If you’re anything like me, you want to do everything the best way possible for your child. Unfortunately, it isn’t always obvious what the best way is. Babies don’t come with textbooks. That said, there is a library of baby knowledge to draw from. When Little Fox was about four months old, I went to the library catalogue and searched “introducing baby solid food…”
I was hoping for a guide that has information along the lines of “start with mush carrots, give that for three days, then move onto sweet potato.” As far as I knew mushy baby food was the only way to introduce solids. So when the top result on this list was a book called Baby-led Weaning, I assumed that it would give me that standard information and be a good guide to follow for the order of what to introduce when.
What is Baby-led Weaning (BLW)
First of all, introducing solids is not about stopping or replacing breastfeeding/ milk feeds. At least not initially. Instead, it is all about encouraging a happy and healthy relationship between baby and food. The more I read Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods-and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater, the more I loved what I was reading.
I learned that instead of starting with mushed up solids (which teaches babies to swallow before they learn to chew), I could start with finger foods. In the first few weeks of BLW most of the food would end of back on the tray or the floor. This is because Little Fox didn’t know how to swallow yet. She would suck on the foods (getting some of the nutrients out), move the food around in her mouth, and then spit or gag it out when it got to be too much.
In BLW you don’t give tiny cut up pieces of solids to your baby. These would be a choking hazard at a young age. Instead, you give large chunks, twice the length of your baby’s fist. This is so your baby can hold half the piece of food, and stick the other half in their mouth.
Why Baby Led Weaning
Babies love BLW. It comes naturally to them, just like other milestones they reach. They’ll let you know when they’re ready for solid foods by being able to sit up, and reaching for what you’re eating/what’s on your plate. After all, babies love to put food into their own mouths. There’s no fighting to get a spoon full of mush into their mouths. (After all, how would you feel if someone tried to feed you an alien substance on a spoon where you couldn’t really see or smell it before you were already swallowing it. I’d certainly be mad and fight to stop that from happening). In Rapley and Murkett’s book, there are some testimonies from parents who gave baby food to their first child and then did BLW with the second, and the difference it has made to their meal times is incredible!
BLW also encourages your baby to learn portion control. With jars of baby food, pressure is on to finish the whole jar. We were all probably told as children that we had to finish eating everything on our plate. But this is actually a bad idea, as it leads to over eating. BLW encourages us to break that bad habit with our children, as your baby will stop eating when they are done. Leftover food can be saved for later or discarded. This will help your child not become over attached to food.
Also, BLW helps prevent picky eating. Little Fox is already less picky compared to me! I have a strong dislike for raw tomatoes. But, when we were at a restaurant, Little Fox happily accepted the tomatoes from Badger Dad’s tossed salad. She impresses me with her curiosity and openness to new experiences. By letting her explore new foods now we are decreasing her opportunity to become a picky eater. (Again, you’d be fussy about what you ate if someone force fed you a foreign substance and you couldn’t control it).
Finally, BLW is more convenient. When you feed your baby the same foods you’re eating, you can share meal times and only prepare one meal. Since Little Fox feeds herself I’m usually able to eat my meal and work on an art project or get started on the dishes while she’s still eating. She’s always in my line of sight, although she’s never once started choking. (If you decide to do BLW, make sure you read up on the difference between gagging and choking as it will save you a lot of stress).
How BLW has worked with Little Fox
I look forward to her meal times and seeing her try new foods. She has a lovely Summer Infant Support Me 3-in-1 Positioner Feeding Seat and Booster, Multicolor that allows me to feed her in the dining room or living room, plus is super portable for when we take her to restaurants or friends’ houses. She also has a high chair, but we use that for when she is playing with toys. We only put her in the 3 in 1 chair for food so she’s always excited to be put in it.
Little Fox’s Beloved Solid Food
It has been amazing to watch Little Fox grow in appreciation of different foods. Her exploration of taste and texture is so beautiful. Chicken is her number one go to, which is great because from six months she has been able to suck the nutrients out of the meat. At eight months she still doesn’t swallow all of it, but she does consume a good portion of it.
After chicken she loves strawberries the most. I give them to her almost every day. She all of the fruits she has tried, including cantaloupe, pears, and apples. Recently she tried tomatoes, and she loves them too! This makes me so happy because I don’t like raw tomatoes. Little Fox is already less picky than me!
Other foods Little Fox has tried (and especially appreciated) include roasted vegetables, boiled broccoli, wrap bread, naan, pizza crust, full fat yogurt, squash, steak, roast beef, unsalted sweet potato fries, and pasta.