Diet expansion, the BLW method
BLW, which stands for Baby-Led Weaning, is a method of diet expansion that is controlled by the child. As a parent, your role is to suggest and systematically offer the child varied, healthy, and safe meals. The child will decide when and what it will eat, and whether it wants to eat anything at all.
In this method, the stage of purees and blended food is skipped, in favour of giving the child whole pieces of food to grab.
That’s why it is important for the child to be ready to sit (with support) and possess the ability to grab food with fingers, and attempt to put it in the mouth.
From the very beginning, the child controls how much food it will put in its mouth. The parent doesn’t force or convince the child to eat. This aspect of the method influences positive habits of controlling the feelings of satiety and hunger in later life.
The meals should be adjusted so that they are safe for the child. They need to be sufficiently soft (steamed, boiled, or prepared in an oven) and the shape of food should be adjusted to the child’s abilities. Served meals should be healthy and appropriate for the child (without salt or sugar). Try serving meals when the child is full and rested (in the early stages of diet expansion the child doesn’t get full on offered meals and they are only a kind of a game and promote the development of various areas).
With the BLW method you need to be patient and calm, observe the child, don’t encourage it to eat and don’t rush it. Be patient and be aware that there might be a lot of cleaning afterwards.
Are you worried that I might start gagging? It will surely happen, especially in the first weeks of utilizing the BLW method.
Gagging is a natural defense reaction to food moving too far into the throat. It is not the same thing as choking which leads to the obstruction of the airways and is happening quietly. If I’m gagging, this means that I’m in fact dealing with the problem. It’s then best to stay calm and wait for it to pass until I can handle the food. Remember to never leave me alone during meals! It’s also worth learning what you should do when someone is choking.