): Foods to Include
🎶Fa-ba-ba-ba-ba, ba-ba-ba-baby led weaning🎶! It is that time of year again (the holidays!), full of yuletide and cheer, family and friends, and of course, good food and drink. We think you should spend this time with loved ones, not lugging around jars of baby food or stressing over finding the microwave in a turbulent holiday kitchen.
So how can you include your BLW bonhomme-de-neige in the festivities safely? With baby-led weaning, your baby can eat the same thing as the rest of the family, with some simple modifications. Brace your elves because we have a foolproof ‘how-to’ guide coming up!
Watch us explain how simple BLW during the holiday season can be in this video:
If you enjoyed this video and would like to see more like it, subscribe to my channel today!
Common Holiday Foods Modified for BLW
This classic holiday protein is delicious and nutritious. For baby, offer the dark meat as it is usually more tender, and contains more of the iron and fat that baby needs. Remove the skin, which contains most of the salt, and choose a piece that is about the size of an adult pinky finger.
Steamed Green Beans
Tender steamed beans are perfect both in shape and texture for BLW babies. Make sure to rinse off any sauces that may be served with the beans.
Mashed potatoes can be offered right on your babies platter, or on a preloaded spoon. Another option is scalloped potatoes, which have a wonderful soft texture and if cut thick enough, are easy for baby to grab and bring to their mouth.
Having something other than these three common foods? Try it out yourself before serving it to baby! First, always make sure the food is about the size of an adult pinky finger or larger. Then, pretend you have no teeth and squish it against the roof of your mouth with your tongue. If it comes apart and is easy to swallow, it is safe to offer to baby.
Will you include baby at the holiday table? Tell us in the comment section.
Choking and Baby Led Weaning (BLW): What does the most recent research say?
Last week during one of my webinars about BLW, a registered dietitian harshly interrupted me to voice her concerns about choking. She told me that what I’m saying is very scary and I should take my videos down. She said that my babies are cute and all but I should temper my enthusiasm about BLW. I’m sure this dietitian isn’t the only one to be scared about choking. That’s why I wrote up this blog post that addresses why babies who do BLW safely are not more at risk of choking compared to babies who eat jarred baby food, using the most recent research. I would like to thank Gill Rapley and dietetics intern Natalie Quathamer for their support and assistance in addressing this.
Choking: the main concern
When it comes to Baby Led Weaning, both parents and healthcare professionals find the risk of choking as a major concern. This is a very fair concern, as a baby’s first bite is a brand new experience of mastering chewing, swallowing and breathing all together for the first time, putting them at an overall higher risk of choking. To help quantify the current state of the issue, more than 12,000 children from age 0-14 have a non-fatal choking incident attributable to food in the US each year, as found by Chapin et al. in 2013 (1). No parent wants their child to choke, and as a professional it is your duty to protect the wellbeing of your clients. Unsurprisingly, choking is reported again and again as the #1 fear with regards to BLW in studies such as that by D’Andrea et al. in 2016 (2). That’s why I will spend a considerable amount of time addressing this very warranted concern.
What’s my objective with this post?
The goal here today is to focus on making you feel more comfortable with the fact that BLW babies are not more at risk of choking than babies fed with traditional spoon-fed approaches, using the most recent science.
What about baby’s motor skills?
First, let’s take a look at the average feeding timeline for a baby, to better understand the physiology of feeding. As many seminal studies, such as that by Woolridge in 1986 (3) have seen, at birth babies are able to feed themselves on their own. Physiologically, they have the innate reflex to suckle at the breast. Babies know when to feed, how to feed, when to stop and at what pace. Once they hit 1 ½ or 2 years old, we can again assume that most babies can feed themselves without help. This leaves a gap, starting at around six months, where we assume we have to feed babies with a spoon. However, babies do not lose their ability to self-regulate on when to feed, when to stop and at what pace, but are simply developing new physiological traits that change how and what they eat. These motor skill changes that develop around 6 months, like coordinating the grabbing and bringing of big objects like toys to their mouth and being able to sit upright with minimal help, make self-feeding a reasonable endeavour for most healthy infants at this time, as indicated in a literature review done by Cameron, Heath and Taylor in 2012 (4).
Traditionally speaking, we don’t tend to respect these new developmental milestones which can be a problem. Babies are then subject to being fed, at someone else’s pace and on someone else’s schedule, which has the power to lead to unexpected bites, overconsumption and a more stressful feeding environment.
What about oral motor skills?
So babies can maintain the correct position and bring food to their mouth, but what about oral motor skills? Well in their 2017 study, Cameron, Heath and Taylor (4) continue by noting that infants are able to handle foods that are soft in texture at 6 months by “munching” which is using up and down jaw movements to mash the food and eventually form a bolus. With this linear practice of munching, biting and chewing with age, babies get to apply and tweak their oral motor skills as they come in, rather than waiting in a spoon-feeding approach. This may have the power to prevent possible feeding difficulties in the future as well as choking episodes, since they have already developed, tested and fine-tuned their skills.
The gag reflex
I want to touch briefly on gagging, the protective reflex that helps prevent choking. Babies at six months of age have a gag reflex that is triggered at a much more frontal place in their mouth, as indicated by Rapley in 2011 (5). A possible benefit of BLW is that since only large pieces of food are offered at a time when the gag reflex is at the front of the mouth, this may help keep only well-masticated food to the back. It is important to note that BLW babies may gag more than their spoon-fed counterparts, as seen in the BLISS study by Taylor et.al in 2017 (6). However, by 8 months of age when these babies had a better grasp on self-feeding, they began to gag less than the control group.
Safety of jarred foods
Another consideration is the question of whether purees themselves are easy to eat, particularly once the ability to chew has developed. As noted in the thesis by Delaney in 2010 (7), for babies who can chew, purees are actually not that easy to manage, as the puree spreads throughout the mouth with chewing action and is very difficult to gather in a bolus.
What does the most recent science say?
Let’s finally get down to the nitty-gritty: what exactly does the newest science have to say specifically about BLW and choking risk? The best evidence to refute the idea that BLW leads to a higher choking risk is again the ongoing BLISS study by Taylor et.al in 2017 (6). This was a 2 year long Randomized Control Trial (RCT), where a control group of spoon fed babies were compared with a group of babies fed using the BLISS method, which is a combination of regular BLW techniques with extra instruction (such as choking prevention and offering high iron foods). Overall, the study found that that there was no difference in the number of babies who choked between the groups. Not only that, but it found no evidence of growth faltering or risk of iron deficiency in BLISS babies.
Another RCT by Fangupo et.al in 2016 (8) also showed that infants are not more at risk of choking following a BLW approach than spoon-fed. Better though still, is an editorial in the journal JAMA pediatrics, by Lakshman, Clifton and Ong in 2017 (9). This study pronounces BLW as a safe and effective intervention; no difference in energy intake, growth faltering or iron deficiency were noted, and no more choking incidents than in traditional spoon feeding. They even go so far as to suggest it may be recommended. It is important as purveyors of accurate science to look at all sides of the research. Another study from New Zealand by Morison et.al in 2016 (10), did indicate a possibly higher choking risk with a BLW-style approach. However, this study did not adequately define BLW; parents simply chose if they thought themselves to belong in the BLW group or the traditional feeding group, making the results difficult to state in a conclusive manner. An important take-away from this study was that education regarding inappropriate foods for infants, whether doing BLW or spoon-feeding, continues to be low. This further promotes the role of the dietitian during the infant feeding process, regardless of the approach.
What is the takeaway?
In summary, we need to remember that choking is a multifactorial issue; posture, chewing abilities, and distractions all need to be accounted for. However, with a dietitian-led BLW approach, babies are focused on their food, able to eat at their own pace, are under no pressure and most importantly, are not at a higher risk of choking than with purees.
How can we make sure BLW is being done safely?
Make sure the baby is sitting upright while eating (none of those lying back bouncy chairs or high chairs that aren’t at 90˚).
Limit distractions: no TV, IPad, cell phone or big crowds for the first few weeks so baby is not overwhelmed and can focus
Make sure the baby is ready to feed him/herself on their own. Don’t start too early
Do not feed the baby by putting foods into their mouth. You can lodge the food further down and actually cause choking by doing this
Offer appropriate foods that they can easily grab and are soft enough to handle.
Chapin, M. M., et al. (2013). “Nonfatal Choking on Food Among Children 14 Years or Younger in the United States, 2001–2009.” Pediatrics 132(2): 275-281.
D’Andrea, E, KIELYN JENKINS, MARIA MATHEWS, BARBARA ROEBOTHAN (2016). Baby-led Weaning: A Preliminary Investigation. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research
Woolridge, M. W. (1986). “The ‘anatomy’ of infant sucking.” Midwifery 2(4): 164-171.
Cameron, S. L., Heath, A-L. M., & Taylor, R. W. (2012). Healthcare professionals’ and mothers’ knowledge of, attitudes to and experiences with, Baby-Led Weaning: a content analysis study. BMJ Open, 2 (6), 1-9. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012001542
Rapley, G. (2011). Transitioning to solid foods at the baby’s own pace. Community Practitioner, Jun;84(6):20-3.
Taylor, R.W., Williams, S.M., Fangupo, L.J., Wheeler, B.J., Daniels, L., Fleming, E.A., McArthur, J., Morison, B., Erickson, L.W., Davies, R.S., Bacchus, S., Cameron, S.L. and Heath, A-L. M. (2017) ‘Effect of a baby-led approach to complementary feeding on infant growth and overweight: A randomised clinical trial’, JAMA Pediatrics, 171(9): 838-846.
Delaney, A.L. (2010) Oral-motor Movement Patterns in Feeding Development. Ph.D. (Communicative Disorders). University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Fangupo, L. J., Heath, A-L. M., Williams, S. M., Erickson, L. W., Morison, B. J., Fleming, E. A.,…Taylor, R. W. (2016). A Baby-Led Approach to Eating Solids and Risk of Choking. Pediatrics, 138 (4), 1-8. doi:10.1542/peds.2016-0772
Lakshman, R.; Clifton, E.A. and Ong, K.K. (2017) ‘Baby-led weaning – safe and effective but not preventive of obesity’, JAMA Pediatrics, 171(9): 832-833
Morison, B. J., Taylor, R. W., Haszard, J. J., Schramm, C. J., Erickson, L. W., Fangupo L. J.,…Heath, A-L. M. (2016). How different are baby-led weaning and conventional complementary feeding? A cross-sectional study of infants aged 6–8 months. BMJ Open, 6 (5), 1-11. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015010665
It’s getting hot outside and it’s time to light the barbecue. You might be wondering if babies can eat food grilled on the barbecue. The question is: are barbecuing and Baby Led Weaning (BLW) compatible?
The answer is yes, starting at around 6 months old. You do want to make sure you do it safely (as with everything else) because research shows that cooking meat, poultry and fish at high temperatures may increase you and your baby’s risk of cancer.
Marinate meat, poultry and fish before cooking. Studies have shown that marinating these foods can prevent the formation of cancer-causing chemicals.
When barbecuing, choose lean cuts of meat, poultry and seafood over higher-fat meats. Trim off visible fat. This will reduce the amount of harmful chemicals that develop from the smoke created by burning fat.
Barbecue slowly and keep the food away from the hot coals so that flames are less likely to engulf the food to prevent charring.
Try grilling vegetables, veggie burgers and fruit slices. Most experts agree that plant-based foods do not form the cancer-causing substances when cooked at high heat.
Foods grilled on the barbecue are great for babies because they maintain their shape yet babies can easily bite into them. Asparagus are delicious this time of year. Why not try barbecued asparagus? Here is a 6-month old enjoying asparagus on the barbecue:
Even grilled mushrooms are totally appropriate for babies:
If your baby just sucks on a strip of meat without actually eating any, he or she is still getting some iron. It could also occupy a baby for quite some time!
Here are some free barbecue recipes that you can try for your baby:
What’s with all the hype around lacto-fermented vegetables like sauerkraut? What are they, why should your baby eat them and where can you find them?
What are lacto-fermented vegetables?
Lacto-fermented vegetables (or simply “fermented veggies”) include foods like sauerkraut, pickles and pickled seasonal vegetables. They contain a healthy dose of gut-friendly bacteria, also known as probiotics. Regular consumption of these good bacteria is beneficial to your baby’s health.
Why are fermented vegetables good for babies?
Fermented vegetables help with digestion and provide a healthy boost to the immune system, improving all-around gut function . Foods like sauerkraut and fermented vegetables have even been shown to reduce the risk of some cancers . For babies in particular, fermented foods might be beneficial in helping with digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, or gas .
Aren’t fermented vegetables too salty for babies?
While fermented veggies like sauerkraut offer a wide range of health benefits to your baby, it’s important to keep in mind that they’re quite salty. While sodium is a required nutrient for babies, too much of it is not a good thing. Keeping this in mind, if you’re offering small amounts of fermented foods to your baby – like 1 pickled carrot spear, or 1 tablespoon of sauerkraut – the benefits of including them in your baby’s diet is worth the extra salt.
Here is a six-month old enjoying a fistful of sauerkraut:
Here she is chomping down on a fermented carrot. It’s the perfect texture for her where she can easily grab it and it’s soft enough to take bites from:
Here she is about to enjoy lacto-fermented turnips (right) and sauerkraut (left):
Where can I find fermented vegetables?
One of my favorite store-bought brands of fermented foods is Tout Cru. They are a Montreal-based company that I absolutely love. I really believe in Pedro and Rachel’s mission. They make a wide range of fermented foods including kimchi, sauerkraut and seasonal fermented vegetables which are all so delicious. Check out their website to find out where you can purchase some near you!
Parvez S, Malik KA, Ah Kang S, Kim HY. Probiotics and their fermented food products are beneficial for health. Journal of applied microbiology. 2006 Jun 1;100(6):1171-85.
Marchand V. Using probiotics in the paediatric population. Paediatrics & child health. 2012 Dec;17(10):575.
Especially with kids, we’re always looking for time-saving tricks in the kitchen. We want to spend more time with the children and less time cooking. Today I’m sharing my 5 favorite tricks to save time in the kitchen!
1- Plan 2 hours weekly in the kitchen without (any) distractions
Doesn’t it sounds like a dream to have 2 hours undisturbed in the kitchen? I know. The thing is, this is what can make the biggest difference. No kids, no babies, no phone, no screens, no social media. Just you and the food in your kitchen. When you’re focused on one task, you are much more productive and can get done faster than trying to cook for 10 minutes here and there. Don’t hesitate to ask your partner, friend or family member to have fun with your child(ren) so you can have your weekly two hours. For me, this made the biggest difference. It’s ma favourite time saving trick in the kitchen!
2) Plan meals that are appropriate for all family members
A meal for 3 year old Leo, homemade puree for baby Sara and a steak, rice and roasted veggies for the parents? That’s way too much work. If you plan appropriately, everyone can eat the same meals. This will save you lots of time. If you haven’t heard about Baby Led Weaning (BLW) yet (where babies skip the puree stage and eat finger foods from their first bite), check out my BLW Online Course. In the course, I share more than 30 recipes that are appropriate for your whole family, even babies! Tons more time saving tricks are included in the course.
I also have a brand new Baby Led Weaning eBook with more than 45 recipes for babies 6 months and more. You’ll find spinach soufflés, mini lamb burgers, garlicky chicken drumsticks, coconut shrimp bites (to die for!) and salmon sliders. Check out my brand new BLW eBook HERE (only 10$).
3) Batch cook
What’s batch cooking? Basically, it’s making large quantities of food at one time. You can either keep the leftovers for lunches over the next few days or freeze them to eat within the next 3 months. Meals cooked in a slow cooker like soups and spaghetti sauces can easily be doubled or tripled. Most meals taste better the next day anyway!
4) Have ready-to-eat foods ready
I’m talking about hard boiled eggs, cooked sweet potatoes, cooked ground meat, cooked rice and roasted vegetables always available and ready to go. This makes it easier to whip up a meal when you have less time. Also, it makes it easy to grab something healthy on the go!
5) Buy some minimal prep foods
Frozen vegetables, washed and packaged leafy greens, canned salmon, pre-made guacamole, marinated meats and cut up fruit and vegetables can be so practical. Don’t feel like you need to make everything from scratch. These can be huge time-savers!
I hope these kitchen time-saving tricks were helpful.
A high chair isn’t absolutely necessary when introducing complementary foods to babies but it can certainly be practical. I decided to ask Catherine Cusson, an occupational therapist to help guide us.
What are the top 3 criteria to look for when shopping for a high chair?
1) The high chair must place baby in a 90 degree angle in between his/her back and hips
Therefore we want to avoid all high chairs that slightly recline backwards like this one:
A high chair with foot support is much more comfortable for babies and ensures a better position. We love the Trip Trap chair by Stokke which can be used from starting complementary foods all the way throughout childhood.
2) It must have good back support
We want to choose a high chair with a seatback that’s higher than the top of the baby’s head. We want to avoid choosing booster seats like this one with a low seatback:
3) It must allow baby to have a 90 degree angle for his/her forearms
This way, your baby will have easier access to his/her foods on the tray. We want to avoid choosing high chairs with a tray that’s too high like this one:
Catherine Cusson, occupational therapist: Thank you for having me!
Jessica Coll, registered dietitian: I often get the following question: Is Baby Led Weaning (BLW) appropriate for all babies?
Catherine Cusson, occupational therapist: The short answer is NO, it’s not appropriate for all babies. We know that we only recommend starting BLW around the age of 6 months, when your baby can maintain a sitting position on the floor and can bring food to his/her mouth. In order to proceed with BLW as an approach to introducing solids, your baby needs to have good motor and sensory development. Therefore, if there is a development delay or a particular condition, I recommend asking your doctor, occupational therapist or physical therapist beforehand.
Jessica Coll, registered dietitian: So what kinds of conditions prevent babies from starting BLW at around 6 months old?
Catherine Cusson, occupational therapist: Here is a list of conditions that might prevent babies from doing BLW at around 6 months of age:
Babies born at 36 weeks of gestation or less
Babies with developmental delays
Hypotonic babies (How do you recognize this? Your baby would constantly have his/her mouth open, stick his/her tongue out and would not be able to control his/her saliva)
Babies diagnosed with a genetic syndrome
Babies with a cleft lip or a tongue tie
Jessica Coll, registered dietitian: Why is it important for babies to maintain a sitting position before starting BLW?
Catherine Cusson, occupational therapist: The sitting position is necessary before starting solids for two reasons:
First, a good sitting position allows your baby to spit out a food after a gag reflex. This helps to prevent choking.
Also, the trunk stability is necessary for the development of your baby’s chewing skills.
Jessica Coll, registered dietitian: That’s great information. Thank you Catherine!
To find out more about Catherine Cusson and her services, feel free to visit her website.
Starting at around 6 months old, your baby learns to feed him/herself. Learn more about baby led weaning (BLW). Don’t expect your baby to ingest large amounts of food for the first few weeks (or even months for some) because babies need time to learn before they master BLW. Just like learning to walk, your baby needs to practice.
So how does it work? Your baby’s reflexes develop one after the other when starting out with BLW. Here’s the progression when introducing solid food to your baby:
Grab and bring to mouth: 6-month olds put everything in their mouth! When you offer a piece of food to your baby, he/she should be able to grab it and bring it to his/her mouth.
Bite: soon enough your baby will learn to bite off a piece of food.
Chew: your baby will chew the food. The ability to chew develops before he/she is able to bring food to the back of his/her mouth for swallowing. This is why you’ll notice food falling out of the baby’s mouth in the early stages. Leave them time.
Swallow: the final step is swallowing. Since birth your baby has been sucking to feed so it’s normal that they will try to suck the food first. Give them some time and he/she will figure out that food needs to be swallowed.
Here are the 3 reasons to let your baby feed him/herself:
Reason #1: To decrease his/her risk of choking.
If you decide to feed your baby because you’re worried he isn’t eating enough when doing BLW, you are interfering with the development of the reflexes listed above. This means that he/she might be more at risk of choking.
If you feed your baby, you’re in charge. You’re not allowing your baby to decide how much to eat. He/she is less in tune with his/her fullness cues so you may be feeding your baby too much.
How should you offer mashed foods like applesauce, liver pâté, yogurt and mashed potatoes to babies who do baby led weaning? Make sure you choose a spoon that is a smaller version of an adult-sized spoon. You can pre-load it with the mashed food and give it to your baby. Let them bring it to their mouth. Soon enough they will get the hang of BLW.
My neighbour’s 6-month old Sarah loved feeding herself with the GOOutensil:
Reason #3: It’s a more enjoyable experience for everyone.
The last reason is quite straightforward 🙂 BLW is all about letting your baby feed him/herself.
Imagine being fed mashed foods with a similar texture at every meal. How boring! Compare that to being offered a variety of textures, shapes, exploring and taking bites when you are ready. Much more fun and stimulating. It’s also more enjoyable for YOU because you get to watch them explore AND savour a nice hot meal!
It’s just like walking: give your baby the time to practice. Soon enough he/she will become an expert eater.
Want BLW recipes? Check out my 100% FREE mini cookbook including recipes with lots of iron by entering your email at jessicacoll.com.