Editor’s Note – This is the first of what I hope will be a few guest blogs! My own Baby Led Weaning journey has been one of my favorite parts of Coco’s first year. I am so thrilled Andria took the time to write a few words about BLW for me to post here. I’m sending her a Gro-Via AIO to say thanks. If you have a topic for a guest blog you’d like to write, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roan was about 6 ½ months old. He had been sitting up on his own for over 2 months and his pincer grasp was coming along nicely. It was time for …(drum roll) SOLIDS! I peeled a sweet potato, cut it into french fry sized strips, tossed them in olive oil and roasted them until tender but not mushy. When they cooled completely, I set up him in his new chair bought specifically for this purpose and put a few on his tray. He grabbed a piece and immediately put it in his mouth. Confusion registered on his face when the sweet potato hit his mouth followed by shock when he almost swallowed some and finally delight. The end result was a happy sweet potato covered baby. I don’t know how much he ate during that first feeding, but he quickly got the hang of feeding himself. From the very beginning, baby-led weaning has been a joyful experience for both of us.
I always intended to make my own purees for Roan. I didn’t like the idea of rice cereal followed by bland jarred baby food, and in the course of my internet searching for recipes and alternatives I came across baby-led weaning by chance. I wasn’t convinced at first, but the more I read, the more right it felt. Letting my child choose how much to eat rather than shoveling food in his mouth corresponded nicely with my AP views on parenting. In his first few weeks of eating solids he also tried bananas (cut into chunks and rolled in ground up oats so they were easier for him to pick up), avocado, tomato, green and red peppers, potato, pears, and dates.* This was quickly followed by eggs, cheese, oatmeal, and multi grain toast. He amazed my mother-in-law by eating a proper Christmas dinner at 7 months. In the spring, he developed a fondness for fresh blackberries and ate as many as we could pick. At 14 months, Roan is an adventurous eater and will eat a wide variety of foods. He doesn’t like it all and because of that, our dog is putting on weight, but he certainly eats with gusto that which he does like.
BLW is easy. I know that if we are going somewhere where I can find something for me to eat, I will be able to find something for Roan to eat as well. My family has a tradition of going out to eat every Friday night and I do not have to worry about packing him a meal. It is a wonderful opportunity to introduce him to new foods. I love being able to sit down and enjoy a meal with him rather than spooning food in his mouth and trying to shove food in my mouth between his bites. Since he is feeding himself, I can relax and enjoy myself.
Foods marketing for infants, toddlers, and children is based on the assumption that babies will only eat bland or sweet food and children will only eat overly sweet or salty foods. In order to get them to eat their vegetables you have to dress them up with blue ketchup or other such harmful substances. I firmly believe that children should not actually eat kid’s food. Throughout history, infants’ weaning foods have been similar to those of their parents and this is still the case in many non-Western parts of the world. In India, for example, some of the first foods babies eat are curries and chutneys. Even if not overly spicy, these foods have complex flavors. Much more so than strained pears. An infant’s palette is sensitive but receptive to new flavors. I have always been careful to feed my son real foods, but beyond that I let him explore new tastes and textures for himself. Eating should be enjoyable. Food should be fun!
Baby led weaning intuitively feels right and it is truly baby led. Roan chooses his own foods, how much to eat, and when to stop. He eats a balanced diet and is growing beautifully. The only drawback is that the purees I made got freezer burn and had to be thrown out.
*You should wait at least a week between trying new foods but we have no history of food allergies in our families and Roan had been muscle tested and only showed a reaction to shellfish.