We have been exploring the baby-led weaning method for over a month. This method of introducing solid foods is absolutely incredible. I am amazed at what my son is able to eat and how he is able to safely navigate his way around different foods. His favourite food so far is sweet potato. He is extremely enthusiastic about eating this vegetable and actually gets really excited when he sees it! To prepare, I roast the sweet potatoes with the skin on until they are really soft. When serving it, I slice it horizontally and offer Mr. 7 months old the whole half. Practice makes perfect. He has become very coordinated and can easily manage to pick up the potato with both of his little hands, lift it to his mouth where he happily gnaws away on it, mushing up and swallowing the flesh of the vegetable. He is essentially making his own puree. Mr. Independent! I have tried to offer him applesauce on a spoon just to see if his preferences have changed and he clenched his lips shut in protest. He wants to feed himself. He wants to eat real food. Not pureed mush!
I have purchased the book Baby-Led Weaning:The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods-and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confide by Gill Rapley as well as the Baby Led Weaning Cook Book filled with all sorts of awesome ideas. If you are in Canada, you can find them online here and here. I personally love buying books online from Indigo because shipping is free for any purchase over $25 and it’s impossible to not spend over $25 in that store. They are also super fast… next business day fast usually without paying for “next day shipping.” These books are also available for Kobo but if you’re like me, you save your e-reader for novels, not for books that will be referenced near babies or in the kitchen!
I highly recommend reading the book. Although I haven’t read the whole thing just yet (too many interruptions!), it is really helpful in explaining the method and helping you to trust your baby’s natural abilities to properly and safely bite and swallow food. Like any parent considering trying Baby Led Weaning, I was immediately threatened by the possibility of my baby choking. The book thoroughly explains that baby has a natural reflex to instantly push food forward if it is too big for him to manage, rather than backward which we all fear. To allow myself to feel a little more comfortable, I refreshed myself on what to do if my baby chokes. Preparation is key. I have my First Aid certification but felt it was important to be up to date just in case rather than be trying to remember what to do in an emergency situation. I’m paranoid, yes but I’m not about to mess around when it comes to my babies’ safety. There are lots of youtube videos out there. For a quick 2 minute video to give you the rundown, NHS Choices has a great one here. Once I trusted my own ability to rescue my son if he did manage to swallow a piece of food too big for him to handle, I was ready to try all sorts of new foods while closely supervising him.
I was amazed to see that every time he bit a piece of food too big, he did automatically push it forward and out of his mouth. This natural reflex is incredible. He would pick it back up and gnaw on it or gum it and swallow the bits that were mushy enough for him to safely swallow and spit out the parts that were too big. Every single time. The human body never ceases to amaze me.
Baby Led Weaning theorists also recommend leaving on the food’s natural “handle” so it is easy to hold and grip. For example, leaving the skin on the banana and just cutting it back to expose 1/2″ of the flesh makes it easier for baby to hold. Leaving the skin on sweet potatoes and avocado allow Mr. 7 months to hold on to it and gnaw away at the flesh of the food without it getting too mushy or slippery in his hands. Leaving steamed broccoli attached to its long stalk/stem allows Mr. 7 months old to easily grip it, bring it up to his mouth and then gnaw away on the soft “tree” part. He eats his fruits and veggies with “nature’s utensils.” It’s really interesting.
I currently offer him a little bit of whatever we are eating with our meal. A quick list of what he has successfully tried using this method is:
- Sweet Potato (roasted, cut in half, served with skin on)
- Butternut Squash (roasted, served in slices with the skin on for safe maneuvering)
- Avocado (sliced in half, skin on with pit removed)
- Apple (cored, sliced, served with skin on)
- Banana (cut in half, served with skin on and skin off more recently)
- Russet Potato (baked, halved, served with skin on)
- Carrot (peeled, steamed, served whole)
- Cucumber (peeled, served in a 3″ chunk)
More recently, his pincer grip has improved and he has been able to pick smaller objects up off of his tray and bring them to his mouth. He can pick up and eat peas, cheerios, rice (basmati and long grain brown for the record!) and a couple of days ago, he tried some cut up spaghetti with sauce and LOVED it! I am looking forward to introducing more foods and am especially interested in serving him some meat. I almost gave him some chicken breast last night but wasn’t quite brave enough. Stay tuned.
Also, in my search for healthy food options for my little ones, I picked up some organic “cheerios” in the organics section of our grocery store. While the ingredients list is incredible (and legible), I find this cereal to be too hard in texture. I have tried offering it to Mr. 7 months old a couple of times but it doesn’t seem to dissolve as easily as plain, old Cheerios. They kept getting stuck to the back of the roof of his mouth causing him to panic (and me to panic too thinking he was choking!) Miss 18 months old enjoys them but I have switched Mr. 7 months old back to regular, old Cheerios. If you know of a healthier cereal option than Cheerios that dissolves as easily, I would love to hear about it!
All in all, baby led weaning has been an incredible success for us and something I can’t stop talking about. I somewhat wish I could go back in time and do it all over again with Miss 18 months old using this method. However, she is healthy, a great eater and has an amazing palette so I really can’t complain. It’s a little funny to see me cut up a banana into bite size chunks for her to eat and then hand her 11 months younger baby brother a whole half to nibble on.
If you’re looking to introduce solid foods to your baby, baby led weaning is a great method to consider. The baby that I thought hated food and was an incredibly fussy eater now eats absolutely everything he is served and loves it. He just wanted to do it himself…and did not want to eat it pureed! Who can blame him really?
andbabymakes3imean4 is one mom’s adventures while tap dancing on the brink of insanity with 2 babies, 11 months apart. If you liked this post, please click “subscribe” or like my page on facebook to be the first to hear about future posts! Thanks for reading!