Why is BLW not for all babies?
To add to the information about BLW (Baby Led Weaning: what is it?) I share online, I decided to ask this question to Catherine Cusson, occupational therapist specializing in pediatrics from Clinique Pas à Pas. She is the newest collaborator to my BLW Network.
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 (always test the texture of the food in between your tongue and roof of your mouth)
- 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
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.
Jessica Coll, registered dietitian: Welcome Catherine!
Catherine Cusson, occupational therapist: Thank you for having me!
Jessica Coll, registered dietitian: I often get the following question: Is Baby Led Weaning (BLW) appropriate for all babies?
Catherine Cusson, occupational therapist: The short answer is NO, it’s not appropriate for all babies. We know that we only recommend starting BLW around the age of 6 months, when your baby can maintain a sitting position on the floor and can bring food to his/her mouth. In order to proceed with BLW as an approach to introducing solids, your baby needs to have good motor and sensory development. Therefore, if there is a development delay or a particular condition, I recommend asking your doctor, occupational therapist or physical therapist beforehand.
Jessica Coll, registered dietitian: So what kinds of conditions prevent babies from starting BLW at around 6 months old?
Catherine Cusson, occupational therapist: Here is a list of conditions that might prevent babies from doing BLW at around 6 months of age:
- Babies born at 36 weeks of gestation or less
- Babies with developmental delays
- Hypotonic babies (How do you recognize this? Your baby would constantly have his/her mouth open, stick his/her tongue out and would not be able to control his/her saliva)
- Babies diagnosed with a genetic syndrome
- Babies with a cleft lip or a tongue tie
Jessica Coll, registered dietitian: Why is it important for babies to maintain a sitting position before starting BLW?
Catherine Cusson, occupational therapist: The sitting position is necessary before starting solids for two reasons:
- First, a good sitting position allows your baby to spit out a food after a gag reflex. This helps to prevent choking.
- Also, the trunk stability is necessary for the development of your baby’s chewing skills.
Jessica Coll, registered dietitian: That’s great information. Thank you Catherine!
To find out more about Catherine Cusson and her services, feel free to visit her website.
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