It's Baby Led Weaning post #2! As I mentioned in my last BLW post (BLW for Beginners: What is Baby Led Weaning?), I won't let this blog become overrun with baby-related posts, since I know not everyone will be interested, but I am sharing some of what I've learned about BLW in this little mini-series. Today, I'm sharing a few of my top tips for Baby Led Weaning, including a few products to make your BLW life easier, and some tips for making quick and easy baby-friendly dinners.
Let's just get stuck straight in!
BLW Tip #1: Do your research
I'm not saying you need to spend months and months reading dozens of reference books about Baby Led Weaning before you begin - after all, people have been feeding babies for hundreds of thousands of years without needing to read books about it - but it's definitely worth reading around the subject a little beforehand to make sure you know how to do BLW safely.
Here are a few of the resources that I found incredibly useful when I was learning about BLW:
This book starts with a really great introduction to Baby Led Weaning, which pretty much covers everything you need to know before you begin BLW. There are then 130 recipes which are all BLW-friendly (and adult-friendly!), with ideas for how to adapt them and make them appropriate for babies of different ages.
- Baby Led Weaning for Beginners and Beyond Facebook group
If you're a Facebook fan, the BLWBB group is a really amazing resource. It's run by a pretty big gang of women (I think it's only women but there may be one or two men!), and it's a really active group. People go there to ask questions, share resources, offer advice, or even just to share their cute BLW photos.
There are loads of Baby Led Weaning profiles on Instagram, who share fun BLW ideas. One of my favourites is baby_led_eating, who shares loads of amazing pescatarian BLW inspiration. Or you can just follow the BLW hashtag!
(...and follow me too while you're there!)
BLW Tip #2: Choose a highchair that works for you
A good highchair is one of the only products you actually need for Baby Led Weaning. Most of the rest isn't vital, but you do need a good, secure highchair to sit the baby in. Don't bother with separate plates and bowls (they'll probably be flung straight onto the floor anyway) - just stick the food straight onto the tray.
We have two highchairs at home (we use one at the dining table for eating; the other is a fold-up one we keep in the kitchen so she has somewhere safe to sit while I'm cooking), plus my parents have one at their house for when we go to visit.
I would definitely recommend avoiding any highchairs with lots of cushions and padding - they may look more comfortable, but actually even a highchair with no padding at all is just fine, and so much easier to clean. Even plasticky, wipe-clean cushions can have awkward little seams that are difficult to clean, and crumbs and grime can be really hard to get out.
- it can easily turn into a booster seat or toddler chair as the baby grows - we often take just the booster seat part when we go to eat at other people's houses (it just straps onto any dining chair)
- it's really easy to keep clean - the top of the tray comes off to wash, and the seats are made of foam that can also be washed in the sink
- the tray is really easy to take on and off to get the baby in and out
- it looks nice! I love the turquoise colour
- it doesn't fold up, so would be a little bulky in a small house (we leave it up all the time though, so it's never been a problem for us)
- the baby isn't secure until the tray is clipped on (again has never been a problem for us)
This is the highchair we use at my parents' house - the IKEA Antilop highchair. It's perfect for what we use it for.
- it's super cheap - only £14!!
- the legs can be easily removed for storage
- the baby is secure even after you take the tray off (there's an extra bit of plastic across them underneath the tray)
- it's really easy to clean
- I find the tray pretty hard to unclip (but maybe we just got a particularly stiff one?) - not a big issue as you can lift the baby out with the tray still attached if needed
- it doesn't fold up, but isn't overly bulky anyway
BLW Tip #3: Make mealtimes fun
One of the key things to remember with Baby Led Weaning is that there's no pressure. Since the baby's main source of nutrition is milk until they're a year old, it really doesn't matter if they eat very little for the first couple of months until they get the hang of it. The less pressure you put on the baby at mealtimes, the better - you don't want them to think of mealtimes as stressful. Just let them taste whatever they like out of the food you've provided, and if they don't want to eat everything, that's absolutely fine! They should be filling up on milk at first anyway.
Dropping food on the floor is to be expected - don't get angry, but equally don't make a game out of it, or they'll never stop. I just calmly pick up the food, and set it aside.
Eating together can help to make mealtimes fun, and also allows the baby to learn by watching you, so try to eat meals together as often as you can.
BLW Tip #4: The freezer is your friend...
As I mentioned in my previous BLW post, I eat breakfast and lunch with my girl, but she eats dinner on her own (I obviously supervise, but I don't eat at the same time). The freezer is my saviour when it comes to making her super quick and easy dinners in small portions! Every now and then I cook big batches of things, then freeze them for easy dinners later on.
Here I froze about 12 small portions of my creamy bean and spinach pasta bake. To freeze individual portions, place them on a baking tray so they're not touching each other, and freeze (a few hours is fine, but I usually forget about them for a couple of days). Then once they're frozen, you can transfer them to a big ziplock bag, and the portions won't stick together. Make sure you fill in the label, so you know what's in the bag and how long it's been there.
BLW Tip #5: ...and so is your microwave!
About 90% of Eden's dinners are heated up either on the stovetop, or in the microwave. She's too impatient to wait for something to bake in the oven!
If I'm short on time, or just want to make her an easy, healthy dinner, I'll grab a portion of something from the freezer and serve it up with some frozen veggies. I'll add the vegetables to a bowl with a small dash of water, and place the frozen portion of food on a plate on top. Stick it in the microwave for a few minutes, and you can cook both things at the same time! Dinner in minutes. Just stick some fresh fruit on the side, or a dollop of Greek yogurt, and you've got a full meal.
BLW Tip #6: Crinkle cut any slippery foods
Young babies can find it tricky to pick up particularly slippery fruits and vegetables - avocado, mango, melon, that kind of thing. There are a few ways you can make these foods easier to pick up, but I'm not particularly convinced by most of them - leaving the skin on (it either falls off on its own after a few seconds, or just gets in the way), rolling the slippery food in something like dessicated coconut to make it more grippy (...need I say more than 'faff'?), etc.
One method I've found that works really well, and takes zero extra effort, is cutting slices with a crinkle cutter rather than a regular knife. The wobbly edge makes perfect little finger holds for baby fingers, and stops the food slipping straight out of their hands.
It makes the food a bit more fun for older toddlers too!
BLW Tip #7: Always use a long-sleeved bib
Long-sleeved bibs are the unsung heroes of BLW. You don't need to stick your baby in the bath after every messy meal, or even change their outfit - just use a long-sleeved bib! They cover the baby's front, lap, and arms, so the only things you need to clean up afterwards are their hands and face (and occasionally hair...). If the baby's wearing long sleeves underneath, just roll them up a little before putting the bib on.
We have 6 long-sleeved bibs, which can usually be used for a few meals before needing to be washed. 6 seems to be a good number for us! We have a few different kinds, and they're all much of a muchness, so which brand you buy doesn't seem to matter too much (the one Eden's wearing in the photo below was from John Lewis - it doesn't seem to be available any more, but the new versions are cute too!).
BLW Tip #8: Stay organised
I can't say I'm organised in all aspects of my life, but when it comes to Baby Led Weaning, I like to have a good system in place - it helps to make the mess more bearable!
I keep a little hamper next to our dining table, where I store clean long-sleeved bibs, baby spoons and forks, and a stack of clean baby wipes. That way I can just carry her plate of food into the dining room (usually with a hungry toddler in the other arm), and everything else I need is there ready for me.
(the grey buckle you can see at the bottom of the hamper is the strap from her highchair - we don't use it. She's secure once the tray is clipped on, and I find it reassuring to know that I could lift her out quickly if she ever did choke, rather than needing to faff about unbuckling the strap)
BLW Tip #9: Be kind to the environment
If you're confused about the baby wipes in the above photo, it's because we use reusable fabric baby wipes, rather than the disposable kind. We used to use the disposable ones, but it was pretty sickening how many we were using - probably 2 wipes per meal, 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. That's about 42 wipes per week, just on mealtimes! Disposable wet wipes can take decades to biodegrade (if they do at all) and are incredibly bad for marine life, and for our sewer systems - even the so-called 'flushable' ones.
Instead, I bought a big batch of Cheeky Wipes*, which are little towelling squares that you can just throw in the wash after use (you can just cut up some old tea towels if you prefer, I just wanted neat ones!).
We're not perfect - we do still have a few packets of disposable wet wipes around the place for emergencies (or more likely, for the times I forget to do laundry), but it feels good to know we're making a small dent in our plastic usage - we use them for nappy changes too. You can get 15% off* if you fancy getting some yourself!
...and most importantly, just have fun with it! It will seem like no time at all until your baby is fully weaned, and you'll miss the days when you had to wipe hummus off the walls and scrape yogurt out of their hair (well... sort of...).
* Please note that this post contains some affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links, I will receive a tiny (tiny!) referral payment, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for the support!