What is BLW aka Baby-Led Weaning? 4 BLW Tips for Beginners by Montessori Mum Yashika Solanki

Picture Courtesy - @nitya_montessori

Baby-led weaning (BLW) is not a foreign concept. It is our Indian tradition. Ask your grandparents how they fed your parents, and you will get to know. My maa (grandmother) told me they used to give a piece of roti in the baby’s hand, and the baby will play with it and eat some. New parents should keep these tips in mind when starting BLW.

1. Probability of choking with the BLW approach is not more than the traditional weaning approach. They will gag (a lot) because their gagging reflex is in the front, and this prevents them from choking.

2. There is so much pressure to do it “right way.” But there is no rule book that says you can’t offer pureed food. Thick purees like yogurt, dips are enjoyed by grown-ups. You can offer these to the baby.

3. Many parents don’t know when to start and how to start. Wait for the signs of readiness – baby should be able to sit with support, a proper head control can bring things from hand to mouth. Start by offering finger-sized foods that are easy to hold, like cucumber, watermelon, steamed carrots, broccoli florets.

4. Don’t count the bites. It will only make it harder for you to continue. Be patient, and you will be rewarded, for sure. Trust me, I know that feeling. It doesn’t come easy, but when it does, you will be proud of yourself. BLW, for me, is another way of including Montessori in a baby’s life.

It is child-centered, and you are allowing them to explore different textures and tastes. Also, allowing them to listen to their body (how much to eat). We, in turn, should respect and accept their decision about eating. Remember that extra spoon makes us happy, not them.

My Story – Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

Hi, I’m Yashika Solanki. Everything in my life was perfect, during the monsoon season of 2019, as it could be. I had been happily married for more than two years, had a good-paying teaching job that I looked forward to going to each day, and the best of all, a loving family. When I got to know about my pregnancy, it was like a cherry on the top. Seeing those two pink lines had my eyes filled with tears of happiness.

I was already in my la la land, dreaming and planning for the homecoming of the ‘mini hooman’ that was due in March 2020. But as well as we all know, life does not always turn out as we plan it. In autumn, my eyes filled with tears again, but this time with the fear of losing my mom. She was diagnosed with stage-3 Gall Bladder cancer that soon progressed to stage-4 within a month.

After the heartbreaking news, I quit my job to spend maximum time with my mother, supporting her and comforting her. In no time, together, we were on a journey to fight cancer as well as my pregnancy journey. We laughed, we cried, but we made time fly. And in March 2020, I was blessed with a baby girl.

The little feet had the biggest footprints in everyone’s heart. This ‘mini hooman’ was such a precious gift for all of us. My mother just loved to spend time with the new one. However, it was short-lived happiness as we lost the battle against cancer, and I lost my mother.

It was the lowest point of my life. As ironic it could get, the high and low points of my life crossed paths in such a short span of time. It was certainly a tough time, but my little baby girl was my new world.

I channelized all my energy into giving the best to my baby. Being a certified Montessori teacher, I started the Montessori style of education with my baby. The Montessori learning method (by Dr. Maria Montessori) primarily focuses on independence, observation, following the child, prepared environment, and absorbent mind. To put it straight, it’s a child-centered approach. In the first three years of life, there is rapid brain development, and more learning takes place at this stage than in any other growth years. Yet, parents don’t consider providing such an environment for their babies during this phase.

I applied these principles when it came to weaning my baby as well. She should have a healthy relationship with food. She chooses what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat. My daughter showed some good response to all these efforts, and by the time she turned 6.5 months old, she was holding her own spoon and trying to feed herself. These small but crucial results always keep me motivated, and I try to create beautiful environments for her to explore, absorb, and struggle (with the possibility of success).

It is shocking and worth pointing out that the Montessori style of education is still an unknown territory for parents in India. There is little or no knowledge about it among new parents. I decided to share my experience and knowledge around the Montessori style of education with all the new parents out there. I created my Instagram account and started putting info about this beautiful teaching style and also about Baby Lead Weaning (BLW) as my baby progressed with it. I try to simplify it for new parents and put out all the necessary info in one place.

And with this, I can say I have found my silver lining.

Follow @nitya_montessori for #BLW ideas, DIY Montessori activities and parenting hacks 🧠🍽🤱🏻

Follow @shetalksin on Instagram and read inspiring stories from fellow women. Share the love, spread the word, coz Real Queens Fix Each Other’s Crowns ✌🏻

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