While I did not win the lottery for baby sleeping habits, I did hit the jackpot with my good eater. Even though at this very moment I’m frantically knocking on every wood surface in our house (I don’t want to run into any toddler picky phases), I am soaking up the glory of having a champion baby eater. My son may not sleep through the night, but he most certainly will EAT through the night! Ha! I am not totally shocked that W is a good eater since both my husband and I love to eat. I will try most anything at least once. I even tried a cheese-covered fried bug on a first grade class trip to the Insectarium once (no lie, it tasted exactly like Fritos).
We introduced W to solids fairly early. It appears that the majority of the internet world recommends waiting until about 6 months to start baby on solid food. Our pediatrician, on the other hand, suggested at W’s four month well-visit to try giving him little tastes of our meals here and there if he seemed interested. She mentioned that starting foods early may help prevent allergies, and that it was fine as long as his main source of nutrition was still milk. So, did he seem interested? Uh, yeah. He was like Pavlov’s dogs every time my husband or I sat down to eat. Of course we then proceeded to run home and let W mouth a piece of steak. What? Your baby’s first food wasn’t steak juice too? Well, that’s what we were eating, and, yes, W looked interested! The weeks following we let him try more “traditionally-appropriate” baby foods: a piece of my banana, a lick of my apple, a spoonful of applesauce, some avocado. We also moved on to purees. At first, W took really well to purees. He ate them right up, and had a great time doing so. Then, something started to change. W decided that he didn’t like being fed baby food on a spoon; he rather have all that delicious-looking food the adults are eating.
At W’s six month well-visit, I asked the pediatrician about Baby Led Weaning. I discovered it while researching on the internet (I know, I know, I read too much on the internet), and it looked like something that would suit W’s eating style perfectly. I will leave a few links at the bottom to some sites that go into more detail about Baby Led Weaning, but here is the basic gist of it: basically, you throw a variety of different foods on baby’s tray and let him have at it. The point is to let the baby discover food on their own, exploring the different shapes and textures. The baby learns to chew first as opposed to swallow first like they do with purees. So, if you are not into scrapping smashed up bananas off the bottom of the high chair corners or getting down on your hands and knees to peel dried up pasta off the floor or picking bits of rice out of baby’s hair or even your own hair, then maybe baby led weaning is not for you (seriously, can someone invent a self-cleaning high chair already?).
Baby led weaning may be messy, but it is significantly easier on the chief. I only make one meal for us- I just avoid salt and chop up food into small, bite-sized pieces for W. Honestly, it has encouraged my family to eat healthier meals. I save the chocolate and ice cream for after bedtime (I said healthier meals, not healthiest). It can be a lot more nerve-racking for a parent in the beginning, however, before any teeth come in and before “pincher grasp” skills are developed. My own mother standing behind me gasping every moment W puts a piece of pineapple to his mouth doesn’t really help to ease the stress over choking. Yet, it is important to remember that gagging is far different from choking. Gagging, I have learned, is actually a good thing in that it helps babies learn how to swallow and not choke. There are a plethora of videos on youtube that demonstrate this idea. At this point, I am so pleased that we gave into W’s demands and started baby led weaning. It could not be easier, and I am having so much fun trying to think of new foods to feed W. I hope you will continue to join us on the rest of our journey with food.
So, what do you think? Baby led weaning- is it just a crazy, possibly dangerous, new fad or is it something worth looking into? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!
As promised, here are some great resources for baby-led weaning!
Baby Led Weaning Resources
www.babyledweaning.com This is a great site filled with all of the information you need to get started on Baby led weaning. You can follow them on Facebook, check out their blog, or even buy the book!
www.rapleyweaning.com Check out the “founder” of baby led weaning, Gill Rapley’s site.
www.wholesomebabyfood.momtastics.com They have some great baby led weaning recipes in addition to other baby recipes, including first birthday cake recipes.
Below is a video clip of a 7 month old eating a orange. It shows how the baby uses his gag reflex a little after the 2 minute mark.