A number of new age moms are attracted to the concept of Baby Led Weaning (BLW) because it decreases the fuss of running behind the babies and makes them used to eating all by themselves right from the beginning. This, definitely, makes eating enjoyable and less challenging, but it has its own set of drawbacks- which I’d like to throw some light on.
Being a nutritionist, a new mom, and now an active blogger, I came across BLW several times and was tempted to try it too. And honestly I was thrilled to see how my little one grabbed food from me and put in her mouth! No, not because it was food and she liked it, more so, because it’s a reflex. Infact, BLW manoeuvres this reflex to encourage self feeding.
While I don’t completely disapprove of BLW, in my opinion-
- Feeding should be transitioned gradually from milk to semi solids to solids, like it’s done traditionally, since, there’s a risk of choking as the baby’s trachea and easophagus are still maturing and may be underdeveloped. Infact, even when I was practising in the hospital, we ensured that every patient who was NBM (nil by mouth) due to surgery, was first given liquids and was then slowly introduced to semi solids and later solids, so that his body is at ease and adapts in a better way.
- Also, BLW shouldn’t be the only course of action. It can be combined with assisted weaning, to make sure that the baby gets all the required nutrients.
Here are some scientific evidences that support the theory of traditional weaning method:
- Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP), World Health Organisation (WHO), Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and all renowned national and international bodies support traditional weaning method and either disapprove or have indifferent opinions on BLW.
- WHO recommends feeding until baby shows sign of being full- which is not possible in BLW where they may keep eating as chewing soothes the itching gums.
- BLW is messy, the amount of food that goes in the mouth is relatively less as compared to what falls on the floor or the table. It’s found that babies on BLW eat lesser, due to which, they can be deprived of some major nutrients that they need during that phase.
- Yes, although milk remains the primary source of energy and nutrients, babies require additional set of nutrients that only weaning can provide. This is because they grow at a very rapid pace between the age of 6-12 months and their requirements are very high.
Poor weaning can lead to poor stature, lower immunity, nutrient deficiencies and irreversible growth stunting in babies!
Parents should be extremely cautious and should always talk to medical practitioners before starting complementary feeds. Google found answers may not always be authentic and in fact may do more harm than good.
Did you know?
- Iron and Zinc are two nutrients that breastmilk doesn’t provide with and babies need in large amounts after 6 months of age. Not getting sufficient of this can lead to early anemia and lower immunity in babies.
- Vitamin C is also an essential nutrient absent in the milk which helps in making the gums stronger. This nutrient, is essentially found in many fruits, and babies may not necessarily like those. It is important for the parents to tweak it to ensure that babies eat it in substantial amounts to stay healthy.
While BLW looks at the fun aspect of eating by following the baby’s cues and likings, but the dietary care that they require at this stage is much beyond that!
In fact, by the last quarter of their first year, babies derive around 90% of their iron and zinc requirements, and around 75% of their calcium, phosphorus, sodium and magnesium requirements from wearing foods- this definitely doesn’t sound easy and leaving it upto babies choice is not a wise decision.
No, I don’t mean we need to force feed, neither do I discourage BLW completely, but we need to tactfully merge the two and make sure they get sufficient nutrients while they also learn to eat independently.
P.S. Each mom does what’s best for her baby. This was just a summary of what I learnt after an indepth research on the same and the path I chose for my baby 🙂 I’m not judging anybody’s choice in any way.