Those of you who do BLW- how do you give the baby chunks without being scared of choking? - Mothering Forums
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Life With a Baby > Those of you who do BLW- how do you give the baby chunks without being scared of choking?
Snapdragon's Avatar Snapdragon 09:07 PM 10-24-2010
My baby is 7 months. We did some purees and are now mostly just on breastmilk again for constipation issues. But he does have two teeth part way in. Today I was eating a pear cut up into pieces. HE really really wanted to suck on a piece! So I took a big sized piece and let him suck on it but I was so scared that he would bite off a chunk and then choke on it! He actually did bite off a little piece and I took it out of his mouth. I know logically, if he has teeth then he is probably ready to chew? but I was so scared of that- so I just let him suck on it while holding on to it and checking often to make sure no little pieces broke off. How do you guys give similarly aged babie's chunks of food without worrying about choking? Ds would probably like it if I gave him chunks to hold and eat and play with but I am too nervous!

Knitting Mama 09:18 PM 10-24-2010
You basically have to just trust that his body knows what to do, just like his mouth knew what to do to nurse since birth! He will probably gag, but gagging and choking are two totally different things. Gagging is totally natural (even if he makes himself barf from it!) wherea choking is every bit as likely to occur from spoon feeding as it is from eating chunks of food.

Softer fruits like a slice of pear (skin on; that will stop him from biting off huge chunks), baked sweet potato "fries," sliced avocado, cooked squash and so on are great foods to let him experiment with. Just know that he will make a mess (try giving him a wet washcloth towards the end so he can do some of the legwork of cleaning up!) but he will also learn how to self-feed and be more independent with food!
jessica_s's Avatar jessica_s 09:23 PM 10-24-2010
I agree that you really have to trust that they can actually eat by themselves. He can do the complex work of nursing, so most likely he can eat solids by himself as well. Taking a infant/child CPR class is always good for confidence building and something I recommend to all moms.
jellybeanmumma's Avatar jellybeanmumma 11:29 PM 10-24-2010
Start with mushy chunks - baked veg, pumkin, squash, avocado, banana. Shower curtain under chair to catch mess and camera cause the gross sticky mess is sooo cute. Ew. Stay close and supervise. If a big chunk goes in be ready with a finger to scoop it out. DS was a guts so at that age every other meal we had to put our finger practically down his throat to scoop out food as he just kept loading up his mouth without swallowing. Pears were/are a favourite but better when really ripe and soft otherwise stewed, apples stewed are good 2. BLW kids will sometimes eat sometimes they just play with it which is ok as BM makes up the deficit. The playing whilst gross and messy is important for them to discover food. As they get older then you just share whatever you are eating.
Sfcmama's Avatar Sfcmama 11:58 PM 10-24-2010
We stumbled into blw without any intention to do so, it was just what worked. I actually found DD to gag and cough ONLY when I gave her chunks. When she feeds herself by gumming off small pieces from the large slice I give her (no teeth yet), she never gags! I had been a little fearful of leaving peels on but I'm goin to give it a try b/c she can get frustrated when things are too slippery.
FYI, op - she still enjoys chewing on food through the mesh feeder when it's way too mushy for her to hold.
Snapdragon's Avatar Snapdragon 12:06 AM 10-25-2010
I still don't understand WHY people choose to do BLW over purees though. From recent experience of giving purees, I can only think it is becuase feeding them purees can cause them to eat more than they are actually ready for? Is this why people choose to do BLW. Even though all the things you guys are saying make total sense logically, I just don't think I would be comfortable with any gagging or anything like that! I don't think I am gonna do that- but I was just curious today as I was so vigilant about even one piece of pear to suck on and then I read all these posts about people doing BLW and was wondering how people don't feel scared during that!
lucy_v's Avatar lucy_v 12:18 AM 10-25-2010
I can't say I'm fully doing BLW, but I'm just going with what my daughter needs/wants. I had read about it before trying any solids, and had the feeling, knowing her personality, that she would prefer to feed herself. Well, that turned out to be true. She isn't thrilled with purees. But if I give her something she can pick up, she'll happily explore it, smoosh it in her hands, put it in her mouth. Most stuff gets mushed before it gets to her mouth anyway!

As for the gagging, it happens, and it does make me nervous each time. But I keep close watch on her when she's eating and make sure I'm mentally prepared to respond if she does choke. You definitely need a certain comfort level and preparedness to go this route.
Knitting Mama 12:20 AM 10-25-2010
I choose BLW because:

1. It's easier. I mean, it's awesome to not have to sit and spoon feed purees.
2. It's more natural and more like how she will eat as she gets older.
3. It gives her control over when she eats and how much she eats.
4. It builds great hand-eye coordination.
5. We aren't doing grains earlier than 12-18 months anyway, so I feel like I save myself time by giving her whole foods and not making purees.
6. It's way cheaper-- my husband and I would be eating the fruits and veggies anyway, so we just give some to her as well.
7. It introduces her to a wide variety of flavors early on. We're "international" eaters in this household, meaning that in one week we might have Chinese food, Indian food, Mediterranean food, Israeli food, etc.
flower01's Avatar flower01 12:22 AM 10-25-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snapdragon View Post
I still don't understand WHY people choose to do BLW over purees though. From recent experience of giving purees, I can only think it is becuase feeding them purees can cause them to eat more than they are actually ready for? Is this why people choose to do BLW. Even though all the things you guys are saying make total sense logically, I just don't think I would be comfortable with any gagging or anything like that! I don't think I am gonna do that- but I was just curious today as I was so vigilant about even one piece of pear to suck on and then I read all these posts about people doing BLW and was wondering how people don't feel scared during that!
We stopped doing purees and just started BLW with DD because if we could get her to eat the puree, she would throw it all up minutes later. We gave up and just started letting her eat the solid pieces as she was ready and it worked so much better. I had made tons of homemade purees and she refused all of them, but if I gave her something to suck or chew on she was totally happy.

When DS came along I just didn't bother with purees at all. I BF and we just introduce the solids when he is ready...no issues at all. I honestly don't know why anybody does the purees, when I think about how easy it is to do BLW and I don't have to carry pureed food with me in a cooler wherever I go, BLW is so convenient.

Also, I hear all the time about moms struggling to get there kids to eat different foods and their kids only liking mashed stuff. My kids definitely don't have that because they were introduced to foods the way we eat it. There is no difference between baby food and adult food in our house. We just use less chili pepper these days.
Sfcmama's Avatar Sfcmama 01:02 AM 10-25-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snapdragon View Post
I still don't understand WHY people choose to do BLW over purees though. From recent experience of giving purees, I can only think it is becuase feeding them purees can cause them to eat more than they are actually ready for? Is this why people choose to do BLW. Even though all the things you guys are saying make total sense logically, I just don't think I would be comfortable with any gagging or anything like that! I don't think I am gonna do that- but I was just curious today as I was so vigilant about even one piece of pear to suck on and then I read all these posts about people doing BLW and was wondering how people don't feel scared during that!
For us, blw was just what dd preferred. (and I know other families that wanted to do blw but baby preferred purees ;0)
I remember some time ago a mom summarized what an OT had told her about why some babies preferred blw but I don't remember all the details...
For our dd, purees seemed to overwhelm her, like she didn't like have flavor flood her mouth. It also seemed like the consistency made it hard for her to control the food I her mouth. We could see her trying to move the food to the back of her throat and then start gagging the purée. She also spit/vomited purees back up pretty consistently.

That being said, and after trying the two different methods out for some time, I agree with pps thats its much easier/convenient and feels more natural.
jessica_s's Avatar jessica_s 01:27 AM 10-25-2010
We stumbled upon it (I didn't even know there was a name for it) because my DS refused anything with a puree texture or anyone feeding him anything by spoon. So we gave him things to eat that he could eat himself.
I don't know if it has anything to do with it but we've *never* had a problem with food and him. I'm sure it's partially our attitude towards it. It's our job to offer healthy foods, his job to eat what he wants/likes. BLS was the easiest way for us to do that.
Eventually he'll start feeding himself (obviously!) and he'll at some point shove a ton of food in his mouth, take too big of bite, or something. You won't always be there (and can't be) to fish it out of his mouth. So in letting him realize what's too big and how to handle it with you nearby is a benefit I can see now in hindsight having more experience with kids and food.
Snapdragon's Avatar Snapdragon 01:33 AM 10-25-2010
okay- so different people have different reasons for doing it. My ds actually has really loved all the purees so far so that is good. Don't know that his body digested them all that well yet though.
sapphire_chan's Avatar sapphire_chan 08:04 PM 10-26-2010
When you do go to give him chunks of food later, you'll need to be extra careful. 1. He won't know how to chew and might try to suck the food down like he could do with purees. 2. His gag reflex will be farther back in his throat and won't protect him as much. 3. His mouth will be bigger and he'll be able to get more food into his mouth at a time--increasing the choking risk. 4. He won't know how much is reasonable for him and he won't have the skills to move food he can't handle out of his mouth.

For me, it was too much of a choking risk to start with purees, but if for people who find them easier at first and are prepared to be vigilant later on, it does seem to be a viable option.
Abraisme's Avatar Abraisme 08:07 PM 10-26-2010
No, I don't worry about choking. Choking is quite rare and it really doesn't matter when a baby/toddler learns to chew they WILL gag a bit. If you wait to introduce solid chunks of food until 12mo (or whatever age), they still have to learn how to do it. While gagging is not pleasant, it's normal and not life threatening.
Marissamom's Avatar Marissamom 08:10 PM 10-26-2010
I did somewhere in-between. started with chunks of softer foods until she seemed to know to mash it up better. did avacado, cooked carrots, cooked sweet potatoes, cooked potatoes, canned pears and peaches, and banana. then I got progressively more confident that she would actually chew and added more difficult foods. she actually handled chunks of food much better than purees.
cocoanib's Avatar cocoanib 10:08 PM 10-26-2010
We do both.
-DD get's large hand held pieces of fruit and veg to gnaw on.
I watch her to be sure all is well. She got off 2 really big pieces of banana last night and did the gagging thing until she got it out of her mouth.
-We also use a mesh food feeder. I love it and DD does too. Some things we put in frozen.
-She eats with me. I just make sure it's small enough pieces or I take some and mash it as I'm feeding her from my plate.
-We don't do purees, but I do make things like split pee soup or yams and potatoes and mash it really well before giving to her.
- Also, She get's into whatever I'm feeding her and eats it off of her fingers as well.
-Another thing is smoothies. Whatever smoothie I'm having , she has as well.

Exploring food has been alot of fun for us
Snapdragon's Avatar Snapdragon 11:25 PM 10-26-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abraisme View Post
No, I don't worry about choking. Choking is quite rare and it really doesn't matter when a baby/toddler learns to chew they WILL gag a bit. If you wait to introduce solid chunks of food until 12mo (or whatever age), they still have to learn how to do it. While gagging is not pleasant, it's normal and not life threatening.
I never thought of it this way. Do you mean that even if I start the baby on chunky food later, that he will still have to go through the gagging thing?
the thing is, he only has one tooth now! So wouldn't it be easier for him to chew and properly swallow when he has more teeth?
There is so much to learn as a first time parent!
Knitting Mama 11:58 PM 10-26-2010
Yep, he will go through gagging then, because his gag reflex is much further back from the spoon feeding. It will come forward when he's eating chunks of food. As for teeth, babies have an amazing ability to gum food into submission. My girl doesn't have any full teeth yet (her first one is coming in right now) and she still goes to town on food.
Peace+Hope's Avatar Peace+Hope 12:25 AM 10-27-2010
i like that BLW is another way for babies to be learning. they are experiencing food in a way that engages all of their senses, and all play is developing skills for babies!

the woman who coined "BLW" has a book by the same name. she has a lot of anecdotal evidence through her decades of experience, which she references a lot in the book, but also talks about the physcial development of babies and why BLW fits well with that.

babies who are doing BLW starting around 6 months are learning how to handle food when their gag reflex is farther forward in the mouth than later on, which helps protect from choking. also, before they have learned to EAT food, they are learning about the textures and chewing and how different foods can be handled in their hands and mouths. so, by the time they are eating and swallowing, and handling solids for the purpose of feeding their bodies, they are able to do this more safely.
Knitting Mama 12:37 AM 10-27-2010
Well said, P+H!!
snoopy5386's Avatar snoopy5386 12:39 AM 10-27-2010
People chew with their molars. Front teeth are for biting. Kids don't get molars until 18 months - 2 years. They chew fine with just gums. Maybe not steak, but certainly most foods.
Snapdragon's Avatar Snapdragon 12:43 AM 10-27-2010
so you mean I can just give my 7 month old son a chunk of ripe pear (for example) and he will chew and swallow it? forgive my ignorance but this whole concept is new to me- parenting in general and all its nuances are new to me! But the transitioning from only breastmilk to considering giving my son chunks to chew- I guess it overwhelms and frightens me!! I wonder if my fear is something to heed- like an instinct, like I will know when it feels safe for him to have chunks of food? Or if my fear is actually the ignorance of first time parenting. Anyone here NOT advocate BLW? or is it pretty accepted all around?

I know the other day when I started this post, when ds was trying to eat that piece of ripe pear I was eating, he REALLY wanted to chew it! It was only my fear that didn't allow that. But dh and I agreed- don't do it until it feels safe to you, so we went with that.
jsh7809's Avatar jsh7809 01:18 AM 10-27-2010
very nice, P&H! Today I had lunch with relatives and they were wanting to feed my baby (6.5 months) everything - "can't she have some butter?" "you know she wants to eat some of this roll" etc etc. I gave her a tiny bit of broccoli and a slurp of watermelon, and nothing made it down her throat. Her gag reflex IS way more forward, so at this point anything that's not milk just gets spit out (with lots of drama, like, what IS this?! ). I can't imagine how a 3 or 4 month old learns to eat?
Our pediatrician told me "just spoonfeed her a bite of puree every day, and then when she gets used to that, give her another bite, otherwise she'll never learn to eat." Who doesnt' learn to eat?!!
I like letting her play and discover texture, smell, taste, practicing grasping, etc. Some babies her age LOVE to eat, but she doesn't get it or isn't interested yet. It's weird that there's so much pressure but I'm trying to stay strong - I'll keep offering bits (and some purees, but always with the baby in control of the spoon or dipping her fingers in it) and no push it.

I have a feeling it's a LOT easier to clean up leaky breastmilk than it is to clean up after a food-hungry child anyway so no hurry there!!
octobermom's Avatar octobermom 03:29 AM 10-27-2010
We actually did start with the puree not exclusivly but at first it was like a 90/10 split between puree and whole foods for her solids... It was easier when we were jsut testing for reactions and giving the first tastes...and she did really well but she is now 7.5 months weve been trying diffrent solids for aroudn 1 month now and honestly she jsut doesn't want the purees and is just doing a lot better with whole foods... She now gets mini versions of what we eat minus obvious allergy triggers (peanuts for example) and heavy sugar.. (no birthday cake from today) shes has no teeth but jsut this week alone shes had
Chicken breast just gave her a chunk shes jsut sucked it dry
chicken leg bones
steak with bone
(baby loves bones)
rice self feeding
tomatoes she loves these just takes a slice and sucks all the juice out
mango and peach chunks I buy it frozen cut a piece in half stick it on a toddler fork and baby treats it like a popsicle
apple and pear slices just give her a hunk skin on the skin keeps the little parts together
Bannana sucks and mushes down
cold cereal (practices her pincher grasp)
green beans /sugar snap peas grasps in hand and sucks
hummus and bell peppers I just put a little on a slice and she goes to town
you get the idea....
I keep a few earth best breakfast blend stage 2 jar foods she will takes these there my back up stuff but the rest we've pretty much have given away.

Deanna
Marissamom's Avatar Marissamom 03:45 AM 10-27-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snapdragon View Post
so you mean I can just give my 7 month old son a chunk of ripe pear (for example) and he will chew and swallow it? forgive my ignorance but this whole concept is new to me- parenting in general and all its nuances are new to me! But the transitioning from only breastmilk to considering giving my son chunks to chew- I guess it overwhelms and frightens me!! I wonder if my fear is something to heed- like an instinct, like I will know when it feels safe for him to have chunks of food? Or if my fear is actually the ignorance of first time parenting. Anyone here NOT advocate BLW? or is it pretty accepted all around?

I know the other day when I started this post, when ds was trying to eat that piece of ripe pear I was eating, he REALLY wanted to chew it! It was only my fear that didn't allow that. But dh and I agreed- don't do it until it feels safe to you, so we went with that.
he would probably gum it down and then spit it out. it took at least a couple of weeks before anything really made it down my daughter's throat. we worked our way from soft, squishy foods up. DD is 17 months, still doesn't have molars (though a couple are coming in) and is able to chew raw carrot and apple, and dried fruit. only thing I don't give her (other than nuts, raisens, and popcorn) is lettuce (she could probably handle crunchier lettuce, but it makes me nervous still). would you feel safer starting with something really mushy? banana, etc? that's what my comfort level was starting out because it's so easy to chew, but does require a little mashing on the baby's part (though they can swallow it without chewing it and not choke).
sapphire_chan's Avatar sapphire_chan 11:27 AM 10-27-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snapdragon View Post
I never thought of it this way. Do you mean that even if I start the baby on chunky food later, that he will still have to go through the gagging thing?
the thing is, he only has one tooth now! So wouldn't it be easier for him to chew and properly swallow when he has more teeth?
There is so much to learn as a first time parent!
Comparing dd and her cousins, yeah, starting chunky baby food later means a LOT more gagging. And a lot more scary gagging. When dd was starting solid foods (at 6 months) her gag reflex was far enough forward that to get stuff out she just opened her mouth and tipped her head forward a bit. The cousins all had times they looked like they were nearly going to choke when they started (9-ish months), while dd could handle pretty much any food (not sandwiches--baby hands are small!) by that point.

Because she had practicing with gumming things to bits, when her molars came in she went right to chewing. The ones who started at 9 months didn't really seem to get chewing until around a year. Part of that was having to spend the time learning how big of a bite they could manage, how to move the food around to get it between the teeth without sending it too far back in the mouth. They probably could've learned it faster, but by 9 months old, life was too exciting to sit and explore food for an extended time.

I will say, on the pear thing, my first experience with scary gagging happened with dd got a soft pear slice (a week after introducing solids) and she took a bite that was too big. I think harder foods are actually safer because they let the baby take a more reasonable bit. Full sized carrots are awesome for seeing the eeensy beansy little baby nibbles.
Friday13th's Avatar Friday13th 01:14 PM 10-27-2010
I'm really strongly in favor of BLW for two main reasons:
1) they have to learn to move food around their mouths and handle solids at some point, it makes more sense to me to do it while the gag reflex is way up front and they can easily get rid of anything they can't handle.
2) I think babies are born with a finely honed ability to know how much they should be eating and I like to preserve that as much as possible. I find spoon feeding can easily lead, the just one more bite to finish the jar mentality which bit by bit does errode their ability to self-regulate.
mamazee's Avatar mamazee 01:19 PM 10-27-2010
They really handle it pretty well, but you do have to be prepared to go in with a finger swipe if they have trouble with something, though honestly that's forever and regardless of whether you do BLW. I had to swipe my older dd's mouth because she was having trouble with something when she was like 5 or 6. Just pull something out if it seems like she's having trouble. Eventually she'll know to spit stuff out that's too big and give it to you.
Knitting Mama 01:43 PM 10-27-2010
Something to keep in mind is the difference between gagging and choking. With gagging, you'll hear the baby make interesting noises as they figure out what to do with the food. Sometimes they'll even throw up a bit, but it's a pretty noisy experience and is part of learning how to eat. With choking, the baby can't make lots of sound at all; in fact, it's generally eerily quiet when a baby actually chokes. You won't hear a lot and you also won't see breathing (chest rising, etc).
P.J.'s Avatar P.J. 01:50 PM 10-27-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peace+Hope View Post

the woman who coined "BLW" has a book by the same name. she has a lot of anecdotal evidence through her decades of experience, which she references a lot in the book, but also talks about the physcial development of babies and why BLW fits well with that.
Baby Led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett. Mine arrived today and it looks like a great basic introduction. Snapdragon, maybe you would feel better about it after reading the book. It seems like you want to try it but just need more information to give you some confidence. I also second the idea of taking infant CPR.

DS isn't quite ready yet, but I'm excited to try BLW when he is. I actually didn't even know what it was until a couple weeks ago reading threads here. I always assumed it just meant starting solids (purees, the "regular" way) when the baby shows interest as opposed to on a specific date. Ah, the wonderful things we learn from MDC!
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