It's World Breastfeeding Week! I'm thrilled to partner with Covenant Family Solutions to share a guest blog on how and where to get the support you need for your breastfeeding journey.
Head on over to Covenant Family Solutions Blog to read on!
Are you considering adding a new little one to your family, but you still have a nursling?
Are you wondering about breastfeeding while pregnant, weaning in pregnancy, or tandem nursing?
Unless you have a friend or family member who has nursed during and perhaps through a pregnancy, you may not be familiar with options and resources for nursing while pregnant.
Here are a collection of FAQs and resources you may find helpful.
***As always, consult your medical provider for any questions about your specific situation.
How does nursing impact ability to conceive?
The hormones at work in breastfeeding can delay the return of the breastfeeding parent's fertility, so it depends on many individual factors as far as when and if one can conceive while breastfeeding. While some experience the return of fertility with in a few months of giving birth while breastfeeding, others may not until fully weaning. Because ovulation can occur before the onset of the first menses, some breastfeeding parents may conceive without every noting the return of their cycle, while others may experience anovulatory cycles before a full return of fertility. If you wish to understand and chart your cycle, a fertility doula is a great first resource as you navigate this time.
If your nights are still interrupted but you want to begin tracking your basal body temperature, check out my favorite piece of fertility tech - Tempdrop! This little wonder makes it possible to chart your temperature amidst night wakings, feedings, or any other reason for interrupted sleep. *
Is it safe to nurse during pregnancy?
Nursing releases oxytocin, which is the same hormone that causes uterine contractions. However, research suggests that this level of oxytocin, similar to that released during orgasm, does not pose an increased risk for miscarriage or preterm labor. There are certain situations of pregnancy or complications where you may be advised to wean, and these should be discussed with your medical provider.
Will I be able to provide for my nursling while pregnant or will my supply be impacted?
Whether or not you need to supplement with donor milk or formula will depend on your unique situation as well as little one's age and stage. For babies under a year, breastmilk or formula should still be the primary form of nutrition - and diapers and weight gain are the indicators of sufficient intake. (Always consult your medical provider if you have concerns about baby's intake.) Older babies may gradually transition to more solid food intake, and older nurslings may choose to nurse more or less frequently depending on changes in supply and taste. Kellymom notes that while a decrease in supply by the midpoint of pregnancy is typical, some notice a lessening of supply (and perhaps increased demand from their nursling) as early as the first month of pregnancy.
What are the challenges of nursing while pregnant?
While the experiences of breastfeeding while pregnant may vary to person to person, some challenges you may note include feeling touched out or aversions to nursing. You may also experience sensitivity and pain with nursing during different points in the pregnancy. If your nursling is a toddler, you may be successful setting loving limits around your nursing times that allow you to sustain this relationship during pregnancy.
What about colostrum - will my baby still get enough?
While pregnant, your body will switch from mature milk to the production of colostrum. This colostrum production continues until hormonal changes from the delivery of the placenta in the third stage of labor triggers a shift into transitional and then mature milk. After the new baby is born, you may want to make sure to feed the new baby first to insure he or she gets those good antibodies. And, your older nursling may experience some laxative effects from the colostrum, as well.
What is tandem nursing and how does that work?
If you choose to nurse an older sibling through pregnancy, tandem nursing - nursing two at the same time - is an option. A great resource on this topic - even for those just starting to think about nursing and pregnancy - is La Leche League's Adventures in Tandem Nursing. Full of evidence-based information as well as the personal stories of breastfeeding parents who have nursed through pregnancy and beyond - this book is thorough and truly helpful.
As far as what tandem nursing looks like for your little family, know that there is no right or wrong. For some, setting limits with the older sibling as far as when and how long he or she can nurse works to help the breastfeeding parent not become overwhelmed. For others, the opportunity to nurse both at the same time allows for more rest as opposed to nursing the new baby and worrying about what the toddler could be doing.
If you do find yourself needing to set limits for your older child, making sure to communicate your wishes, offering other options for comfort (snuggling, reading a book, having a snack or a drink), and being empathetic to any big feels can be so helpful. Here, making sure to have a solid postpartum plan to support you as you navigate these early days with sibling interaction can also be truly important.
*When you purchase a Tempdrop through my affiliate link, you recieve a 10% discount and I receive a small commission that helps keep the Nested Mama blog up and running. A win-win!
Feeding a baby. We're mammals after all, right? Despite the fact that our babies and our bodies were biologically made for this, the work of breastfeeding doesn't always feel that natural. And, because the culture that we live in isn't the most breastfeeding informed, feeding your little one whenever and wherever they need to be fed can be a bit stressful at the start.
If you are choosing to breastfeed your little one, here are a few tips that may make those initial forays into breastfeeding in public more comfortable.
Dress for success. Finding the apparel that makes you feel most comfortable with breastfeeding can be key. While many companies make specific nursing clothing, a lot of nursing parents find that a deep v-neck is sufficient for access to the breast. Others use the "two shirt method," where a top shirt is pulled up and a tank or undershirt is pulled down, keeping all but the breast cozy in clothing. Adding a scarf can be nice if you are feeling like a little more coverage or in chillier weather when an extra layer keeps you and baby more snug.
Do it on the move. Sometimes finding a comfy spot to sit down for a feed can feel stressful - or less than ideal when you need to get an errand done now. Learning to nurse in a carrier can be a tool that not only makes breastfeeding in public - but parenting a tiny person in general - more sustainable. Not sure how feed in your specific carrier? Reach out to your postpartum doula or local baby wearing group - the latter being another great resource to find friends and support.
Find your community. Nothing boosts your breastfeeding in public confidence like seeing experienced breast feeders wrangle their infants and toddlers and feed in public around you. If you don't have any mom friends to call up for a trip somewhere low-key out and about, reach out to your local breastfeeding group. There are likely a dozen or more breastfeeding parents who would be happy to meet for coffee and be your support squad as you get comfortable nursing in public. And, getting out with other parents in the same stage of life can be so helpful to building your village, too.
To cover or not to cover? Many companies sell expensive scarfs or apron-like devices to cover you and baby while nursing. While some breastfeeding parents feel most comfortable nursing under-cover, others prefer to go without. There is no right or wrong, here - only what works to make you and baby feel the best. And, at different stages your little one may heartily protest being covered or do best with more coverage to prevent distraction - only time and experience will let you know.
Bottom line: what works for you and baby is what is good and proper. Trust in that - and feed that baby!
Advice from breastfeeding parents who have been there and done that:
While nursing tops are helpful, I found that layering a tank top under a regular shirt made breastfeeding discreet without a nursing cover. Lifting your shirt up (as opposed to down with a nursing shirt) covers the action and makes for quick access. The tank top underneath covers your tummy and sides while your shirt is lifted up. - Kelly D.
I liked having a nursing cover in my backpack.... not necessarily for covering up but for any spit up. - Megan F.
Mostly though I just have the attitude that I dare somebody to say something about me feeding my child, but keep a smile on my face so everyone knows I'm confident in my choice. My last piece of advice is to not think everyone is judging you! Most people are in their own worlds out in public and aren't looking or thinking about what you are doing! You can trick yourself into seeing a lot of negativity that might not be there . - Becca D.
I went to Plato's closet and bought cute, long tanks in sizes much larger than I usually would so either the arm hole or neck hole is much larger. That way I can just lift up the top shirt, and pull the tank to the side from the armpit. It's easy, discreet, and I feel cute. - Abbi B.
I personally feel like if I can catch baby a little early before she’s all out hangry, it’s easier to have a relaxed nursing session in public! When she gets hangry is when it gets a little treacherous for me getting her settled down. So I plan my trips out accordingly - (baby will need to eat around 2, will we be somewhere where I can easily sit down to feed her?) - Carli R.
[S]omething that really helped me was always having some enjoyable to drink myself. At the grocery store- I’d always stop by the Starbucks kiosk to get a coffee, or at a restaurant order a favorite cocktail, and always had my water bottle on me. I’d always focus on 1. my baby and 2. just enjoying a drink with my babe. It was almost a mindfulness thing... when I’d start to feel anxious, like people might be staring (they really never were), enjoying a sip of my drink would help me recenter. [. . .]. [I] also just reminded myself that by nursing in public- it’s just paving the way for other moms to feel able to do so as well. I remember seeing moms nursing in public prior to be a mom myself- also remember moms nursing their babies when I was a teacher in an infant classroom and those are the moms who normalized breastfeeding for me and showed me how important it is to be confident and able to do what we need to take best care of our babies and self! So I think that every time I nurse in public, I hope this will help a mama in the future do the same! - Emma B.
With my first I was so worried what everyone around me was thinking, and I didn't want to make others uncomfortable. I experienced a number of breastfeeding challenges with my first child and ended up needing to supplement and later wean much earlier than I would have liked. So with my second, I made up my mind that I was going to try not to care what anyone else thought or if I was making anyone uncomfortable. As a woman, we often find ourselves planning for and managing everyone else' s needs, emotions, expectations in our family and societal role. I continue to try to reject that expectation and focus on my ultimate priority, which is feeding and nourishing my baby. - Grace S.
Expecting and looking for a breastfeeding class full evidence-based information and nonjudgmental support? Nested Mama offers a convenient webinar Breastfeeding: basics & beyond.
Schedule your free chat to learn how Nested Mama's private childbirth classes can prepare you for the journey ahead!
Pregnancy can be such a busy time - appointments with your provider, researching baby gear, baby showers, planning your leave from work, finding a daycare provider, reading ALL the pregnancy books, turning your house into a home for baby, and so on.
The thought of adding one. more. thing. can be overwhelming - I know I've been there.
There are also financial concerns to balance - anticipating the bill from the hospital, making adjustments for maternity or paternity leave, buying ALL the baby things, and so on.
Given the time and financial pressures of this moment, perhaps it seems like investing in childbirth education - especially outside the hospital classes - is something that can't quite fit.
I hear you. I do.
But, birth matters. Not just birth in general, but YOUR birth matters. You matter.
We often emphasize the importance of a healthy baby, but I maintain there is room for valuing a healthy and happy birthing parent in that equation, too.
As a childbirth educator who offers classes outside the hospital environment, I can share with you all the options and choices - the full birth buffet - rather than a menu limited by policy or staff preference.
As a childbirth educator who is also a doula, I believe in the importance of nonjudgmental support, and I carry this with me into the space and community of my classroom. There is room for your hopes and your fears in my classroom as well as your birth choices, whatever those may be.
Childbirth education shouldn't just tell you about birth, it should prepare you with a confident knowledge of labor and birth. It should support you as you craft a full toolbox particular to your desires to meet birth's challenging moments. And, it should inspire you with a fire to advocate for what is right for you.
And, birth is just the beginning. As a breastfeeding educator and sleep educator, I offer a series of classes to prepare you for life after baby and strengthen your partnership ahead of time to meet the ebb and flow of life with your new little one.
If you're feeling ready to invest in your birth with more classes, I give you a big high five. Come check out the full range of classes offered by Nested Mama, including group classes, webinars, and private classes to meet your busy schedule needs.
If you are like me, when you find yourself expecting a baby you take a deep dive into all things pregnancy.
Apps that tell you the size of your expectant joy in terms of fruit and vegetables alongside week by week diagrams and videos of development.
Maybe you've also fallen down the rabbit hole of the birth process and the benefits and risks of different birth preferences and interventions. Podcasts of birth stories and videos of birth can fill your free time, for sure.
In the months leading up to the birth of our first child, the stack of books about all things pregnancy and birth on my nightstand was a veritable rotating tower featuring all the books at the library as well as those acquired via Amazon Prime.
While I'm thankful for all that learning, I now know that switching gears to learn a bit more about the breastfeeding journey I was about to embark upon would have been time well spent.
To that end, I've put together a little checklist for pregnancy that can help you prepare a bit more for breastfeeding, no matter your goal.
Take a Breastfeeding Class
While this seems pretty straightforward, a solid breastfeeding class should provide you the evidence-based information you need to make decisions about feeding your little one. I always recommend that the breastfeeding parent-to-be attend a class with a partner or support person so that everyone is on the same page with expectations for what feeding a baby looks like in the early days and weeks postpartum.
Visit a Support Group
Yes, I am suggesting you attend a support group meeting before you even have a baby. This may help you in several ways. Practically speaking, it can be really tough to get out the door with a new baby and the thought of going somewhere new with people you've never met may be truly overwhelming. By attending a breastfeeding support meeting (or more) before baby, you'll be familiar with the location, people, and atmosphere such that it may be easier for you to attend the group newly postpartum. Breastfeeding groups are also a great way to find community with other parents in the same stage, which can make the early parenting days less isolating.
Make a Postpartum Plan
Feeding a baby with breast milk - whether pumped or from the breast - is a full-time job in the early days. A postpartum plan allows you and your partner to put together the puzzle pieces of support that will be essential for you to focus on this wonderful but often times exhausting aspect of caring for your baby.
Find a Doula
Having nonjudgmental, compassionate support throughout your experience of labor, birth, and postpartum can make a difference in how you find your footing with babe. And, your doula will bring breastfeeding knowledge as well as contacts and resources if any challenge you experience are outside the doula's scope of practice. (If you aren't local to me, Doula Match is a great resource.)
Learn about Baby Behavior
The question "is this normal?" will likely occur frequently in the first days, weeks, and months with baby. In addition to taking a breastfeeding class, a workshop that covers developmentally normal infant sleep may take much of the guesswork out of those first days. Truly, having developmentally appropriate expectations for your child at any age will save you so much stress and help you find strategies and solutions that work for your family.
In addition to the breastfeeding support groups mentioned above, searching out supportive communities before baby arrives can make finding support and friendship in this parenting journey that much simpler. For example, Hike it Baby is a great community to get moving with your little one and enjoy time in the outdoors.
Know your Resources
Compiling a list of resources including postpartum doulas, support groups, breastfeeding counselors, lactation consultants, and perinatal mental health professionals is a good task for those long third-trimester days when pregnancy seems to stretch on forever. You may not need to contact all or even any of these professionals, but having their contact info or recommendations from friends already in place can help you say "yes" to the support you need when you need it.
Like anything else in pregnancy, birth, parenting, and well, life, your breastfeeding journey may have unexpected challenges. In fact, you may make feeding choices different from those you initially planned on.
Know that you deserve respect, encouragement, and love no matter what.
Looking for a breastfeeding class? Nested Mama offers group classes as well as private webinars to help you get the information you need in a way that works for you.
The transition into life with a new baby stretches everything - your patience, your partnership, your identity, and so much more.
The transition into toddlerhood is something else, though. The baby who previously needed to be transported everywhere can suddenly get places under her own power. The baby who only needed milk and snuggles suddenly voices a whole host of other needs and desires, adamantly and at increasing volume levels.
Just like having a baby stretches us as parents and asks us to grow in new and surprising ways, the transition into parenting a toddler asks perhaps even more.
As Dr. Shefali Tsabary writes in The Conscious Parent: "The transition to parenthood is complex, requiring us to surrender to an irrevocable loss of our identity as we have thus far known it. To create the internal space required to embrace the tending of a new spirit, the pillars of our old lifestyle have to crumble. Who we were before becoming a parent doesn't and cannot exist with the same ferocity. Once children enter our life, their impact is indelible and we are required to reinvent ourselves in response" (96).
If you are anticipating the next stage of baby's development into a toddler or find yourself already in the sticky middle-of-toddler-years days, check out these fabulous resources for setting loving limits and holding them with love and respect.
Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham
To get a sense of Markham's approach, check out the AhaParenting website, which has an awesomely helpful index by age and stage. This is one of my first stops when a new kiddo stages throws me for a loop.
It's Okay Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Compassionate Kids by Heather Shumaker
One of the most anxious points of toddler parenting for me was learning how to navigate my kids social interactions - when to stand back, when to hop in, and how to be helpful. Shumaker gives so many helpful examples for how to handle situations in a positive and productive manner.
Playful Parenting: An Exciting New Approach to Raising Children That Will Help You Nurture Close Connections, Solve Behavior Problems, and Encourage Confidence by Lawrence J. Cohen
In rough stages, sometimes you just need a fresh tool or outlook to come at problems from a positive and collaborative place. If you find yourself in that place, this is a great read.
Siblings without Rivalry: How to Help your Children Live Together so You Can Live Too by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Toddler parenting takes on a whole new dynamic when you've got sibling squabbles in the mix. Faber and Mazlish made this a super quick read that's easy to distill and implement. And, it helps me remember that sibling conflicts are normal and the perfect opportunity to build skills of conflict negotiation and compassion.
The Gentle Sleep Book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith
While we'd like to pretend that only tiny babies wake at night, the reality is that waking for reassurance during the night is developmentally normal for toddlers, too. Ockwell-Smith offers gentle suggestions that can help the whole family get more rest while still meeting your toddler's needs in a developmentally appropriate manner. (If you find you need more support making gentle sleep transitions, head on over to Nested Mama's Sleep services.)
Mothering your Nursing Toddler by Norma J. Bumgarner
Wondering what's normal as you nurse your baby into toddlerhood? This book from La Leche League International provides awesome perspective. (And if you find yourself nursing into a pregnancy, Adventures in Tandem Nursing by Hilary Flower is the essential read on the topic.)
As a parent of three fantastic but oft-waking kiddos, I know how baby sleep can become sticky wicket.
For whatever reason, it seems like everyone from family members to the grocery store checkout person to the old woman walking her dog in the park wants to know if your baby is a "good" baby and if he or she "sleeps through the night." And, if your baby sleeps like, well, a baby, he or she likely needs nighttime parental support for feeds, diapers, and snuggles. You may wonder this is normal (which it is), and you may wonder if you are doing something wrong (you aren't). When it comes to babies and sleep, it isn't a problem unless it's a problem.
That's where Infant Sleep Education comes in - a heart-centered, holistic approach to family sleep that keeps in mind what is developmentally normal for babies while also understanding that balancing life and baby may require some outside support.
If you find yourselves overwhelmed and exhausted, but also feel strongly about parenting your baby or toddler in a responsive manner to promote attachment, this is for you.
Are you an expectant parent? Fantastic! You can get a handle on normal baby sleep as well as strategies for soothing baby and finding balance even before baby arrives by attending an Infant Sleep Education Workshop. This course helps you and your partner get on the same page as far as what baby will need and think through strategies to help you work together as a team, find balance, and rally support as needed.
Are you the parent of a newborn and find yourself wishing you'd learned about sleep ahead of time? A private Sleep Education Workshop with time for Q & A can give you the resources you need to feel confident as you make this leap into parenthood. You may also want to consider day or overnight postpartum doula support to help you maximize rest and healing.
Are you looking for education and support as the parent of a baby who wakes frequently at night? Nested Mama offers private sleep consultations that start with your values and goals to help you fit the sleep piece into the larger puzzle of your busy lives.
Are you the parent of a toddler and ready to make a gentle transition away from night feeds or sharing sleep? Nested Mama offers private sleep consultations that can help you create the plan for a respectful transition. Because your goals and values are the most important in your parenting journey, we'll keep those at the forefront of your Sleep Strategy Package.
Still not sure if Infant Sleep Education is the right fit for your family? Reach out to Nested Mama and schedule your free 15-min chat today.
Whether you are getting ready to introduce the bottle or transition baby to daycare, what follows are a host of helpful resources on bottle feeding for the breastfed baby you'll want to have your finger on.
What is paced bottle feeding?
When you think of bottle feeding, the image of a baby reclined nearly horizontal in a caregiver’s arms with the bottle angled down into the baby’s mouth is perhaps the traditional picture that comes to mind. However, this may not be the best approach to bottle feeding your infant, especially if that infant is fed from a bottle only when away from the breastfeeding parent and fed from the breast when together.
Why paced bottle feeding matters?
From the infant’s perspective, breastfeeding takes a lot more effort. Where a bottle can give a fast steady stream with minimal work, the breast has an ebb and flow and requires work for the baby to draw down more milk. When an otherwise breastfed baby is fed via bottle feeding - reclined and bottle angled for a steady flow of milk - that baby may then become impatient when she returns to the breast.
If you’ve ever eaten a meal too quickly, you know that it often takes awhile for your stomach to send your brain the message that you should slow down or be finished. The same goes for babies and bottle-feeding. Where the effort of breastfeeding and pauses in milk flow give the baby on the breast the opportunity to tune into those cues, bottles offered without a paced feeding approach run the risk of continually overfeeding baby.
If baby is overfed via bottle, it can mean a cranky, uncomfortable baby. It may also give the breastfeeding parent the impression that there isn’t enough milk for the baby and make it difficult for pumping to match the amount of milk baby consumes when away from the parent.
If your baby’s caregiver is unfamiliar with paced feeding or more accustomed to feeding formula fed bottles, it may be important to offer resources and education so that your baby is fed in a manner that works with your breastfeeding goals. For example, it is common to offer formula fed babies larger bottles, whereas breastfed babies often thrive with smaller bottles offered more frequently to better mimic their experience when at the breast. For more on how much expressed milk a baby needs, see Kellymom’s explanation of the recommendation for 1-1.5 oz per hour away.
If you are looking for solid information on pumping and maintaining supply, Nancy Mohrbacher’s discussion of the “Magic Number” is a helpful read.
How to paced feed - a collection of resources
Here is a whole collection of written and video resources that explain and demonstrate the paced bottle feeding approach. If you find yourself needing to communicate with your baby’s caregiver about this method, these are awesome resources you can share.
Kellymom on how to bottle feed a breastfed baby
Nancy Mohrbacher on paced feeding for the caregiver
Paced Bottle Feeding Video 1
Paced Bottle Feeding Video 2
Paced Bottle Feeding Video 3
Want more support in the childbearing year? Nested Mama offers breastfeeding education, doula support, sleep consultations, and more. Connect with Nested Mama on Facebook or Instagram for more tips and helpful information.
It happens like this. You’ve had your baby, and life is a whirlwind. You and baby both start to come out of the 4th trimester, life seems a little more predictable, and breastfeeding or bottle feeding or pumping or combo feeding evens out.
You’re finally getting the hang of this motherhood thing - go you!
Then you realize what is on the horizon - solids! Even though you just figured out this whole feeding the baby thing, you’ve got to figure it out - again.
You’ve got relatives saying I fed my baby solids at X point and he was such a happy baby - you should feed your baby NOW.
Or my babies all slept through the night at X weeks and never made a peep - you should feed your baby NOW.
It’s overwhelming, for sure. But, don’t worry. I’ve got you. What follows are a whole host of resources to help you navigate these questions.
***Always consult your pediatrician or doctor when in doubt about baby’s growth and development. These resources do not replace medical advice.***
Frequent Concerns About Starting Solids
My mother/aunt/grandmother/neighbor/babysitter said they fed solids to their baby at x months.
Yes, anyone who parented in a previous generation likely started solids much much earlier than current recommendations. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies receive breastmilk or formula exclusively until 6 months.
My doctor said I could start offering my baby food before 6 months.
If your pediatrician recommends a different start (say 4 months), you can ask why they suggest something different than the recommendation given by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Perhaps there is something specific to your baby’s particular situation that should be weighed when assessing risks and benefits to a different plan. Regardless, ask questions until you feel you have the answers you need.
My mother/aunt/grandmother/friend/check out lady at the grocery store says solids will help my breastfed baby sleep through the night.
Breast milk is the most bioavailable food for your baby - that does mean it is digested quickly. That said, babies wake for all kinds of reasons - teething, reassurance, thirst, hunger, discomfort, developmental changes, and so forth. The answer on sleep and solids, according to research is no - this is not a magic button for longer stretches of baby sleep. Instead, know that night waking is developmentally normal and baby will sleep longer without a feed or reassurance when he or she is ready. If you are looking for a holistic approach to family sleep, you can read more about Nested Mama Infant Sleep Education here.
My baby nurses frequently - should I start solids to stretch out feedings?
Even after starting solids, breastmilk or formula should remain your baby’s primary source of nutrition. Your baby may nurse as frequently (or even more frequently when going through growth spurts, teething, or illness) even after starting solids. Eating is a new skill, and offering breast milk before solids will make sure that the transition is gradual and baby’s nutritional needs are met throughout that transition.
So and so told me that I have to start feeding baby cereal to my baby now.
As with starting solids earlier, past generations began feeding baby solids with cereal. Some still advocate this practice because it is fortified with iron. Formula is also fortified with iron. If you are wondering if your breastfed baby should start with cereal because of concern for iron, here is a great resource from Kellymom. More recently, many suggest you not feed baby cereal as it isn’t particularly nutrient dense, and offering other iron rich foods is always an option.
Do I have to introduce solids in specific order to prevent allergies?
The most recent recommendations from the AAP suggest that limiting certain allergens should be done only if there is a family history of allergies. If this is not the case for your family, common allergen foods are fine to introduce post 6 months and signs of readiness. Honey, however, should be avoided until after age 1 because of possible bacteria. If you have any concerns about specific foods, allergies, and your family, it is best to consult with your doctor.
I hear some people talk about baby self-feeding or baby-led weaning (BLW). What does that mean?
For the past several generations, it has been commonplace to introduce baby to solid food by offering pureed food that is then spooned into baby’s mouth without requiring chewing. More recently, an approach termed baby-led weaning has become a prominent alternative to feeding purees.
With BLW, you begin solids when baby meets certain signs of readiness and offer appropriately sized, soft foods. While starting with purees focuses on baby eating before learning to chew, BLW advocates babies work on chewing, mashing, holding, squishing, spitting, and the intricate dance of mouth and tongue muscles first, without stress on how much they actually consume. With breastmilk or formula still the main source of nutrition in the first year, BLW allows for a gradual, child-led transition into solids. Advocates of this approach highlight that their babies enjoy a wide variety of tastes and textures from the start, and it makes for easier meals because baby eats what you eat (with some mindfulness to size and softness of food) from the start.
I’m interested in BLW, but I’m terrified my baby will choke.
It is important to note that babies can choke on both purees and table foods. When deciding if BLW is the right way to offer solids for your family, it may be helpful to explore the difference between choking and gagging. Gagging occurs when a piece of food triggers a reflex - in babies, that reflex is triggered more forward in the mouth than adults. Gagging is a normal part of exploring food and doesn’t indicate choking is occuring. You can learn more about the difference between the two here.
Ultimately, go with the approach to solids that works best for you family - trust your gut!
Johanna received a Ph.D. in English in 2014. Now a postpartum doula and educator of childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant sleep, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.