When you first start baby led weaning the emphasis is on play and enjoyment so do not expect your baby to consume a great deal, if anything at all in the first few weeks. Try to think of this new phase as an extension of play and discovery. Your baby is being introduced to a new toy which just happens to be edible. Some babies remain quite cautious about food but for some they seem to be born ready.
On the day you start weaning carry out your morning schedule exactly how you would normally. For most this will involve a waking feed and maybe a short nap. When you are ready to have your breakfast (and yes do remember you also need to eat!) simply sit up with your baby and then both have some similar and suitable foods to eat.
Your baby’s tummy is only the size of their two fists together so they do not need a great deal of food to become full. A huge tray of food will be incredibly overwhelming so simply load up a spoon and place it on their tray or just in front of them if sitting on your lap. You can also have a couple of strips of fruit to try. Remember to also provide some water.
Make sure your baby is comfortable, not hungry or tired and can access the food and drink easily. If the highchair is too big for your baby, you can sit them on your lap. Sharing a plate of food to start with is a lovely way to introduce food to your baby and builds trust which is very important.
Once you have finished your breakfast, continue with your usual routine with regards to naps and milk feeds. You do not need to adjust any milk feeds at this stage. At lunchtime do exactly the same as breakfast. Check that your baby is content and then sit them up with you to enjoy a few different foods. Try to have something similar to your baby as they will be learning from you and you need to set a good example.
As a portion guide you can give your baby one fistful of protein, one fistful of carbohydrates and two fistfuls of vegetables or fruits.
As long as you are cooking fresh, wholesome foods and avoiding those foods not suitable (such as honey, salty foods, processed foods, sugar loaded foods etc) then try plenty of variety, different textures and tastes. This is the window of opportunity for introducing lots of flavour. Click here for my top 14 finger foods.
It is very common during this early phase of weaning for babies to miss out on some meals. They may be asleep, too tired, or simply not interested. Do not worry about this as they will still be getting all of the nutrients they need from their milk feeds.
You can continue with your day and then repeat the process at dinner time. Your baby will get tired in the evening so you may have to bring forward your normal dinner time. If you are going to be eating later with your partner you can give your baby their meal and have a very small portion or snack with them. It really will help your baby build a good relationship with food if you can eat together.
Until your baby starts to get on the move and is more active there is no need to introduce a snack during the first couple of months of weaning. Do be guided by your baby as they are all unique.
Most babies will tend to play around with food up until 8 or 9 months. This is usually when they develop their pincer grip (the use of their thumb and forefinger) and find handling food a little easier. It is also common for a baby’s weight to stagnate or drop a little before they really master the skill of self-feeding. There are a number of development stages that babies go through during the first 6 months of weaning. (click here for the stages of BLW)
The advantage of letting your baby take control of food is that they will know if and when they are hungry and when they are full. This is a vital skill to learn and means that it would be very difficult to over feed a baby being baby led weaned. As long as you are providing a good variety of nutritious and healthy food it will be up to your baby to decide whether or not to eat it.
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