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Helping a baby with special needs & developmental delay transition to solids using Baby-Led Weaning

Before we get into using BLW let’s quickly explore the “traditional method” of transitioning to solids and the usual recommendation that’s given to parents of babies with special needs.

Helping a baby with special needs and developmental delay transition to solids- the “usual” recommendations:

  • Babies should demonstrate "signs of readiness" (precursor skills) that let you know they are ready to transition to solids.

  • Nearly all babies will show these signs by 6-7 months.

  • Babies who have special needs (developmental delays, medical complexities which disrupt development, etc.) may not show readiness signs until well after 6-7 months.

  • Start slow using purées and avoid challenging foods.

These recommendations causes baby to miss 2 critical windows and lose valuable time needed for exposure and practice.

For most infants, we believe that the cost of NOT introducing tastes and textures outweighs the benefits (if any) of waiting until the classic readiness signs appear after 6-7 months.

Helping a baby with special needs and developmental delay transition to solids- the Feeders & Growers recommendations:

To be more clear- we strongly recommend that most infants begin the transition to solid even if they are NOT showing traditional readiness signs, by 7 months, though we strongly recommend families do so with the support of a feeding specialist who can give individualized modifications tailored to the strengths and needs of their baby.

We also want to be clear here: when we say “developmental delay,” “special needs,” “medical complexity” these terms capture a HUGE swath of infants along a spectrum of needs from mild delays to significant needs, differences and delays. The more delayed your baby is, the more risk there may be in starting solids and learning to chew so the more we encourage you to do so with t