Complementary feeding and Baby-led weaning: everything you need to know explained by the experts

When starting with the complementary feeding of our baby, doubts may arise about the method to follow: is it better to opt for the crushed ones or to do Baby-led weaning (BLW)? Each family will choose according to their criteria, circumstances and needs, although the positive effects that BLW has on the development of babies are numerous.

If you opt for BLW as a feeding method, it is advisable to be guided by the experts and consult with qualified professionals with any questions that may arise. For this reason, we wanted to talk to Ismael San Mauro , doctor of biomedical sciences and nutritionist, and Iria Quintáns , dietitian and disseminator of the method, about the most frequent consultations that parents make when starting at BLW with their babies.

Benefits of BLW

This method allows the baby to have better control over food intake , without the adult exerting pressure from the outside for the child to finish the plate . This fact has three main advantages :

  • Prevention of obesity , a benefit also highlighted by the pediatricians of the AEPap .
  • Happier and less irritable baby at mealtime
  • Parents with less anxiety when it comes to eating

But also, due to the characteristics of the method, the BLW helps the baby to develop his motor skills , because he learns by himself and practices how to take food with his hands .

And finally, it has been shown that BLW encourages the child to accept all kinds of foods , textures and flavors, since they recognize them individually, something that does not happen when we offer everything mixed in a puree .

Tips to get started in the method

  • The first advice we always give parents is to trust their baby, accompany him on the way and provide security . The child knows what he needs, and he will know how to manage this new situation, just as he has done and will do with other stages of his development that he will face .
  • Secondly, we advise getting adequate information from professionals who have experience in this method and in infant feeding. In addition, each family is unique, and it may be that sometimes the general advice that we can find on the Internet or in books does not work , and personalized advice adapted to specific circumstances is needed .
  • And last but not least, is to make sure that the baby is really ready to start BLW .

How to know if the baby is ready to start

  • If you have reached six months : in the case of premature babies we must pay attention to their corrected age, not chronological .

LA AEPap, also advises paying special attention to children with some difficulty in their development, chronic disease or risk of malnutrition.

  • If you stand upright or sit without support .
  • If you show interest when you see adults eat and want to do the same .
  • He puts the objects in his mouth .

To this, pediatricians also add other signals to know if the baby is ready to start BLW, such as checking if he can crush the food with his tongue and make lateral movements with his jaws, and know if he is able to turn his head to say they don’t want more.

Precautions to take before starting

Mainly two: never leave the child eating alone and know what foods are dangerous because they increase the risk of choking , whatever method is followed .

“In this sense, we will avoid raw apple, nuts that are not well ground or cream, and foods with a sphere shape such as sausages, among others.”

Prohibited foods before the baby’s first year of life

  • Due to the risk of choking , avoid all small, hard foods that do not melt in the mouth, such as nuts, raw apples or carrots. Neither should foods with a round shape be given, such as grapes or sausages .
  • Due to their heavy metal content , the consumption of large blue fish , such as bluefin tuna, large mackerel or emperor, should be avoided , as well as certain fish such as the heads of prawns and prawns , or the bodies of crustaceans for their high cadmium content .
  • Meat that comes from animals that have been hunted with lead ammunition .
  • Vegetables with a high nitrate content , such as spinach , chard or borage .
  • The honey , risk of poisoning from Clostridium botulinum .
  • On the other hand, some types of algae can contain an excess of iodine and / or arsenic that could be harmful to the baby .
  • The whole milk also should be offered before the first year of life, but supueso, we are not referring to breast milk or formula, it is their main food.
  • In addition, it is convenient to do without salt, sugar or sweeteners for the preparation of ducks .

The best foods to start with with BLW

In general, the best foods to start with the method are those that allow a way of cooking that helps preserve all its nutrients, while maintaining an adequate consistency that facilitates the grip and its management in the mouth .

For example, steaming improves the bioavailability of some nutrients such as vitamin A, and minimizes the loss of others such as vitamin C. Thus, we can offer vegetables such as green beans, sprigs of cauliflower or broccoli, and others cut into strips. like zucchini, carrot, pumpkin, potato, eggplant …

The baked root vegetables such as potatoes or yams is also a good choice for easy grip without food disposing excess in hand .

Other foods recommended by the AEPap to start are stewed, cooked or grilled meat or fish cut into strips, elongated cubes of cheese, bread or toast, rice cakes, cooked rice balls, macaroni, chopped boiled egg …

How to proceed with the introduction of food

We must start with the simplest and most recommended foods , and gradually introduce new ones as we see the interest shown by the baby. Also, it is important to remember that breastfeeding or formula should remain one of your main foods .

In the event that the baby has CMA or any other allergy is suspected, the introduction of food will not be different from that of other babies without allergies, except that we must be more attentive to any reaction, and offer smaller amounts that we will increase. slowly.

Parents’ main doubts when starting the method

Some of the most frequent questions that parents often ask our team of professionals are, for example, how to know that the baby is ready to start, or what foods should they offer first and in what way. They are also often in doubt as to whether the baby is eating enough to meet his needs .

BLW school: a space to learn about this feeding method

Ismael and Iria are two of the professionals that make up the BLW School , a project that was born a few months ago to inform and support all parents who want to start in this complementary feeding method.

But the two of them are not the only experts who work in this School: psychologists, speech therapists, physiotherapists, allergists … and so on up to a total of 11 professionals focused on the clinical and nutritional counseling of families .

“For years, the different professionals that make up the BLW School have been working individually, offering parents advice from our private consultations or in hospitals. But in 2017, a group of healthcare colleagues decided to unite and establish society. And so on. It was like, in the second semester of this year, the Baby Led Weaning School was born “ , explains Dr. San Mauro.

BLW School offers three main services:

  • Information through post, reports, articles … on infant feeding, BLW, health and baby upbringing.
  • Personalized and individualized online consultations with professionals
  • In-person consultations in Seville and Barcelona, as well as other events and specific training courses on topics of interest.

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