In a recent Mini First Aid survey, over 60% of parents told us that choking is their number one fear. Choking is worrying with all children but is a particular focus when you are weaning your baby. In addition to teaching parents and carers about what to do should their child choke; Mini First Aid is now going one step further with our ‘Sit, Chop, Chew’ campaign.
Founder of Mini First Aid, Kate Ball, has written the children’s book ‘Sit, Chop, Chew’ and developed a themed Early Years class as a fun way to help children learn about safe eating and ensure meal times are more relaxed. The book can accompany the class or be read at home. Our Early Years class engages the children through song, story, actions and play to teach them the key messages of the class: 'Sit, Chop, Chew'. Children even get the chance to practise back blows on teddy and to chop up their own food. To book a class click here.
We recently caught up with Jo Weston who has developed the fantastic weaning app 'Baby Led Kitchen'. Jo lives in South Norfolk with her husband and two young daughters. 'Baby Led Kitchen' came about as a ‘just for fun’ Instagram account which blossomed into a really successful business. Jo creates tasty recipes for the whole family that are designed to be suitable for babies aged six months plus. She has lots of expertise in the area of baby led weaning and some top tips on how to avoid choking.
What are the tell tale signs your baby is ready for solids?
There are three big signs that you should look for when considering whether your baby is ready to start eating solids.
1) Sitting up. Ideally, babies should be able to sit independently, but if baby can sit steady in a supportive high chair AND they are six months and meet the other criteria, that’s fine too.
2) Bringing their hands to their mouths. Babies need to be able to pick up food and bring it to their mouth. You’ll probably see them doing this with their toys when they start to approach 6 months.
3) They need to have lost the ‘tongue thrust’ in order to swallow food. If babies are pushing food back out with their tongue, maybe hold on a little while longer.
There are a few things that are often seen as signs of readiness, but actually are probably not. People often think that babies are ready for weaning when they see babies grabbing at food and staring at people around the table. However, imagine a baby watching a table of people painting rather than eating… baby would still be staring and trying to grab the paintbrushes!
Many parents seem to think introducing their babies to solids will make them sleep through the night sooner - is there any truth in this?
Not much, no. There are so many reasons why babies wake during the night (and my girls have been through all of them!). Hunger is one reason for waking, yes, but so is teething, separation anxiety, body temperature and developmental changes.
If you think your baby is waking because they are hungry, remember that breastmilk and formula milk contain a lot more fat and calories than many foods, particularly those marketed at babies below six months. It simply doesn’t make sense to wean early for the purpose of getting more sleep. Hang on til 6 months and resist the temptation to try to stuff your baby with food before bed… most likely it will only end in a tummy ache.
What exactly is baby Led weaning?
Baby Led Weaning is an approach to introducing solids that puts the baby in the driving seat. The baby is in control of how much they eat, how they eat and what they eat (out of the food you have offered them). Instead of being spoon-fed purée or baby rice by a parent, parents safely prepare foods that babies pick up and eat on their own. Baby Led Weaning (originally developed by Dr Gill Rapley) is more of a philosophy than just a method of offering food. It helps babies to develop autonomy, confidence and a good understanding of their body and hunger. It is great for a baby’s sensory and physical development too.
Does baby Led weaning put babies at risk of choking?
If a few simple guidelines are followed, evidence suggests that there is no greater risk of choking than with spoon feeding pureed foods. To keep babies safe, foods need to be ‘squishable’ between thumb and forefinger (so no raw apple or carrot) and need to be roughly ‘baby fist’ size or ‘chip’ sized. This is to enable babies to hold food securely and gnaw off what they can manage. Avoiding round or cubed pieces of food such as cubes of cheese and whole grapes is important too. A lot of people don’t realise that with babies, bigger pieces of food are so much safer and easier to manage than little chunks.
What are the best first foods for little ones?
There’s no real reason to just start with fruit and veg, but sometimes parents prefer to take weaning slowly while they relax into Baby Led Weaning and learn to trust their baby’s capabilities. Roasted vegetable sticks are soft and easy to digest, so make an easy starting point. Feel free to drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs and spices to widen your babies taste buds. You don’t need to stick to one new food per day/week, however it is a good idea to introduce allergens on different days in order to keep track of any reactions.
Moving forward, where’s the best place to access healthy simple recipes for little ones?
Instagram is awash with amazing Baby Led Weaning accounts (ours included of course!) that are full of varied ideas. Facebook has lots of supportive groups too. The Baby Led Kitchen App has over 100 easy to follow recipes for babies and their families. I create recipes that are nutritionally balanced and easy for babies to eat, but that are also quick and practical for parents to cook. We’ve had lots of really positive feedback from users, saying that our recipes are easy to follow and that they found the food preparation guides handy too. It can be hard to find recipes that tick the right boxes for all the family, and that’s what the Baby Led Kitchen recipe app tries to do.
Click here to visit the 'Baby Led Kitchen' website.
Click here for the 'Baby Led Kitchen' app.
To kick off our 'Sit, Chop, Chew' campaign we are giving you, our lovely readers, a chance to win one of FIVE copies of our fabulous book ‘Sit, Chop, Chew!’, written by our Founder and Director Kate Ball.
'Sit, Chop, Chew' is the second in the popular series about the fictional character ‘Freddie’. ‘Sit, Chop, Chew’ sees Freddie and his friends eating together at nursery and learning about food. The colourful story is a fun and engaging way of teaching children about safe eating, how to prevent choking and put the fun back into meal times.
‘Sit, Chop, Chew’ promotes the basic principles of SAFE EATING to families (both adults and children) to reduce the fear of choking and the number of choking incidents themselves. The campaign is supported by Dr. Jamie Cooper, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital who is working to raise awareness about the risks of choking for young children.
Click here for competition Terms and Conditions.
To buy a copy of the book Click here.