Baby Nutrition

Help Support The Global Big Latch On

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For the past 8 years Health Foundations Birth Center has had the honor of being a site for supporting the Big Latch On. The Big Latch On is a global movement to raise awareness and provide support to breastfeeding mothers. This year we are very excited to be partnering with Blooma for this wonderful event. Global Big Latch On events take place at registered locations around the world.

Some of the goals of the Big Latch On are: 

  • Provide support for communities to identify and grow opportunities to provide on-going breastfeeding support and promotion in local communities.
  • Raise awareness of breastfeeding support and knowledge available locally and globally.
  • Help communities positively support breastfeeding in public places.
  • Make breastfeeding as normal part of day-to-day life at a local community level.
  • Increase support for women who breastfeed - women are supported by their partners, family and their communities.
  • Ensure communities have the resources to advocate for coordinated appropriate and accessible breastfeeding support services.

Last year the total attendance was 50,383 people! 

We would love you to be a part of this movement with us. This year we are participating on August 3rd starting at 10:00am. Please sign up here! We will be having snacks and handing out goodie bags. Blooma will be leading a Bring Your Own Baby Yoga Class right after the latch on.

Top Five Breastfeeding Essentials for the First Two Weeks Postpartum

 photo credit: Meredith Westin

photo credit: Meredith Westin

Breastfeeding is a journey, both beautiful and challenging at times. To help ease the first two weeks of your postpartum we have put together a list of items that will hopefully make things easier!

Motherlove Nipple Cream: Nipple cream is essential, especially in the early days. Your baby will want to nurse very frequently. Even with a great latch, it takes some time for your nipples to get used to this. Put nipple cream on your nipples after each feeding. No need to wipe it off before feeding your baby.

Nursing Bra / Tank: You will want to have these before your baby is born. It can be helpful to get sized; after 36 weeks is a good time for this. During the first two weeks of postpartum you will find yourself living in your nursing tank!  It is easy and you don't have to put anything else on. Nursing tanks are supportive to your breasts and you can find ones that also support your postpartum tummy. I recommend having 2-3 of both nursing tanks and nursing bras.

Medela Hydrogel Pads: Hydrogel pads are a serious life saver for sore, cracked nipples. After about 24 hours your nipples will feel much better if they are cracked or very sore. In saying this, if you find yourself with very sore, cracked or bleeding nipples, be sure to contact a lactation specialist. It is normal for a little bit of soreness. If you are wincing in pain when it is time for a feeding, this is not normal.

Nursing Pads: Once your milk is in, you may find that your breasts are leaking milk. Whether you are nursing on one side and the other side begins to leak or if you have a let down when your baby is not feeding, you will want nursing pads in your bra at all times. There are washable and disposable options; get both.

Resources: I cannot stress how important good resources are during the early days of breastfeeding. Maybe it is your mom, sister or a good friend, someone to talk to on rough days, and someone with breastfeeding experience. Choose one or two people to reach out to for advice otherwise too much advice can be overwhelming. Never hesitate to reach out to a lactation consultant if you need help with latch or have production issues. A great website to turn to is www.kellymom.com

A nursing station can be very helpful as well. You can prepare this before your baby arrives so it will be ready to go when you get home. Get a basket to set next to your bed and fill with snacks, water, a couple of diapers, wipes and a good book!

 

Top Five Breastmilk Boosting Nutrients

 photo credit: Laura Robinson

photo credit: Laura Robinson

Breastfeeding your baby is rewarding in many ways, from bonding, health benefits for you and baby, cost effectiveness, and much more! But what happens when your milk supply starts off low or lessens after a few months or when you return to work? Our top five recommended breastmilk boosting nutrients are goats rue, fenugreek, blessed thistle, fennel and malunggay. Here are a couple of ways to get these nutrients into your diet.

Motherlove More Milk Special Blend: This supplement is an all-time favorite. It contains goats rue, fenugreek, blessed thistle and fennel seed. Goats rue is one of the most potent herbs to support lactation in women who have difficulty breastfeeding. The leaves stimulate development of mammary tissue to increase breast size. Fenugreek seeds are the most recommended herb in the United States for increasing breast milk. Blessed thistle supports lactation and is considered an emotional ally to uplift spirits and reduce anxiety. Fennel seed is the most commonly used herb to support lactation in the world.

Go-Lacta: Go-Lacta is an all natural plant-based galactagogue, made from premium Malunggay (Moringa oleifera Lam) leaves, which assists in increasing mom's breast milk supply. It is traditionally used in Asia. A unique quality of Go-Lacta is that is focuses on mom and baby. This supplement can be taken antepartum and postpartum. Studies have found that malunggay leaf powder prevents malnutrition in pregnancy or breastfeeding women and their children. Pregnant women recovered quickly from anemia and had babies with higher birth weights.

Aside from supplements, a fun and yummy way to boost your milk supply is with lactation cookies! 

Lactation Cookies: There are many lactation cookie recipes out there. The main ingredients to focus on when making lactation cookies are oats, flax seed, fennel and brewers yeast

If you are having trouble with breastfeeding, Health Foundations Birth Center has a full-time lactation consultant that you can meet with. You can request an appointment or give us a call. The two supplements mentioned above can be found on our on-line store for purchase.

 

 

Big River Farms CSA at Health Foundations!

 Written by Lebo Moore

Written by Lebo Moore

Have you ever seen First Taste, the video of babies tasting different foods for the first time? It’s precious. The babies try everything from yogurt to anchovies and their reactions, displaying the vast emotional range of food, reflect an honest beauty.

I stumbled upon that video at the Terra Madre conference, where I learned the importance of introducing food and eating at an early age. Not only does this establish a diverse palette which is  linked to healthy eating behavior as an adult, but the acculturation of welcoming a child at a dinner table, even if they are still in infancy, teaches children how to eat and care about food. It places food at the center of human development.

I care a lot about food. I work with farmers so I’m a little biased, but also, I love to eat. After years of working on farms, I’ve witnessed how farming shapes our environment. Irrigation is the biggest use of water on the planet. The way we farm, and use that water, really matters. I am not a farmer, its way too much work, but I do know that as a lover of food there are many ways I can support the kind of farming that builds resilient and healthy communities. One way is by becoming a member of Big River Farms Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA.

Big River Farms is a program of The MN Food Association, and is located in Marine on St. Croix. We run a training program for beginning farmers providing education in production, post-harvest handling, business planning and marketing. Our mission is to build a sustainable food system based on social, economic and environmental justice through education, training and partnership. Farmers enrolled in the program represent over ten cultures around the world, most have immigrated to this country in the last thirty years and they all take pride in working the land to provide food for their families. We focus on providing resources for immigrants and farmers of color as they face significant barriers in land access and starting a farm business.

Through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members receive weekly deliveries of Certified Organic produce grown by farmers enrolled in the program in addition to a Fruit Share. This summer we are honored to partner with Health Foundations as a new drop site for our CSA. Each week from June-October, we will deliver produce to Health Foundations Birth Center along with recipes, farm stories, farmer biographies and invitations to on-farm, family friendly events.

We believe that our commitment to farmers and to building small-scale local food systems pairs well with the commitment Health Foundations has in providing wellness and educational services for expectant and new moms. We take great care of our land and farmers to ensure that healthy food is accessible to even the newest of eaters. Everyone at Big River loves to eat and we want to share our food with you so that your family can explore the beauty of eating together. We’d love to welcome you as a member of Big River Farms for the 2017 growing season.

Sign-up for your 2017 CSA: http://www.mnfoodassociation.org/2016-share-information

Use these coupon codes at check-out for a special Health Foundations Discount!

fullhealth to receive $30 off a Full-Acre Share

halfhealth to receive $15 off a Half-Acre Share

Dr. Amy's Guide to Food Introduction

 photo credit: Big River Farms CSA

photo credit: Big River Farms CSA

One of Dr. Amy’s passions is food introduction. It is a fundamental building block for a baby’s development, their immune system and has long-term health benefits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding (no formula or solid foods). Breast milk contains antibodies that support immune function as well as optimal nutrient ratios that change as the child grows. Until approximately 6 months of age, a baby’s digestive tract is not able to adequately digest most foods. Early introduction of foods may result in food allergies or sensitivities. Around six to nine months, breastfed and formula-fed infants will begin to develop their gastrointestinal track in a way that makes them ready to start some solid foods.

Food introduction is one of the most important times in your child’s health; it becomes the building blocks and foundation of health for the rest of your child’s life. The gastrointestinal tract is an extension of the immune system. Introducing foods in a way that will not cause allergic reactions will help build a stronger and more solid foundation than if your child is always fighting off immune reactions. So many early health problems in children are related to food introduction. It is pertinent that you observe your child for signs of a reaction, such as red marks around their mouth, red cheeks, eczema, diaper rash, constipation or diarrhea, etc. (see below more complete list). If these early warning signs are not headed, more serious reactions may result as the immune system becomes more and more compromised.

Signs Baby is Ready for Solid Foods

•      Is at least 6 months old

•      Able to sit unsupported

•      Can push away food

•      Can turn head from side to side

•      Shows interest in what you are eating

Since breast milk is all your baby needs in terms of nutrients, there needn't be any rush to start your baby on solids. Let your baby lead. If she is always grabbing for your food, then allow her to explore it. But if she isn’t interested, don’t force her to try it. Most babies will become interested in food between six to nine months. If your child hasn’t started trying solids by nine months, start offering it to him and see how he responds.

This transition in life can be a source of stress for many parents. Take your time and be patient with your child. Know that she is getting all the nutrients she needs from your breast milk or formula.

Up until the first year, the benefit to babies of trying solids is being exposed to new textures and learning hand mouth coordination; prior to a year most babies gastrointestinal tracts are not mature enough to be absorbing many nutrients from solids, so if your child isn’t eating a lot of solids, it is not compromising his nutrient intake as long as he is still drinking breast milk or formula.

Introducing Foods

New foods should be introduced one at a time. Wait a few days after introducing each new food to see if your baby reacts to the food. If your baby has any of the following symptoms below, remove the food from baby’s diet for 2-3 months, then try again.

If your child has a life- threatening reaction to a food such as difficulty breathing, call 911.

Your baby will show you he has had enough to eat. Stop feeding him when he spits food out, closes his mouth, or turns his head away.  Let him control how much he eats.

Symptoms that may indicate a reaction to a food include:

•      Rash around the mouth or anus

•      Hyperactivity or lethargy

•      “Allergic shiners” (dark circles under eyes)

•      Skin reactions/rashes

•      Infections/cold/flu

•      Diarrhea or mucus in stool

•      Constipation

•      Runny/stuffy nose or sneezing

•      Redness of face/cheeks

•      Ear infection

•      Other unusual symptom for your child

Use the following schedule as a general guide for introducing foods to healthy, full-term babies. You can hang it on the fridge and put a date next to each new food introduction so that it is easier to remember what your child is eating and for reference if your child develops a reaction. If your child has chronic illness, special needs, or has signs of allergies or sensitivities such as asthma, chronic respiratory infections, or chronic ear infections, a modified schedule may be necessary.

Even though it is a common practice in our culture to give babies powered rice cereal, this is not an evidenced based practice and is not recommended by nutritionists. Start with vegetables and fruits. When it is time to introduce grains, use whole grains whenever possible, instead of processed grains.

Finally, enjoy this new time in your baby’s life as he explores new textures and tastes. Be playful with your child and let meal times be a fun game or a time to be social and sing songs about foods. Use it as a time to learn colors or numbers, instead of always focusing on getting your child to eat. If they don’t like something, introduce it again in a few months. Try to make it easier on yourself by modeling good nutrition to your child and giving them some of your meal, instead of always having to make something completely different for them. Enjoying our meals improves digestion and overall quality of life, so do what you need to for yourself to de-stress mealtime and enjoy.

Join us on March 26th at 10:00am on the MyTalk, 107.1 Mom Show to learn more and visit https://www.health-foundations.com/mom-show/ after the show to download a specific food introduction schedule.

 

Breastfeeding: How Do I Know My Baby is Getting Enough?

Breastfeeding a newborn is an incredible boding experience between a mother and her baby. One of the common worries for a mom is whether or not her baby is getting enough to eat. Unlike bottle feeding, the actual amount is unknown. This can feel concerning. Especially is the baby is fussy or not sleeping. Occasionally, due to milk supply or a poor latch, the baby may not be getting as much as they need. Thankfully there are things you can do to help if that is the case!

 Comforting Signs That Your Baby is Getting Plenty to Eat:

Wet / Dirty Diapers: Your baby should have on average 6 wet diapers and 4 stools per day. The urine should be light in color and mild smelling. By about day 5, your baby’s stool should have transitioned from meconium to yellow and loose.

Alert / Satisfied Baby: When your baby is hungry he will be active and alert, giving you cues to demand feeding. Afterwards, your baby should appear satisfied and probably sleepy.

Breasts Feeling Empty: Once your milk is in and your baby nurses, your breasts should feel empty at the end of the feeding. They may feel harder and full at the beginning and soft at the end.

Your Baby is Gaining Weight: Although there typically is slight weight loss in your baby before your milk fully comes in, around day 5-6 your baby’s weight should slowly start creeping up on the scales. Every baby is different but the goal is to have your baby at least back to birth weight by two weeks of age.

If your baby shows any of the above signs that he is not getting enough to eat, it is important to see a pediatrician and a lactation consultant.

At Health Foundations Birth Center, our lactation consultants and postpartum nurses are here to assist you with any and all questions you have related to breastfeeding your new baby. 

We also have a group, Mama's Milk Hour, led by Jan Kaste, IBCLC. This group meets every Thursday at 2:30. It is free and open to the public. You have a chance to weigh your baby, nurse and weigh your baby again to get an idea of how much your baby is eating at each feeding. Jan is there for basic questions and advice.

 

GERD: Is Your Infant Suffering from Acid Reflux?

Infant With Gerd (Acid Reflux)

Acid reflux, or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), in infants can be worrisome for you and uncomfortable for your baby. Although GERD is rarely serious in infants and will typically resolve on its own by age 1, it’s important to know how you can help your baby and what the treatment options are. Here’s what you need to know about acid reflux in infants.

What Causes GERD in Infants?

Acid reflux in infants is caused by food and acid in the stomach traveling back up the esophagus into the mouth. The reflux may cause irritation to the esophagus and cause your baby to spit up excessively or vomit. GERD is usually the result of a digestive system that has not yet fully matured. Because of this, once the digestive system is fully developed around one year of age, your baby’s symptoms should resolve on their own. Typically, infants who suffer from acid reflux are otherwise healthy.

Symptoms of GERD in Infants:

While spitting up is a normal daily occurrence in infants up to and even occasionally beyond six months, these symptoms may suggest your infant is suffering from acid reflux:

  • Spitting up or vomiting excessively and often throughout the day
  • Crying during or immediately after feedings
  • Frequent gas/belly pains
  • Fussiness at the breast or bottle
  • Gagging or choking while eating
  • Persistent Coughing

How Do Doctors Diagnose GERD in Infants?

More often than not, your baby’s pediatrician will be able to diagnose acid reflux based upon the symptoms alone. Typically, any further testing will not be necessary. If the pediatrician is concerned that the issue may extend beyond an immature digestive tract, he or she may recommend further testing.

Testing may include:

  • X-rays of the digestive tract: Your baby may be given barium in a bottle to highlight possible obstructions to the digestive tract on the X-ray images.
  • Ultrasound: to rule out pyloric stenosis.
  • Blood and urine samples: to rule out the possibility of infections that may cause vomiting.
  • Esophageal PH monitoring: This is a procedure in which a small tube is inserted into baby’s esophagus through the nose or mouth to monitor acidity levels. This may require hospitalization.
  • Upper endoscopy: This procedure is typically done under general anesthesia and involves placing a small tube with a camera lens into baby’s esophagus, stomach and small intestine to rule out the presence of obstructions or other complications.

Most babies will not require the above testing and a diagnosis should be possible based on symptoms alone.

How Can I Help My Baby Feel Better?

Having a baby who suffers from acid reflux can make a parent feel helpless. There’s nothing worse than seeing your baby in pain and not being able to solve the problem. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to help reduce your baby’s GERD symptoms. These include:

  • Slightly elevating baby’s head: Instead of lying baby flat to sleep, place a wedge under the crib or basinet mattress to give his head a slight boost. Many moms and dads love the Fisher Price Rock N Play Sleeper for keeping a baby with acid reflux slightly propped. Baby should always be placed on his back to sleep.
  • If bottle feeding, offer more frequent but smaller meals.
  • Burp baby often during feedings.
  • Keep baby upright for 30 minutes following a feeding.
  • Some pediatricians may recommend adding one teaspoon of rice cereal to baby’s bottle if bottle feeding. There are conflicting opinions on this approach before six months of age so be sure to consult your pediatrician and do your research before trying this option.
  • If you are breastfeeding, try adjusting your diet by strategically eliminating things like dairy, caffeine, beef, eggs, etc., that might be contributing to your baby’s reflux.
  • If formula feeding, try experimenting with different formulas. Consult your pediatrician for recommendations.
  • Use bottles that eliminate baby’s air intake such as Dr. Brown's.
  • If your baby is still experiencing a considerable amount of discomfort despite the above changes, your pediatrician may prescribe simethicone or a calcium carbonate antacid to further reduce his symptoms.

In extreme, but rare cases, GERD may cause breathing problems and even pneumonia. There is a surgical option available in which the surgeon wraps the top part of the stomach around the esophagus to form a block that prevents reflux from occurring due to stomach acidity. This, however, is a very uncommon and rarely necessary procedure for infants.

If you have questions about acid reflux in infants or would like information about natural birth, pregnancy and postpartum services or women’s care, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. We are here to support you through your pregnancy and beyond.

Does What I Eat During Pregnancy Matter?

Pregnancy Nutrition

In honor of March being National Nutrition Month, we thought it was a great opportunity to explore the importance of healthy eating during pregnancy. If you’re currently expecting, you’ve probably heard the expression, “eating for two,” more than once! But does that actually mean you need double the calories? And does what you eat really affect your baby to be? These are great questions and ones you might be contemplating if this is your first pregnancy. Here are 7 reasons it’s crucial to eat a balanced and nutritious diet while you are pregnant. 

  1. When you are pregnant, you need more protein, iron, folic acid, amino acids, calcium and other nutrients to meet your increased needs and the demands of your growing baby. While a prenatal vitamin is a great way to bridge nutritional gaps and should be part of your daily regimen, a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients is a necessary component of a healthy pregnancy.
  2. Although the saying is, “eating for two,” you actually only need an extra 300 nutrient rich calories per day while pregnant, not twice as many. Weight gain should be gradual throughout pregnancy with the majority being gained in the third trimester. 
  3. Your diet during pregnancy can impact major factors such as your baby’s birth weight, overall health and the incidence of disease later in life. For example, a diet rich in folic acid can reduce the risk of serious complications such as Spina Bifida and vitamin D is crucial for the development of your baby’s bones and teeth.
  4. Your weight gain during pregnancy can impact your health and the health of your unborn baby. Excess weight gain during pregnancy can lead to serious complications such as gestational diabetes, hypertension, postpartum hemorrhage and heart disease and type 2 diabetes later in life. Being undernourished during pregnancy can lead to problems for baby such as low birth weight, mental deficiencies and increased risk for chronic conditions such as heart disease.
  5. There is some evidence that suggests that your diet during pregnancy may impact your future child’s food preferences. The flavors in your food can actually alter the flavor of the amniotic fluid which can be detected by your baby. If you eat a diet that is high in sugar and fat, your child may be more likely to prefer these unhealthy foods. And conversely, if you eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and other essentials, your child may be more likely to favor these healthy options.
  6. Eating a fiber-rich diet during pregnancy can help combat the inevitable constipation caused by your increasing hormone levels. Fibrous foods like fruits and vegetables are also dense in essential vitamins and nutrients for your growing babe.
  7. An excessive amount of sugar and fat during pregnancy can put your baby at a higher risk for obesity later in life, mental disorders and impaired social and cognitive abilities. 

Most importantly, remember that what you eat during pregnancy becomes the primary source of nutrition for your baby. If you have questions about your nutritional needs or how much weight you should gain during pregnancy, talking to your care provider is a great place to start. They can advise you on the best prenatal vitamins and any additional supplements that may be needed in addition to helping you devise a healthy diet and exercise plan. For questions about healthy eating during pregnancy or for all inquiries related to natural birth, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. Our goal is to help you and your baby enjoy a healthy and happy pregnancy.

15 Ways Breastfeeding Boosts Baby’s Immune System

Baby and Mom

Breastfeeding offers an unparalleled way to protect your baby from illness and disease. Because it is perfectly formulated to meet the needs of your child, breastmilk offers the perfect combination of nutrients, antibodies, enzymes and immune factors to keep your baby healthy and thriving. Here are 15 ways that breastfeeding boosts your baby’s immune system and protects your little one from harmful illnesses.

  1. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop diarrheal disease. Statistics suggest that formula fed babies are 3-4 times more likely to suffer from gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting. This is because breastmilk stimulates the growth of good bacteria and prebiotics in the digestive tract impeding the growth of bad bacteria and preventing it from attaching to the intestines. 
  2. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop ear infections.
  3. Breastfed babies are less likely to be hospitalized with a respiratory infection. Research suggests that formula-fed babies may be as much as 3 times more likely to suffer from severe respiratory illnesses like bronchitis, croup and pneumonia.
  4. Breastfed babies are 34 % less likely to develop juvenile diabetes.
  5. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop childhood cancer. Formula-fed infants may be as much as 8 times more likely to develop childhood onset cancer than babies who are breastfed for at least six months.
  6. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop urinary tract infections.
  7. Breastfed babies have fewer cavities than formula fed babies.
  8. Breastfed babies are significantly less likely to develop certain types of spinal meningitis.
  9. Breastfed babies typically have lower blood pressure than formula fed babies and are less likely to develop heart disease.
  10. Breastfed babies have a lower risk of obesity. Some studies suggest that formula fed babies are 20-30 percent more likely to struggle with obesity.
  11. Breastfed babies born into families with allergies are less likely to develop a milk allergy and less likely to develop problems with eczema.
  12. Babies who are breastfed for six or more months are less likely to get leukemia and lymphoma.
  13. Breastfed babies have been found to have a 36-50 percent reduced risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
  14. Breastfed babies typically have fewer cavities than formula fed babies.
  15. Breastfed babies may be less likely to develop psychological and behavioral problems.

To learn more about the great benefits of breastfeeding or for questions about having a natural birth, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.

Read More About the Benefits of Breastfeeding:

Baby-Led Weaning Banana Toast

Baby-led Weaning Banana Food

Looking for something fun and healthy for your baby to practice his self-feeding skills? Give this yummy banana toast recipe a try and serve in fistful size strips for baby’s little grip.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small, ripe banana
  • 2 fluid ounces (1/4 cup) breast milk or formula
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 slice of whole wheat bread cut into strips
  • Unsalted butter or oil

Directions:

  1. Blend the banana, milk and cinnamon in a food processor.
  2. Dip the bread squares into the mixture, ensuring they are thoroughly coated on both sides.
  3. H eat a little unsalted butter or oil in a small saucepan and fry the strips for a couple of minutes on each side, until golden.

Recipe transcribed from: Homemade Babyfood Recipes

What is Baby-Led Weaning?

Baby-led Weaning

If you have a baby who is nearing the age of starting solids, you’ve probably had conversations with other moms about various approaches to introducing baby’s first foods. While rice cereal and purees may be the go-to options often recommended by pediatricians, more and more moms are choosing to bypass the mush and head straight to finger foods. This approach is called baby-led weaning.

Benefits:

Baby-led weaning, a term coined by British public health nurse Gill Rapley, has become a popular method of introducing solids that allows baby to learn to self-feed, self-regulate and explore different tastes and textures. Supporters of baby-led weaning identify a host of benefits with the practice including:

  • Allowing baby to eat when he is hungry versus spoon feeding 
  • Developing the ability to self-regulate and stop eating when full
  • Exposure to a wide array of tastes and textures which may ultimately lead to a child who is more apt to eat a variety of healthy and different foods
  • Development of hand-eye coordination, the pincer grasp and manual dexterity
  • Possible reduced risk of the development of allergies due to introduction to a variety of foods
  • Reduced risk of being overweight due to the ability to stop when they are full and not overeat
  • Learning to mash and chew which ultimately aids in the digestive process
  • Baby eats what the rest of the family eats. There’s no need to prepare separate purees; just offer baby some of what you are having.
  • Continuing the practice of feeding on demand like with breastfeeding by now allowing baby to choose what and how much he puts in his mouth
  • Teaching baby to enjoy healthy foods.

Is My Baby Ready For BLW?

While some pediatricians give the OK to begin solids as early as 4 months of age, it is not recommended that you start baby-led weaning until your baby is 6 months old. By 6 months of age, baby’s intestines have developed enough to digest solid foods. Your baby should also be able to sit unassisted and grab objects with their hands. And similar to beginning any solids regimen, your baby should have dropped the tongue thrust reflex which causes them to push foreign objects out of their mouth. When in doubt, check with your pediatrician to see if she feels baby-led weaning will be a good option for your child.

What Are Good Foods for BLW?

Any food that is nutritious, can be served in fistful size portions and can be easily mashed with the gums is appropriate for baby-led weaning. Just a few of these include:

  • Banana
  • Avocados
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Steamed carrots 
  • Steamed green beans
  • Boiled chicken and beef
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Eggs
  • Grilled fish
  • Pasteurized cheese
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Pears
  • Peaches 
  • Mangos

How to Get Started:

Getting started with baby-led weaning is easy as you will often be feeding your baby nutritious foods that you already have in your home. Here are some tips for a successful experience:

  • Cut food into thick, fistful length strips that baby can hold on to and eat from the top down
  • Start by offering just one or two foods on baby’s tray
  • Have baby eat at the same time as the rest of your family so that they can mimic your behavior
  • Allow baby to try foods of different tastes and textures. You can even add spices but adding salt and sugar is not necessary or advisable.
  • Encourage baby to explore the food through touch, taste and smell and allow him to have fun with the process
  • Show baby how to guide the food to his mouth but let him be in control of what he chooses to eat
  • If baby seems uninterested in eating the foods offered, stop and try again another day
  • If your baby shows interest in something you are eating and it’s a safe food for his age, offer him a taste
  • Continue to offer breastmilk or formula as often as you did prior to beginning solids. Your baby will eventually begin eating more real food and consuming less milk as he gets older.
  • Make sure baby has on a big, waterproof bib. Baby-led weaning is messy!

Safety and Precautions with BLW:

A common concern when considering baby-led weaning is, ‘Won’t they choke?’ While gagging is not uncommon when introducing solid foods, choking can be avoided by steering clear of hazardous foods such as nuts, apples with skin, popcorn, grapes, cherries and other small round foods and fruits. It is important to know the difference between gagging and choking. Gagging is a natural mechanism that allows food to be moved from the throat forward by coughing and actually prevents baby from choking. Choking, however, is when an object or food becomes lodged in the throat or windpipe rendering the child unable to breathe or speak.

In addition to offering safe food options to your baby, always make sure he is supervised and sitting in an upright position when trying baby-led weaning. Also, always monitor your baby for any allergic reactions following the introduction of new foods. Educating yourself and your baby’s caregivers on safe baby-led weaning will help prevent instances of choking and increase the likelihood of a having positive experience with food for your little one. 

Baby-led weaning offers a different and fun approach to solids for you and baby that may increase the likelihood of raising an adventurous and healthy eater. It can be done exclusively or in unison with offering more traditional first foods like purees and cereals to see which method works best for your baby. As with mosst aspects of parenting, the most important thing is to find what works best for your family and follow that path. As long as your baby is receiving vital nutrients from breastmilk or formula and you have begun the process of introducing solids by 6 to 8 months, you are on the right track. For questions about infant nutrition or for any and all topics related to natural birth, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.