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Baby Led Weaning – the basics

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Nom-nom-nomelette

(I’ve revamped this post for #blogtober 2017 – where day 11’a prompt is ‘kitchen’! We love food in our family, so have a read of how we introduced food to Squid, 18 months ago now!)

This blog post is the first in a series of posts about Baby Led Weaning! Weaning your baby onto solids is a huge step for everyone involved. It’s the start of your child’s relationship with food, and it can be exciting and daunting in equal measure.

Before Squid was ready for solids, I had done a lot of research into how to approach introducing food, and we decided that we wanted to try Baby Led Weaning (BLW) as the method to do that. Traditional Weaning (TW – weaning with puréed foods, gradually introducing textures) works for some families, and that is fine; we have not done traditional weaning and so I do not know very much about it.


So what is BLW? 

The principle of BLW is that your baby eats whatever you eat, in the same form that you eat it (ie not mashed or puréed). One of Squid’s first foods was steak! Soup, mashed potatoes, yoghurts etc are all fine too – as they come in the form you would eat them. The only things you need to avoid are honey (not before 12m – risk of botulism), whole nuts (choking hazard!), shark and Marlin, and you must be mindful of salt and sugar intake! Apart from that, your baby can eat whatever you eat – family meal times have never been so easy! Your baby’s food doesn’t need mashing or chopping up – just serve the food to your baby in ‘handheld’ chunks (think ‘chip shaped’!) and watch them go!
Top tips – bread soaks up soup really well, little hands can easily pick up mash, and pre-loaded spoons work well for yoghurt! 

The world’s most disappointing narna


My first port of call was to get myself a copy of the BLW book, by Gill Rapley – I got this when Squid was around 3 months old. If you are considering BLW, then I would really recommend the book – we picked ours up second hand for a few pounds on eBay!

The long and short of it is that you skip the purées. This means that, unlike with TW babies learn to chew their food first, before swallowing. 
Another crucial element is that the baby is in control of what, how much and how quickly they eat. With TW the parent might keep going until there is no purée left in the bowl, though the baby may be full already – once a liquid is in their mouth, their instinct is to swallow. BLW helps babies to understand their appetite, and to only eat until they are satisfied.

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Squid loves apples!

In the book, Rapley tells you the signs to look out for that your baby is ready to begin solid food. She states that these signs will usually occur ‘around the middle of the first year’ – 6 months/26 weeks.

The signs are:

  • Being able to sit, with little or no support;
  • Being able to reach out and grab objects accurately;
  • Being able to accurately bring both hands, holding an object, to their mouths;
  • Make gnawing/chewing actions with their mouths.


Other sources also state that a loss of the ‘tongue-thrust’ reflex is another sign of readiness – that is, a baby will not reject food by pushing their tongue back out. 
The theory is that it is not until around 6 months of age that the gut ‘closes’ and their bodies are ready to digest solid food. These ‘outward’ signs are good indicators that a baby is ‘internally’ ready to begin eating solid food. 
Waking more frequently at night is NOT a signal that your baby is ready for solids (this commonly happens around 4 months of age, where there is a ‘sleep regression’ or the ‘is-my-baby-broken-why-won’t-he-sleep-please-shoot-me-sleep-regression-from-hell’ as it was affectionately known in our house – more on sleep regressions here in a post I wrote for Breastfeeding World!)
There are some really interesting theories on the ‘Virgin Gut’ which swayed us to wait until Squid was around 6 months old to start weaning. Have a look here.

He eats what we eat – lazy Sunday breakfast


BLW has so many benefits. To name but a few:

  • You don’t have to feed your baby – you can all enjoy a hot meal together!
  • They learn about textures and individual tastes.
  • The baby controls what, how much and how quickly they eat – this means that they only eat until they are satisfied, never ‘over eating’. A BLW baby is less likely to struggle with portion control, and therefore their weight.
  • It takes the stress out of eating – as milk is their main nutrition until they turn 1, food is just great fun before then!

Remember – milk is your baby’s main source of nutrition until they turn 12 months old, so you need to fit milk feeds between meals – milk comes first! Squid nurses 10+ times a day still at 9 months – although he enjoys food, he prefers his milk! (Revisiting this post at 25 months, Squid now eats like a teenager – he had three portions of dinner today! Plus he nurses several times a day too, what can I say, the boy loves to eat! There are very few foods he won’t eat, and he is in control of his own appetite and tastes – we absolutely loved doing BLW and don’t regret anything about it! He uses cutlery beautifully, rarely gets in a big mess, and food has never been a battle. Meal times are happy and social!)

He eats what we eat… everything in moderation, right?!

I really, really do recommend reading the BLW book, because I could essentially just rewrite it here and that would be silly!
There is also a ‘Baby Led Weaning Cookbook’ which I got for Christmas. I would say that this book is nice to have, but not essential.
Did you do BLW with your baby? What made you choose BLW over TW? Let me know in the comments below!

To read more posts about BLW, click here!

Squidmamma x 🐙

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Quick and Easy BLW dinners 

So I’m a liar, and a terrible blogger. Life has very much got in the way of blogging recently – we travelled 300 miles up the country to help my Grandma move house last week, no mean feat with a 10 month old, let me tell you! But as promised, here is this week’s post on quick and easy dinners, which are BLW friendly. 

I don’t know about you, but having a baby has really halted my culinary pizazz – I used to love cooking, especially baking, but since Squid arrived in our lives, time in the kitchen is scarce, because he just doesn’t seem to understand recipe instructions like ‘marinate for 7 hours, and stir counter clockwise every 15 minutes’. That, and quite frankly, more often than not, I just can’t be bothered to spend hours cooking. So I’ve had to be pretty nifty at fast dinners, because otherwise we would exist solely on beans on toast. Without the beans. 

Pizza Toast
Literally as it sounds – pizza made with a toast slice base. 
I use one slice of bread for Squid, and two each for Husbo and I – lovely served with salad and homemade sweet potato chips! 
Recipe (ish!)

  1. Slice of bread, toasted. 
  2. Top with low-salt tomato purée, your choice of vegetables (courgette, mushrooms and sweetcorn work well!), fresh basil, onion and a sprinkle of cheese. You could add some chilli flakes for a bit of a kick!
  3. Grill for 8-10 minutes until the cheese is all melty. Yum! This is such a quick and simple dinner, but also filling and healthy! We also enjoy this for lunch some days too. 



Pinwheels
Another super easy dinner, and these can be frozen! You can make sweet and savoury versions with your choice of fillings, so they’re really versatile. 

  1. Grab a ready-roll sheet of puff pastry, lay in out on a grease proof sheet. 
  2. Spread your choice of filling across the pastry – pesto, cheese, roasted vegetables – anything works here!
  3. Then start from one edge and roll the pastry tightly. Once rolled (and looking like a Swiss roll!) slice into 1.5cm thick ‘pinwheels’. 
  4. Glaze with egg or milk, and pop in the oven for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. 
  5. Serve with jacket potato, roasted veg, chunky home made chips – the choice is yours! 

Cheesey spinach pinwheels – photo courtesy of Emma H as I have no photographic evidence of my creations!


Omelette
Super quick, healthy, easy! I can whip up an omelette and it be on a plate within 10 minutes. Fab with a jacket spud shoved in the microwave! I throw any scraps into an omelette: veg, onion, ham, cheese. You can add anything you like! Squid loooooves an omelette. They’re a great food for breakfast, lunch or dinner! 

Stir fry
Another fast and healthy dinner. We use a packet of bean sprouts, any veg from the fridge, with some dried noodles – we have it with chicken if we have any, but a veggie stir fry is just as good! I like to use a sauce: sweet chilli, Thai green or just plain ol’ soy sauce – however I don’t put these with Squid’s portion, as the Thai green is really rather spicy and the soy sauce is high in salt. A low salt stock cube makes a good sauce with lots of flavour for Squid. I love stir fry, because it’s an easy, one-pot meal, ready in minutes. 


Slow cooker dinners
I love my slow cooker. Seriously. It’s my favourite piece of equipment in the kitchen. We love chicken casserole, vegetable stew, soup, coq au vin, beef chasseure, sausage casserole, chilli… I just shove all the ingredients into the slow cooker when I prepare our breakfast, and by 5pm we have a delicious dinner. No fuss at all, and it fills the house with a lovely smell all day!

There are lots more favourites in our house, but I’ve tried to include above some ideas for one-pot, quick/instant dinners for days when you’re stuck for inspiration. 

I love the BLW cook book for ideas too, and the bbc good food website – both linked below. 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Baby-led-Weaning-Cookbook-delicious-recipes/dp/0091935288
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/

What’s your go-to dinner for your family? Have you a firm family favourite? Share ideas and recipes in the comments – I’m always looking for cooking inspiration!
Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @squidmamma for more baby/life updates. 

Posts to look out for in the next few weeks: starting-out: our BLW shopping list, introducing solid food to an allergy baby and my top 10 BLW tips!

Love, Squidmamma x 

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BLW: Snacks

Today’s post under this week’s topic of our typical BLW menu is snacks. 
I always make sure I take snacks with us when out and about – I find they can really help deflect an impending meltdown at times (!!!), as well as help tide Squid over between meals and boobs. 

The snacks we offer 



I always try and have the following in the house. I tend to offer 2/3 snacks per day, though sometimes more, sometimes less! 

  1. Breadsticks. I am yet to find a ‘low salt’ version (do you know of one?!!), but a couple of mini bread sticks aren’t too bad, so long as salt intake that day isn’t too high. 
  2. Pitta bread and hummus. A bit of a messy snack but a filling one!
  3. Raisins: Squid loves to hold the box and practice his pincer grip picking up raisins!
  4. Fruit. Squid especially loves nectarines and apples!
  5. Cooked vegetables: baby corn is Squid’s favourite. 
  6. Cucumber sticks: makes a great teether too, especially if kept in the fridge before serving. 
  7. Savoury muffins – Squid loves brocolli and cheese ones! 
  8. Cubes of cheese – though cheese is high in salt, it’s great as a snack in moderation. It is also thought that after something sweet like fruit, cheese can help neutralise the sugars, preventing tooth decay. 
  9. Organix and Kiddilicious snacks: I don’t often give these but if we are ever out and about, and snackless, they’re a great ‘fall back’ option. I recently bought some before a super long journey – it meant we didn’t have to fork out for expensive snacks at the service station, plus they are non-perishable!
  10. Rice cakes – again these are a good emergency snack, though there are mixed views about giving your baby rice cakes or baby rice due to the potential levels of arsenic in the paddy fields the rice is grown in. 

Squid will often have a snack at about 11.30am and 3.30pm, between meals. I find that giving him a small, non filling snack such as a bread stick or some cheese can distract him enough whilst I prepare dinner! He will also be given a snack whilst in a super market trolley, as he can get a bit irritable when food shopping and again this can distract him!!
What do you offer as snacks to your baby? 

Tomorrow’s scheduled post is on my go-to, quick and healthy dinners! 
Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @squidmamma for more baby and life updates. 

Love, 
Squid mamma x

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Our Weekly BLW Menu


Hi all!

Sorry for the blog-sabbatical, life has got in the way recently. I’ve now broken up from school for the summer so will hopefully have a bit of time to get back to weekly posts. I have lots planned!

This week’s post is about the kinds of food you can offer your BLW baby. One of the main principles of BLW is that your baby can eat everything that you eat (being mindful of salt/sugar, and with the exception of whole nuts, honey, shark and Marlin). This is common knowledge, yet so many mamas ask me ‘but what do you give him?!’ Aside from the obvious answer: ‘anything, everything!’, I know only too well how hard it is at times to come up with meal ideas which are family friendly.

I am going to split this topic into several sections, which will hopefully cover lots of what people often ask me about! 
I have already written and scheduled the following posts for this week:

  1. Tuesday’s post: Breakfast, lunch and dinner: a typical week;
  2. Wednesday’s post: Snacks;
  3. Thursday’s post: Quick, easy, nutritious meals, my ‘go-to’s. 
  4. Friday’s post: A BLW friendly shopping list. 

So for today, here is what a typical week of food might look like in our household. When we are together, we all eat the same thing, (let’s not mention the secret chocolate I may or may not occasionally have behind Squid’s back!) The only things Squid is offered to drink are water and boob. Water is offered with every meal, and he boobs pretty much 2 hourly round the clock, so this fits around meal times. Breakfast is usually 10am (Squid is always full from the all night boobie buffet before then!), lunch at 1pm and dinner at 5pm. 
Disclaimer:

I make all meals from scratch, no jars or packets. I find that this is the easiest way for me to control how much salt and sugar is in Squid’s diet. Where it says ‘jacket potato’ I would offer Squid half a jacket, and I sometimes make sandwiches with just one slice of bread – it depends what he’s eaten that day. All meals contain a balance of the food groups. We aim for 5 portions of fruit and veg a day (1/2 fruit, 3/4 veg). Yoghurt, butter, hummus and milk etc is always full fat for Squid – babies need the calories! 


A typical week in the Squid household
Monday

Breakfast: toast with Meridien peanut butter, a handful of grapes

Lunch: pitta bread, hummus, cucumber sticks

Dinner: spaghetti bolognaise, yoghurt with frozen fruit 

Tuesday 

Breakfast: French toast, nectarine

Lunch: Tuscan bean soup, small white roll, yoghurt 

Dinner: homemade burgers, sweet potato chips, salad

Wednesday

Breakfast: natural yoghurt, frozen fruit 

Lunch: jacket potato and beans or tuna with salad 

Dinner: chicken stir fry, yoghurt

Thursday 

Breakfast: fruit toast, apple

Lunch: cheese sandwich, pear

Dinner: quiche and salad

Friday

Breakfast: pikelets with a scraping of marmite, handful of grapes 

Lunch: left over quiche, jacket potato

Dinner: spaghetti on toast, pear

Saturday 

Breakfast: breast milk porridge with pear purée 

Lunch: vegetable and cheese omelette, yoghurt

Dinner: chilli con carne with rice

Sunday 

Breakfast: full English breakfast 

Lunch: ham salad sandwich, clementine

Dinner: roast chicken dinner


Other breakfast options:

Weetabix/other cereals with breast milk or full fat cow’s milk; scrambled/poached eggs of toast, spaghetti hoops/beans on toast, omelette, porridge fingers. 

Other lunch options:

Spaghetti/beans on toast, vegetable sticks with homemade tzatsiki dip, tuna pasta salad, Spanish omelette, savoury muffins. 

Other dinner options:

Shepherd’s pie, fish pie, chicken stuffed with garlic cheese, Thai green curry, tomato pasta, risotto, paella, homemade pizza, omelette, toad in the hole, stuffed courgettes and roasted vegetables, baked salmon with new potatoes and vegetables. 
Above is just an idea of the things I might offer in an average week. I love to cook, and am always experimenting when I have time! 

Remember: your BLW baby can eat whatever you are eating. Make sure it is cut into suitable sized chunks (remember, chip shaped!) and see how they get on! 

I hope you’ve got some useful ideas from this post. What’s your favourite family meal? What do you usually offer your BLW baby for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter: @squidmamma for my baby and life updates. 

Keep your eyes peeled for tomorrow’s post about snacks for your BLW baby! 
Love,

Squidmamma x 

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BLW ‘Essentials’ – What Do You Really Need? 

So, once we had decided that BLW was the way to go for us, we gathered supplies and prepared to offer Squid his first taste of solid food. 

Below is a list of all the things we have found really useful, though not all of these things are strictly essential!

  • A dog. (Just kidding!)
  • Floor mat – this is a PVC table cloth – easy to wipe/hose down! Protects the floor…
  • Cover-all bibs – we like the IKEA ones best. 
  • Pelican bib – collects all the crud. Baby likes eating from it. Grim. 
  • Antibacterial wipes – to wipe down highchairs and tables in restaurants. 
  • Flannels – cheaper than baby wipes, reusable! Wilkinson do them for 30p each – we have 10. 
  • A good highchair – we use the Antilop from IKEA, and it really gets my vote. Though it doesn’t fold down, it is so easy to clean (or hose down!), the legs come off so it’s easy to transport, plus you can use just the seat part for floor picnics, the tray is removable and dishwasher safe, it’s sturdy and secure! You can get an insert to slot into it if you have a smaller baby – but Squid got a bit stuck with the insert so we had to abandon that! 
  • An open cup and a doidy cup – Squid has never been a fan of a bottle or sippy cup, but took to (water in) an open cup brilliantly. 
  • Spoons and forks – to pre-load with ‘sloppier’ foods.  
  • Plastic plates and bowls – perfect for child-size portions. 
  • Pots – varying sizes, perfect for snacks. 
  • A lunch box – to carry food/essentials when out and about. 
  • Paper table cloths – we use these as floor mats in restaurants. I personally think you should clear up after yourself in a restaurant with a baby – reasonable mess is to be expected but, having worked in a restaurant as a teen, I remember really hating cleaning up messes after babies. These paper floor mats are great, you can just scoop them up and bin them afterwards!
  • Carrier bags – to put rubbish in when eating out. 
  • Washable bag for life – I take one everywhere! We put in used plates, cups, cutlery and bibs when we’ve eaten out, so I know they need washing when we get home.
  • Baby wipes – for small messes, a flannel really is better for a big clean up jobby!
  • The BLW book and cook book – not totally essential – you can find it all online! – but good to have for reference.
  • Patience. So much patience. 

I find shops like IKEA, Aldi, the Poundshop, B&M and Homebargains great to grab bits cheaply from the list above! 

Though all of the above have been useful to us so far, I don’t think there’s anything you really need for BLW other than a bath, a sense of humour and a Hoover! 

What have you found useful on your weaning journey?
Find me on Twitter and Instagram: @squidmamma for daily baby/life updates!

Look out for Monday’s post on ‘Eating Out with a BLW Baby’!

Love, 

Squidmamma x 

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BLW – starting out and staying calm! Gagging and Choking

Carrots are pretty damn terrifying!

It’s totally normal to have worries over weaning your baby onto solid food – after all, for their entire lives so far, they have been dependent only on milk – a reliable food source, easy to swallow and digest. 

I think any parent’s worry with weaning is to do with choking. Before beginning BLW, I would really recommend taking a baby first aid course, to educate yourself on what to do in the event of your baby choking. Choking was a very real fear for me, and I felt better equipped to deal with choking incidents after we learnt how to manage it. 

That said, I think it’s important to state that there is a massive, massive difference between choking and gagging. Your baby is likely to gag. In the early days, Squid gagged A LOT. Sometimes, he gagged so much that he was sick. But this phase passed quickly. See this table: 

I think the little saying ‘loud and red, let them go ahead, silent and blue, they need help from you’ is a really helpful one – it reminds you that gagging is normal! Not only that, but gagging is actually an important phase with BLW – it is your baby’s way of understanding how far back in their mouths they can put food before their gag reflex is triggered – this encourages them to chew food too. As time goes on, the gag reflex moves further back in their mouths, and incidents of gagging are reduced. At 9 months, Squid rarely gags – only when he shoves too much food in at once! 

Choking is actually pretty rare with BLW, but again, a baby first aid course will help quell any fears of choking, as you will be equipped to deal with it if it ever happened. 

My top tips for dealing with gagging and choking are:

  • Stay calm. If your baby is gagging, give them time to work it out. If they see you panicking, they are more likely to start choking! (Obviously if they are choking (see table above) act immediately, do not wait). 
  • Don’t rush in to slap your baby on the back when they gag – again, it is best to let them work it out. Imagine if every time you took a bite of food and pushed it to the back of your mouth, someone slapped you on the back – you probably wouldn’t want to eat any more!
  • Cut your baby’s food into manageable pieces – ‘chip shaped’ works best. This means that there is a ‘handle’ for them to grip, and the food is not too wide that it might block their wind pipe. 
  • Don’t give foods like cherry tomatoes, grapes, cherries, blueberries etc whole – they are the perfect width to block your baby’s wind pipe. Instead, slice them into 4s – this size will also help your baby  to develop their pincer grip! 
  • Never leave your baby unattended whilst eating. If your baby did need help due to choking, you would need to be able to react quickly. 
  • Make sure your baby is sitting upright, not slouched. This means they need to be sitting either on your knee, or in a suitable highchair, (on the most upright setting if you have a fancy pants reclining one), NOT in a bouncy chair or reclined pram. If your baby is reclined, they are more likely to choke as the food gravitates to the back of their throat. 

So, where do you start? We started with a selection of foods: carrots, brocolli, banana, toast, sweet potato and cauliflower. Squid was pretty horrified by the experience and we got some seriously hilarious photos. The next day, he tucked into spag bol, a now a firm favourite!

From the get-go, we have offered Squid 3 meals a day, whenever he is awake and in a good mood. There is no rule which says to start with breakfast, and then gradually add more meals and foods in with BLW. Go at a pace that you feel comfortable with. Don’t feel guilty if you notice it’s 2pm and you’ve not offered your 7 month old lunch let alone breakfast! (This still happens sometimes at 9 months. Mum of the year right here.)

Remember – milk forms their main source of nutrition until they turn 1 year old, food is just complimentary to milk – milk offers all they really need. So as long as you are confusing to offer milk feeds on demand, don’t get hung up on how much food you are offering. Let me tell you, Squid did not get to be 29lb 3oz at 8 months old by eating (throwing) weetabix for breakfast everyday! Boob milk made him that big!

A 7 month old Squid enjoying spag bol!

So: take a baby first aid course, learn the differences between gagging and choking, have fun and RELAX. Your baby will pick up on your anxieties if you are on edge. Meal times should be enjoyable, so set a good example and sit around the table and all eat together. You don’t need to stare at your baby whilst they are eating, imagine how off-putting that would be! Just enjoy your own meal, talk about the food you’re eating, and at some point, your baby will begin to experiment by playing, feeling, smelling, throwing, licking, tasting, sucking, chewing and maybe even swallowing the food you offer! 

St John’s Ambulance have a great video on what to do in the event of your baby choking. Check it out here: https://youtu.be/nBsUyDiF_4U

Were you worried about gagging or choking before you started weaning your baby?

Tomorrow’s post will be about BLW ‘essentials’ – what you really need! 

Find me on Twitter and Instagram: @squidmamma for daily baby/life updates! 
Love,

Squidmamma x