(r)Evolutionary baby-led weaning
WNY Orofacial encourages an evolutionary approach to the introduction of solids foods for the breastfed baby. This closely follows the recommendations of "Baby Led Weaning," (BLW) a method of introducing solids coined by Gil Rapley, a former health visitor and midwife in the U.K. There, the term "weaning" is intended to mean the introduction of anything besides from breastmilk to the baby rather than the common US interpretation of giving up breastmilk altogether.
At what point should you introduce solid foods? Even the AAP recommends nothing before 6 months of age, and is unapologetically opposed to giving solids too early (even with physician encouragement). Giving solids too early jeopardizes the virgin gut, meaning the intestines, where the majority of our immunities are rooted, become compromised and the risk for a leaky gut arises, which can result in food allergies and autoimmune dysfunction. According to kellymom.com:
Signs that indicate baby is developmentally ready for solids include:
The main difference between traditional BLW and what we recommend is the style of offering foods- rather than finger sized pieces of many foods, we encourage offering food in as whole and uncooked a form as possible- for example, a lightly blanched broccoli floret, so baby can gnaw on the end while holding a "handle," a peeled thick raw carrot, or a whole apple with a bite taken out. The idea is that the baby can taste the flavors and experience the textures without filling the tummy. Whenever this is impossible (as one wouldn't want to give a baby a nearly raw sweet potato, for example), thick, finger-like pieces may be baked and offered. As with any method of feeding, parents should always be present to supervise and should be familiar with various methods to alleviate choking in their infant. Click here to learn how to help an infant when they are choking. Also, here is some additional reading from baby center. Personally attending a training is the best way to learn! There are trainings offered periodically in the Buffalo area- please check them out!
You may be asking yourself, don't they need food to provide iron after 6 months? According to Dr. Jack Newman, world renowned breastfeeding expert and pediatrician, no. In fact, he extrapolates the data to show that artificially increasing iron levels in infants may actually lead to increased incidence of illness. Read on to learn his thoughts on when solid foods should be introduced:
Dr.Jack Newman - October 10 There is a lot of talk these days about having to start solids now at four months of age to "prevent allergies", apparentlly supported by "scientific research". This is a sea-change from even a couple of years ago when the idea was to start solids at six months of age. However the "scientific support" for starting solids at 4 months of age is not as interpreted. If the "scientific data" says anything, it says one can prevent allergies by starting solids at between 4 to 6-7 months, so why does this get interpreted as 4 months? I should say that the "science" is less than convincing. It is obvious that allergy is not due to just one thing (when the breastfed baby starts solids), but a host of environmental factors seem to have a role. Babies should start solids when the are developmentally ready, not by the calendar. The following is an excerpt from my recently revised book, Dr Jack Newman's Guide to breastfeeding.
Babies, especially breastfed babies, are pretty amazing. It doesn't matter how long they generally sleep, they frequently wake up and want to breastfeed when the mother, but not necessarily the father, just sits down to eat. This happens even if the mother and father are not eating at the same time. How do the babies know this? Is there some sort of chemical signal that the mother sends out that says “I’m just about to put the fork into my mouth”? I suppose it’s possible. If pheromones can induce humans to be sexually attracted to each other, why not maternal pheromones that say “it’s time to eat”? There is no scientific proof for this, but the experience of mothers is important and we should listen to them more often.
In any case, the result is that babies are often sitting on their mother’s or father’s lap when one or the other is eating. By about four months of age, the baby becomes very interested in what is going on. He will often watch attentively the fork or spoon the mother is using to eat as it moves back and forth from the plate to the mother’s mouth and back again. By five or six months he not only watches, he may try to grab food out of the plate and put it into their mouths. In fact, I have seen babies put their hands into the mother’s mouth to try to take the food out of her mouth. It seems to me that a baby doing this is ready to eat solids whatever his age. Of course, a two month old won’t behave like this, so there is no question, following my approach, of the baby’s being ready to eat solids at two or three months.
And if the baby is ready for solids at five months and two weeks of age, why not start the baby eating solids when he’s so interested? And what solids should the baby get when he’s ready? I think it makes sense that the baby of five months and two weeks of age who is trying to grab the piece of steak out of the mother’s plate be allowed to eat that piece of steak. Okay, it can be cut to a reasonable size or shredded, but the same food as the parents eat, with only a few exceptions.
Which exceptions? Round, slippery food, such as whole grapes or peanuts are not a good idea. They are often just the size to block the baby’s trachea (breathing tube). Hot dogs present a similar risk. Popcorn has been cited as a food that can be aspirated into the trachea. Also very hot spicy food may be better to avoid for a while as burning the baby’s mouth is probably not a great way to encourage him to eat solids. But that’s about all. Of course, making sure the food is not too hot (in the sense of temperature) is just common sense and not only for babies or children. There’s often no need to cut the food into small pieces: a baby can hold a broccoli floret in his hand and gnaw away at it, or pick up a pear with two hands and chomp on it.
But I have heard the argument that a baby of five or six months will put anything into his mouth, even stones and toys, if he has the opportunity. Yes, this is true and since the parents are usually there when a six month old baby is putting a plastic toy into his mouth, they will usually quickly and anxiously pull the toy out of his mouth. The baby has just learned that toys are not food or at least not to be put into the mouth though they will keep trying from time to time until they really learn. I would suggest, then, that if a baby puts a piece of chicken into his mouth and the parents react in the same way to the chicken as they would to the stone, the baby has just learned that maybe chicken is not food either.