Baby Led Weaning – Let your babies feed themselves

I’m Emma and you may or may not already be familiar with my popular Facebook page “Baby Led Weaning – Let your babies feed themselves”, which I co-admin with my friend Jade. We also have a couple of Antipodean helpers called Carolyn and Verity, who provide support when Jade and I are asleep!

Jade and I “met” on an online forum, in 2008, when we were pregnant with our, now, three year old daughters. When they were born in December 2008 we discovered that we were very like-minded when it came to parenting issues. We originally joined forces to create the Milky Mums breastfeeding support website and Facebook page. Then, later, on discovering Baby Led Weaning, Jade created the “Baby Led Weaning – Let your babies feed themselves” page and asked me to co-admin. It started out small, and, to be honest, I don’t think we expected too much from it. We just wanted somewhere to share our experiences of Baby Led Weaning as we were in the early stages of it with our little girls. But, beyond all expectations, we now have over 10,000 fans! Earlier this year we started the blog, which has proven to be so popular that we have just turned it into our new official website -www.letyourbabiesfeedthemselves.com

Anyway, now I’ll talk a little bit about how I discovered Baby Led Weaning and how it has worked for us…

I first heard about Baby Led Weaning in April 2009 when my health visitor (children’s health nurse) played the Baby-led Weaning DVD at breastfeeding group. I thought it was fantastic. It made so much sense. I ordered the book as soon as I got home. My daughter, Lucinda, was four months old so I couldn’t have found out about it at a better time. When the book arrived I read it cover to cover in less than a week – the quickest I have ever read a book!

A few weeks later we started on our Baby Led Weaning journey. I couldn’t help being a little bit sad that something other than my milk was now helping my baby grow, but Lucinda loved it. She ate properly straight-away and only ever gagged twice (not to be mistaken for choking – gagging is a normal stage when first introducing solid foods). She loved joining in at mealtimes and always had a “really pleased” look on her face while she was eating.

I found it very entertaining for the first few months. I remember an early meal being tagliatelle. She’d only been eating for a couple of weeks and it was fascinating to watch her work out how to get it in her mouth. She eventually scraped it all into the corner of her tray, put her face down to meet it and shovelled it in! Other people were fascinated too. We were having a picnic at a local agricultural show when she was about seven and a half months old and people kept stopping to watch her as they were walking past and saying “Aww, look at that baby. Eating!” Relatives used to watch in amazement too, as my little baby got stuck into a dish of olives or her Sunday dinner. And she was little too. I sometimes wondered if strangers thought a three month old was feeding herself as she weighed less than 12lb at six months old.

She was, and still is, a petite little girl – but blimey, does she eat! She’ll be four in December and continues to love her food. She is also still breastfed so technically we are still Baby Led Weaning.

Baby Led Weaning has worked perfectly for us. It’s fitted naturally into our lives and I don’t think I’ve actually given it much thought while it’s been happening. There’s been no stress of “having to get food into baby” and no inconvenience of making baby food and having separate meal times. Lucinda has eaten whatever I’ve been eating, in exactly the same form and at the same time. I just make one meal for everyone. There’s been no worry if she hasn’t eaten anything because I know she’s still getting nutrition from breastmilk. But overall, I don’t know another child her age with such varied tastes and sophisticated palate.

I’m so glad I found out about Baby Led Weaning when I did. I can’t ever imagine introducing food to a baby in any other way now – and through the “Baby Led Weaning – Let your babies feed themselves” page, as well as in “real life”, I actively promote the method and recommend it to everyone. It is such a natural transition and so easy and stress-free, as well as being beneficial to babies’ development in so many ways (fine motor skills from using pincer grip, mouth and jaw development from chewing and manoevring food around the mouth, social skills from being included in family mealtimes, development of sophisticated palate from being exposed to “adult” foods from the start, etc, etc, etc!). Everyone deserves to know about it and that has become my mission!

Emma. x

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