Baby-Led Weaning: Bridging the Gap from Breastmilk to Solid Foods with Katie Ferraro (Mom of 7)

Show Notes:

Baby-Led Weaning helps your baby establish a healthy relationship with food starting with their very first foods. Benefits include reducing the severity of picky eating, lowers allergy risks, increases diet diversity, and stops the meal time battles. Listen for more benefits! πŸ₯°

[1:11] Our reviewer of the week is, Ashley Worley, and she says, “I discovered the podcast thanks to a friend who passed it along. I am pregnant with our first and was looking for something both positive and education. I’ve voraciously been diving into episodes and feel exponentially more confident than I did just weeks ago about our decision for an unmedicated birth place birth. Stephanie has been incredibly helpful in helping me learn all things birth and prepping and planning, now putting into action daily stretches, relaxation, and completing my birth plan. Now to dive into birth stories and we pray and imagine our dream birth knowing it’s all in God’s hands and will be perfect for us. Thank you so much for the content and time to share legacy-changing information weekly!

We absolutely love reviews like this! I hope that as you prepare for your birth, you’re also thinking about how to prepare for the postpartum period as well. πŸ’œ

[2:02] Today’s topic is Baby-Led Weaning! Our guest, Katie Ferraro, is a mother, business owner, podcaster, educator, and baby led-weaning expert! 🀩

[2:29] Katie Ferraro, a registered dietician and mother of seven, introduces herself. Her journey started while trying to feed her daughter and the frustrations that came along with spoon feeding. She became pregnant with quadruplets and was so stressed about figuring out how to feed not only her daughter but now four babies all at one time! 🀯 She shares her journey of how she started Baby-Led Weaning (BLW).

[4:40] When her quadruplets were 18-months old, she found out she was pregnant with twins! They had seven kids, three and under! She now runs the largest digital community focusing on BLW and also hosts the podcast, Baby-Led Weaning Made Easy. She loves teaching parents on how to help their babies get a safe start to solid foods. 🍌

[5:44] In 2016, she created the 100 First Foods Program, where they help babies eat 100 safe baby-led weaning foods before they turn one! πŸ₯³ Benefits of BLW are:

  •  Reduces picky eating
  •  Lowers allergy risks
  •  Increase diet diversity
  •  Stop the meal time battles

[6:19] A lot of parents are told to start feeding their baby cereal at around 4-6 months, which contradicts the fact that babies only need breastmilk or formula for the first six months of their lives. If your baby is not sitting on their own independently and six months of age, they’re not ready for solid foods! 🚫

[7:56] I did BLW with my third child and saw an incredible difference between him and my first two! I ask Katie why would someone choose BLW over regular spoon feeding. BLW appeals the most to second time parents! We’ve learned our lessons with the first baby. 🀣 Haha. BLW can greatly reduce the severity of picky eating!

[9:50] Reasons why parents are willing to try BLW:

  •  Easier to make one meal for the whole family (just slightly modified for the baby)
  •  Cheaper than pouches of fruits
  •  More developmentally appropriate

[10:51] What are some of the first foods that are introduced at six months? We have a list of 100 foods that parents can use to map out what they introduce to their baby. Parents can follow the five step feeding framework where they introduce five new foods to their baby each week.

  •  Fruit 🫐
  •  Vegetable πŸ₯•
  •  Starchy Food πŸ₯”
  •  Protein πŸ—
  •  Potentially Allergenic Food 🍳

[11:58] The advice that you need to wait 3-5 days between introducing new foods to your baby is very outdated information. πŸ‘ŽπŸΌ The vast majority of allergic reactions will happen within minutes and up to no more than 2 hours past digestion. Establish a healthy foundation with food!

[13:13] I talk about my experience with BLW with my third son. I wish I had known about it with Baby #1 and #2. 😭

[14:27] If you’ve introduced all these foods in the first 30 days, what does that look like moving forward? Do you introduce all the foods so baby will eat whatever you’re cooking or are you trying to find out what they like? The goal is to increase the variety of foods, textures, and flavors that baby is exposed to. πŸ˜‹

[15:24] For the first ten minutes of the meal, Katie introduces the BLW Food of the Day by itself. It is cut in pieces as big as an adult pinky finger in soft strips or spears and served in a bowl. πŸ₯£ For the second ten minutes, Katie swaps in a plate with two familiar foods from the previous days plus the new food. This all works in unison to reduce the severity of picky eating, increase variety of foods and textures, and lowers the risk of food allergies. 🍽️

[17:07] Babies don’t have to eat bland food! Minimize the amount of salt, no added sugars, and don’t give them anything so spicy that would be injurious to them! Feed your baby the foods that your family and culture make so they can enjoy those foods with you! 🀀

[17:47] Why are we shocked when babies don’t like plain pureed peas? 🀒Commercial baby food has only been a commercial construct since the earlier part of the 20th century! What do you think Cave Mama fed her babies? She didn’t have aisles of baby food at Target.

[18:45] What saved me from giving my baby the processed baby food was the cost! It was costing over $1 for one tub of baby food when a whole bunch of bananas cost $0.19 a pound! πŸ˜‘ You have permission to feed your baby real food!

[20:30] A lot of parents struggle with how to prepare the foods for their baby. Katie has programs for parents that guide them through the process, how to prepare it, and how to make the foods safe. Parents actually end up eating better too! πŸ₯™

[21:31] How do I know by baby is ready? The combination of being six months (or six months adjusted age if they were a preemie), sit on their own independently, and exerting their head control that indicates they’re ready to swallow. There is no upside in starting solid foods early, and it increases the risk of choking. πŸ—“οΈ

[24:15] The most important thing you can do to reduce the risk of choking is that your baby’s feet are resting flat on the foot plate. Their waist, knees, and ankles all need to be at 90 degrees. No reclining or dangling feet! Flat feet correlate with the swallow reflex! 🦢🏼

[25:30] Is there any prep work that needs to be done to get going with BLW? Katie recommends that parents take a refresher CPR course. πŸ€“ Katie does a lot of education on how to reduce risks of choking, but also recommends the course so in the event of an incident, parents will know what to do.

[27:55] Say that a mom finds the podcast finds this episode after baby is way past the six-month mark, what would your advice be to her? Katie says it’s never too late to switch to real foods. Babies need to be exposed to allergenic foods early and often. Ramp up giving the 100 foods to babies past the six month mark if you’re just now learning about BLW. πŸ₯’

[29:50] As far as breastfeeding and weaning, what are your recommendations? The women I work with (doulas, midwives, lactation consultants, IBCLC’s, etc.) say “Food before one is just for fun” meaning that breastmilk is complete and all your baby needs. Katie agrees that breastmilk meets 100% of your baby’s needs until six months of age. Babies need more nutrients, especially iron, after six months. By 12 months, most of baby’s nutrition needs to come from food. 🍼

[32:40] I ask Katie to share her programs and what she offers for education. Katie teaches a free one-hour work shop every week that teaches parents the basics. You’ll get a copy of the 100 First Foods List. You can access that through her website. πŸ’»

If you want to learn more about baby-led weaning and get a copy of Katie's 100 FIRST FOODS list, the workshop sign up page is:

Katie Ferraro's Social Media:

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