Purees, BLW or Both?
Parents want to know: Should I give my baby purées or do baby-led weaning? My answer: Either, Neither...or Both! Are you shocked? Keep reading or watch our YouTube video!
What Do You Think About Baby-Led Weaning?
Baby-led weaning (BLW) is an approach to introducing solid food where baby is allowed and encouraged to self-feed solid finger foods instead of receiving purées via spoon. Overall, I’m a huge fan of the BLW approach. Here are a few of the benefits:
- Encourages self-feeding from the start
- Allows babies to regulate their own intake
- Facilitates oral motor and chewing development
- Exposes your baby to a variety of texture and flavors from the beginning
While all of these are important factors for developing age-appropriate feeding skills, this approach is not for every family or baby. If BLW isn't for you, that's ok. You can do a modified approach that includes or starts with purées but still keeps development in mind.
You mean I don't have to strictly do finger foods?
What I want to tell you today is this...
When it comes to choosing spoon-fed purées vs BLW, you don’t have to choose one over the other. You can do both. Yes. I said it. You heard it straight from a feeding therapist’s mouth.
You 👏🏼 can 👏🏼 combo 👏🏼 feed 👏🏼
What advice do you have if I want to combo feed and include purées?
If you choose to start with spoon-feeding purées, here are some guidelines you can follow:
1. Be responsive and get permission
- Let your baby be an active participant. This means you OFFER a bite, then wait for your baby to open their mouth in anticipation, thereby giving permission. It's a good sign if they start to lean forward to meet the spoon.
2. Give baby a spoon or dipper to encourage some self-feeding
- I’m a firm believer in getting started with self-feeding right away. Try taking turns. You might find your baby actually prefers to self-feed because they have more control.
3. Let them explore the food with their hands and get messy
- There is benefit in exploring foods with our other senses. Letting our babies get messy is hard for some of us. I’ll write another post soon with some tips!
4. Quickly advance texture and add variety
- While I think it’s ok to spoon feed and use purées, I don’t encourage a baby to stay on this texture (ONLY) for long. We want to encourage a variety of texture and flavor to facilitate oral motor development and adventurous eating. Keep in mind, “purée” doesn’t have to mean watery thin or jars and pouches. Think of foods that can naturally be mashed up with a fork (banana, sweet potato, squash, avocado), and then begin to branch out from there! Thicker purées encourage tongue movement and will more easily stick to a spoon or dipper for self-feeding.
So, how do you decide which route to take for baby’s first foods? TRUST THAT MAMA GUT!
Now the question is, when should we start?
Every baby is slightly different, but I generally recommend to wait until around 6 months of age to introduce solids. It's actually more important to look for Readiness Signs. If you aren't sure if your baby is ready, consult a professional.