Discovering the Benefits of BLW Method
Or is it really important for the child’s development?
Surely all parents who are faced with introducing solid food to their little ones have heard of the so-called BLW method.
Should I start with purees or not?
Parents tell you one thing, friends tell you another…
You can read numerous tips on the internet, each with its own advantages and disadvantages…
How do you make a decision?
Oh yes – introducing solid food is truly a thorn in the side of every parent.
That’s why we decided to explore a bit more about the so-called BLW method, which is becoming increasingly popular among modern parents.
We were also interested to know whether the BLW method is just a whim or truly important for a toddler…
You probably know that this method is not about spoon-feeding the child purees but offering solid food for the child to pick up and eat on their own.
If you’re hearing about this method for the first time, you’ll likely have a lot of questions at this point.
But before we continue, it’s important to clarify…
What does the abbreviation BLW actually mean?
The term “baby-led weaning” is attributed to Gill Rapley today, who herself says that it’s a way to introduce solid food. This method dates back to ancient times.
Gill Rapley worked as a community nurse for over 20 years, studied infant nutrition for several years, and wrote several books on the subject.
She mentioned that when the child was ready, they started reaching for food that other members of the community were eating.
So BLW is nothing new; we just didn’t have a term for it – and it certainly is NOT just a whim.
In the end, Gill discovered what makes introducing solid food based on the child’s cues special and why it makes sense at all.
And now, let’s take a look at what she found out…
Why is the BLW method beneficial for the child?
This method allows the child to learn about food on their own.
For this, the child must have developed a pincer grasp, so they can pick up food with their thumb and forefinger instead of using their whole palm.
When introducing purees, the child swallows the food, which can later cause problems when their parents offer them food in pieces.
With the BLW method, when parents offer the child food in pieces, the child must first chew the food and then swallow.
This brings many advantages to both the child and the parents, such as:
- Time-saving, as there’s no need to prepare purees and spoon-feed the child – the whole family can sit together at the table and enjoy the same (salt-free) meal, creating shared moments.
- The child doesn’t feel pressured to eat, as is often the case with spoon-feeding – with BLW, they can eat as much as they want.
- This method strengthens motor skills and coordination (using the pincer grasp enhances fine motor skills between hands and mouth, which is important for the child’s development).
- Ability to regulate their own nutrition (the child selects which foods to eat, tries new foods, and learns a safe approach to eating by chewing first and then swallowing).
- All of this makes the experience enjoyable for the child, as getting to know and feel the food becomes a moment of immense pleasure.
As you know, every good thing has some drawbacks.
And yes, the BLW method also has a few disadvantages, such as:
- Parental fear of choking.
- In purees, we can hide vegetables that the child dislikes by combining them with vegetables they do like (unfortunately, this is not possible with BLW).
- The child is unfamiliar with purees.
- We need to be prepared for the child to get significantly messier during mealtimes with the BLW method (including the table, chair, and floor).
Many parents have fears and wonder if this method is truly beneficial. But it turns out, YES.
Parents have noticed that children quickly master self-feeding and have more joy at the table – mealtime has become a real fun experience.
When to start with the BLW method?
Just like with introducing purees, the child should have reached sufficient development for the BLW method, meaning they can sit independently and hold their head upright. Ideally, the child sits in a high chair that can be placed close to the table, where suitable food for the first meals is served. You can start the introduction gradually by offering your child a new food or dish every day that they can eat with their hands, as shown in the picture.
This allows the child to explore the food on their own, based on grasping, tasting, and learning about the colors, smells, shapes, and textures of food.
However, it’s important to prepare well beforehand, as a little bit of food may end up on the floor and on your child. But their joy in tasting and making a mess will be invaluable : )
What foods and dishes are suitable for the first meals?
Since your child likely has only a few teeth, we recommend offering them fresh and lightly cooked fruit and vegetable pieces, so the pieces are soft enough for the child to chew. You can also offer them healthy carbohydrates and fats.
When preparing the food, make sure the pieces are cut to the appropriate size for the child to handle well, meaning they are not too small and round to prevent the food from going into their windpipe. It is recommended to introduce new foods or flavors in the first half of the day, as any potential reaction to the food may occur in the evening rather than at night.
An individual food should be introduced for about three consecutive days, and if the child accepts it without any problems, you can start introducing new flavors. We recommend starting with seasonal vegetables as they are easily digestible and also have a more neutral taste.
Experts particularly recommend: soft peaches, lightly cooked apples, avocados, plums, bananas, melons, cooked sweet potatoes, softly cooked carrots and other root vegetables, zucchini, protein, cooked meat, and a piece of healthy bread and pasta a bit later. If you want the transition to the BLW method to be as successful as possible, be prepared for the child not to consume a full meal in the first one to two months, as this time is dedicated more to tasting the food.
Can my child choke?
All parents are faced with this dilemma…
You can find reassurance in the experiences and feedback of many pediatricians who say that when a child pushes food too far back into their throat, an automatic reflex is triggered to push the food out or the child spits it out themselves.
In fact, children using the BLW method are training for safe eating! However, it’s important to offer them properly cut food and never leave the child alone while eating.
So… We believe we have answered many questions about the BLW method and sincerely hope you are aware that it is not just a whim.
It’s difficult to know how everything will unfold in your dining room, but we are confident that your efforts will pay off because soon your mealtime at the table will become real fun. To conclude, we will give you a recipe that will put a smile on your child’s face.
Mini spelt pancakes with raspberries
You will need:
- 100g spelt flour
- 200ml oat milk
- a handful of fresh raspberries
- 1 egg
- coconut oil
Mix all the ingredients (except for the coconut oil) well until the mixture obtains a pale pink color.
Heat 1/3 teaspoon of coconut oil in a pan and pour the batter over it. In a regular-sized pan, you can cook three pancakes at once.
Cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes on one side and 1 minute on the other side. Add more oil if needed.
Serve with freshly cut fruit.
We wish you a successful introduction to the BLW method and lots of patience and fun.