We are now 7 months into our BLW experience, and I’ve definitely learned a few tips and tricks that have made our mealtimes easier.
Tips and Tricks for Successful BLW:
1. Get creative with the tools: Using a basting brush or tooth brush as a vehicle for naturally pureed foods (yogurt, coconut oil, guacamole, hummus, etc.) provides less mess as the foods naturally stick to the utensil better than a spoon.
2. Roasted veggies are your friend: We roast everything – sweet potato fries, broccoli, beet fries, onions – allowing foods to keep their natural “handles” while being soft enough to mash with few/no teeth.
3. Don’t be afraid of meat: One of our favorite weekly meals is oven roasted chicken drumsticks. These are perfect for their small hands to grasp, allowing them the opportunity to chew, suck on, and swallow any meat they can maneuver off.
4. Stick a straw in it: My daughter loves drinking out of a straw, so we buy plain organic yogurt and stick a shortened straw through the thin, aluminum lid providing an easy and mess free yogurt consumption situation.
5. Make it into a smoothie: Smoothies are a great way to sneak lots of healthy foods into your baby at once. And kids feel grown up drinking like mom out of straws.
6. Don’t clean until they’re done: Wait to wipe/wash anything (including babe) off until the meal is completely over. It’s just a waste of time before hand.
7. Picnic: During the day, my daughter and I often have picnics in our back yard. It’s a fun way to be outside, while making clean up super easy (the squirrels say “Thank you.”)
Though I try to keep the baby gadgets to a minimum, there are a few really helpful contraptions that have certainly aided in our BLW journey:
1. Pocket Bibs: Great for catching the dropped food. It’s like Christmas when my daughter finds an extra strawberry or meatball in the pocket.
2. Refillable Food Pouches: Great for easy yogurt or smoothies on the go. I make a big batch of smoothies, stick them in here and toss them in the freezer. My daughter loves using the straw.
3. Silicon Food Dispensing Spoons: The big handle makes it difficult for tiny hands to hold early on, but as they master the spoon, it becomes a much less messy way for them to self-feed yogurt, guacamole, etc.
4. Splat Mat: Though I have hardwood floors, having one of these mats (or something similar - lots of cheaper DIY options out there) helps save on cleanup and helps protect the floor. This is especially helpful if your dining room is not hardwood or tile.
5. Shirt Bib: Though my awesome DIYer friend Kim made me one from an old kitchen towel, these shirt bibs from IKEA are super affordable and really handy for meals babe cant be nakey for.
Though this is certainly a “no fuss” way to introduce solids, there are differing views on what foods parents should and should not delay in introducing to their children. When wondering what foods to wait on introducing, there are a few factors that should be considered.
What to Consider When Waiting to Introduce Foods:
1. Family History of Allergies: Nuts, eggs, dairy, tomatoes, shellfish, strawberries, etc. are all “high allergens,” especially when they’re not in their organic, pastured, non-GMO forms. If your family has a history of a specific food allergy, it’s wise to delay the introduction of that food or carefully introduce it in an environment where necessary precautions can be taken in case there is a reaction.
2. Sourcing: One food from two different sources can provide completely different concerns when introducing it to children. A good acronym to remember is LUGO:
a. Local – When possible, buy Local and In Season – the closer to home, the smaller the footprint to reach you, and the less likely unnatural methods of preservation we utilized to protect the food on its long journey to you.
b. Unprocessed – It’s sometimes hard to truly know what’s in our food. An easy way to control what goes in your child’s body is to keep it simple with whole foods your great grandmother would be able to recognize.
c. GMO-free – Our bodies have a difficult time identifying nutrients and knowing what to do with them when they’ve been modified in a lab. Tiny bodies have an even harder time processing and excreting these substances. Look for the Non-GMO Certified tag when buying anything pre-packaged.
d. Organic – Even a small out of pesticides on your food can greatly affect our children’s small bodies. In fruits and vegetables where the skin is not removed (unlike bananas, mangoes, pomegranates, etc.), it’s very important to go organic. Check out this link to the “dirty dozen” that should always be purchased in their Organic form.
Foods to Consider Delaying Introduction:
1. Honey: Though rare, honey may contain the Clostridium bacteria that cause infant botulism, and the large intestines of children under one year have a greater vulnerability to this.
2. Egg Whites: Though I did not delay this food introduction with my daughter, and instead ensured all egg whites consumed were thoroughly cooked, due to food allergies (and certainly if they run in your family), many people delay introducing egg whites.
3. Nuts: Whole nuts are an obvious chocking hazard, and should be delayed until baby exhibits astute mouth/tongue/chewing control, and has enough teeth to adequately chew hard nuts. Many people often delay the introduction of nut butters to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.
4. Lactose: Our modern version filled with antibiotics, hormones, pasteurized, and homogenized is a far cry from the organic, grassfed, raw milk our ancestors drank. Many children (and adults) have a difficulty digesting modern milk as it is missing a vital enzyme (lactase) due to pasteurization. As baby is likely still getting a steady supply of breastmilk or fomula, it’s really not necessary to introduce cow’s milk until later. Due to the fermented nature of yogurt and cheese, these foods are often not delayed.
Other foods that often make the “high allergen list” are strawberries, citrus, and tomatoes. As with all foods you’re providing to your child, it’s essential to use wisdom and intuition to assess the risk of a reaction and to watch carefully for any signs of a reaction.
Great First Foods:
When thinking of testing out or embracing the BLW methodology of solids intrudoction, here are a few great first foods that are very easy for babies to digest:
· Soft-boiled egg yolks (from a local, known source of pastured chickens, preferably): Though eggwhites are a high allergen, the egg yolk is a food with one of the closes nutritional composition to breastmilk, and, therefore, is especially easy for baby to digest (plus being high in tons of healthy fats and nutrients)!
· Avocados: Another food high in healthy fats and tons of essential nutrients.
· Steamed/roasted broccoli drenched in grassfed butter: Any food high in fat soluble vitamins (K, A, D, and E) (most veggies) require a fat to be consumed simultaneously for our body to absorb the vitamins. Grassfed butter (Kerrygold is our favorite brand) provide essential nutrients to help boost brain development while also allowing the body to absorb all those healthy fat soluble vitamins. BONUS: Broccoli has a built-in handle.
· Roasted sweet potatoes (or any squash) (also drenched in grassfed butter): Cut these into long “fry”-like sticks making it super easy for baby to hold and maneuver.
· Peas: Watching babies work on their pincer grasp trying to catch and maneuver these little tasty treats is a blast.
· Grassfed, organic steak: Hand a baby a big hunk of steak, and watch them suck all the glorious juices (high in iron!) out of it. My daughter also adores ground beef as it's easy to grasp, chew and swallow.
The moral of the story is: food should be fun. Yes, it’s messy – gah, is it messy – but it’s amazing to see them work so hard to pick up that pea and stick in in their mouth. Or to watch their face as they explore roasted spaghetti squash for the first time.
Tried Baby Led Weaning? Love it? Hate it? Have a tip or tool you want us to know about?? Leave a comment below or send me an email at KelseyATcordmama.com. I can’t wait to hear from you!