As Finn has hit the magical 6 month mark, he has also entered the magical world of eating real food! During pregnancy, I was intrigued by BLW and Dan and I had discussed that we we were going to do that with Finn when it came time. As with the cloth diapering, our parents thought we were crazy (“Won’t he choke?”). But we had decided on it. Fast forward several months and we went through that scary week of trying to wean him off of the hydrolysate formula to the sensitive formula which did not go well at all. We found out from Finn’s doctor that he had an actual milk protein allergy (not to be confused with lactose intolerance), so that sort of scared me off from the idea of BLW.
This description is taken from the BabyCenter.com community forum on baby led weaning:
The biggest component of BLW is in its name, baby led. This means the parent does not feed the child, the child feeds themselves from the start. There is no spoon feeding or purees in BLW. Parents offer table foods in manageable pieces and the child gets to explore and eventually eat. You will often hear the word “offer” in discussing BLW instead of “feed”. This is because parents only offer and the baby gets to choose (remember, baby-led!).
You can read more about the “why’s” of BLW vs pureed food (learning to chew then swallow vs swallow then chew and more important for us, to give him control of what does and does not go into his mouth, and more importantly for us – to encourage him to be a healthy adventurous eater from the start) at the link above. I won’t really attempt to re-summarize every BLW website out there and try to find a more clever way to describe it, I’ll leave you to delve deeper if you wish. I’m just going to talk about our experience and why and how it works for us.
About a month ago I spent an entire day making pureed baby foods because that’s what all my friends were doing and that’s what the books recommended. I still had BLW in the back of my mind but was trying to think of anything that may help Finn’s sensitive stomach digest foods easier. The night before his 6 month birthday, we tried oatmeal cereal. We mixed it in a bowl and shoveled it in to his mouth with a spoon. He did good with it. Made a few yucky faces, got most of it on his face, torso, hands, and the table, but I considered it a success. We did notice that he really wanted to grab the spoon from us every time we put it in front of his face. I fed him with the spoon the next day at my mom’s after his 6 month appointment and shots, and again he just really wanted that spoon. We finally gave it to him and he put it right in his mouth and he seemed to have this sort of satisfied look on his face that HE put the spoon in his mouth, HE was in charge, and that taste on his tongue was from HIM. The BLW idea came back to me. That night I went home and Dan and I discussed it again after feeding him his mushy cereal dinner with a spoon. We decided that we wanted to try it out. (Pssst! Check out his teefs in the photo below!!!!)
The next day we cut open an avocado (nature’s perfect baby food) and gave him 2 pieces of it. He grabbed them immediately and put it in his mouth. And he made a really disturbed face. Then he smiled. Oh, did he smile! We loved it. My mom was there with us and she immediately changed her tune on it and thought it was really cool. From there we knew there was just no looking back. We decided on a feeding schedule of every 2-3 days introducing a new food (since that’s what is recommended by the doctor). Our week was looking like avocado, carrot, broccoli, and banana. And we even got to eat TOGETHER as a family for the first time in 6+ months, all eating *almost* the same thing. Can’t wait for that to be every night!
So, far it’s gone great! He’s tried avocado, carrot, and banana. On Wednesday, I ran out of carrots at my mom’s and she had bananas so we tried them and he loved them, too! He had a really hard time picking them up because of how slimey they were, so I broke the rules a little bit and held it out in front of his face and he leaned forward and took a bite right out of it. I did this only because he started to get really frustrated with chasing the banana around the tray and I didn’t want it to be a negative experience for him. It turned out good and I think he’s a fan of bananas.
Thursday night we had stir fry, so we gave him some steamed carrots and broccoli with rice, just like we had and he loved it! I’m still not sure how much of the food is actually going down (we have seen a little change in his diaper output) as I usually find most of it in his lap afterwards. lol
The other difference we are doing from the “traditional” BLWing is we are offering him some cereal at each feeding. Not for the nutrition, but for the experience of feeding himself with a utensil. We adapted a little nubby teething toothbrush as his utensil and he really loves it. It’s soft and he gums it as he eats which helps him chew at his food. For now, most of his food stills ends up being spit right out. His main source of nutrition is still his formula until he’s one, and we’ve took on the philosophy of “Food is Fun til One.” And boy is it fun! And MESSY, and that’s okay. We want him to get to know the textures, smells, and experience of eating together as a family until then. We are also hoping that eating this way will help lead to a more adventurous and less-picky eater than a lot of kids. So far it’s working for us and we couldn’t be more excited of what’s to come!
If you’re interested, here are some more links to read:
Baby Led Weaning – the un-official page
Our Take on Baby Led Weaning – a BabyCenter Blog
Momtastic’s Wholesome Baby Food – age appropriate foods & recipes
Baby Led Solids – one baby’s experience
And of course, the BabyCenter community link at the top of this post.
Also, here’s a really interesting article from the BBC about why starting your baby on table food at 6 months is best.
I stole this list from the Baby Led Solids website because it pretty much summed it up:
Top 10 Things to Love About Baby Led Solids
10) it’s fun for everyone when baby eats with the rest of the family9) there are no baby food jars taking up valuable real estate in your kitchen cupboards8) it’s portable – you can go anywhere without having to worry what baby is going to eat7) it makes for adorable baby photos6) it requires no ‘fighting’ with baby at mealtimes, no making airplane noises or silly faces5) it helps develop baby’s motor skills (hand-eye coordination, pincer grasp, holding, dropping)4) it’s super easy3) you know baby is always getting fresh, healthy food2) it saves time and money (the cost of baby food has gone up 21% since 2007!)
…drumroll please…1) babies become confident and adventurous eaters, not picky eaters!