Adventures in baby led weaning

A pile of vegetables

First off I don’t actually like the phrase ‘baby led weaning’ as for the first 12 months you aren’t actually removing milk as the main source of nutrition. I think it should be called baby led solids, but that just doesn’t sound right, does it.

Anyway….

I was so excited about introducing Sidekick to the world of food and I was equally excited about doing it without using puree.

I am a first time mum and have not been around a lot of babies so I didn’t really know what to expect when introducing food to baby.

Sure I knew baby food existed but I knew I would not be using the things you can buy in supermarkets. Why? Well for one thing they’re really expensive! Secondly despite being marketed as organic and no added this and that, they still have things in them that fresh food doesn’t simply because they have to be preserved. So I knew that whatever I would be doing it would be homemade, fresh food.

I didn’t actually really think about how I was going to introduce food to Sidekick. All I knew was that in one way or another she’d be eating what I and Hubby eat.

The Health Visitor gave me a talk at our 3 month check up about the introduction of solids and how they recommend baby led weaning. So armed with our little leaflet I began to think about introducing food.

The advice given is that food, puree or not, should not be introduced into the diet of a baby until at least 6 months unless otherwise advised. There are three main things to look out for before starting your baby on solids, they are:

  1. They can stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady.
  2. They can co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so they can look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth, all by themselves.
  3. They can swallow food. Babies who are not ready will push their food back out with their tongue, so they get more round their face than they do in their mouths.

A switch isn’t suddenly switched at 6 months and a baby can suddenly do all these things they may be doing them a bit before or a bit after.

Looking back on it, I’d say Sidekick was actually able to start solids probably a bit sooner as she was doing the above from about 5 months, but we waited. You might have a baby who does these things a little later and that’s okay. It is better to wait. I know someone who introduced solids before their child could sit well and it resulted in a lot of gaging and chocking and totally put her off the introduction of solids. So wait until your little one is ready.

Once they are ready then get ready for the fun!

We decided to introduce foods slowly and we did it on a week by week basis. So we did veggies for a week, then added in fruit, then we added in bread, then dairy, then eggs, then meat. So it took us over a month to get to the full ‘package’ so to speak.

We did it this way to ensure we gave Sidekick plenty of time to get used to the new food, new textures, tastes etc. It also enabled us to monitor if there were allergies present, which turns out there could well be!

The best thing about doing baby led solids is that you can give them whatever you are having but I would say that in the beginning try and stick to soft food especially if like us your bundle of awesomeness doesn’t have any teeth yet. I would personally recommend the following for the introduction of foods:

  • Avocado
  • Cooked and peeled potato – sweet and ordinary
  • Cooked carrot wedges
  • Cooked broccoli spears
  • Cucumber wedges – nice and soothing for teething baby
  • Blueberries – squished

The main idea of baby led solids is to let them feed themselves. So you never put food in their mouths, you let them decide. We did this, however in the beginning, for about two weeks, Sidekick had an aversion to actually holding the food. She would touch it and poke it but wouldn’t hold it. If I held it up she would lean forward and take it into her mouth. By doing it this way she still made the decision as to whether or not she wanted the food. She then decided she actually liked the feel of the food and happily picked things up and smooshed them into her mouth,

So what advice do I have if you are about to begin this amazing journey, well how about:

  • Keep it fun. The first year of food is all about them exploring and discovering the world of food.
  • Don’t force them off their milk feeds before they are ready, that is where they get their nutrition from.
  • The more effort you put into creating something the less likely they are to eat it. Just give them what you are eating. Sure this may mean you need to modify your meals a bit but that’s not so hard.
  • Stay away from sugary, fatty foods. Babies don’t need them. You are better developing healthy eating habits from the beginning than trying later on. They don’t know what cake, chocolate, ice cream is to miss it so just don’t give it to them. You still want it, stick your head in a cupboard and eat it when they’re not looking!
  • Be patient. It takes them time to get used to the different textures and tastes. Some days they’ll eat what you put in front of them others they won’t, go with the flow. Don’t use bribery to get them to eat something, if they don’t want it leave them be.
  • It’s going to be messy, especially at the beginning. Accept this and move on. The food on the floor is easily swept up, mucky faces easily cleaned. Instead embrace their independence.
  • Get a full bib, kinda like a smock, it’ll save your laundry basket

Sidekick loves her food and has tried everything we’ve popped in front of her. I’m hoping that by not introducing her to the world of fat, sugar etc. that we start off with good eating habits straight away.

So if you are about to start introducing solids to your little one give baby led introduction a go. It’s good fun and there is nothing better then seeing their little messy face and beaming smile!

Have you been doing baby led solids, if so how did you find it?

 

 

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