Introducing solid foods is something that every mother and baby have to tackle. There’s so much information out there about when to start, which foods to start with, advice on how to ensure your baby doesn’t die of choking or food allergies, and which techniques or approaches are the best. One of the major choices that I had was do I go the traditional route with pureed foods and spoon feed Hailey or do I venture down the Baby Led Weaning path and just give her solids right away?
As a new mother I wanted to do it right. I signed up for a baby food making course that was run by a nutritionist in our area. The course gave me advice on which foods to introduce first, insisted that I should wait 4 days between introducing new foods to ensure there were no food allergies or intolerances, and demonstrated various techniques for pureeing and mashing up different kinds of food.
I was excited to start! The 6 month mark rolled around and it was time to start giving Hailey solids (or purees). I started with avocado and banana (separately, not together!). I mashed it all up, got out my brand new baby spoons, put the bib on Hailey and we were set. I put some on the spoon and aimed it at her mouth. She grabbed the spoon and cautiously stuck some in her mouth. She wasn’t sure what the hell it was!
Over the next few days she tried a bit of what I was giving her but mostly just made faces at me, gagged, and spit it out. She always wanted to be in control of the spoon (and she was not that good with it) so it always made a mess. By the end of the second week she was no longer showing interest and I was completely discouraged. My friends would come over with their babies and have no problems feeding them but Hailey was a different story. One of my friends suggested apple sauce so I made some and Hailey loved it. Apart from that she was not interested in anything pureed. I didn’t know what to do.
Because Hailey never let me feed her with a spoon (she always had to grab it and stick it in her mouth) I decided to try Baby Led Weaning. Baby Led Weaning is a fancy term for giving them real solids and letting them gnaw on them. I started with sweet potato wedges. She loved it. I tried banana again but instead of mashing it I gave her a piece of a banana. She loved it! We were on to something.
I was SO nervous at first about giving her solid food to chew on and eat. VERY NERVOUS. I must of spent an entire afternoon one day watching youtube videos of babies her age eating solids just to get my belief up that Hailey wasn’t about to choke and die at any moment. Oh and the mess…. baby led weaning is SO messy. I didn’t realize how uptight I was about food being smushed and thrown everywhere but it was so far outside of my comfort zone. The first week or so of this was so nerve-wracking for me (both the mess and the gagging/choking) but I got over it fairly quickly and it doesn’t bother me anymore.
I now do a mix of purees and solids. And by purees I mostly mean apple sauce. I keep trying other baby foods because its easier when we are out but she refuses to eat them. She seems to know which foods are supposed to be solid and which ones are supposed to be liquid. I’m always amazed at how she knows this…babies are so intelligent.
Oh yeah, and that 4 day rule went out the window real quick once we started with baby led weaning. I figured that the majority of babies are not allergic to the majority of food so my chances were slim that I’d run into a severe allergy. Not to say it won’t happen but I stopped worrying about it fairly quickly.
We now have good days of eating lots of different foods and discouraging days (for me) where she eats almost nothing but breast milk. I never know when we sit down for a meal whether she’s going to eat the food. Sometimes she prefers to chew on the bib. I’m not worried about how much she’s actually ingesting because she’s still having breast milk.
My favourite thing about baby led weaning is that we can have family meals altogether and since she eats whatever we are eating there’s no extra work (aside from the clean-up…Our steam mop has been a life saver!).
I’m so glad that I paid attention to what she wanted. She wanted to jump right to solids and be in control of everything that went in her mouth. I don’t have to force her to eat. It truly is baby led!