The 4 Methods of Food Introduction: which one to choose?

After the concern with breastfeeding in the baby’s first months of life, parents are already starting to prepare for the introduction of food. The beginning of baby feeding is a very important stage in its growth and development , but like everything else in the first year, it requires dedication and knowledge from the parents to face this phase of challenges.

When the family starts to think about introducing solids to the baby’s diet, they are faced with different methods. Although the traditional baby food is still the most indicated by most pediatricians, there are already many doctors and nutritionists defending the benefits of other methods of food introduction such as BLW, BLISS and Participative AI . So in this article we’ll talk a little about each of these methods and their benefits to help you decide which one to opt for .

It is important to know that your baby needs to be ready to eat foods other than breast milk or formula. Introducing solid foods before the ideal time can be very harmful and even dangerous. The baby needs to be ready! The recommendation of the Brazilian Society of Pediatrics is to start this process at 6 months of the baby’s life , but it is also important to be aware of the signs of readiness to start safely.

If your baby is already 6 months old, shows signs of readiness and has been cleared by the Pediatrician to start solid feeding, then learn about the different methods used today.

What are the food introduction methods?

Let’s talk about each of the most used food introduction methods so you can shop and decide which one makes the most sense for your family.

1 – Traditional/Papa

Baby food is the most popular method, which doesn’t mean it’s the best. Although some mothers feel safer in offering crushed or processed baby food, care should be taken with the consistency of food.

In the introduction by baby food , the food must be kneaded and not passed in a blender or food processor. From the beginning we should encourage chewing which, in addition to helping the digestive process, is also important in the development of speech.

Importantly, several studies indicate that the probability of the baby choking is the same with porridge or food in pieces, as in the BLW method. After all, babies even choke on milk. It is best to start with the method that parents feel more confident about, to facilitate the process as a whole.

Virtually all foods can be included in the baby food, respecting the food table for a complete meal. Many nutritionists also advise parents not to mix foods , even if they are offered crushed and spooned. This is why it is important for the child to know the flavors of individual foods . Porridges that mix different foods end up masking their flavors and inducing greater selectivity in the future.

2 – BLW

BLW is the acronym for Baby Led Weaning, which in Portuguese means Weaning Guided by Baby

BLW has become more popular in recent years due to its numerous benefits. If you still haven’t heard of it, know that BLW is the acronym for Baby Led Weaning , which in Portuguese means Weaning Guided by Baby .

The method advocates that the baby explores the foods and is free to experiment and ingest as much as he wants . This can make many parents distressed because control over the amount of food they eat is lost and the baby often seems to just “play” with the food.

But the long-term benefits are numerous . Letting the baby handle food and feed himself (with supervision, of course) has the following benefits:

  • greater acceptance of food;
  • favors appetite self-regulation;
  • promotes psychomotor development (through movements stimulated to pick up food and bring it to the mouth);
  • provides autonomy to the baby;
  • the child develops better defense mechanisms against choking (the famous gag );
  • eating becomes a pleasurable and fun activity;
  • the child can more easily be included in family meals;
  • in addition to other advantages over the traditional method.

To start AI with BLW it is important to be aware of food consistency . As the baby – probably – still has no teeth, everything that is offered needs to be easily crushed by his gums (very strong gums, by the way).

3 – BLISS

The acronym stands for Baby Led Introduction to Solids , “baby guided introduction of solids” in Portuguese. The BLISS is basically the BLW with some recommendations made through studies to ensure the necessary nutrients to the baby and greater security against gagging.

The principle of offering food that the baby can take in his or her hand and decide what/when/how much to take in her mouth remains exactly as in BLW.

The table below shows the guidelines for using this method in food introduction .

objectiveRecommendations
Increase your intake of iron-rich foodsOffer a high-availability iron-rich food with every meal, including: liver, red meat, chicken, pork and fish. Also regularly offer foods rich in iron of medium and low availability: dark green vegetables, beans, chickpeas and lentils. Use recipes to safely offer foods that the baby cannot grasp at first (leafy vegetables, for example).
Improve iron absorptionSoak whole grains (brown rice, beans, chickpeas, lentils) in lemon water for 12 hours, discarding the water before cooking. Offer a fruit rich in vitamin C along with big meals: orange, tangerine, strawberry, pineapple, kiwi, star fruit, peach, etc.
Ensure a good supply of other nutrientsOffer a variety of foods, repeating the foods initially refused over and over again. Offer 3 to 5 different foods at each meal, but place only one piece on the tray at a time, replenishing as needed.
Reduce the risk of growth failure as a result of a low caloric intake of self-feeding currentOffer at least one energy food at every big meal: potatoes (sweet, baroa, English), yams, cassava, pumpkin, avocado, banana, olive oil, coconut oil, meat in general, beans and other legumes.

Source: BLW Practical Guide – CONALCO

4 – Participative

The method of food introduction ParticipAtiva is nothing more than BLW (or BLISS itself) but with greater control by the caregiver. At the same time that food is offered to the baby to explore and eat with their own hand, the caregiver will also offer it with the spoon (in a different texture if necessary). This way, the family that fears for the little amount of food is calmer.

This has been a great option for those who do not give up on feeding the baby but also want him to know the foods and enjoy other benefits of the BLW method.

In participative AI, the baby is more active at the meal than when receiving food only through the spoon. It’s a happy medium between BLW and baby food . A good way to start changing the way you feed your baby. You may be surprised to find that your baby eats better when he eats with his bare hands. Try it!

Which method should I choose?

If you are still in doubt about which method to choose for your baby’s food introduction my tip is: test it out! Offer food in different ways and see how your child prefers to be fed .

Before starting, study hard . Know the signs of readiness, respect your child’s time, lower expectations (in the beginning they eat very little) and know about maneuvers for cases of choking, even if you offer baby food.

It’s a lot of information for this beginning when everything is new for us and especially for the baby, isn’t it? But count on us to learn a lot about infant feeding. Know that your effort now will bring benefits throughout your child’s life . Then it will certainly be worth it!

Is it worth taking an online course?

One option to feel more secure, have access to information from a secure source and still have support at this stage is to take an online course . Nutritionist Pamella Donadoni has a complete online course for mothers who are in the Food Introduction phase.

The content is rich and up to date , divided into 50 hours of video lessons . Access is for life, meaning you can access whenever you want and can. In addition, you get 3 exclusive e-books when you register through the link below : Cortes Seguros + Food Schedule + Food Scheme.

So it’s worth it . It’s a great course that will help you in the first steps and make you more confident throughout the food introduction. Seeing your child eating healthily, with autonomy and developing well is priceless , you can be sure of it.

Did you like the content? Share with friends with babies at this stage and help this #EmpreendedorismoMaterno blog🙂

Dr. Tabriella Perivolaris, Sara's mother and fan of fashion, beauty, motherhood, among others, about the female universe. Since 2018 she has been working as a copywriter, always bringing to her articles a little of her experience and experience as a mother and woman.

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