Baby Led Weaning: The Beginners Guide for Starting Solids

baby feeding himself in high chair baby led weaning

Your precious baby is 6 months old! That’s the magic age, right? It’s commonly
accepted that this is the time when your baby needs other foods to compliment his/her
breastmilk or formula intake. Other new moms are chattering about it and you’re yet again
scouring the interwebs trying to figure out the best way to begin feeding your babe. Maybe you
have seen other moms feed their babies all organic store-bought purees or seen posts on your
Facebook mom group about making their own?! Once again, you’re stumped. Wishing
someone would shout from the rooftops the right answer for feeding your baby.
Today on the blog, we are discussing Baby Led Weaning. But before we do, we need to
first clarify that your baby is ready for this next step. Here are a few musts your babe needs to
be doing before beginning this method.

  • Baby can sit up well without support.
  • Babe has lost the tongue-thrust reflex and does not automatically push solids
    out of his/her mouth with tongue
  • Baby is ready and willing to chew.
  • “Pincer” grasp is being developed. This is when babe is able to pick up food and
    other small objects between thumb and forefinger.
  • Baby is eager and showing interest to participate in eating at mealtimes.

Baby Led Weaning (often referred to as BLW) is a method of beginning solids in your
baby’s diet that is complimentary to the first year of breastmilk/formula. This method upholds
the nature of eating as a positive, interactive experience and encourages the development of
age appropriate oral motor control. Babies “self-feed” through the exploration of different
textures and also are able to control their solid food consumption. The term “weaning” does
not imply that baby is replacing breastmilk or formula but mainly just complimenting it with
other solids.

Benefits of Baby Led Weaning

Though very little longitudinal research has been done on this subject, experts see potential for
BLW to have a lasting effect on a child’s food preferences, eating habits and palates. It also
teaches babies the fundamental life step of self-regulation. Babies cannot be made to eat more
than they need since they are not being fed by another person. They are doing the feeding and
the ones in charge of their intake. Also, another benefit of the BLW method is you can forgo the
buying, making, blending, freezing, and defrosting process of making or purchasing the little jars
of food.

Tips to get started on the Baby Led Weaning journey

  • Wait until your babe is showing signs of readiness (see above for developmental
    markers).
  • Continue to give breastmilk and formula. This is still considered your baby’s biggest
    source of nutrients until approximately 10-12 months. Remember, food before 1 is just for fun.
  • Model eating for and with your babe. Mealtimes are social events. Model proper
    chewing and eating behaviors while your baby joins in in his/her own chair.
  • Prep foods for easy grasping. Food should be cut long and skinny for baby to manage
    independently.
  • Prepare for the mess. The goal of this method is exploration. Smearing, dropping,
    throwing (oh my!) is part of the learning process. Again, modeling appropriate table
    manners is key here.
  • Consider nutrient intake. High calorie foods and also vitamins such as zinc, protein, and
    healthy fats are all good options for your babe to ingest.

Remember to do what feels best and right for your baby/family. Maybe you want a hybrid
model where baby has softer foods to start and smoothies that are nutrient dense with some
finger sized pieces to gnaw on. You are the wonderful caretaker and your babe is following your
perfect lead. Enjoy the journey!

Building Your Birth Team in San Antonio

pregnant woman on the phone. Building your birth team

Congratulations on your pregnancy! As you prepare for your pregnancy, birth and postpartum, it’s important to build a supportive birth team to support you throughout this transformational experience.  Choosing care providers that align with your birth goals and values is essential to having the experience you’re hoping for, so research your options and meet a variety of providers to see who is the best fit.  There are so many decisions to make during pregnancy, but be assure, this is the most important one. 

Care Provider: A care provider is who you choose to do all of your prenatal care. This person/group focuses primarily on maternal and fetal health. There are two different models of care, the Midwifery Model of Care and the Medical Model of Care. It cannot be understated that this is the most important choice you will make your entire pregnancy as it will greatly affect your desired outcome. Fully trusting your care provider brings peace and confidence as you prepare to meet your baby, so it is important that your provider’s philosophy of birth aligns with your goals. Remember, it is also never too late in pregnancy to change care providers if you are unhappy with decisions and/or approaches to your care.

  • Midwifery Model of Care- Monitoring the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle. Providing the pregnant person with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support. Midwifes can work in a variety of settings and generally utilize interventions less and only if they are indicated. The midwifery model is for low risk pregnancies and if a pregnancy is determined high risk, care will be transferred to an obstetrician.
  • Medical Model of Care- This model of care focuses on preventing, diagnosing, and treating the complications that can occur during pregnancy, labor, and birth. Prevention strategies tend to emphasize the use of testing, coupled with the use of medical or surgical interventions to avert a poor outcome. In many cases, low risk people find themselves having the same testing and interventions as their high risk counterparts.

Doula: A doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, in labor, or has recently given birth. The doula’s purpose is to help people have a safe, memorable, and supported birthing experience. The support of a doula has shown to have a 39% decrease in cesarean rates, shorter labors, less interventions, and a 31% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with their birth experience.  Because the doula is not medically trained, she does not attend to fetal/maternal physical health but more so focuses on mother’s emotional well being before and during labor.

Birth Educator: A birth educator is trained to teach childbirth education classes to expectant families, so they can be informed consumers. Childbirth educators are a resource for families providing information they may not have access to outside of a birth class. They help couples learn valuable coping skills and strategies to have an empowered, informed birth experience. While your birth educator may not be present at your birth, she is considered part of the birthing team.

Placenta Encapsulation Specialist: Placenta encapsulation is the process of turning your baby’s placenta into capsules to aid in your postpartum recovery. The placenta encapsulation specialist adheres to all OSHA & EPA guidelines regarding blood-borne pathogen transmission, infection prevention, standards for sanitation, and safe food handling. The encapsulation process happens within 72 hours of baby’s birth and is believed to help with increasing energy levels, lactation, postpartum anxiety/depression, increased levels of CRH (stress-reducing hormone), and restoration of iron levels in the blood.

Chiropractic Care: There are many hormonal and physical changes you’ll experience during your pregnancy. Some of changes will have an impact on your posture and comfort. As your baby becomes heavier, your center of gravity shifts, and your posture will adjust. This may also create added pressure and misalignment in the pelvis. A misaligned pelvis may pose complications during delivery. When the pelvis is out of alignment, it can make it difficult for your baby to move into the best position to be born, which is rear-facing and head down. In some cases, this could affect a person’s ability to have a natural, low intervention birth. A balanced pelvis also means your baby has a lower chance of moving into a breech or posterior position. When your baby is not in an optimal birthing position, it can lead to a longer, more complicated delivery. Evidence points to improved outcomes in labor and delivery for people who’ve received chiropractic care from a Webster Certified Chiropractor during their pregnancy. Chiropractic care can help balance the pelvis, allowing baby the room need to get in the most optimal position possible, while also allowing for a comfortable pregnancy. In fact, chiropractic care may even help reduce the length of time you’re in labor. Locate a Webster Certified Chiropractor, one who specializes in pregnancy and pediatric care, today!

Acupuncture: Many people sing the praises of acupuncture during pregnancy to ease some common discomforts such as back and pelvic pain, nausea, heartburn, swelling, and constipation. So how does it work exactly? Researchers have found that acupuncture points correspond to deep-seated nerves, so that when the needles are placed, the nerves are activated and the energy flow will regain balance. This, in turn, triggers the release of several brain chemicals, including endorphins, which block pain signals and help to relieve a number of pregnancy symptoms.

Clinical Psychologist: This support person cannot be encouraged enough. This particular birth team member will allow you to prepare for the birth as well as process and heal post birth as you enter into parenthood. Benefits of a mental health therapist encompass well being, which ultimately affect baby and partner’s well being. Becoming a new parent has the possibility of bringing in unexpected stress and anxiety. Having a safe space to process this can make all the difference.

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist: This particular support involves biofeedback and exercises to encourage relaxation and strengthening of the muscles of the lower pelvis, which have the tendency to weaken in pregnancy and through postpartum. A physical therapist measures muscle tone and the strength of muscle contractions, which give you the information you need to proceed with tailored exercises. When necessary, the therapist may use a massage-like technique called myofascial release to help stretch and release the connective tissue between the skin and the muscles and bones in your pelvic region. Pelvic floor PT may strengthen your pelvic floor, re-training your abdominal function, help libido levels or painful intercourse, and treat incontinence.

Give yourself the gift of a well-rounded birth team, ready to support an expectant family every step of the way. Being uplifted and encouraged during labor makes all the difference prenatally and postnatally. Investing in getting information and support while you embark on one of the greatest (yet challenging) adventures in your life will have big pay outs in your wellness long term. Physical, mental, and emotional supports are vital in attaining the wellness you deserve.

Stay well and best wishes.

3 Ways to Encourage Labor

encourage labor

Hi! Kristie here. 39.3 weeks pregnant and searching all the ways to naturally encourage labor and give this babe a boost to exit utero. The days are long and uncomfortable and bending to pick up after my toddlers seems like the most impossible task. So on the blog today, I have some insight about encouraging your babe to make their grand entrance. Remember to speak to your care provider before trying these methods at home.

1. Sex– Yep. I said it. This is something any full-term pregnant person may cringe at the sound of, but I firmly believe it worked with my other two pregnancies. But why? Human semen is a biological source that has the
highest concentration of prostaglandins that can occur naturally. Prostaglandins are known to ripen the cervix and get it ready for labor. Also, an orgasm has been to shown to increase uterine activity in healthy pregnant people.

2. Acupuncture– This ancient Chinese practice has many benefits. One of the many is induction. Certain points are avoided during pregnancy when receiving acupuncture treatment because of this very reason. Pushing the
body into induction mode too early is an unwanted outcome. However, when a pregnancy has reached between 39-41 weeks, these particular points are treated. This treatment has been used to help soften and dilate the cervix
with the onset of labor contractions. It may provide a way of reducing labor pain and avoiding a medical induction.

3. Massage– Studies show that a massage can raise your body’s level of oxytocin, that hormone that can bring on labor contractions. Some massage therapists swear by their ability to help jump-start labor when a parent-to-be
is overdue. Many may even focus on certain pressure points to move labor along. Not a fan of massages? Meditation and even just cuddling with your partner can help relax you, which might get your oxytocin levels pumping.
So if you’re anxious about that baby who doesn’t want to leave their cozy bed, try a stress-relieving activity like one of these discussed above. What’s the harm anyway in being in a fully relaxed state of mind for when labor
does decide to begin?

**While 40ish weeks may seem close to an infinite amount of time, it truly is just a blip in your and your babe’s life. Try your best (speaking to the choir here) to enjoy and bask in the miracle of pregnancy. Easier said than done, I know, in those final weeks. Baby will be in your arms soon enough. Trek on, you got this!

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