Research conducted in New Zealand highlighted positive points of the Baby-led Weaning (BLW), but also revealed results that should serve as a warning to parents who opt for the technique
You’ve certainly heard of BLW ( Baby-led weaning ), the method of feeding introduction in which the baby takes food alone by mouth. It works like this: the baby is seated in the high chair and the parents put the available items in front of the child, cut into appropriate sizes so that he can grasp them with his hands.
A recent study by the University of Ontago in New Zealand, with 51 babies between 6 and 8 months, reached some conclusions on the subject. “We found that babies who follow the BLW method are more likely to receive exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months of age. Parents often expect to spend this period to begin introducing solids into the diet, which is great news, “says study leader Anne-Louise Heath of the University of Otago. This is because it is only after 6 months that babies can carry food with their hands to their mouths. It is around this age group that they show interest in what their parents are eating and also manage to sit alone. The conclusion seems obvious, but many parents who choose to feed their children with the “baby food, they end up offering foods other than milk before this period of 6 months, which is not recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Another positive finding from the survey is that BLW babies become accustomed to family meals, a positive habit that creates a moment of interaction between parents, children and their siblings. Earlier studies have shown that when children are accompanied by their parents at mealtime, they tend to eat more vegetables and have a healthier BMI , among other benefits.
Despite all the benefits, the study also brought an important warning to parents who have already joined or are planning to join the BLW. Experts concluded that babies who ate alone consumed more fat than those who were fed in the “traditional” way, receiving food in their mouths. In addition, the intake of zinc, iron and vitamin B was also lower.
These nutritional differences can be explained by the very fact that the baby dines along with the rest of the family and thereby have a greater chance of wanting the food that is on the parents ‘or siblings’ plate. Therefore, the American Association of Nutrology (Abran), the problems found by the study are not related to the BLW itself. “Whoever defines the foods that are placed in front of the child is the adult. The baby just selects what he wants, “he explains. For her, this autonomy is precisely one of the great advantages of BLW: “He selects food according to his own nutrological needs. So if your body needs more than one specific mineral or vitamin, it will choose the food that has the highest content of that nutrient, “he concludes.
So it must be remembered that conferring autonomy on the baby does not mean that he can eat what he wants, like an adult. It is important to offer your child options that fit your nutritional needs, such as vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates in the recommended proportions. When it comes to family meals, the ideal is for the baby to be an incentive for the whole family to eat better. After all, it’s no good putting fries on the table and carrot and broccoli chips in the high chair, is not it?
Tips for implementing BLW in your home:
– As the baby still can not make the tweezer movement (touching the thumb to the index finger), he grabs the food by closing his hand. Therefore, a good indicator to know of what size to cut the food is to think that it should fit in the palm of the baby’s hand.
– Specialists ensure that if the baby is sitting with his back against the chair, the risk of choking is very small. If the child is well-adjusted, it is natural for the tongue itself to make an extrusion movement and to throw forward what is stuck.
– Although the central idea of BLW is that the baby feeds alone, parents should be present at all times. The parent should be seated facing the child, watching their movements closely.