cookies

One-bowl applesauce chia cookies for babies

One-bowl applesauce chia cookies for babies

 

This is a recipe for parents who like to experiment with different types of flours. In this recipe I used almond flour and coconut flour. It’s a gluten-free cookie recipe for babies with no refined sugar for babies 6 months and up. Super moist and easy to prep in a pinch.

I got my 3 year old to make these cookies. If she can make them, so can you!

We made our own applesauce by coring the apples and placing them in our Instant Pot on manual for 5 minutes. Then we put them in the blender for instant homemade applesauce. You can also buy applesauce if you prefer! These cookies are actually perfect for breakfast and snack. I put a bit of maple syrup for sweetness so there is no refined sugar. They’re also gluten-free!

Before introducing complementary foods to your baby, it’s important that you proceed safely no matter which approach you opt for. Some parents opt for baby led weaning (BLW) and some for the traditional approach to solids and offer purees. Be sure to obtain your information from a trusted source like my online course for introducing foods to babies here.

BLW is contraindicated for babies at risk of dysphagia, such as babies who have an anatomic disorder (cleft palate, tongue tie), a neurological disorder (developmental delay, hypotonia, oral hypotonia) or a genetic disorder. Follow-up by a health professional (doctor, pediatric registered dietitian) is necessary for babies at risk of anemia such as babies born prematurely, babies with low birth weight (less than 3000 g), worries related to growth, babies born to an anemic mother, baby for whom cow’s milk was introduced early and/or a vegan baby.

One-bowl applesauce sauce cookies recipe

Ingredients

¾ cup unsweetened applesauce

¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 ¾ cups quick oats

½ cup almond flour

½ cup coconut flour

½ cup coconut, shredded, unsweetened

2 tbsp chia seeds

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl. Shape into cookies about 1 tbsp each and place on a covered baking sheet. Bake for 13 minutes or until slightly browned. Let cool and offer to your baby.

What did you bake with your apples this year? Comment below!

Apple cake or cupcakes with lemony cream cheese frosting

Apple birthday cake with lemony cream cheese frosting

*This recipe can make cake, cupcakes or muffins

Looking for a great two-layer cake recipe that’s sugar-free and perfect for babies just starting out with complementary foods? Look no further. The flavour combination of apples with the lemony cream cheese frosting is just subliminal. What’s more, my almost 4-year old daughter made this cake with just a bit of help from me so you can too!

 

cake

 

Please note that raw apples are a choking hazard for babies so be sure to offer them cooked like in this recipe.

 

This recipe can also be used for a birthday smash cake. The main ingredients are apples, whole wheat flour, butter, cream cheese and dates. I make a date paste and use it instead of refined sugar. This recipe is great for babies from 6 months old because the texture is so moist. Please note that this apple birthday cake does contain potential allergens (wheat and cow’s milk) so be sure to have introduced these to your baby before trying this cake.

 

Before introducing complementary foods to your baby, it’s important that you proceed safely no matter which approach you opt for. Some parents opt for baby led weaning (BLW) and some for the traditional approach to solids and offer purees. Be sure to obtain your information from a trusted source like my online course for introducing foods to babies here.

 

BLW is contraindicated for babies at risk of dysphagia, such as babies who have an anatomic disorder (cleft palate, tongue tie), a neurological disorder (developmental delay, hypotonia, oral hypotonia) or a genetic disorder. Follow-up by a health professional (doctor, pediatric registered dietitian) is necessary for babies at risk of anemia such as babies born prematurely, babies with low birth weight (less than 3000 g), worries related to growth, babies born to an anemic mother, baby for whom cow’s milk was introduced early and/or a vegan baby.

 

This is what the cakes looks like coming out of the oven:

 

cake, birthday cake

 

Apple Date Cake with Lemony Cream Cheese Frosting

 

1 cup dates, pitted

½ cup water

½ cup unsalted butter, melted

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour (can also use all purpose flour, could probably work with gluten-free flour)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ cup milk (any kind, I used cow’s milk)

1 ½ cup apples, cored, coarsely grated

2 tbsp unsalted butter

 

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave the dates and water for 4 minutes. Blend the date mixture in a blender or hand blender to obtain a thick paste. In a large bowl, add the date paste, butter, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and milk. Fold in the apples. Grease 2 8-inch round cake pans with the butter and separate the cake batter into the 2 pans. Bake the cake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for at least 30 minutes and then add the frosting.

* To make cupcakes or muffins, transfer to greased or lined regular muffin moulds and bake for 22 minutes.

 

cake

Frosting (double the following recipe for extra frosting)

 

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

8 oz (250 g) cream cheese, room temperature 

¼ cup maple syrup, optional

1 tsp vanilla

Zest of 1 lemon

 

Beat all the ingredients together and frost your cake. Don’t forget to put some in between the 2 cakes! If you love icing, double this recipe.

 

Let me know if you try this cake, cupcakes or muffins in the comments!

How to Serve Strawberries Year Round to Your BLW Baby

How to Serve Strawberries Year Round to Your BLW Baby

 

Berries are incredibly nutritious for your little one. They tend to be very high in antioxidants, providing a good source of many vitamins and minerals. However, due to their shape and size, they can be difficult to incorporate due to choking risk. This is where whole, large strawberries come in. They are full of vitamin C and magnesium, and are the perfect size for little hands and mouths. Seems like a win-win right?

 

Not exactly. I am going to be berry frank; off season strawberries in Montreal fall into two main categories, namely 1) Expensive and 2) Tasteless. Luckily, we can get past all this by purchasing frozen berries. Not only do they tend to be cheaper, but they are picked ripe and immediately flash frozen, to help lock in nutrients and flavour. Now that’s sweet!

 

Take a look this video to see a BLW infant enjoy a thawed frozen strawberry:

 

WARNING*

BLW is contraindicated for babies at risk of dysphagia, such as babies who have an anatomic disorder (cleft palate, tongue tie), a neurological disorder (developmental delay, hypotonia, oral hypotonia) or a genetic disorder. Follow-up by a health professional (doctor, pediatric registered dietitian) is necessary for babies at risk of anemia such as babies born prematurely, babies with low birth weight (less than 3000 g), worries related to growth, babies born to an anemic mother, baby for whom cow’s milk was introduced early and/or a vegan baby.

*Cusson and Labonté, Baby-Led Weaning Conference, June 2018, Nutrium, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal

 

Want more videos with info about baby led weaning by a registered dietitian? Subscribe to my channel today!

 

How to Serve a Frozen Strawberry to Your BLW Baby

 

You want to begin by choosing frozen strawberries that are whole. When selecting a few fruits from the bag for your baby, make sure to choose large berries.

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You can save even more and help reduce food waste by trying “naturally imperfect” frozen fruits.

 

Of course, frozen strawberries would be difficult to eat as is, so it is important to thaw them. The best method is to do this overnight in the fridge. The slower they are thawed, the more intact they stay. That being said if you’re in a rush and need to defrost quickly, the texture is still appropriate. Place the whole defrosted strawberry on a tray and let your BLW infant dig in.

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Simply delicious!

 

PRECAUTIONS

Before doing Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) with your baby, it is important to proceed safely by contacting a pediatric registered dietitian. Among other things, make sure that:

  • your baby is ready and does not start too early
  • your baby is sitting at 90 degrees
  • you do not place food in his/her mouth with your fingers
  • the environment is calm during meals
  • you offer the right foods to your baby
  • you watch your baby eat at all times
  • you contact a pediatric registered dietitian to make sure you are proceeding safely

Have you tried frozen fruit for your baby? Let us know in the comments below!

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Homemade or Store-bought Hummus for Baby

Homemade or Store-bought Hummus for Baby

 

One of the most popular questions I get from parents is the following: “ Can I give store-bought hummus to my baby of 6 months doing Baby Led Weaning (BLW)?”

 

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Hummus is a chickpea dip or purée. First off, parents want to give it to their baby since it’s a puree that’s easy to offer in a pre-filled spoon or spread on another food, such as a piece of avocado:

 

hummus, iron,repice, blw

 

Also, hummus contains iron since it is prepared from chickpeas, so it is perfect for babies who have high iron needs between the ages of 7 and 12 months. In addition, hummus is usually prepared with lemon juice that contains vitamin C which helps with the absorption of iron. On the other hand, some parents are worried because the store-bought hummus contains added salt and wonder if it is too salty for their baby.

 

Is store-bought hummus too salty for my baby?

 

Generally, it is not recommended to offer salted foods to a baby less than 12 months. However, if we read the nutritional label, we see that 2 tbsp. (30ml) of store-bought hummus Fontaine Santé with caramelised onions contains 110mg of sodium.

 

The maximum sodium per day for babies 7 to 12 months is 370 mg. It is certain that baby will eat other foods that contain a little salt during the day. Also breast milk and baby formula contain some (about 130 mg per day). If a baby eats 1 tbsp (15 ml), he would obtain about 55 mg of sodium from hummus + 130 mg of sodium from his milk = 185 mg of sodium total (well below 370 mg per day). You should also read the ingredient list to make sure there are no “mystery” ingredients, depending on the type of hummus you choose. So if you usually buy store-bought hummus, you can offer it to your baby here and there without any problem. It’s practical!

 

Why prepare homemade hummus?

 

On the other hand, if you’d like to prepare it yourself so it’s cheaper and to ensure the quality of ingredients, the recipe is very simple. In addition, you can keep portions in the freezer for 3 months. What I like about making homemade hummus is that I can prepare it without salt for the baby, then simply add salt for the rest of the family members. Also, I use a minimal ingredients (chickpeas, freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, fresh garlic) so I know exactly where they come from. I can also adjust the taste of my hummus depending on the spices that I have on hand.

 

I decided to create a recipe without key allergens (so without sesame butter or tahini) so that this recipe is suitable for all babies. It’s also vegan! I also wanted to mention that I do not use water in this recipe (just olive oil) to maximize the intake of good fats for your baby. This is surely not a diluted product! Here are the ingredients I used:

 

ingredients, iron, recipe, chickpeas, baby, diversification, blw, homemade, store bought

 

Homemade hummus recipe for babies

 

1 can (540 ml / 19 oz) chickpeas no salt added, rinsed and drained

The juice of 2 lemons

 1/2 cup of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml) of cumin

 

In your blender, add the chickpeas, lemon jus, olive oil and garlic then blend into a smooth purée. As simple as that!

 

The Importance of Iron for Babies

 

The iron requirements of babies 7 to 12 months old are enormous. Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, and black beans contain iron, but these foods tend to be small, round, and hard, which is a choking hazard for babies. Offering hummus on a pre-filled spoon that baby themselves bring to their mouth can be a good option:

 

blw, hummus, homemade, baby

My almost 6 year old daughter wanted to act as the model for demonstrating the use of a pre-filled spoon, in the high chair:

 

blw, complimentary foods, hummus, spoon, iron, fibre

 

PRECAUTIONS

Before doing Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) with your baby, it is important to proceed safely by contacting a pediatric registered dietitian. Among other things, make sure that:

 

  • your baby is ready and does not start too early
  • your baby is sitting at 90 degrees
  • you do not place food in his/her mouth with your fingers
  • the environment is calm during meals
  • you offer the right foods to your baby
  • you watch your baby eat at all times
  • you contact a pediatric registered dietitian to make sure you are proceeding safely
  • you read the warning below

WARNING*

BLW is contraindicated for babies at risk of dysphagia, such as babies who have an anatomic disorder (cleft palate, tongue tie), a neurological disorder (developmental delay, hypotonia, oral hypotonia) or a genetic disorder. Follow-up by a health professional (doctor, pediatric registered dietitian) is necessary for babies at risk of anemia such as babies born prematurely, babies with low birth weight (less than 3000 g), worries related to growth, babies born to an anemic mother, baby for whom cow’s milk was introduced early and/or a vegan baby.

*Cusson and Labonté, Baby-Led Weaning Conference, June 2018, Nutrium, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal

 

For ongoing support throughout your adventure with the introduction of complementary foods, sign up for my online course here. For other simple recipes like this, get my baby cookbook here.

 

Do you buy your hummus or do you make it yourself? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

breastmilk, feedings, breastfeeding, blw, solid foods, nutrition

Breastmilk or solid foods? Weighing up the issues

Breastmilk or solid foods? Weighing up the issues

 

Parents who are following Baby Led Weaning (BLW) sometimes have questions or concerns if their baby seems to rely on breastmilk feeds and doesn’t eat very much solid food, especially when they get to around a year old.

First off, I would like to thank Gill Rapley, who wrote the following text about BLW. I’m sharing it because it’s so useful to parents who follow me. Thank you Gill!

Questions include:

  • How quickly should milk feeds be phased out?
  • Does a greater reliance on breastmilk (or formula) lead to slower weight gain?
  • Will cutting down the milk feeds help my baby eat more solid food?

 

For simplicity, I’ll assume that the ‘milk’ in question is breastmilk. Breastmilk has more intrinsic value for the infant than formula. Especially  in terms of protection from infection. However, much of what follows may well apply to formula feeding as well.

(Please note: I’m not in a position to offer individual advice for babies I have never met, and would not seek to override the advice of health professionals regarding babies whose health may be a genuine cause for concern, so this is a general discussion.)

 

Background – why do people expect weaning to happen quickly?

 

For many years babies were started on solid foods at four months of age (or even younger). So the transition to family meals was actively controlled by their caregivers. Parents were encouraged to cut out milk feeds and increase the amount of solid food eaten by the baby. This was to be done according to a pre-determined schedule. Pureed or mashed food would be spoon fed to babies and they were encouraged to drink lots of cow’s milk.

The aim was to completely replace breastmilk (or formula) with a mixed diet of solid food and cow’s milk by the first birthday. At the same time, a huge rise in formula feeding led to a lack of confidence in breastfeeding. Formula allowed parents to control their babies’ intake from the moment of birth. However, it was in a way that was impossible (and undesirable) with breastfeeding. All of this made artificially controlling the transition to solid foods easy because:

  • the quantity of formula taken at each feed could be cut down at a rate decided by the caregiver
  • the baby could be encouraged to take more solid food than he or she really wanted. (Mouthfuls of puree are difficult to spit out and tend to be swallowed quickly, with no need to chew)

 

What could  happen when parents control the pace of weaning?

 

The pace of weaning was put firmly in the hands of care givers, rather than of babies themselves. So the transition to solids was artificially speeded up so that it would occur more quickly than would happen naturally.

The upshot of all this is that many parents, grandparents and professionals are concerned when they see a baby of around a year old eating very little solid food. A one-year-old relying mainly on milk feeds, with just a few tastes of other foods, may appear to be ‘abnormal’. This may give caregivers a possible indication that something is ‘wrong’. If that baby is self-feeding, as in BLW, they assume that the answer is to take control and manage his feeding for him. This is usually done by introducing purees and spoon feeding, or by actively reducing feeds of breastmilk or formula – or both- even though there is no evidence that this does anything to improve a baby’s health.

breastmilk, feedings, breastfeeding, blw, solid foods, nutrition
For breastfed infants the quantity of milk intake is up to the baby, thus the decision to stop or continue feeding is made by the infant themselves.

What about nutrition?

 

There is no rationale for pushing solid foods at the expense of breastmilk. No solid food comes close to the concentration of nutrients in breastmilk. So, mouthful for mouthful, breastmilk will always provide better total nutrition than any other food. Seeking to replace breastmilk in a child’s diet risks them being less well nourished, not more. (This is the reason many societies give breastmilk to sick or elderly people who can’t manage large quantities of other foods.)

All that babies need, once they’re over six months, is access to small amounts of other foods to make sure they’re getting enough micro-nutrients. Of these, iron (and zinc) are probably the most important. However, the amounts of food needed to supply these needs are extremely small, especially if red meat is included. (Note: An individual baby’s stores of iron can be affected by the timing of the cutting of the umbilical cord at birth. If it is left to finish pulsating, the baby gets the maximum amount of iron possible, making it likely that his stores will last well beyond six months.)

 

How important is breastmilk?

 

As explained above, the rush to replace breastmilk is a throwback from when we didn’t know much about its constituents. As well as when we didn’t understand how inadequate cow’s milk is as a substitute. In the light of more recent evidence of the value of breastmilk it’s clear that, rather than preventing them from eating other foods, breastmilk provides an important safety net for a child whose appetite for other foods is small. Put another way, if a child isn’t thriving on a diet of breastmilk with other foods, the thing that makes least sense is to replace the breastmilk! Plus, there are reported cases of babies who were later found to have digestive problems or allergies, and whose intake of breastmilk turned out to be crucial to their survival and well-being. We need a very good reason to deny babies access to their mother’s breast at any age.

 

Does intake of solids offer better nutrition than breastmilk?

 

Many health practitioners believe that spoon feeding will increase the baby’s intake of solid food in addition to their milk.  This simply doesn’t work if the baby is breastfed. Provided they are allowed to feed whenever they want, breastfeeding babies are always in charge of their milk intake. It’s impossible to persuade them to continue feeding at the breast when they’ve taken all their body tells them they need. This natural appetite control means that, if their tummy is full of solids, they will take less breastmilk to compensate.

So, like it or not, the solid food will replace breastmilk, not add to it. This will reduce, not increase, the baby’s overall nutrition. (Note: This approach can be made to work with formula feeding because it’s possible to encourage the baby to continue feeding beyond the point where they would naturally stop. Unfortunately, this also teaches them to routinely ignore signs of fullness and is one possible reason why formula feeding is linked to obesity.)

baby, formula feeds, nutrition, intake

 

What about weight?

 

As well as providing energy, most of what babies eat and drink maintains their body systems and growing new cells. Of course some weight gain is expected as babies grow. We should note that what is recognized nowadays as ‘normal’ weight gain is less than it used to be. We no longer believe that ‘bigger is better’ where babies are concerned. However, we have a legacy of attaching huge importance to weight that is hard to move away from. In addition, weighing has wrongly been seen as a good way to assess whether breastfeeding is ‘working’. There has been an inappropriate additional focus on weight for breastfed babies.

 

It’s important to bear in mind that weight gain is rarely regular or constant. The overall pattern over a period of weeks or months is more meaningful than one or two weights taken individually. Some babies and toddlers’ weight slows down for a while to compensate for an earlier period of rapid gain. Plus, if there weren’t some naturally small (and large) babies, the centile lines on the weight charts wouldn’t be there.

 

baby, weight, solids, health, growth, toddler,

 

 What are the other health indicators ?

Weight is only one guide to a child’s health. Equally important observations are length, head circumference, muscle tone, appetite, bowel habits, temperature, color and energy levels. Any one of these may temporarily give rise to concern but on its own rarely indicates anything sinister. Although it may trigger a need to undertake further investigations. In particular, length and head circumference can often be better indicators of a child’s growth than weight. If both these are on target then it’s unlikely there’s anything wrong.

 

Babies are weighed primarily to signal any illnesses that might otherwise have gone unnoticed (digestive disorders, growth hormone deficiencies and heart defects). Given the calorie content of breastmilk, it is very unlikely that a baby whose appetite for solid food is small but who is feeding well and frequently at the breast will not be getting all the nourishment they need. The response to any concern about weight should therefore be to compare it with other observations. Then if necessary, investigate further, not to use the weight as a reason to swap breastmilk for solid food. If there are any suspicions that an individual baby’s gentle (‘slow’) weight gain may be due to an underlying illness, then those suspicions should be acted upon – because whatever it is won’t go away just by forcing the baby to eat more.

 

The key message

In summary, we need to adjust our expectations about what babies should be eating in the last part of their first year. Unless there is good reason to suppose otherwise, we should assume that those who choose to eat only small amounts of solid foods are simply letting their parents know that breastmilk is doing a great job. They will phase out breastfeeding when they are ready. Meanwhile, all we need to do is carry on including them in healthy, relaxed family mealtimes. This way they can make their own decisions about when they feel ready to share those meals more fully.

 

Precautions

Before doing Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) with your baby, it is important to proceed safely by contacting a pediatric registered dietitian. Among other things, make sure that:

  • your baby is ready and does not start too early
  • your baby is sitting at 90 degrees
  • you do not place food in his/her mouth with your fingers
  • the environment is calm during meals
  • you offer the right foods to your baby
  • you watch your baby eat at all times
  • you contact a pediatric registered dietitian to make sure you are proceeding safely
  • you read the warning below

Warning*

BLW is contraindicated for babies at risk of dysphagia, such as babies who have an anatomic disorder (cleft palate, tongue tie), a neurological disorder (developmental delay, hypotonia, oral hypotonia) or a genetic disorder. Follow-up by a health professional (doctor, pediatric registered dietitian) is necessary for babies at risk of anemia such as babies born prematurely, babies with low birth weight (less than 3000 g), worries related to growth, babies born to an anemic mother, baby for whom cow’s milk was introduced early and/or a vegan baby.

*Cusson and Labonté, Baby-Led Weaning Conference, June 2018, Nutrium, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal

 

To get all the information you need about introducing complementary foods, sign up for my online course at blw.jessicacoll.com . You’ll get my unlimited support and all the answers to your questions.

 

What’s your main concern about your baby making the switch from primarily milk feeds to solid foods? Comment below!

 

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My baby isn’t a good eater

My baby isn’t a good eater

 

It’s common for parents (and grandparents) to worry because their baby is ‘not eating well’, especially as the baby gets older. Parents are often told that he or she should be eating a full family diet by their first birthday. But is being a ‘good’ eater really necessary for the baby?

I would like to thank Gill Rapley, the one who coined the term Baby Led Weaning (BLW) who wrote the text below. Please check out her website for more information at rapleyweaning.com.


What’s normal?

 


BLW babies follow their own patterns when starting solid food. For example, your baby may:


• Set off enthusiastically, munching on everything in sight, gradually swallowing more and more of it and never looking back. (Probably the least common pattern)


• Progress slowly but steadily through looking, experimenting, licking and tasting, and then eating, gradually increasing the amount she consumes.


• Eat almost nothing for weeks or months (with or without being keen to touch and taste) and then suddenly show enthusiasm for food.


• Set off enthusiastically and then seem to lose interest in food altogether.


None of these patterns suggests a problem. Most BLW babies don’t eat significant amounts of solid food until they reach 8 or 9 months, and some not until after their first birthday. Those who start off enthusiastically and then lose interest simply enjoy the novelty of food more than those who start more slowly. When that wears off, they slow down for a while. [Note, though, that if a baby of 6-8 months shows no interest in picking up food or any other objects (such as toys or keys) and exploring them with her mouth it’s possible there’s an underlying reason, such as delayed development, so she should be checked by a doctor.]

 

baby,eating,good,eater,solid foods,blw
This baby is thoroughly enjoying her meal!

Putting things into perspective

A normally developing, healthy baby who appears to be ‘not eating well’ is probably just eating less than his parents or others think he should. In the second half of their first year, the only nutrients babies need in addition to breast milk are iron and zinc. A few licks or bites (not mouthfuls!) each day from foods rich in these minerals, such as meat and eggs, is almost certainly enough to provide this. Babies don’t starve themselves – if they are hungry, they will eat. The problem is that our expectations of how much babies should eat tends to be based on the amounts they eat when they’re spoon fed. But …

 

  • Spoon feeding (by someone else) is not a natural part of babies’ development. It just became the usual method of feeding when it was thought babies needed solid food before they were old enough to feed themselves.
  • Spoon feeding and purees make it difficult for babies to follow their appetite. They tend to swallow mouthfuls faster and end up eating more than they really need.
  • Pureed food contains a lot of liquid – so it may look like more food than it really is.
  • Pressuring a baby to eat certain foods, or more than they want, can lead to problems
    such as picky eating or food refusal.
  • Breast-milk (or formula) can continue to provide most of a baby’s nourishment well beyond one year.

 

breast milk, breat feeding, blw, nourishment, nutrients, food, eating, eater
Despite baby’s introduction to solid foods, breastfeeding (or formula) remains the primary source of nourishment.

What are the signs of a ‘ good eater ‘?

 

If you think your baby is a ‘poor eater’, the solution is not to try to change what the baby is doing but to redefine what you think makes a good eater. A good eater is a baby who:


• responds to his own appetite (eating when he’s hungry, stopping when he’s had enough)
• drinks as much breastmilk or formula as he needs
• has the opportunity to try lots of different foods, without any pressure
• can choose the nutrients he needs (from healthy food offered)
• is interested in exploring food and practising self-feeding skills
• enjoys mealtimes

If your baby does all of these things, he’s a good eater – even if he doesn’t actually swallow very much at all!


What should I do?

 

  • Continue to offer breastfeeds or formula whenever your baby wants. Restricting milk feeds (as parents are sometimes advised to do in the hope the baby will eat more solid food) is likely to mean less nourishment not more.
  • Continue to share mealtimes with your baby, giving her the opportunity to explore and taste a range of healthy foods.
  •  If your baby is over 10 months, don’t keep giving her back food that has been deliberately thrown on the floor. This is her way of saying “No thanks”.
  • Try offering foods in smaller pieces, or introducing cutlery. Some babies get bored with being treated as newbies and want to practise more advanced skills!
  • Don’t make a fuss if your baby doesn’t seem to like something. Just carry on offering some of whatever you are eating. (Some babies persistently avoid certain foods and are later found to be allergic to them, so it may be wise to trust your baby.)
  • Remember that it’s normal for a baby who is unsettled for some reason (starting daycare for example) or becoming unwell, to go off solid food for a while and want more milk.

 

Baby-led weaning is about nurturing a good relationship with food, not about persuading babies to eat what we think they should. All babies spontaneously move on to other foods in their own time. As a parent, all you need to do is make food available, within reach, and to act as a role model by including the baby in your own mealtimes. Your baby will take care of everything else.

Precautions

Before doing Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) with your baby, it is important to proceed safely by contacting a pediatric registered dietitian. Among other things, make sure that:

  • your baby is ready and does not start too early
  • your baby is sitting at 90 degrees
  • you do not place food in his/her mouth with your fingers
  • the environment is calm during meals
  • you offer the right foods to your baby
  • you watch your baby eat at all times
  • you contact a pediatric registered dietitian to make sure you are proceeding safely
  • you read the warning below

Warning*

BLW is contraindicated for babies at risk of dysphagia, such as babies who have an anatomic disorder (cleft palate, tongue tie), a neurological disorder (developmental delay, hypotonia, oral hypotonia) or a genetic disorder. Follow-up by a health professional (doctor, pediatric registered dietitian) is necessary for babies at risk of anemia such as babies born prematurely, babies with low birth weight (less than 3000 g), worries related to growth, babies born to an anemic mother, baby for whom cow’s milk was introduced early and/or a vegan baby.

*Cusson and Labonté, Baby-Led Weaning Conference, June 2018, Nutrium, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal

 

To get all the information you need about introducing complementary foods, sign up for my online course at blw.jessicacoll.com . You’ll get my unlimited support and all the answers to your questions.

 

I’d like to know: is your baby a good eater? Why or why not? Comment below!

 

baby, sitting, up, upright, blw, solid foods, introduction

Sitting upright – what does it mean?

Sitting upright – what does it mean?

 

‘ Able to sit upright ‘ is recognized as one of the key signs of readiness for solid foods, and especially for BLW. But what does it mean and why does it matter? Let’s start with why it matters …

First off, I would like to thank Gill Rapley, who wrote the following text about Baby Led Weaning (BLW). I’m sharing it because it’s so useful to parents who follow me. Thank you Gill!

 

Why does sitting upright matter?

 

  • Readiness: If your baby can’t yet sit upright, that’s a fairly good sign that his wider development hasn’t reached the point of readiness, either. Chewing skills and digestive abilities tend to develop at the same pace as a baby’s ability to sit upright. If your baby is offered food before he’s developmentally ready to manage it, his gut may be exposed to food too soon and he will be more at risk of choking.

 

  • Safety: Babies need to be upright to coordinate swallowing and breathing easily. They can’t do this if they’re slumped forwards or sideways. They also need to be able to control food inside their mouth. This is so that it doesn’t slip backwards, towards their airway, before it’s ready to be swallowed. A leaning-back position makes this very tricky – and therefore dangerous. Imagine lying back to eat, or trying to chew with your chin on your chest. See how uncomfortable and unsafe these positions would be?

 

  • Self-feeding: Babies need to be able to lean forward to reach food, pick it up with both hands, and look around – all without losing their balance. To do this they must be stable in an upright position.

 

balance, stable, baby, BLW,sitting, upright
This baby is able to lean forward without losing her balance.

What is ‘upright’?

 

Definitions of ‘upright’ depend on a baby’s developmental stage. This can be confusing when you’re looking for the one that means your baby is ready to start BLW:

From birth a baby can be held in an upright position if the whole trunk and spine is supported. She can’t do it alone.

Sometime after 5 months babies start to be able to hold their head and trunk erect if they are supported around the hips.

 

sitting, upright, blw, solid foods, support, baby
Here is a 5 month old baby who is able to hold it’s head and trunk upright since there is support at the hips.

By 7 to 8 months most babies are able to stay in a sitting position for a minute or so on the floor, with no support.

By 8 to 9 months babies are starting to be able to get into a sitting position from a lying down or crawling position.

 

The importance of upright positioning

 

What matters for safe eating, and for BLW, is that your baby can support her head and trunk in an upright position for long enough to explore some food – and to eat it, if she’s ready. If she needs a bit of support around her hips to do this, that’s fine. There’s no need to wait until she can stay upright with no support at all. No need to wait until she can get herself into a sitting position. There’s also no ‘60-second rule’, as some believe. It’s the position and balance above her pelvis that she needs to be able to maintain. A normally developing baby will be able to sit upright well enough to allow her to handle food and eat safely by six months or soon after. If you notice that this is not the case with your baby, I suggest making an appointment with an occupational therapist or pediatric physical therpist.

 

baby,blw,sitting,up, upright,stability

 

How to help your baby to sit comfortably and safely

 

There are several options for helping to make exploring food easy and safe for your baby:

  • Sit him on your lap, facing the table, and support his hips with a hand on either side of his bottom (not around his waist, which will restrict his movement). Many babies like the reassurance of this closeness at their first few meals
  • For picnics, or eating on the floor, sit your baby between your legs, facing forwards. This allows you to have both hands free while also providing the support he needs.
  • If your baby is happy in a high chair, then a rolled-up towel around his hips can fill the space between his bottom and the sides of the chair. If the seat is slippery a small towel between his legs will help to stop him sliding forward.
  • Older babies, and toddlers, are likely to find a foot rest helpful. (Worth remembering when buying a high chair!)
  • So, your baby is ready to get started with baby-led weaning as soon as he is able to sit upright securely and stably enough to handle food safely and effectively – with a little bit of support from you if he needs it.

 

Precautions

Before doing Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) with your baby, it is important to proceed safely by contacting a pediatric registered dietitian. Among other things, make sure that:

  • your baby is ready and does not start too early
  • your baby is sitting at 90 degrees
  • you do not place food in his/her mouth with your fingers
  • the environment is calm during meals
  • you offer the right foods to your baby
  • you watch your baby eat at all times
  • you contact a pediatric registered dietitian to make sure you are proceeding safely
  • you read the warning below

Warning*

BLW is contraindicated for babies at risk of dysphagia, such as babies who have an anatomic disorder (cleft palate, tongue tie), a neurological disorder (developmental delay, hypotonia, oral hypotonia) or a genetic disorder. Follow-up by a health professional (doctor, pediatric registered dietitian) is necessary for babies at risk of anemia such as babies born prematurely, babies with low birth weight (less than 3000 g), worries related to growth, babies born to an anemic mother, baby for whom cow’s milk was introduced early and/or a vegan baby.

*Cusson and Labonté, Baby-Led Weaning Conference, June 2018, Nutrium, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal

 

To get all the information you need about introducing complementary foods, sign up for my online course at blw.jessicacoll.com . You’ll get my unlimited support and all the answers to your questions.

 

Have you noticed your baby sitting upright and would like to try BLW? Comment below!

 

How early is too early to start introducing solid foods?

How early is too early to start introducing solid foods?

I am often contacted by parents whose baby of 22-24 weeks is showing interest in solid food. They are wary of starting too early,  yet feel their baby is giving them a clear lead that s/he is ready. While I am unable to offer specific guidance for individual babies, my general response to this dilemma is as follows.

 

I would like to thank Gill Rapley, the one who coined the term Baby Led Weaning (BLW) who wrote the text below. Please check out her website for more information at rapleyweaning.com.

 

The 6-months ‘rule’

I always refer to the 6-months ‘rule’ because it keeps babies safe from premature interference with their eating. However, my actual position, based on my research and clinical experience, is that whatever an individual baby is ready to do is probably what’s right for that baby. There is good reason to believe that those developmental abilities that are visible to us (sitting upright etc.) are a reliable indicator of the maturity of that baby’s (internal) digestive system – nature very rarely makes mistakes. So, if a full-term, healthy baby can (genuinely) sit upright, grasp food and get it to his mouth UNAIDED, then he’s probably ready to do just that. If he’s also ready to chew it – and perhaps even swallow it – that’s fine, but it is more likely that these skills will follow in due course.

 

I make a point of emphasizing the six months ‘rule’, even though I don’t consider it to be cast in stone. This is because it’s all too easy for those who don’t understand the concept of BLW to misinterpret any suggestion that starting earlier than this is acceptable. This can be the beginning of a slippery slope into dangerous practices, which I absolutely do not condone.

 

baby, blw, introduction, solid foods
It’s really exciting to start foods but this baby isn’t quite ready yet!

 

What is the ultimate goal?

The problem is that it’s tempting to see more ability in one’s child than is actually there, and to offer that little bit of help to enable them to achieve a particular goal. This includes: providing extra support to sit up or reach out, guiding their arm towards their mouth, or – worse – putting the food into their mouth ‘for them’. Mostly, this doesn’t matter, but when it comes to eating, a baby’s ability – or inability – to manage the necessary sequence of actions is an important safety factor. ‘Helping’ them over a hurdle they cannot yet manage for themselves is potentially hazardous.

 

It’s useful to remember that the ‘achievement’ of eating is the adult’s goal, not the child’s. The baby doesn’t know that’s what the point of all this is. She is just finding out how her own body, and the things around her, work. If she doesn’t manage to get the food to her mouth, sowhat? She hasn’t ‘failed’ – and she has no sense of needing help. Her parents’ role is to give her the OPPORTUNITY to do whatever she is ready to do. Whether that be touching food, picking it up, licking it, biting it, chewing it and/or swallowing it – or none of the above – not to enable her to do something she can’t yet manage. Six months represents an average age of readiness, in the same way that most babies take their first step around their firstbirthday.

 

Is 6 months the ‘magic’ age?

Clearly some will be ready to walk earlier – and some later – than that. We don’t try to prevent those who are ready earlier from walking before the ‘correct’ age. If we are prepared to accept that a good proportion of babies will not be ready to feed themselves with solid foods until they are seven, eight or nine months, then it is perfectly reasonable to allow that there will also be a few who may begin before they reach the ‘magic’ age of six months. The crucial point, as I see it, is that the move should be spontaneous and autonomous.

 

In my opinion, arguments about the ‘right’ age for introducing solid foods are important only if it’s the parent, not the baby, who decides when putting food into her/his mouth should begin – as happens, of course, with spoon feeding. Such arguments are redundant if the decision is made by the baby because all babies develop eating skills in a set sequence, in line with their overall maturity. Theoretically, there is no reason why a baby of one or two months old should not be offered the opportunity to sit upright and pick food up from a plate.

 

What stops this being a sensible option is not that this is the ‘wrong’ age but that the baby simply isn’t capable of it. The same would apply at three, four and five months. It is extremely unlikely that any infant under about five and a half months would, without any ‘help’, be able to get more than a taste of solid food. Those that can are the exception, not the rule. Provided this is fully understood, starting solids ‘early’ does not, in my view, constitute a problem.

early, introduction, solid foods, baby, sitting,

         Here’s a 5-month-old baby who is not ready to start complementary foods

What are the words to describe what is happening?

A key challenge in all this is that we don’t have the right words to describe the introduction of solid foods when the baby is in control. ‘Starting solids’ with spoon feeding and purees means someone else putting food into the baby’s mouth on a day decided by them. But ‘starting solids’ using BLW simply means providing babies with the opportunity to eat if and when they want to and are able to. It’s up to the baby to take it from there.

 

Precautions

Before doing Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) with your baby, it is important to proceed safely by contacting a pediatric registered dietitian. Among other things, make sure that:

  • your baby is ready and does not start too early
  • your baby is sitting at 90 degrees
  • you do not place food in his/her mouth with your fingers
  • the environment is calm during meals
  • you offer the right foods to your baby
  • you watch your baby eat at all times
  • you contact a pediatric registered dietitian to make sure you are proceeding safely
  • you read the warning below

Warning*

BLW is contraindicated for babies at risk of dysphagia, such as babies who have an anatomic disorder (cleft palate, tongue tie), a neurological disorder (developmental delay, hypotonia, oral hypotonia) or a genetic disorder. Follow-up by a health professional (doctor, pediatric registered dietitian) is necessary for babies at risk of anemia such as babies born prematurely, babies with low birth weight (less than 3000 g), worries related to growth, babies born to an anemic mother, baby for whom cow’s milk was introduced early and/or a vegan baby.

*Cusson and Labonté, Baby-Led Weaning Conference, June 2018, Nutrium, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal

 

To get all the information you need about introducing complementary foods, sign up for my online course at blw.jessicacoll.com . You’ll get my unlimited support and all the answers to your questions.

I want to know: how early did you start solid foods with your baby? Comment below!

dme, alimentation autonome, purées

Can you switch to BLW? Can you do a bit of both?

Can you switch to BLW? Can you do a bit of both?

 

I get lots of questions about whether it’s possible to switch from conventional weaning to baby-led weaning (BLW), or to do a bit of both. I also hear stories about parents being asked to leave online groups because they aren’t ‘true’ BLWers. So I thought it was about time I explained my thinking on all of this.

 

First off, I’d like to thank Gill Rapley who wrote this text. I agree with what she wrote so decided to not re-write it all. I’m sharing her text here to reach out to more parents interested in getting more information about Baby Led Weaning (BLW) to make sure they are doing it safely. To find out more about Gill (the one who coined the term BLW), check out rapleyweaning.com.

 

What is BLW?

 

Parents are often asked “Are you doing BLW or are you spoon feeding?”. But the real question should be “Are you taking a baby-led approach to weaning or a conventional one?” This is because baby-led weaning (BLW) isn’t a feeding method, it’s a fundamental approach to babies and food. It’s about how you view your baby’s capabilities in relation to eating, not just whether or not you feed her with a spoon.

 

BLW encompasses offering healthy foods, sharing family mealtimes, making sure only your baby puts food into her mouth, and trusting her to know whether to eat, what to eat, how much and how quickly – as well as offering her graspable foods from the outset and letting her pick them up with her hands. It’s quite possible to decide not to use spoons and purees without fully embracing the trust and respect for your baby that is what BLW is really all about.

 

Precautions

Before doing Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) with your baby, it is important to proceed safely by contacting a pediatric registered dietitian. Among other things, make sure that:

  • your baby is ready and does not start too early
  • your baby is sitting at 90 degrees
  • you do not place food in his/her mouth with your fingers
  • the environment is calm during meals
  • you offer the right foods to your baby
  • you watch your baby eat at all times
  • you contact a pediatric registered dietitian to make sure you are proceeding safely
  • you read the warning below

Warning*

BLW is contraindicated for babies at risk of dysphagia, such as babies who have an anatomic disorder (cleft palate, tongue tie), a neurological disorder (developmental delay, hypotonia, oral hypotonia) or a genetic disorder. Follow-up by a health professional (doctor, pediatric registered dietitian) is necessary for babies at risk of anemia such as babies born prematurely, babies with low birth weight (less than 3000 g), worries related to growth, babies born to an anemic mother, baby for whom cow’s milk was introduced early and/or a vegan baby.

*Cusson and Labonté, Baby-Led Weaning Conference, June 2018, Nutrium, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal

 

Can we ‘switch’ to BLW?

 

Yes! I firmly believe that it’s never too late to switch to BLW. While a baby who has been started on purees and spoon feeding can’t truly be defined as having been fully BLW’d (see Why definitions matter, below), that doesn’t mean that he and his parents can’t be said to be currently following a BLW approach. It’s no different from a mother who starts off formula feeding and then switches to breastfeeding – her baby won’t have been ‘exclusively breastfed’ but they are nevertheless a breastfeeding couple now. Everyone is entitled to change their approach when they learn something new, or when they discover that what they’ve chosen isn’t working for them.

 

Can we ‘do a bit of both’?

 

This is a tricky one. I am totally in favour of parents doing whatever works best for them and their child. If this involves a combination of spoon feeding and self-feeding, so be it. What this isn’t, though, is a combination of BLW and conventional weaning – it’s really just conventional weaning, but starting at six months (from when the introduction of finger foods alongside spoon-fed pureed or mashed food has always been recommended). BLW is about more than just offering your baby food to pick up – it’s about trusting him to know what he needs. If you’re topping him up with a spoon after he’s had a go with his hands, then you’re not really doing that. The bottom line is that trusting your baby and not quite trusting him are simply not compatible. So, while doing some self-feeding and some spoon feeding may work for you, it’s not BLW.

 

A lot of parents who say they are ‘doing a bit of both’ are in fact just following conventional weaning, without realising it. The reason is to do with timing: BLW was beginning to be talked about at around the same time (2002) as the minimum recommended age for solid feeding was changing from four months to six months. The result is that many parents don’t realise that finger foods were already recommended from six months – alongside purees – prior to this. They therefore believe that offering their baby any finger foods means they are ‘doing (some) BLW’.

 

Why definitions matter

 

Does the definition of BLW really matter? I believe it does, for two reasons. First, it matters for parents who are hearing about BLW for the first time. If they are to make an informed decision about how they want to approach weaning with their baby they need to understand the underpinning ethos of BLW. If they don’t, they may implement only part of it and then be dismayed when it doesn’t ‘work’. Worse, they may do something dangerous, such as putting lumps of food into their baby’s mouth ‘for her’, which could lead to her choking.

 

The second reason I believe the definition matters is to enable an increase in knowledge about children and food – globally. If what we think may be the lifelong benefits for babies of being BLW’d (better eating habits, less risk of obesity etc.) are to be proven – or even disproven – by research, then studies need to define clearly and unambiguously what ‘true’ BLW is. If researchers set out to compare babies who have been BLW’d with babies weaned the conventional way without accurately defining what those terms mean, then there is a real risk that some babies will be said to have been BLW’d when, for example, they had purees for the first two weeks, or were routinely spoon-fed at certain meals, or were always fed separately from the rest of the family. This muddying of the waters would make the results of the research meaningless, and could well mean that some of the real benefits of BLW don’t show up. (It’s the same as researchers’ insistence, nowadays, on a clear definition of ‘exclusive breastfeeding’; it’s only since the importance of this has been appreciated that the real differences between breastfeeding and formula feeding have begun to emerge.)

 

Belonging to the ‘club’

 

So what does this mean for BLW groups and forums? Should parents who are ‘doing a bit of both’, or who started off following a conventional approach and then ‘switched’ to BLW be allowed to be members of the BLW ‘club’? My answer is yes, I think they should. While I do believe it’s important for everyone to be clear whether what they are doing is or isn’t ‘true’ BLW, I don’t believe anyone should feel ostracised for not choosing (or being able) to follow it to the letter. Everyone is different: for some, their support network of family and friends is pro-BLW, while others face resistance every day. Some babies have specific medical or developmental challenges that impact on their eating. For many parents, being able to share others’ experiences is what gives them the courage to keep going at the level they are, or to make the leap to ‘full’ BLW.

 

People meet at different points along the parenting route but we can still be friends and travel together, sharing what we have in common while at the same time respecting our differences. While it’s not helpful to admit people whose intention is to make trouble, I like to think anyone who is genuinely interested in finding out more about BLW would be made to feel welcome in a BLW group.

 

Check out my BLW Online Course for parents at blw.jessicacoll.com to get all the answers to your questions. In this course accessible 24/7 and worldwide, you get to ask me an unlimited number of questions and I answer them very quickly. Once again, I would like to thank Gill Rapley for writing this text.

I want to know: Did you take a baby-led approach to weaning or a conventional one? Comment below!

kiwi, blw, baby led weaning, baby, babyfood, food

How to Serve Kiwi to Your Baby

How to Serve Kiwi to Your Baby

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:

Warning*

BLW is contraindicated for babies at risk of dysphagia, such as babies who have an anatomic disorder (cleft palate, tongue tie), a neurological disorder (developmental delay, hypotonia, oral hypotonia) or a genetic disorder. Follow-up by a health professional (doctor, pediatric registered dietitian) is necessary for babies at risk of anemia such as babies born prematurely, babies with low birth weight (less than 3000 g), worries related to growth, babies born to an anemic mother, baby for whom cow’s milk was introduced early and/or a vegan baby.

*Cusson and Labonté, Baby-Led Weaning Conference, June 2018, Nutrium, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal

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.

BLW, Fresh, Tasty, Salt-Free, vegetarian, vegan, fruit, breakfast, snack, baby, baby led weaning, infant, nutrition, first foods, healthy, safe, vitamin C
Gently press the skin of the kiwi; if it gives way, it is ripe!

 

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.

BLW, Fresh, Tasty, Salt-Free, vegetarian, vegan, fruit, breakfast, snack, baby, baby led weaning, infant, nutrition, first foods, healthy, safe, vitamin C

 

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.

BLW, Fresh, Tasty, Salt-Free, vegetarian, vegan, fruit, breakfast, snack, baby, baby led weaning, infant, nutrition, first foods, healthy, safe, vitamin C
Remove the corners to make this kiwi BLW safe

 

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.

BLW, Fresh, Tasty, Salt-Free, vegetarian, vegan, fruit, breakfast, snack, baby, baby led weaning, infant, nutrition, first foods, healthy, safe, vitamin C
The “key”-wi to your babies health is fresh, whole foods

 

Precautions

Before doing Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) with your baby, it is important to proceed safely by contacting a pediatric registered dietitian. Among other things, make sure that:

  • your baby is ready and does not start too early
  • your baby is sitting at 90 degrees
  • you do not place food in his/her mouth with your fingers
  • the environment is calm during meals
  • you offer the right foods to your baby
  • you watch your baby eat at all times
  • you contact a pediatric registered dietitian to make sure you are proceeding safely
  • you read the warning below

Warning*

BLW is contraindicated for babies at risk of dysphagia, such as babies who have an anatomic disorder (cleft palate, tongue tie), a neurological disorder (developmental delay, hypotonia, oral hypotonia) or a genetic disorder. Follow-up by a health professional (doctor, pediatric registered dietitian) is necessary for babies at risk of anemia such as babies born prematurely, babies with low birth weight (less than 3000 g), worries related to growth, babies born to an anemic mother, baby for whom cow’s milk was introduced early and/or a vegan baby.

*Cusson and Labonté, Baby-Led Weaning Conference, June 2018, Nutrium, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal

 

Which fruits do you like serving to your BLW baby? Tell us in the comments below!