BLP, BLW, BLISS - WHAT'S THAT?
Hello mamas! Are you about to start on your baby’s solids journey or have started but feeling a little helpless or clueless? Then read on, this blog is for you!
By now, you might have heard of mums advocating for the Baby Led Weaning (BLW) approach or others sharing that they are doing the Baby Led Puree (BLP) approach or even a mixed approach - Baby Led Introduction to SolidS (BLISS).
If you’re wondering whether or not your baby is ready for solids, please refer to this blog post.
Which approach is right for you?
I personally don’t think it is something that you can say ‘ah, I like the sound of that approach. Sounds cool. If my friends are doing it, I’ll do that too.’
I believe that you must first be informed of your options. So read up - read up as widely as you can. I know you are busy mama - find some time in between the day perhaps during feeds (that’s my fav time).
Once you know your options, consider your lifestyle, beliefs and baby’s readiness. Do you live with your parents/in-laws? That might affect the approach you choose too depending on how ‘traditional’ they are or how prepared you are to help them understand the approach you choose.
The initial stage might be a bit of trial and error before you figure out which approach works. But the important thing is - the approach you choose must be one that you are comfortable with AND appropriate for your baby.
What are the 3 approaches about?
1. The Baby Led Purée (BLP) approach
This approach involves steaming the ingredients before mashing it up. You start this approach by feeding your little one (LO) purees from the spoon and allow your LO many opportunities to feed himself/herself and eventually your LO learns to feed independently from the spoon - so baby led.
- Ensures your LO is getting the nutrition he/she needs (instead of rejecting the particular food in BLW)
- Peace of mind that food is consumed safely
- Know for sure how much food is consumed
- Can’t eat meals at the same time at the initial stage before LO learns to self feed
- Convenient when you are time pressed - finishes food faster
- Promotes motor skill development as your LO learns to feed himself/herself the puree
- Gradual texture exposure approach - smooth puree ➡️ textured ➡️ lumpy ➡️ whole solid piece
- Time consuming to prepare (need to prepare a separate meal to what we are eating)
Esme starting on her first meal - steamed pumpkin puree.
2. The Baby Led Weaning (BLW) approach
In this approach, your LO jumps straight to eating finger foods, bypassing the puree stage. They learn how to chew (using their gums) then swallow. No parental feeding is involved hence the 'Baby Led' nature of this approach.
- Fine motor skill development - hand-eye coordination to pick up food and put in mouth
- LO in full control of how much he/she eats
- Eat at the same time with LO
- Baby explore food through senses - sensory development
- Mess / Food waste
- Not knowing how much food your LO has consumed
- Long mealtimes
- Some babies might have developmental delays rendering BLW unsuitable
Delia eating whole pieces of food like a champ at 9 months.
3. The Mixed Approach
This approach is one that you use a combination of purees and finger food in your baby’s solids journey.
- Allows us to be responsive to our LO’s needs and readiness
- Provides our LO with a wide range of nutritious food
- Reduces stress for us and our LOs
- Allows for a more flexible lifestyle
Epitome of the mixed approach - Delia at 7 months, boiled corn in hand and tub of fish and veggie porridge waiting for her.
Which approach did you use for both your girls?
I used the mixed approach for both my girls. The mixed approach being a combination of BLP and BLW.
Why did you choose this approach?
- I was very afraid of my baby choking especially with Delia who was my first baby, first solid feeding experience - Delia’s first meal was a very diluted steamed baby spinach blended with lots of breastmilk.
- It allowed me to ensure my girls are eating enough and eating a variety from purees (they can’t choose - everything is blended into a meal)
- It allowed me to introduce a variety of food, allergens and flavours in a short period of time - especially since they couldn’t ‘reject’ it by leaving it aside using the BLW approach
- It was time saving - I fed my girls from the spoon and they finished their meals really quickly
- It allowed my girls to learn to feed themselves gradually using the spoon ( I feed when I don't want the mess, when I have more time to spare allowing them control over the spoon)
- At the same time, when they displayed readiness for whole pieces of food, I could give it to them alongside the purees - this encouraged independent eating/exposure to varied textures and individualised flavours of food
- In other words, it gave me flexibility (great for going out to eat too!)
- They learnt to progressively eat food of thicker consistency and thereafter a whole solid piece of food
- Was a lot less stressful than if I were restricted to one approach or the other
- Allows you to be in tune with your child’s solids journey*
*Let me illustrate this with my experience:
Delia started eating whole pieces of food alongside purees when she was 7 months. Started on steamed apple slice, did well. I stopped steaming it thereafter and left skin on and she was able to eat the apple leaving the skin behind. Eating pieces of bread, waffles and pancakes by 7.5 months.
Esme started eating whole pieces of food alongside purees only closer to 1 year of age. I attempted to give her a small piece of bread when she was 7 months and she choked - it was scary! We tried again when she was 9 months, she kept stuffing bread into her mouth and was gasping for air - even more scary. We then left it till she was about 1 year of age.
So in my experience, though both my children were on the mixed approach, Delia did more BLW than Esme before 1 year of age. Simply because Delia was developmentally more ready for it than Esme.
This is an example of Delia's 9 month old meal plan:
- Breakfast: Blueberry Oatmeal Porridge + dollop of greek yoghurt (BLP)
- Morning Snack: Homemade banana teething rusk (BLW)
- Lunch: Sweet potato + beef + eggplant puree (BLP)
- Afternoon Snack: steamed apple + avocado (BLW)
- Dinner: Brown rice + fish + carrot puree (BLP)
As my girls progressed in their solids journey, I began to cut out the purees and by about 1 year of age (earlier for Delia, later for Esme), I progressed them to eating the same meals as us adults cutting purees out completely.
Delia at 1 year of age eating the same dinner as us.
Question from my Instagram Stories conversation:
If I have started off with BLP, how can I transition into BLW?
My advice is to check for your baby’s readiness. Offer a soft piece of finger food like a banana/ripe avocado/steamed sweet potato and see how your baby takes to it. If your baby is doing well, increase the frequency of solid finger food gradually and reduce puree servings. Adjust along the way.
My mum doesn’t like me to use the BLW approach. She only believes in purees. What can I do?
Try explaining to her the benefits of the approach and partner with her in mealtime preparation see that the finger food you are offering your baby is appropriate for him/her (i.e. your baby is able to eat is happily and easily).
I’m just starting out on my journey do you have any BLW ideas you can share?
I think bananas, avocados, steamed sweet potato/pumpkin/apple/pear make great first foods.
Do you have any further questions on BLP, BLW, BLISS? Leave your questions in the comment below or follow me on @lluie.bycharmaine on Instagram and let’s chat there x
DISCLAIMER: While this is a researched blog piece, please note that I am not an expert on this matter but a mum of two girls sharing my motherhood journey with you through my love for writing. When in doubt, please seek expert advice.