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I note you recommend puree weaning infants and wondered what your take was on Baby Led Weaning please?
If you were to ask me if I had any concerns about BLW, the one minor issue I would bring up is that there appears to be an ‘anti-puree’ and ‘anti-spoon-feeding’ sentiment in the literature that I don’t quite understand.
I would agree to some degree that babies can be spoon fed in a baby led fashion, and I think if offering a range of foods and textures some of those are bound to require a spoon eg yoghurt, rice pudding or suchlike? What BLW also theories (and something I’ve observed in practice) is that eating skills develop in tandem with the ability to pick up and “manage” different foods. As the gag reflex sits further forward in an infant’s mouth, conferring extra protection whilst developing skills, and moves back as they mature – if a baby has been limited to mostly mush, is there more of a risk the skills get out of sync?
Observing those BLW – in the first instance baby often holds on to the food as they move it around the gums to gnaw and suck, their eating skills can be visibly seen to be developing as they progress, which occurs in tandem with the physical skills to pick up and transfer to the mouth (which ultimately is a significant part of the rationale for waiting until around 6 months? In the same way multiple milk ejections at the breast, slow the feed down – the child keeping control of their food and ultimately intake, makes for a much slower eating experience. Many also recognise that a person being able to recognise they are full and stop eating, is far more likely to maintain a healthy weight as an adult. Even if the parent is holding out the spoon for the infant to come on to, if something tastes nice, is there the potential for the child to keep opening and leaning forward, because again they can swallow the puree faster than they could hope to feed themselves?
You will also know yourself if you take a punnet of say berries and mush them, you often end up with a surprisingly small amount of puree as a result – allowing a higher calorie intake from a smaller volume, what would our weight do if we pureed every meal? In BLW infants we also note constipation is virtually unheard of – something many parents note following the introduction of “solids” (ironic given it often means anything but solid lol). This ties in nicely with your other very valid point that there is more to feeding than just swallowing. What I’ve also observed and identified in a survey was that when presented with a range of foods, meat was often a very popular first choice.
WRT solid consumption before readiness, I think an interesting questions is whether there is evidence an infant needs solids prior to them being able to self feed themselves?
This makes the most logical sense for me – no other mammal requires someone to look at and establish signs of readiness (and what did parents do before the magic lists of what to look for?) before starting to offer a different food every x days.
On a totally different note – our recent focus has been on ankyloglossia and solids, we are noting a high proportion of infants who are not progressing as we typically see with baby led weaning (and in severe cases even purees) have a type 3-4 tie (either undiagnosed or dismissed as insignificant).
Hi, I just want to say thank you to both of you for this amazing exchange, I never heard of BLW before this posts and as soon as I did read a bit, it did make lots of sense. September 27, 2013 by Gabby 24 Comments I still get crazy looks sometimes when people see my little baby boy eating strips of chicken breasts at a local Mexican restaurant. When he was 10 months old, when most babies would have still been eating purees, I got a positive pregnancy test. I do suggest buying the book Baby-Led Weaning so that you can get advice on how to do this carefully, without the risk of choking. And BLW is not for you if you’re not comfortable with outside of the box parenting techniques.
This is very interesting – I have seen some comments on this but never read an actual post on it! I did this with all four of mine, not because it was something I had read but because it is what worked for us and made sense to me as a mom. Ever since my first I’ve always wanted to skip the purees, but have yet to get it to work out! I have never heard of this, but will mention it to my sister in law whose baby is nearing 7 months. September 22, 2014 by Jenni Mullinix Leave a Comment If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that we recently began feeding Amelia solids using the baby led weaning method. Deciding when and how to start your baby on solid foods is a personal and important decision for every parent. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that babies are ready to start solids any time between four and six month.
When we started solids we decided to skip pureed baby food (for the most part) and go straight to real food for several reason.
Since food sensitivities run on both sides of our family, we waited until Claire was nine months to give her grain and most common allergens. You can give your baby a little water to drink if you want to, but I don’t recommend fruit juice because it has a high sugar content. For those readers who aren’t familiar with this approach, it was conceived and developed by Gill Rapley in the late 1990?s.

On a societal level, it presents a much more appropriate approach that puts the baby’s agenda front and center (where, in my opinion, it should be). We note puree fed infants often consume more than those feeding themselves – if the spoon feeding is parent led, they can often spoon far faster than a baby could, which potentially makes it easier for the infant to over eat. Most recognise now the benefits of chewing food well and more slowly; that it gives the brain and body more chance to recognise it is full.
In fact, there are a number of amazing studies that have emerged over the past 5-10 years linking abnormal development of feeding skills with childhood-onset obesity and other feeding disorders.
I absolutely agree there has to be both instinct and logic applied – I have seen young babies presented with a plate of salad with raw carrots. Even more so in cases where there was increased risk for reduced haemoglobin levels; given what we also know about which nutrients an infant requires during the early weaning period – it would be interesting for someone to study self selection of foods further. This makes the information you provided WRT response to hunger and satiety even more interesting! My youngest is almost one year old and she is always ready to try everything (by herself), and she never chokes.
Flanders is the owner and executive director of Kindercare Pediatrics and also co-owner and co-director of kidEcare.
Flanders completed his undergraduate and medical education at McGill University and pediatrics training at the University of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. I did quite a lot of reading and research before we started our firstborn, Claire, on solid food. You can expect a little bit of a mess because the baby will mainly just play with the food for the first few weeks.
It is common to have a little gagging at times as this is the bodies natural reaction to bring the food back to the front of the mouth for more chewing.
Those who follow a traditional foods diet suggest waiting until your baby is at least one year old before introducing grains because they are difficult to digest. Doctors recommend that you wait several days after introducing allergen foods before trying a new one to make sure the baby doesn’t have a sensitivity or allergy. I love the simplicity of it and the fact that we are instilling healthy eating habits from the start.
At the time (and to a large extent, still today) the general approach to introducing solid foods to babies had a marked overemphasis on progressing a baby’s feeding skills based on parents’ agenda rather than baby’s … i.e.
My favorite approach is to dump a pile of apple sauce in front of a baby and then sit back and enjoy watching her explore. You covered quite a swath of interesting topics and I will do my best to respond with the time and consideration that these topics deserve.
Some kids can ‘fly’ right off the bat in which case they would spend only days (or skip altogether) the puree stage. These papers hypothesize that healthy development of hunger and satiety signals (from brain to gut and gut to brain) is crucial for maintaining long-term healthy body composition. We know this happens for most around the middle of the first year, and we know this also ties in with gut maturation in terms of closing and hindering direct access to the bloodstream? She is also fed baby cereal, apple sauce and yogurt (I don’t believe in extremes), but the rest is on her own. I swear you and I are on the same wavelength alllll the time…I am writing a BLW post, too! Like you, I really liked steaming all her veggies to puree, but I would say that it became a hassle when time was tight. I still spoon feed when we go out to restaurants or if we need everybody to stay clean for church. I chose to wait until Amelia was six months because she started sitting up later and I wanted to make sure she was truly ready. Common allergic reactions include, swollen lips, itchy eyes, respiratory problems, rash (especially diaper rash), vomiting and diarrhea. We started both girls with sweet potatoes and then added other nutrient-rich foods like avocado, carrots, broccoli, spinach, etc. every few days. So sorry for recycling but hopefully  more folks will have the opportunity to learn as a result. Although 99% of the food will end up in and on places other than in her tummy, she will have had an enjoyable, authentic, baby-led feeding experience.
I’ll apologize in advance if the responses below are too brief and superficial, but I intend to use many of your insights as fodder for future posts on this blog.

Development of these systems is already occurring before birth as baby drinks amniotic fluid.
In other words, babies need to feel hungry, understand the meaning of that feeling, communicate the need for food, feed themselves until comfortably satiated, understand the meaning of feeling full, and then stop feeding as a result. Including some softer finger foods that can be more easily consumed makes more sense I think.
Flanders is on staff at the North York General Hospital and is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Toronto’s Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine. My littlest is only 2 months (already?!) but after reading your post, I think I really will introduce some solids earlier for him to toy with and explore. My research on a more traditional, whole foods diet for myself confirmed my thoughts and gave me confidence to go against the grain.
Also, babies should not be given honey until they are over a year old to avoid the risk of botulism. A woman saved by grace, a wife, a homeschool mama of two girls, a recovering overwhelmed homemaker and a heartfelt writer who is passionate about inspiring women to cultivate a joy-filled, simple life by God's grace and for His glory. There was little consideration (if any) given to baby’s readiness (psychological and neurodevelopmental), preference, comfort levels, etc… Ms.
For those kids, I’m of the opinion (though I am open to having my mind changed by compelling data) that the puree texture is a logical next step in the transition from liquid calories towards more complex solid food textures. There is further progression through pregnancy and then after birth with the onset of breastfeeding.
Not only that, but it’s easier than making homemade baby food, freezing and thawing it, etc. Obviously, if the baby is struggling to bring anything up or can’t breathe, than you will need to step in. Rapley appropriately took issue with this and developed an approach of introducing solids in a way that was far more respectful of, considerate to, and empowering for baby. The key is to ensure that baby is actively eating off the spoon as opposed to passively receiving the spoon being pushed by parent into baby’s mouth. You are correct that there is a paucity of good scientific data out there supporting the use of purees as a transitional food. The introduction of solid foods marks the next major ‘developmental milestone’ in the evolution of feeding skills. The former represents a child who is 100% empowered to decide for herself whether or not to eat what’s being offered.
That said, there is a paucity of data, in general, to support making recommendations for any first solid foods for babies. For them, any or all of these nervous system components may be lagging in development or capacities to intercommunicate. As such, I feel that a gradual and slow progression from liquids to purees to soft solids etc.
In other words, when calories are densely concentrated into a juice or mush, the body tends to under or overestimate the number of calories consumed. As such, children who take in the majority of their calories in the form of liquids have a much higher likelihood of being over or underweight. As you point out, keeping a baby on purees when she is neurodevelopmentally beyond that level does not make any sense. On the other hand, presenting a baby with food consistencies that are beyond a baby’s neurodevelopmental capabilities is equally nonsensical (I’m picturing a hungry 8 month-old sitting at the table, nutcracker in hand, reaching for a bowl of unshelled walnuts). So I agree with you that babies and children should eat a wide and balanced range of foods and textures. Getting stuck on a single food type or consistency potentially leads to significant long term risk. In fact, the BLW approach embodies this notion of allowing development to occur, led by baby, in the appropriate manner and tempo.

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