Wednesday, February 5, 2014

adventures in "baby-led weaning"

I've been asked numerous times over the past month about what we've been feeding Caleb, so I thought I'd share a little about our journey into solid foods with our little guy.

The introduction of solid food to your little one can be the source of much anxiety for some moms, me included.  Just take a walk down the baby food aisle at your local grocery and you're inundated with more choices of types of apple sauce than there are apples to choose from in the produce section.  It's hard to know where to begin, or what to begin with!  I was completely lost!

As we approached Caleb's 1/2 birthday, the suggested time to start solid foods, I did a lot of research on the various approaches.  I have known for a while that I wasn't a big fan of the spoon feeding idea {it's never made sense to me to start by spoon feeding your child, then months later try to teach them to feed themselves!?!} and though I'm a huge advocate for homemade foods, the time and effort many put into making pureed baby foods seemed a little excessive.  {Seriously, what did people do before the baby bullet?}

After reading Real Food for Mother and Baby, I learned that when the time came to introduce Caleb to solids, the approach that sounded the most like us was something called "baby-led weaning."  In a nutshell, the idea is to let the baby lead the way when it comes to eating real food, as opposed to force spoon feeding him.

We started letting Caleb try some foods after New Years.  For a few weeks prior, he had been showing a lot of interest in the foods on our plates and once we gave in and gave him his own "plate," he was thrilled.  Not once over the past month have we spoon fed or pureed a single thing.  Whatever we're eating, he eats.  We have opted to delay the introduction of grains until he's a year old after reading this and talking to our pediatrician about it. We also avoid giving him dairy products, but otherwise if it's real food, he eats it!

Sometimes he uses a bowl, but more often than not we put the food directly on his tray.  When using this approach, it's recommended to give the baby bigger chunks of food vs. bite size pieces so that they're able to grab onto the foods easier.  We've definitely noticed that while Caleb has a decent pincer grasp, it's still a very early skill at this age and he appreciates being able to get a good grasp the food.  We try to give him pieces of fruit and vegetables that are about the size of my pinky.  Bananas can be cut in half for the perfect little snack.

I know that this approach may not be for everyone {here's a great example}, but what's important is that the baby guides the way.  For us that means including Caleb in meal time by giving him a little taste of whatever we are eating.  At this stage, we are not concerned about the amount of food he consumes as he's still breastfed on demand, so we don't stress about including him at every meal and sometimes if he's too tired, he doesn't eat a meal at all.  We're only hoping to expose him to a variety of flavors and textures of the same foods we're eating, and so far he loves it!

ps. those bibs are these, and we love them!  They are super easy to clean and we often just toss them into the dishwasher after the meal!

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Thanks for the insight. We shall see how our little one fares with it.