chick peas, baby, diversification, blw,homemade,storebought,hummus,legumes

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)?”

 

hummus, no allergens, baby, blw, diversification, solid foods, iron

 

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

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

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!

 

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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.

 

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.

 

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!

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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.

 

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!

bites, babies, blw, baby led weaning, baby food, recipe

Cherry tomato bites for babies

Cherry tomato bites for babies

 

Today I’m sharing a brand new recipe that I created for babies: Cherry Tomato Bites for Babies. It’s super simple with only a few ingredients. These cherry tomato bites can be served at any time of the day and can even be frozen and reheated to eat on the go. The texture is absolutely perfect for Baby Led Weaning (BLW).

 

bites, babies, blw, baby led weaning, baby food, recipe

 

Lots of parents ask me why I use so many eggs in the recipes I create for babies. Here’s one reason: according to new research, feeding eggs to infants could provide them with key nutrients for better brains.

 

So, how do you prep these delicious cherry tomato bites for babies?

 

Here are the ingredients that I used to prep this recipe:

 

bites, babies, blw, baby led weaning, baby food, recipe

 

bites, babies, blw, baby led weaning, baby food, recipe

 

Place 6 eggs in a bowl and add warm water.

 

bites, babies, blw, baby led weaning, baby food, recipe

 

Beat the mixture until it’s foamy like this:

 

bites, babies, blw, baby led weaning, baby food, recipe

 

Then, add spices and spinach with cheese (optional) and mix well. Add the sliced cherry tomatoes and bake in the oven.

 

bites, babies, blw, baby led weaning, baby food, recipe

 

bites, babies, blw, baby led weaning, baby food, recipe

 

Ingredients

6 eggs

2 tbsp warm water

2 cloves of garlic

½ cup fresh basil (or 1 tbsp dried basil)

½ tsp ground pepper

1 cup spinach, chopped

1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese (optional)

12 cherry tomatoes, sliced

 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and line muffin tins. Place eggs in a large bowl and add water. Beat until foamy on high speed, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, basil, pepper, spinach and cheese. Mix well. Pour the mixture into 12 lined muffin tins and place the sliced cherry tomatoes on top of each bite. Bake in oven for 20 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

 

I want to know: will you serve these at breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack? Comment below!

 

 

 

choking, baby, blw, baby led weaning, baby food

Choking and Baby Led Weaning

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?

  1. Make sure the baby is sitting upright while eating (none of those lying back bouncy chairs or high chairs that aren’t at 90˚).
  2. Limit distractions: no TV, IPad, cell phone or big crowds for the first few weeks so baby is not overwhelmed and can focus
  3. Make sure the baby is ready to feed him/herself on their own. Don’t start too early
  4. 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
  5. Offer appropriate foods that they can easily grab and are soft enough to handle.
  6. Sign up for my BLW Online Course today or sign up to an in-person BLW workshop given by a member of my International Baby Led Weaning Network of Registered Dietitians.

References

  1. 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.
  2. D’Andrea, E, KIELYN JENKINS, MARIA MATHEWS, BARBARA ROEBOTHAN (2016). Baby-led Weaning: A Preliminary Investigation. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research
  3. Woolridge, M. W. (1986). “The ‘anatomy’ of infant sucking.” Midwifery 2(4): 164-171.
  4. 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
  5. Rapley, G. (2011). Transitioning to solid foods at the baby’s own pace. Community Practitioner, Jun;84(6):20-3.
  6. 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.
  7. Delaney, A.L. (2010) Oral-motor Movement Patterns in Feeding Development. Ph.D. (Communicative Disorders). University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
asparagus, barbecue, babies, baby, blw, baby led weaning, whole foods, bbq

Can babies eat foods grilled on the barbecue?

Can babies eat foods grilled on the barbecue?

 

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.

 

Here are a few tips from the cancer.ca website:

 

  • 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:

 

asparagus, barbecue, babies, baby, blw, baby led weaning, whole foods, bbq

 

Even grilled mushrooms are totally appropriate for babies:

 

asparagus, barbecue, babies, baby, blw, baby led weaning, whole foods, bbq, whole foods for babies, whole foods, finger foods, summer foods, recipes, baby recipes, baby food

 

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:

 

Chicken satay with creamy peanut sauce (includes a cooking demo video)

 

gluten free, no bovine protein, dairy free, chicken, baby, blw, baby led weaning, barbecue recipes, summer recipes, paleo, soy free, egg free, no salt added, baby recipes, iron, real food

 

Simple burgers for babies (feel free to cook these on the barbecue)

 

blw, baby led weaning, veal, beef, beef recipe, beef recipe baby, burger recipe, iron baby, jessica coll, baby solids, choking baby

 

Grilled lamb chops for babies

 

lamb chops blw Baby led weaning

 

Minty Lamb Meatballs

 

The mouthwatering final product! BLW

 

For more Baby Led Weaning (BLW) recipes for babies, GET YOUR FREE COOKBOOK FOR BABIES HERE.

 

What will you grill on the barbecue this weekend?

salmon, salmon recipe, baby, baby led weaning, blw, omega 3, fish baby, iron baby, iron, recipe, baby recipe, blw recipe

Thai Salmon Bites

Thai Salmon Bites

 

There is no need to wait until your baby is 12 months to offer him/her fish. In fact, it’s a good idea to offer fish to babies from 6 to 12 months because it’s packed with good fats, iron and zinc. The problem with fish is that it usually doesn’t hold together very well. It’s dry and falls apart easily when babies handle it.

 

I created this recipe with fish that actually holds together. The trick? Cut up the fish into bite-sized pieces while it’s still semi-frozen BEFORE baking it.

 

salmon, salmon recipe, baby, baby led weaning, blw, omega 3, fish baby, iron baby, iron, recipe, baby recipe, blw recipe

 

To prepare the recipe, I cut the skinless salmon into squares. Then, I marinated the fish in a delicious mixture of oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, pepper, lime zest, ginger, coconut and cumin. Then, I baked them in the oven for 6 minutes.

 

These can be served as a fancy appetizer or as the main course along with some zesty roasted cauliflower. They’re 100% juicy and they actually hold together.

 

salmon, salmon recipe, baby, baby led weaning, blw, omega 3, fish baby, iron baby, iron, recipe, baby recipe, blw recipe

Thai Salmon Bites recipe

 

450g salmon, boneless, skinless

¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil

1 tbsp (15 ml) lemon or lime juice

1 tsp (5 ml) garlic powder

½ tsp (2.5 ml) pepper

1 tsp (5 ml) lemon or lime zest

1 tsp (5 ml) ground ginger

1 tbsp (15 ml) coconut, shredded, unsweetened

½ tsp (2.5 ml) cumin

 

 

Place salmon in the freezer for about 20 minutes until semi frozen. In a medium bowl, add the rest of the ingredients. Remove salmon from the freezer and cut salmon into 3 cm (1 inch) squares. Than, add the salmon to the bowl and cover on all sides. Let marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge. Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C) and place salmon bites onto a covered baking sheet. Finally, bake for 6 minutes or until fully cooked. Let cool and offer to your baby. Can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Cannot be frozen.

 

How often do you eat fish?

 

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