FAQ About Baby-led Weaning

 

FAQ Baby-led Weaning

Is it Gagging or Choking?

Explained well by Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, “Choking is the inability to breathe because the trachea is blocked, constricted or swollen shut.” (1) When your baby is truly choking, there will be little to no sound and a panicked look on their face. Action must be taken quickly. These two videos are great demonstrations on how to help a choking infant age 0-1. 

Gagging is defined by Mosby’s Dental Dictionary as, “An involuntary retching reflex that may be stimulated by something touching the posterior palate or throat region.” (2) No action needs to be taken; keep calm and be close by to offer support. Be sure to not stick your finger in their mouth or whack them on the back while gagging, for that may cause choking by lodging the object into their windpipe.

Gagging may result in coughing, watery eyes or vomiting. Your baby will eventually learn to handle his own gag-reflex and gagging will diminish, some quicker than others. 

 

When Can We Start Baby-led Weaning?

The best advice I can give you is to read this article by Kelly Mom. It explains why current research recommends waiting to introduce solids until baby is around 6 months. And if you’re into some heavy reading, The Linkages Project produced a great literature review explaining why exclusive breastfeeding until a minimum of 6 months is the absolute best thing you can do for your baby with regards to her immune system, the health of her GI tract, why breastmilk-fed babies are able to absorb such a high amount of iron and much more. 

Speaking from a physiological standpoint, “Oral motor function is developmentally ready for the introduction of semisolid and solid foods and thereby the discontinuation of exclusive breastfeeding between six and nine months of age.” (8)

 

My Baby was Born Premature, Do I Need to Wait?

The day your baby turns 6 months doesn’t mean that magically he is ready for food. Therefore, if your babe was born a few weeks early, he may or may not need to wait a bit longer. This recommendation is a guideline. If he sits unassisted, brings everything to his mouth and is around 6 months, he’s probably ready.  

 

Why Does My Baby Seem Uninterested in Food?

Don’t force the issue. The last thing you want to do is create a stressful eating environment from the start. Be sure to read How to Avoid Raising a Picky Eater for more tips on creating a healthy eating atmosphere that will pay off in the future. Let him go at his own pace. If he seems uninterested, replace the food with a toy and have him continue to sit with the family at the dinner table. Try again in a week or so. Soon, he may initiate by grabbing an orange slice out of your hand.

 

How Many Meals a Day do I Serve?

Taken directly from Eating with Baby-led Weaning, it all depends on your baby’s eagerness and how much time you are willing to commit to the process. Like recommended in How to Start Baby-Led Weaning, start baby off with one food at a time; it’s a good idea to begin slow, with one ‘meal’ a day for the first few weeks or so. Ideally, wait a couple days before introducing another new food. Be observant for rashes/hives, GI issues or shortness of breath that may indicate a food allergy. Gradually work up to providing a few different options at each meal. If your baby is doing well, I would recommend at 7-8 months to provide two meals/day and to add the third around 9 months. Snacks come later starting around 10 months but, it depends on your weaning process.

 

How Much Salt is Too Much?

It is recommended that infants 6-12 months get 370 milligrams sodium per day (a little over 1/8 teaspoon of salt) (6). Breastmilk and standard formula contains around 5 mg sodium per 1 ounce. (3) (5) (Just a side note, the sodium content in breastmilk does not significantly change after a mother’s high salt meal (4).)

That means 6 liquid feeds (7 oz each) will give her about 210 mg sodium. So, left is around 160 mg to come from food. And the amount she needs from food will only increase the more she weans off breastmilk and formula. Now, there is absolutely no need to calculate this for your babe on a daily basis; the only reason I’ve calculated this out is to show that totally eliminating salt is not necessary. Yes, limit the salt, but remember, the 370 mg recommendation is set for the ideal intake, so if one day your little babe gets more or less, there is no need to worry, it’s just a ballpark figure. 

 

Does My Breastfed Baby Need an Iron Supplement?

If you are considering any type of supplement, please read this article, Are Supplements for Babies Necessary?

 

Are There Foods I Shouldn’t Give?

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends that allergenic foods (milk, peanut butter/other nuts, eggs, soy, fish, shellfish, wheat) may be provided to infants at 6 months old. “The basis for this recommendation is that there is no evidence for the practice of delaying the introduction of the potentially allergenic foods beyond the 4-6 months age.”(7) 

Avoid whole nuts, whole grapes and popcorn due to choking risk. Experts agree to avoid honey and corn syrup due to the botulism risk until the age of 1. (9)

As a dietitian and a mom, I would recommend providing mainly fruits, vegetables and occasional meats and starches until 9 months.  Similarly, our pediatrician, a baby-led weaning advocate, advised we wait until 9 months before offering fish, milk, nuts and whole eggs. This is a personal decision, if you feel more comfortable waiting, by all means, wait. I have some intense allergies myself, so I am choosing to hold off on giving my trigger foods to my daughter.

 

Why is my Baby so Constipated?

Any major change in diet will disrupt anyone’s GI system. Constipation is a normal when introducing solids, the best thing you can do for your baby is to provide healthy, high-fiber foods. I recommend to have fruits and vegetables make up the majority of food offered for the first couple months of eating. Prunes are miracle workers; consider giving a stewed prune (alone or mixed into something else) daily until her bowels regulate themselves. Around 9 months, you will likely notice the constipation fade and see the stool become to look (and smell) more like regular poop.

 

There is Undigested Food in my Baby’s Diaper, is This Normal? 

Baby’s digestive abilities are still developing until they reach 1 year old. (8) Watch this short video by a Pediatric Gastroenterologist explain why there is whole pieces of food in your little one’s diaper. Undigested Food, Explained by a Gastroenterologist

 

When and How Do I Introduce Water?

Offering water in a tiny cup is the best way to introduce water during meals. The ideal cup is called Babycup. To learn how to teach them how to drink from a cup: click here! Babies can also learn to drink from a straw starting at 6 months, despite the cup manufacturers’ marketing scheme that makes it seem like your baby needs to start out with a sippie cup. Let your baby practice with a regular straw in a cup a coupe times a day for fun when not thirsty. Soon, he’ll be able to use the straw cups marketed for babies 12 months+. 

Also explained in Eating with Baby-led Weaning, the adequate intake (AI) set for babies age 6-12 months is 30 U.S. ounces. Counted in this 30 oz are bottles/breastfeeds, the water content in food, plus the water offered with and between meals. Don’t worry about offering too much water. Just like with eating, your baby should be in control of her own intake. However, avoid letting your baby having free reign to walk around with the bottle/cup at all times.

The more mobile he gets, the more he will want to drink water during the day. Start to offer your baby water at half hour intervals once they are more mobile, around 8 months. 

 

Is it Okay to Give Juice?

Sweetened fruit juice is not a fruit, it’s just sugar water with some vitamins. Treat it as a dessert, once in a while it’s nice to have a treat. (And don’t even think about soda as a regular, everyday beverage!)

If you are able, get a Nutribullet or something comparable. It’s a breeze to make smoothies in, but best of all, you can make baby healthy whole juice. There are a multitude of juice recipes out there, but in the morning, the simpler the better. And there’s nothing easier than blueberries and water, pulverized to create the perfect whole juice. No sweetener needed. If you’ve got 3 minutes, try making Superfood Blueberry Juice. Your baby will love it and you can rest assure he is getting a ton of fruit in his diet, especially if you do this from the very start. Plus there is an added bonus, you will get a smile on your face every morning from their blueberry mustache. I offer the juice every breakfast in our vintage Tupperware 2 oz. cups or the authentic Babycup. Make enough for yourself too, clinical studies have proven that high amounts of blueberry prevent plaque formation in your brain which causes Alzheimer’s Disease.

 

Be sure to read all Baby-led Weaning articles: 3 Reasons not to Spoon FeedHow to Start Baby-Led Weaning and Eating with Baby-led Weaning: Stage 2. Bon Appétit and happy baby-led weaning! If you are looking for some great recipes, follow our Baby-led Weaning Pinterest board!

 Your baby will be a toddler before you know it! Be sure you know about their nutrition needs, read How to Avoid Creating a Picky Eater and Toddler Nutrition Needs, Age 1-3 for detailed yet easy-to-read information, written by a dietitian. 

 (6) Rolfes, S., & Whitney, E. (2006). Understanding normal and clinical nutrition (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth

 THE INFORMATION PROVIDED DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. All content information is intended to be for general informational purposes only. Please see your doctor with regard to information attained from the above article if you are concerned with the health of your child. The content above is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. NEVER NEGLECT YOUR DOCTOR’S PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU HAVE READ. 

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