Warning, this is an entire, kind of long, post about feeding our baby solid food. Riveting stuff I tell ya, but I promise I included some pretty cute pictures to help you get through it.
We use the Baby Led Weaning approach to feed our son Judah.
Baby led weaning in its most basic form is feeding your baby the same foods that you eat, as long as they are nutritious and not too hard (literally) for the baby to manage.
Until Judah was about four months old, I hadn’t given baby food of any kind a second thought. I am a “let’s cross that bridge when we get there” kinda gal. All I knew was that I planned to nurse until he was a year old.
Then one day on Facebook, I saw that a friend of mine was having trouble with her baby being a very picky eater and another friend said she had the same problem until they started baby led weaning. So I decided, like a good, well informed mom, I should google it.
It turns out that there is a lot of information out there, but good news for me, there is a baby led weaning book, so I got it from the library and read it cover to cover in like 2 days. And at the end, I couldn’t wait to feed Judah real food. Nerd alert.
The idea of Judah eating with us at the table and not one of us feeding him and then switching so the other could eat, and the fact that I wouldn’t have to actually do anything extra, sounded pretty daggum good to me. So we decided we would give it a try.
This is the part where I stop and give the disclaimer. I was excited about baby led weaning but was fully prepared to go the traditional baby food route if it didn’t work for us. I love my blender and i would have loved nothing more than seeing my husband turn a tiny baby spoon into an airplaine. I am just telling our story and what worked for us. If purées are your thing. Work it.
On Christmas, Judah turned 6 months. We sliced a really soft pear and put the slices in front of him on a tray. He put them in his mouth, gummed them up, swallowed the fruit and spit out the skin and I was sold.
The first few weeks were a mess. I had no idea if he was actually eating any of it, but his diapers assured me that he was. He had lots of fun trying new things and we had fun eating dinner with him next to us. Now we are several months in and he eats so well (much to the dismay of the dogs.) And so far he isn’t picky. He most usually just eats whatever we are having as long as it is nutritious, and if we are eating something he can’t have like pizza or noodles that are too hard (anything not nutritious or a choking hazard) I keep plenty of fruits and veggies around that he can eat instead.
If you have questions I would highly suggest reading the book. Or you can of course ask me. Here are the two most common questions I get about baby led and my thoughts.
1. Aren’t you afraid he will choke?
I was a bit nervous about this, but the book said a few helpful things about it.
A) as long as you give the baby pieces large enough that he can hold and handle himself then he will get used to how much he can put in his mouth without gagging.
B) a baby’s gag reflex unlike ours is really far up on the tongue. So if something too big slips back there that reflex will kick it out before it gets anywhere close to his throat.
C) babies who do baby led weaning learn to chew up their food first before swallowing (vice versa for spoonfed babies) so are less likely to choke than babies who learn to swallow first.
In our experience we have only had a few scares where Judah gagged a little but then quickly spit out the intruder (usually the peel from something) but this has only happened once or twice in the three months he has been eating.
2) How do you know he is eating enough if he is smearing it all over and throwing some on the floor?
This one is trickier,but the book said to just trust the baby and he will let you know when he has had enough.
I breastfeed Judah. And he was born a month early. In that first sleepy month i was nervous he wasn’t eating enough but let me tell you, he bulked up just fine. In the six months before Judah started eating real food I never knew how much he was getting and so this is no different. But it is true that Judah lets us know when he is done. Usually he just starts to play with the food or stops eating all together. Sometimes I wonder if he will eat forever. He loves to eat. And Judah, like other babies, gets all the nutrients he needs from breast milk or formula until he is one so “food before one is just for fun.” And I don’t stress about how much food actually makes it in his mouth, but trust me its plenty.
We would definitely recommend baby led weaning to anyone interested, but of course we wouldn’t love you less if you’re the spoonfed type. 🙂
Here are some links that I read for more info on the subject that you may be interested in if you have read all the way down to this point.