While baby and I are officially in EBF territory, she’s making a smooth transition to solids. Well, more snacks than actual food, but she’s making progress.
I credit all to BLW, one of those parenting things that’s been around for ages, but now has a catchy title.
First of all, what is BLW?
Short for “baby led weaning,” BLW gives babies control of their eating habits by allowing them to “self-feed.” No “aaah,” and airplane spoon motions from mommy and daddy.
Instead, babies control their solid food intake by exploring textures and tastes with their fingers, before moving on to utensils.
In short, BLW puts the baby in the driver’s seat.
It might it sound counterintuitive and messy, thank goodness we have a dog! Still, BLW has been incredibly helpful. Here’s 5 reasons why BLW works for me.
1. BLW helps me save time and money
Living in Japan, rice is a staple. It’s always cooked and ready for serving in our house. All I really need to do is add a side serving of veggies, and fish or meat. I don’t need to prep for her meal because the hard work’s already done.
Somehow, the monster loves spinach, and once a month we head to Costco after school this pick up a huge bag for less than 1,000 yen (10 USD).
Frozen spinach thaws instantly, so once that’s taken care of, it’s then time to add some tuna, salmon, or chicken. I sprinkle some furikake or dry seaweed strips (刻み海苔/kizami nori) over the rice, and round it all off with wakame (わかめ/seaweed) soup.
All I have to do is stock up on the essentials and I don’t need to spend extra money on baby food (I do have pre-packaged baby food in the emergency bag, though).
2. BLW teaches the baby how to communicate
Old School Japanese Snack 👶🏼🍠👶🏼🍠👶🏼🍠👶🏼🍠👶🏼 What little Kaiju here is eating is one of my favorite Japanese snacks. It's called hoshi imo (干し芋)or kansou imo (乾燥芋). It's basically a sweet potato cut into strips and dried. I know it looks weird but believe me, these are SO GOOD! 🍠 Hoshi imo are made from Satsuma imo, a Japanese sweet potato that is sweeter than western sweet potatoes. Because of this, hoshi imo is a naturally sweet snack that doesn't have artificial flavoring or coloring. 🍠 This is a snack for the whole family- even your furry ones! Hoshi imo are soft, chewy, and keep you coming back for more. As a bonus, dried sweet potatoes are incredibly nutritious and high in fiber and minerals, too. 🍠 Ibaraki Prefecture, where my husband is from, is home to hoshi imo and produces 80% of hoshi imo. My mother in law ordered directly from a local farmer and sent us a 2kg box…which will probably last us until the end of December.
Pair BLW with baby sign language and you can easily understand what babies are trying to “say.”
Already from being in nursery school, my girl’s learned two big aspects of Japanese food culture:
She knows how to put her hands together and bow her head for itadakimasu (頂きます/“I humbly receive this food”).
She also knows that if she’s finished, she has to put her hands together for gochisousama deshita (ご馳走様でした/“Thank you for the meal.”)
I don’t have to worry if my monster is eating enough because she tells me when she’s hungry or when she’s done. Instead of making her eat, I read her cues and respond.
BLW is also an opportunity to teach sign language and vocabulary. She’s picked up mugi cha (麦茶/barley tea), taberu (食べる/“eat”) eat and “cookie” (which aren’t really cookies but her bland baby snack biscuits).
Related: O-kuizome – An Elaborate Feast for Baby
3. BLW makes me plan balanced meals
The idea behind BLW is that baby eats what adults eat. Again, “BLW” is not new nor is it revolutionary. It’s just common sense. No need to go out of the way to blend purées and clean out the blender.
I have to say that in the summertime I made purée because I make smoothies for breakfast instead of cooking over a hot stove. The grownups’ smoothies and baby purées were made with the same ingredients — bananas, spinach, soy milk, sometimes with strawberries or blueberries for coloring.
Because baby eats what we eat, I consider carefully what I cook. Most time this just means adding more veggies or toning down the use of soy sauce, butter, salt, and other ingredients.
Ever since she started going to daycare I’ve become more adventurous in cooking.
Lunch is prepared on site and all students eat the same lunch (teachers, too).
Each meal is around 350-430 calories and the cooks don’t skimp out on flavor either. I look at her lunch menu and recreate certain dishes.
4. BLW is fun!
I won’t lie, it can get extremely annoying and irritating when the baby is playing with her food or throws rice on the floor. It’s frustrating when she eats two bites of rice and signs, “I’m finished.” Sometimes she won’t eat in her high chair and wants to walk around with her biscuits. I refuse to negotiate with terrorists but how do I make her understand “safety first?”
But I get moments like in the photo above. Just look at that smile! That’s a moment I will cherish.
Or there’s the first time she successfully used a spoon instead of picking at it with her fingers. BLW is also fun because I can sit back and see her expressions when she tries something new. And no, I have not given her lemons just for the sake of seeing her sour face.
I’ll wait until she’s old enough to recognize herself in a photo or video to capture her eating something sour for the first time!
Have you tried BLW or doing it now? Share your tips (and frustrations!) in the comments!
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