Simple Tips And Tricks For Baby Led Weaning

by | January 16, 2018

At the start of my Baby Led Weaning journey, I was overwhelmed.

Going vegan opened me up to a whole new world of tasty. Tofu, tempeh, quinoa, hummus, and avocado are being sliced, scrambled, and smashed at every given opportunity in my kitchen. It’s hard to believe now that the names of these heavenly foods hadn’t even passed my lips back when I was vegetarian. And then there are the plant milks — I like coconut milk in my porridge, almond milk in my smoothies, oat milk in my tea, and I just drink hazelnut milk from the carton. Where had they been all my life? Just when I thought both me and my waistline had peaked with all this deliciousness, it was time to wean my baby. It was then that I realize I hadn’t even scratched the surface. I didn’t know much about baby led weaning.

Plates of rainbows were appearing on our dinner table left, right, and center. Our shopping list was full of health and I became more aware of healthy fats, protein, and which vitamins can be found in which foods. My blender has never been so loved, and I was actually steaming vegetables like only a mother would. I became like a mad scientist in the kitchen, experimenting with a whole host of ingredients and then reveling in pride when watching my little girl Poppy devour my concoctions with me.

And that’s the beauty of baby led weaning (BLW).

You can make what you fancy and serve it for your baby with a few modifications to make it safe for your little one. What’s even more beautiful is it encourages you to be healthier as well. Little to no salt in your dishes, making your own versions of staples that you would normally buy in shops, and putting vegetables in muffins which you didn’t even know was a thing. No purees, no baby rice, no fuss — they just eat what you eat. I began actually cooking from scratch, with fresh ingredients. And even though I say concoctions, I never actually make anything fancy because weaning your baby is daunting enough without over complicating things.

At the start of my BLW journey, I was overwhelmed. As a first-time mum I was lost — I didn’t know what to feed her, how to feed her, when to feed her, or how to stop myself having a nervous breakdown while watching her eat. I didn’t know anyone doing BLW, let alone vegan BLW. At the first sign of choking, I would end our meal and assure Poppy that she definitely just wanted the boob and that food was rubbish anyway. But thankfully that phase didn’t last long, and once I found my feet, mealtimes became a pleasure and something I looked forward to.

And now, at 15 months old, Poppy has already eaten the tofu, tempeh, quinoa, hummus, and avocado I waited so long to try. She also learned how to use a spoon properly by the age of 10 months and you can see how much she enjoys and appreciates being able to feed herself like the little independent woman she is.

Things I have found useful on my BLW  journey have been:

  • Some good quality bamboo suction plates
  • Vegetable/cookie cutters (I get mine from Amazon)
  • Bibs with sleeves
  • The First Steps Nutrition Trust’s PDF for vegan infants
  • The Liz Cook nutrition chart, which has invaluable information and cute little illustrations about the nutrition of plant based foods.

Also reading up on the basics of BLW and the differences between gagging and choking is really beneficial.

Another thing that’s helped has been to visually see how other people feed their babies. I found lots of recipes online and Pinterest has also been so useful. But for me, Instagram has been the best. Social media accounts sharing all things vegan boomed as much as the lifestyle itself in 2017, and you will never be left disappointed when searching #veganBLW. I set up my Instagram account to visually show people the meals I make in the hope they may help take the stress out of mealtimes, but actually after a long day when my mind has gone blank and my cupboards are bare, looking back over my feed really helps me too. I have a link to the First Steps Nutrition PDF on my Instagram which gives advice on how to cut foods, delicious recipes and what a daily feeding schedule can look like for babies and how they change as they grow.

Sometimes I think I get a little obsessed coming up with fun meal ideas and how to change things up because BLW is a continuous learning curve. When we started out, Poppy loved broccoli and avocado but now she won’t touch either of them so I have had to adapt and learn to hide them in sauces and smoothies, and she is currently on a banana strike, which I’m praying won’t last much longer because bananas are not only healthy but they’re so easy and convenient, especially as a snack when out and about. I will keep offering her foods she will no longer eat though, and let her see me eat them. She might just play with them and waste them but I think it’s important for children to keep in contact with these foods, and I’m sure this time next year our menu will be a whole different story.

Now Poppy is older, talking and learning I have also found she really comes alive looking at the different colored foods, and she likes me to tell her what is on her plate. Turning foods into different shapes with the vegetable cutters also adds another dimension to mealtimes which I can tell she really appreciates.  And although I am blessed that Poppy loves and enjoys food, there are still days when she would prefer to breastfeed especially when she’s ill or teething and that’s okay. Baby led weaning truly is baby led – I take her lead and listen to what she wants and I think that is another amazing benefit of BLW.

So if you’re just about to hop on the vegan BLW train, then be prepared for tasty meals, messy floors and pure joy as you watch your baby discover a whole new world of delicious plant based foods.

 

Jasmin Martin I am a 25-year-old mum of one and part-time local newspaper journalist from the UK. I have been vegan 3 years along with my mum, dad and brother after being raised vegetarian since birth. I set up an Instagram page in July last year sharing the BLW meals I make to show how easy and tasty raising a vegan child could be, and to hopefully inspire other vegan mums. Check out What Poppy Eats on Instagram.

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