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Baby Led Weaning

Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) – When and How to Start

Baby-Led Weaning and the Child of 4-5 Months

Some children are ready to begin general weaning at 4 or 5 months. Others can wait until they’re 6 months old. Baby-led weaning (BLW) starts when the child shows interest in the food.

Your child must be at least 4 months old when he or she starts to get food in addition to breastmilk. This is primarily because the stomach and bowel system must be ready to digest the food.

If the child is thriving and growing as expected, it is best to wait for baby-led weaning until the child is close to 6 months of age.

When to Start Baby Led Weaning (BLW)?

General weaning starts when the child starts taking porridge and purée, and it ends when he or she eats what the rest of the family eats. When the transition period starts depends on whether the child is thriving, how early the child shows a need for and interest in food, and whether the child is breastfed or bottle-fed:

  • It is better for the child to wait with food other than breastmilk if the child is being breastfed in whole or in part (i.e. breastfed and bottle-fed), and if he or she is otherwise content and growing as expected.
  • The child can start weaning before the 6-month mark if he or she is taking formula alone and appears ready.

Until the age of 4 months, you must feed breastmilk or formula exclusively.

Ready to Start Baby-Led Weaning (BLW)?

Your child shows a readiness to start weaning and eat food by being able to do the following:

  • The child can keep his or her head up, looks at food with curiosity, and opens his or her mouth for the spoon.
  • The child can sit with support and is starting to lean forward in the highchair.
  • The child can start picking up food from the table by hand to try to put it in his or her mouth.
  • The child can communicate being full, for instance by turning his or her head.

If your child is not gaining enough weight or seems hungry, it may be a sign that he or she is ready to start weaning. Ask your home health nurse about your child’s signals and wellbeing, if you are uncertain.

Weaning and the First Foods

If your child of 4-5 months needs to start weaning and eat food, you can start with various grains, vegetables, fruits, and fats. These foods help provide the child needed energy (calories), vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

The food should be energy-rich for the child to get his or her needs met, even when eating small amounts in a sitting. The energy in food comes from fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Vitamins and minerals do not contribute energy, but each contributes to making the body function correctly.

Your Child’s Weaning Development

Your child has become more interested in food when the family is eating, and he or she is starting to understand that food is associated with spoons, plates, and cups. During this period, the child develops his or her ability to use the tongue for things other than sucking, learning to move food to the back of the mouth with the tongue, and starting to chew the food.

The child shows a desire for food by leaning forward and opening his or her mouth when approached with the spoon. And shows satiation by closing his or her mouth or turning away from the spoon. The child discovers that different foods taste and feel different in the mouth, becomes curious about his or her surroundings, and shows enjoyment of being with others around food and mealtimes.

The first few tastes should be puréed and soft, but as the child learns to take the food from the spoon and chew with the gums, the food should have a coarser consistency. Choose between various types of purée and porridge.

d-drops for baby

Remember Vitamin D Drops

Remember to give your child vitamin D. The supplement should be 10 mcg per day and be given in form of vitamin D drops. You can give vitamin D drops on a spoon along with a little breastmilk or formula. Don’t mix it into the bottle. You may want to give it at the same time every day to make it easier to remember.  Some children also need iron drops – Your child needs iron drops if they were born prematurely or weighed less than 2500 g at birth. Ask your home health nurse if you are not sure.

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The Childs Spoon

You may want to choose a spoon made of plastic or horn, rather than metal. Metal can feel hard against the child’s gums. Don’t use the child’s spoon yourself. Not even when tasting the food to show that you like it. If you use the same spoon, there is a greater risk of transferring germs that may cause cavities in the child’s teeth. Similarly, don’t put the child’s pacifier or baby bottle into your own mouth before giving it to the child. This hygiene rule applies both now and going forward.

Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) - The First Foods

Here is some advice about getting started, regardless of if the child is 4, 5, or 6 months old when they start on foods in addition to breastmilk.

If the child is about 6 months old when you start weaning, you should proceed more quickly than you would with a child of 4-5 months.

Which Time of the Day?

The time of day you offer the child food doesn’t matter. It is more important that the child is relatively well-rested and not too hungry when you are going to try something new.

If the child has become too hungry, they might prefer to be breast or bottle-fed rather than eating food from a spoon.

After eating food, the child can be breast- or bottle-fed. It is preferable if the child participates in family meals, and that they start to eat at some point. The child learns a lot from watching others eat and experiencing the meal as a fun and engaging time.

What Are Good ‘Weaning Foods’?

The first foods are porridge, puréed vegetables, and puréed fruit. In Denmark, the tradition is to start with porridge, but you can also start with mild, creamy mashed potatoes mixed with a bit of puréed vegetables.

You can use puréed fruit to sweeten the porridge and vary the taste. Or you can give puréed fruit as ‘dessert’ after a vegetable meal. The content of vitamin C in the fruit makes it easier for the body to absorb iron from other food the child eats. Do not use puréed fruit as a stand-alone meal, in part because it doesn’t always provide enough energy, but also because the sweet taste may get the child to prefer puréed fruit to porridge and puréed vegetables.

When you make porridge, you may want to switch between various cereal types – and between porridge with and without gluten. Corn, millet, and buckwheat contain no gluten, while oats, rye, and wheat do. If you switch between instant porridge types, choose products with added iron. Read the label.

Your child should not eat rice-based porridge every day, as rice contains arsenic.

Good Baby-Led 'Weaning Foods'

Porridge

Porridge made from  cornmeal, millet flour, and buckwheat flour is suitable as a very first food, because the taste is mild and the consistency fine and creamy. Once the child is used to soft porridge, you can start to use flakes and grains – e.g. millet flakes and oats – with a slightly ‘grainier’ consistency.

Puréed vegetables

Potatoes have a mild taste and are nice and soft when mashed. They are also filling and suitable for a basic mash combined with various boiled vegetables, such as carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, parsnips, parsley root, and peas. It is important to use a wide variety of vegetables, so the child experiences different tastes. Hold off on spinach, beets, fennel, and celery, until the child is older than 6 months, and even then in small quantities, as they contain nitrates. Also, limit salt in the mashed potatoes. From the age of 6 months, the child should also eat meat and fish.

Puréed fruit

You can feed the child a purée of raw or boiled fruit. Use apples, pears, bananas, or peaches, which have a mild taste. Fruits like melon and berries are also suitable in small quantities, as they have a stronger taste. Frozen berries can be used to boil compote. From 6 months of age, the child can eat all kinds of fruit, raw or boiled. Initially, the fruit must be puréed. You can give berries and small soft pieces of fruit once the child is able to chew the food.

Fat in the Child’s Porridge and Purée

The following recommendations will ensure that the child’s first food provides sufficient energy:

Homemade porridge and purée should have added fats and formula, which could be in the form of powder. 

Off-the-shelf porridges and baby food in jars do not need added fats, as the energy contents are already high enough.

Fats are primarily an important source of energy in the food. The fat also contributes fatty acids that are important for forming new cells in the body and for various hormones.

Instead of formula, you can obviously use pumped breastmilk for the porridge. Use breastmilk or formula rather than milk with lower fat content while a child is between 6 and 12 months.

The added fat can be butter or olive oil. You might not want to use butter all the time, since the child already gets a great deal of this type of fat from breastmilk.

Food Consistency and Baby-Led Weaning (BLW)

If the child is 4-5 months old when they start weaning, you can give the child a thin, smooth porridge and puréed potatoes with vegetables. This eases the transition from breastmilk to food. The child’s ability to chew is still not well-developed, so the food should be the consistency of cream soup. With this consistency, the child soon figures out how to suck the food off the spoon and swallow it. 

Once the child is used to taking food from a spoon, you can make the porridge thicker but still smooth, and you can make the mashed potatoes more substantial by mashing them with a fork. Once a child can chew, you can cut boiled, steamed or baked vegetables into small pieces.

 

Start baby-led weaning with a soft, creamy and fairly liquid consistency.

Then make the food coarser, firmer and more varied.

The Flavor of the Food

Vary the food so the child has many different taste experiences from the very beginning – this can contribute to developing the desire to eat different foods later on. During the baby-led weaning period (BLW), the child should get used to food tasting different from breastmilk. Remember that the child needs time to get used to new tastes and consistencies.

You can flavor the porridge with various kinds of puréed fruit, but make sure you don’t use sweet flavors only.

Normally, the child’s food should not have added salt. Avoid salty foods, including salted meat and fish products. Use very little salt when boiling potatoes, rice, pasta, and vegetables for your family, so these foods can be used for the child’s purée.

What Should the Child Drink?

At mealtime, the child can drink formula from a cup, so they will realize that milk can be served in a cup as well.

Wait until the child is a year old before you serve cow’s milk in a cup.

If the child is being breastfed, there is no need to provide bottled formula during baby-led weaning (BLW). After the meal, you can breastfeed the child, so it will still get breastmilk.

If you stop breastfeeding – or if the child takes very little breastmilk – they will need bottled formula after the meal until 9-12 months of age. How much depends on how much the child eats at mealtime and takes by cup. After turning 1, the child no longer needs the bottle.

blw and baby led weaning

Baby-Led Weaning (BLW)

Let the child practice eating with his fingers. It can stimulate the interest in food. Make sure the food is mashed. Stand by with a spoon so you know they get to eat something.

If the Child Spits Out the Food

Even if your child is ready to start baby-led weaning (BLW), they may have a hard time getting the first foods into the mouth properly and swallow them. The food may be pushed back out. That doesn’t necessarily mean that your child doesn’t like it. But they need to practice, because the oral motor skills are not yet fully developed to taking food from a spoon.

Try putting another spoonful into the child’s mouth carefully, and try again, until the child doesn’t want any more. The child will indicate this by a turned head or a closed mouth. If the child likes the food, you can offer more spoon full over the next days. The appetite of the child and his or her desire to eat determines the size of the meal.

Initially, the child may make gagging sounds or look like they are choking on the food. This is because the child has yet to learn how to use the tongue to manipulate the food. Because of this, the food goes too far back into the mouth, activating the gagging reflex. Don’t worry and give the child a chance to get used to the consistency of the food. As soon as the child learns to use his or her tongue, the gagging reflex will be activated less and less.

If the Child Refuses the Food

If the child doesn’t want the food you offer, they may need more time to get used to the smell, taste, and consistency of the food. Don’t give up. Try again next time the child is up to it, perhaps with different foods.

A lack of desire to eat the food you offer may also indicate that the child is being started baby-led weaning (BLW) too early and is not quite ready to try eating porridge and purée. If the child is younger than 6 months, you may want to wait with the food and try a little later. 

If the child is older than 6 months, it is best to continue offering food next time the child is up to it, as the child needs more than breastmilk at that point. But do remember that you never want to push the child to eat.

If the Child Is Slow to Get Used to Food

Some children accept new foods readily. Other children need to taste the same food, perhaps 8-10 times and over several days, before accepting the new food. Consider it healthy skepticism on the part of the child and slowly and calmly help the child through it.

Children are also very different in terms of appetite. Some eat large helpings of food, while others want only small samples. As long as your child is healthy and happy, you don’t need to worry.

If the Child Becomes Constipated

Some children get constipated easily when they start eating food. If that happens, make sure you offer extra water and extra dietary fiber, such as in the form of oatmeal porridge and raw, shredded vegetables. You may also want to consult with a doctor or your home health nurse.

Baby Led Weaning and the Child of 6-8 Months

If you haven’t already started, your child needs to start baby-led weaning (BLW) around the age of 6 months. They need the nutrition from the food, and breastmilk is no longer enough.

It seems there is a ‘window’ for introducing food around 6 months of age. If you start much later, it may be difficult for the child to get used to food, because they is less ready to try new things and would rather continue with breastfeeding or taking a bottle.

Breastmilk

Breastmilk or formula still provides the bulk of the child’s nutrition, and the food serves as a good supplement. We recommend continuing breastfeeding as long as the child is happy with it, which could be until the age of 1 or even longer.

If the child is no longer breastfed, we recommend formula by bottle and cup until the age of 1. You will also want to offer water by cup throughout the day.

Be aware that it may ruin the child’s appetite if they is breastfed or taking a bottle during the night. The more night feeding, the less appetite for food during the day.

The Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) Development

Around 6 months: The child can sit with support. When the child can sit in a highchair, they is ready to join you at mealtime.

The child is practicing chewing the food using his or her tongue or jaws. Therefore, the food must become coarser with a thicker consistency in step with the child’s development.

Early in the transition, the child should typically eat two meals a day. Toward the end of the transition, 3-4 meals a day. Don’t be too worried about how much and how the child eats. The child’s appetite determines the amount of food. In addition, the child will need meals that are strictly breast- or bottle-feeding.

The child can start to eat independently by grasping the food and showing it into his or her mouth using the entire hand. You can supplement by feeding the child with a spoon to ensure they receives enough food.

7-8 months: The child starts to sit and eat independently. At 8 months, the child chews the food thoroughly. Most children are also able to mix dry foods with spit, enabling them to handle small, soft pieces of bread with spread, soft bites of boiled vegetables, and pieces of soft fruit, such as banana.

The child can now practice drinking from a cup. They can start picking up small things by pinching together the thumb and pointer, and they no longer uses the entire hand to push food into the mouth. At this age, the child may also try to grab the foods of others.

Baby led weaning

Baby Led Weaning - Means Fingers In

At the beginning of the baby-led weaning (BLW) period, the child should typically have 2 meals a day. Towards the end of the period 3-4 meals a day. Do not pay too much attention to how much or how the child eats. It is the baby's appetite and curiosity that regulates the amount of food. In addition, the baby is given meals that are exclusively breastfeeding or bottled. Let the baby take the lead and examine the food.

Eating Together

It is important at mealtime that you help your child out, but without pushing him or her to eat more than there is appetite for. Don’t comment when serving new foods or foods that have previously been rejected. Wait to see what happens. Too much attention may result in your child refusing to try the food.

Remember that Baby Led Weaning is very much about letting the baby’s curiosity be the guideline.

When tasting, it is also good for the child to have the option of spitting the food back out, perhaps into a napkin. Neither children nor adults like to swallow foods they don’t like. Don’t be disappointed when the child doesn’t want to eat the food. Serve the same food several times a few days apart. Some children need to see and taste the same food many times before being willing to eat an entire helping. This is normal.

Take your time with the meal. Many children need to study unfamiliar foods at length before eating them. A 30-minute delay before getting started is not unusual. Others eat right away.

Sometimes, the child may not be particularly hungry at mealtime, or they may be too tired. In that case, the child may need to take a nap instead, or go play, so they can return later with a bigger appetite.

Avoid transferring any pickiness you yourself may have to your child, by also serving things you personally don’t like. It is important that your child gets many different taste impressions during this period, even sour and bitter ones.

Although the child may instinctively grimace, still try a few more times – most children learn to eat most things, as long as they have the opportunity to become familiar with the taste. The child’s curiosity is stimulated by being served various foods, and this may help prevent pickiness.

Which Kinds of Food?

If you are starting now, at around 6 months of age, with BLW, you can give them almost any kind of food right from the start.

If the child has already started baby-led weaning, they will now be ready for more variety, both in terms of taste and in terms of consistency.

You can start with the food the family eats. You don’t have to prepare all the child’s food separately. You can prepare potatoes and vegetables with food for the family, as long as you go easy with the saltshaker.

The food must be soft enough to chew and mash between gums and teeth. Foods that are boiled or baked in the oven are softer and easier to chew for the child. Pan-fried and -seared meats, fish, and vegetables are not suitable until the child is able to chew the food thoroughly between gums and teeth. Whole, soft pieces of meat must be puréed in the beginning, but toward the end of the transition, they can simply be cut into bits the size of peas.

Hard vegetables must be boiled, shredded, or finely chopped – examples are carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. Soft vegetables can be served raw – examples are peas, corn, peeled tomatoes cut into smaller pieces, cucumber, and avocado.

From 6 months of age, the child can eat meat, fish and eggs. At this point, the mash should be coarse. Once the child is able to chew, you can cut boiled, steamed, or baked vegetables into smaller pieces.

Baby led weaning or blw

Formula - If the Child Needs More Milk Than Breastmilk

Children who are not being breastfed need formula throughout the first year of life, also during the baby-led weaning phase. Formula marked “From birth” can be used for the entire first year. There is no need to switch to formula 2 or a supplement mix. Once the child is older than 4 months, you can make formula directly with cold tap water. You don’t have to boil it first. Follow directions on the packaging when mixing water and powder. You can mix the formula as you need it, or you can mix enough for 24 hours at a time and keep it refrigerated until your child needs it. For children born prematurely and children with immunological illnesses, you always need to mix the formula immediately before the child will take it. Another option is to use readymade bottled formula. This is more expensive than mixing your own from powder and water – but practical if you are traveling. You can offer formula in a bottle or a cup. Gradually decrease the number of bottle feedings, until the child takes only one bottle a day up to the age of 1. The child must get used to drinking from a cup.

From the baby is 6 months, it can get meat, fish and eggs. The bog should now be rough. When the baby can chew, you can cut the cooked, steamed or oven-baked vegetables into smaller pieces.

Baby-Led Weaning and Food From Age 6 Months

  • Porridge: Porridge continues to be an important part of the child’s diet. Rye bread porridge, oatmeal, and whole grain porridges contribute many great nutrients and fiber and can help prevent constipation.
  • Fruit: All kinds of fruit. Initially, the fruit must be puréed. Once the child can chew, you can offer raw berries and soft fruits like bananas, ripe pears, and watermelon.
  • Potatoes and vegetables: Potatoes and vegetables are good base foods. Vary by using different kinds.
  • Meat: Starting at 6 months, the child will need meat or fish every day in order to get sufficient iron.
    Initially, you will want to add minced meat to the child’s vegetable purée.
    Switch between various types of meat, such as beef, veal, pork, mutton, and fowl. Make sure the meat is cooked thoroughly, so it is not raw in the middle. Start by using ground meats, perhaps from the food the family is eating anyway. If the meat is too tough for the child, you can blend it with a little of the broth, e.g. if you are having chicken, chops, or something similar for dinner.
    Children who eat a vegetarian diet and who continue to be breastfed during the transition should take an iron supplement in form of drops – about 8 mg a day until age 1.
  • Organ meats: You can offer liver and heart on occasion as part of a varied diet, either in form of liver paté, or you can boil and blend it.
  • Fish: From 6 months of age, the child should start to eat fish. It is a good idea to switch back and forth between fatty fish like salmon, herring, and mackerel, and lean fish like cod, pollock, dab, ling, and plaice and cod roe. Also, offer shrimp and mussels occasionally.
    It is not too important if the fish is fresh or frozen. The fish can be prepared in a pot, the oven, or the microwave. When first introducing food, it is best to offer steamed, boiled, or baked fish, save fried fish until the child is older than 9 months.
    Always be diligent about removing any bones.
  • Eggs: From 6 months of age, you can offer the child eggs occasionally as part of a varied diet. The child can have hardboiled eggs. You can also use eggs in meatloaf, patés, omelets, and cake. Any other use of eggs is not recommended, because of the risk of salmonella poisoning from raw eggs.
    Use pasteurized eggs if you want to make scrambled eggs where the eggs are not heated all the way through.

Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) Foods From 8 Months

  • Bread: Once the child chews well around the age of 8 months, the child can have pumpernickel bread and other soft breads without whole grains, such as graham bread, rye bread, and country bread. Give the child bread that weighs heavy in the hand.

    The weightier the bread, the more filling it is. Switch between various types of bread.

Unheated Food

Once the child is about 8 months of age, they can chew well and independently eat fresh, soft pumpernickel bread and wheat bread cut into quarters. In the beginning, spreads work best.

Heated Foods

Varied hot foods can include:

  • potatoes with occasional variations of rice or pasta
  • vegetables – raw or steamed
  • fish, meat, boiled dried legumes, or eggs
  • fats, e.g. in form of sauces or dressings
  • fruit for dessert – such as compote or finely chopped fruit salat.

Spreads

  • Braunschweiger or liver paté
  • Fish spread
  • Hummus
  • Broccoli spread
  • Egg salad or mashed hardboiled eggs
  • Avocado spread
  • Mashed peas
  • Mashed banana
  • Mashed strawberries
  • Cream cheese

If the spread doesn’t contain fat, you need to add a little fat to the bread under the spread, such as a little butter, oliveoil, or mayonnaise.

You may also want to incorporate leftovers from dinner the night before.

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Baby-Led Weaning and Drinks

The child now needs food 5-6 times during the day. For drink, the baby drinks breast milk substitute or water in a cup. If you are still breastfeeding, it is good to end the meal by offering the baby the breast. Be very careful with sugary drinks.

Avoid Choking

Make sure the child’s food is soft and cut into suitably small pieces, so there is no way it could get stuck in the throat and block the airway. Supervise the child during the entire meal, so you can intervene if necessary. If you follow this advice, the risk of serious choking is minimal, so you should not continue with purée after the child learns to chew. It is important to offer the child a variety of foods in order to provide the needed vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It is also important for the child to use the chewing musculature. Even so, chewable vitamin D is not for children younger than 18 months. If the child is unable to cough up food, place the child as indicated in the illustration and give 5 blows with the palm of your hand between the shoulder blades. If the food still doesn’t come up, turn the child over to the back and press 5 times on the lower third of the sternum. Alternate between 5 back blows and five chest compressions, until the food is expelled.

Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) and the Child of 9-12 Months

From about 9 months of age, the child can largely eat what the family eats at all meals, as long as the food is soft and cut into suitable pieces.

It is important that the entire family eats a varied diet, because different foods contain different vitamins, minerals, and other substances the body needs. Eating a varied diet means switching between meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, bread and dairy products throughout the day – as well as switching between various types of meat, fish, and vegetables throughout the week.

Milk

Give the child breastmilk and/or formula until the age of 1. Depending how much the child eats, they will need between about 5 and 7.5 dl milk and dairy a day at 9 months of age. Up until the age of 1, the quantity required decreases to between 3.5 and 5 dl or so.

If the child takes formula in a bottle, rather than breastfeeding, the number of bottles should now be decreased to a bottle a day. The child can take the rest of the formula in a cup with meals. Once the child turns 1, they no longer need a bottle.

From 9 months of age, the child can also start having small amounts of yogurt as part of a varied diet, although no more than ½ dl and up to 1 dl at age 1. Yogurt are counted in the overall amount of milk.

It must be sugar free!

The Baby-Led Weaning Development – I Can Do It!

By the time the child reaches the later stages of baby-led weaning or the BLW phase, the child becomes good at chewing and they are able to take bites off a piece of bread. The child likes to use his or her fingers to eat and is able to take the cup from the table and drink using both hands. The child also knows that the plate and spoon go together. The child can’t yet eat with a spoon but likes to practice while eating with his or her fingers.

It’s good for a child to experience eating independently like the rest of the family – it gives self-confidence and a desire to eat. Some of the food will end up on the floor, and the child may pound the plate with the spoon, making food go everywhere. But that’s all part of practicing. The child will soon get better at using the spoon.

Eating Together

Meals are good family time. The child wants to eat when they see you enjoy your food together and you are having quality time around the table.

Be aware of the child’s desire or unwillingness to eat, in other words, what they like, how much they wants, and how soon to offer it. Accept that the child sometimes eats less than at other times. It is very common at this age to see variations in appetite. It is also totally normal that the child goes through periods where they don’t like certain foods, but it can change again in short order. Don’t talk about what and how the child is eating, just talk about the experiences of the day and about how the food smells and tastes.

Food From 9 Months

Porridge: Porridge continues to be an important part of the child’s diet. Rye bread porridge, oatmeal, and whole grain porridges contribute many great nutrients and fiber and can help prevent constipation.

Potatoes and vegetables: Serve vegetables at most meals, also for snacks. They are good base foods. Vary by using different kinds. Offer raw vegetables as well, in form of finely shredded carrots, peas, corn, cucumber, and bell peppers in tiny pieces the size of peas that are easy to swallow. Offer potatoes and introduce occasional variety with rice, pasta, and bulgur.

Meat: Feel free to serve meat every day on sandwiches and at main meals. Among other things, meat contains iron and other minerals, such as zinc, which the child needs. Once the child is good at chewing, meat just needs to be cut into suitable pieces if you are having filets, chops or other whole cuts of meat. Cut off the edges of fried or baked meats, so the child is eating only the soft meat from the middle.

Fish: Make sure you serve the child fish, at least twice a week as a main dish and more frequently in sandwiches. This helps the child get enough iron and other important nutrients. Remember to give the child fish, even if you are not too keen on it yourself.

Bread: Give the child pumpernickel bread and other soft breads without whole grains, such as graham bread, rye bread, and country bread.

Fruit: You may want to offer a small piece of fruit at meals or as a ‘dessert’ after meals with meat, fish, and veggies. Among other things, fruit contains vitamin C that makes it easier to absorb iron from the rest of the food the child eats.

Sour milk products: You can give sour milk products based on whole milk as part of the varied foods, such as plain sugar free yogurt with a fat content of 3.5%. Instead of buying yogurt with fruit – and added sugar – you can add your own fruit, whether puréed, shredded or cut into small pieces.

Which Kinds of Food?

By now, the child can eat almost anything. It is important that you provide a varied diet for the child on a daily and weekly basis – both in terms of variety between meat, fish, vegetables, etc. and various types of meat, fish, vegetables, etc. The child must have many different taste experiences, and they need to get used to food having varied consistency and smell. This may help prevent pickiness later on.

You should also be aware that the child’s food should be soft, but still coarse enough that it needs to be chewed.

Unheated Foods – Lunch

As bread comes to be a larger share of the child’s food, lunch should consist of more varied food types:

  • Bread – switch between whole wheat and white, serve bread that feels heavy in the hand
  • Fruit and vegetables – steamed or raw – to munch on or in a sandwich
  • Meat, eggs, or cheese – cubed as finger food or in sandwiches
  • Fish – in small pieces or in sandwiches
  • Fat as a spread on bread or as part of other sandwich spreads

Once the child is able to take bites out of the bread and chew slightly ‘harder’ foods, you can serve the following:

  • Fish balls, fish sticks, or other cold leftover fish from dinner
  • Various seafood in sandwiches, such as herring, mackerel, cod roe, shrimp
  • Meatballs, hamburger, chicken, and other cold leftover meats cut into easy-to-eat bites
  • Braunschweiger and liver paté
  • Hardboiled eggs, homemade egg salad
  • Sliced cheese, cream cheese
  • Avocado spread, grated carrots, tomato slices on bread
  • Sliced apples, pears, and other fruits on sandwich bread
  • Sliced potato sandwich

Fats on the bread: Until the child is 1 year old, you need to add fat to the bread underneath the spread. Switch between margarine, mayonnaise (preferably homemade from egg yolk and canola- or olive oil), and butter.

Baby led weaning

The Plate

Dont mix the food together on the plate. Your child likes to see what they are eating and to be able to choose between the different things on the plate.

Hold Off On

  • Hard foods: you should not give whole, raw carrots, carrot sticks, and similar hard foods until the child is about 3 years old and chews very well. The child’s development rather than the age is the main factor for deciding when.
  • Grapes must be cut into pieces, as they can choke the child to death in a worst-case scenario. Grape seeds must be removed, as they can cause severe pneumonia in case the child aspirates them.
  • Popcorn, peanuts, etc.: Easily aspirated if they go ‘down the wrong pipe’.
  • Tuna and other predatory fish: The earliest you can give canned tuna is at age 3. Large predatory fish, such as tuna steaks, can only be given from age 14.
  • Dairy products with high protein content: soured milk, ylette, junket, fruit quark, skyr, and fromage frais should not be introduced until age 2.
  • Vitamins: Chewables can be introduced no earlier than 18 months, and if you want you can give the vitamin D in chewable form up to the age of 2.
  • Sweets: Soda, chocolate milk, juice, candy, ice cream, and cake are not recommended for small children.

Limited Amounts Of

  • Rice: Rice can be part of a varied diet. However, since rice contains arsenic, it is not recommended that children eat rice or rice-based porridge every day. Rice drinks and rice cakes are not recommended for children
  • Vegetables high in nitrates: Spinach, celery, and beets should be avoided for the first 6 months and should then be served in limited quantities until the child turns 1. This is due to the pesticides. If you want to avoid this, go organic!
  • Raisins: Raisins should be limited in quantity
  • Cinnamon: Limit the amount of cinnamon and cinnamon-sugar for small children.

Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) and the Child of 12 - 24 Months

When the family gathers for the meal, the child is motivated to eat and they see how it’s done. The child practices using a spoon and a fork and drinks low fat milk from a cup. The baby bottle is completely out of the picture now.

During this phase of baby-led weaning or BLW, the child eats all kinds of food, prepared in a variety of ways. Most children are in childcare for a few hours a day, and there the food is often prepared according to official recommendations and the child’s age.

Milk

Once the child is a year old, they can start drinking low fat milk from a cup. Some children need to learn to like the taste of low fat milk gradually, after having had nothing but breastmilk or formula, while others will take to it immediately.

By now, the child should get between 3.5 and 5 dl milk a day, including sour milk products. If the child gets more milk than that, it might spoil his or her appetite, depriving the child of a variety in foods.

Once the child is about 2-years-old, it is best to served nonfat or 1% milk like you would for older children and adults, although some children may need to stay with low fat milk until the age of 3. Discuss it with your doctor or home health nurse if you are unsure about what to give your child.

The BLW Development

Once the child is close to 18 months of the BLW phase, the motor skills in his or her wrist are sufficiently developed to scoop up food with the spoon and place it correctly into the mouth without spilling. Let the child practice with a small spoon or fork, and soon enough they will learn how to eat that way.

Finger foods are still important, so feel free to allow the child to eat everything independently. Respect indications that the child is full, and never pressure your child to eat.

Eating Together

It is important that the atmosphere is relaxed at mealtime. Accept when the child doesn’t like something but do go ahead and offer it from time to time to see if the child’s preferences change again. Some children need to taste new foods as many as 8-10 times before accepting the taste.

Don’t talk about what and how the child is eating, just talk about the experiences of the day and about how the food smells and tastes. This way you will be successful at baby-led weaning for a child aged 12 months or old. 

Baby led weaning - blw 1

If the child is in childcare, a snack after arriving home is a good idea. It provides energy until dinner.

Baby led weaning - blw 2

Sweets are completely unnecessary. Small children love healthy alternatives like peas they shell themselves.

The Child’s Appetite

The child’s appetite may vary, and they will go through periods of preferring certain foods. Continue to serve many kinds of foods, but don’t pressure the child or exclude certain foods, because the child is opting out for the time being.

The child should still be presented for new taste experiences, visual impressions, and consistencies in order to get used to foods tasting different. At this age, children may have periods of eating an unvaried diet. Simply continue offering new things along with your child’s preferred foods. Starting at age 2-3 and up until the child starts school, they may refuse to try new foods, which is completely normal. Therefore, you should provide your child with as many taste experiences as possible before that time, so there are fewer new things to deal with.

How Much Food?

For small children in particular, it is important to eat many small meals throughout the day. Typically, your child needs to eat every 2 to 3 hours while awake, switching between meals and snacks. This is because the child needs more food in relation to body size than older children and adults. But there is limited capacity for how much his or her tiny stomach can hold at any one time. Therefore, the food must be distributed across many feedings throughout the day in order to cover the child’s requirements for energy, vitamins, and minerals.

A good snack must both relieve hunger and contribute varied and nutritious food. Therefore, it matters what the child eats. But the appetite is still the determining factor for how much they eat.

The amount of food required by the child depends on age, body size, and how active they are.

Lunch

You might want to prepare extra dinner, which can be used later in sack lunches or for lunch at home. Boiled potatoes, steamed vegetables, pies, omelets, hamburgers and fish balls, etc. are great for lunch. Think lunch and sack lunches when you shop for dinner and make a few extra meatballs or pieces of chicken. Set aside the portion for later and refrigerate it immediately.

Occasionally, small children who are in childcare must bring their own lunch. In this case, it is important that the sack lunches don’t become too unbalanced, as it takes a variety of foods to meet the child’s needs. Also, remember fruits and vegetables in the sack lunch. You may want to find inspiration on the homepage altomkost.dk

Snacks

A lot of children are hungry before dinner and need a snack. This is especially true if the time is prolonged between coming home from childcare until dinner is on the table.

Benefits of snacks:

  • Relieve the child’s hunger with wholesome foods
  • Ensure the child’s intake of vegetables and fruit.
  • Give you a little break before having to cook dinner.

A good snack may consist of pumpernickel bread with some kind of lunch meat or ½ roll with cheese or marmalade. Add a bit of boiled or shredded veggies and fruit cut into bite-sized pieces. It could also be a small bowl of A38 with breadcrumbs and fruit.

Eating fruit and veggies is easier when they are ready to go, such as cutting melon into bite-sized pieces immediately after purchase and keeping them in a container with lid. Put pineapple in a different container, rinse strawberries and put them in a third one, etc.

Fat in the Child’s Food

Once the child is a year old, they no longer needs more fat in the food than the rest of the family, because if the child is consuming low fat dairy products, they is in fact getting a bit of extra fat. If the rest of the family is eating diet food – e.g. food that is particularly high in protein or low in carbs or fat – the child can’t participate in the diet, because they has different needs. Ask your home health nurse.

It is no longer necessary to add fats underneath braunschweiger, avocado and other sandwich spreads. So leave off the fat and use spreads sparingly. Add fat under lean lunchmeats and other sandwich fixings that would otherwise slide off the bread easily.

Careful With Sweets

Candy, ice cream, Cool-Aid, and soda pop contain a lot of sugar and no nutrients. Juice and store-bought smoothies contain a lot of sugar as well. It is wholly unnecessary to give these to small children. It doesn’t take many sugary foods to crowd out real foods.

Getting too many sweets reduces the possibility of getting enough vitamins and minerals and other substances contained in foods. Furthermore, sugary drinks increase the risk of becoming overweight.

Sandwich cookies, chocolate wafers, crackers, certain yogurts with fruit, and fruit quark for children contain a lot of sugar when compared to other ingredients, and they should be considered cakes or candy. The same is true for very sugary breakfast cereals.

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