How to Start Baby-Led Weaning for Twins
Going into twin parenthood, I knew very little, but had two goals: To raise happy, independent kids, and to save as much time and money as possible along the way. I’d heard time and again how overwhelming taking care of two babies was, and wanted to find some shortcuts to make it a little easier.
This directed me towards the baby-led weaning method, aka BLW. All of my close friends swore by it. “Is it just a new fad? Is this actually safe?”, I remember asking my pregnant self. In an effort to shed some light on baby-led weaning, I hope to answer any concerns that my fellow mums of twins share.
While I certainly don’t pretend to be an expert (and please don’t take my advice as such), I did do quite a bit of research on the subject, and found that it had a very practical application to my situation. The few times I’d tried to spoon-feed my twins, I’d quickly learned how tedious and time-consuming it was.
Fast-forward a few months: My boys are healthy, happy, independent nine-month-olds. They have been able to feed themselves since they were six months old. I am quite literally able to put food on their trays and they feed themselves.
So how did I get them to this point? And what exactly is baby-led weaning?
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Baby-Led Weaning is an alternative method for introducing complementary foods to infants in which the infant feeds themselves hand-held foods instead of being spoon-fed by an adult. The BLW infant also shares family food and mealtimes and is offered milk (ideally breast milk) on demand until they self-wean.”
In my opinion, the definition left out a big part, which is this: baby-led weaning allows babies to eat in their own time. They are not rushed, and since they are self-feeding, they can choose to eat as much or as little as they’d like. This prohibits over or under eating. According to recent studies, this encourages healthy eating and decreases the chance of obesity later on in life.
For the most part, I’ve adhered to the general philosophy; however, there are some adaptations I’ve made to fit my family. For one, I stopped breastfeeding at seven months, which means I gave them formula (not breastmilk) before each ‘meal time’.
For another, my husband works long hours, which means I generally don’t have set family meals. Rather, I tend to plan my meals around their schedule.
The point is, don’t be a stickler! Do whatever works best for your family. If baby-led weaning doesn’t work, throw it in the trash along with their chopped up food. If you want to do 50% spoon-feeding, 50% chopped up food, do that.
It’s important to also remember that baby-led weaning is a process. If you give your kiddos big chunks of food right off the bat, they will gag. Here are some of the steps I took, in chronological order:
At 6 months
· Purchase reusable pouches from Amazon (the “Little Green Pouch” is my favorite brand, since they’re strong enough to freeze and put in the dishwasher).
· Steam and blend up produce, and introduce babies to only one new vegetable each week, to ensure no allergic reaction.
· Have babies feed themselves with pouches (caution: It will be very messy, so strip babies down to their diapers).
· Try to stay away from fruits. My pediatrician taught me to get babies’ taste buds accustomed to savory foods, so they don’t expect sugar at every meal.
At 7 months
· Start implementing the three “meals” a day rule.
· Try mashing up soft foods such as sweet potato & squash (poke holes in sweet potato and microwave for 4 minutes).
At 8 months
· Roast vegetables and meat in the oven in bulk.
· Chop up very small.
· Watch your babies closely to figure out what size is too big.
Please note: It is common for a child to gag as they are moving the food around in their mouth. You know your child best, so go with your gut. I still watch my boys very closely when they eat.
Self-feeding is definitely not a new phenomenon; moms of more than one child are usually familiar with leaving chopped up food on babies’ tray. However, the concept of eliminating spoon-feeding altogether is definitely something that could be very useful to busy moms of twins. If you’re thinking of doing it, I have one more piece of advice: Do your research! Education is of critical importance to raising healthy children.
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Keziah Boswell is a twin mom to nine-month-old identical boys. She hails from London, England and currently resides in San Francisco, California. Keziah regularly blogs about the ups and downs of having mono-di twins on kezzieandco.org and her Instagram page @kezzieandco.