With my first child, my husband and I had never thought much about when our baby would start solids. I knew since he was breast fed, I wanted to wait at least 6 months before introducing solids just because I figured by then is when he would be more developmentally capable. We went out and bought organic rice cereal and many jars of organic baby food purées.
When he turned 6 months, we tried the typical spoon feeding of baby food from sweet potato, rice cereal, peas, carrots, bananas, you name it. He just wasn’t all that interested. In fact, I stressed to no end for a few months because he just would fight it. Most days, his meals would end with him getting upset and me stressing because he just was not getting it and no matter what we tried, he just would not take more than a small taste or so. After a few months, I decided we would hold off on solids. He was still very into nursing and I heard of the saying “foods are for fun before the age of one” meaning, he did not need solids since he was still getting my milk and thriving. I read many books and articles and discovered baby led weaning (BLW). Unfortunately, by this time, he was almost a year old and we discovered his food allergies so we were adjusting to a lot so didn’t fully implement BLW..
With our second child, we have taken a much more natural and instinctual approach with everything including feeding. He has definitely been more food motivated but I am sure because he sees his older brother eating. But also, we have never fed him from a jar and spoon. He has never had any type of rice cereal either. Instead we decided to try out BLW. And boy, what a difference. I have not stressed about him eating or worried that he isn’t or won’t get a balanced diet. Ever since he was 6-7 months old, he has eaten basically what we eat. We did start with avocado, butternut squash/ sweet potato fries and then worked out way up from there. But he has not had really any puréed food besides the occasional pouch when out and about. I am finding he likes a bigger variety of foods. Plus, it’s waaaaaay easier and cheaper.
Basically what baby led weaning is, is no mush. No weird combinations of puréed meats, fruits and vegetables. No rice cereals, which I believe shouldn’t be offered, ever. No stressing over how much they eat. No worries about buying the baby bullet, food processor, ice cube trays etc. Just real food. You cut up food into slices or sticks to start off with and let them have at it! They can hold it, gnaw it, suck it and really learn and discover foods. You let them go at their own pace, hence the name. If they like it, great. If not, that’s fine too. Let them decide.
Not only does it help them learn how to eat, it helps with their motor skills too. They can work on picking up, grasping and bringing it to their mouths. They learn to chew before swallowing instead of just straight swallowing like they would a purée which can sometimes cause them to gag more once they are introduced to chunks of food.
BLW can be done if baby has teeth or no teeth too. You start off with soft foods so even if they just have gums, they will have no problem chewing. I recommend starting off with avocado, sweet potato (fries), steamed carrots, banana or mango. All are soft and can be easily sliced in pieces for them to hold. Eventually you will cut it up into bite size pieces for them to develop their pincer grasp. Baby will probably gag, but remember they have reflexes that make their gag more sensitive and it’s their way of moving food around. I actually found, in our experience that Braydon, who we did BLW with gagged MUCH less than Shayne who was fed traditional baby food.
Don’t stress about the amount they eat. Don’t even put the food in their mouth, let them do all the work to avoid serious gagging. You don’t have to worry about making sure they get 3 meals a day. As long as you nurse before hand, offer them some of what you’re eating whenever. Even when we started with Braydon, there were some days he just wasn’t interested and so we would skip a few days. All was well. Now at a year, he is a very developed eater.
Although, I know BLW may not be for every parent, I definitely recommend parents looking into it. I believe in really listening to my babies and following their leads and BLW has helped. I no longer stress over feeding them as babies. I think so many parents rush into solids and stress when baby just isn’t interested or eating what they think they should be eating. Many times the baby just isn’t quite ready and it causes more stress. BLW takes all the guesswork out of feeding and makes it fun.
Below I have added some great websites if you are wanting to look more into BLW.
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