I have been wanting to share my discovery of baby led solids and this seems like the right place. It was again one of those things that I happened upon. I had never heard of baby led solids before and had panned to make my own baby food eventually. Well while searching the web for breastfeeding tips (I was having latch problems) I read something that had a mention of baby led weaning/solids and it sparked some interest. The greatest combination for me when Zoe was an infant was a smart phone and breastfeeding. I used that time to do all sorts of reading. Anyway, I had gotten a gift card to Powell’s Books for my wedding and decided to find more info in it. I got the book Baby Led Weaning by Gill Rapely and it changed the way I thought of food for Zoe.
Starting a six months Zoe “fed” herself. I say “fed” because it was more like playing and exploring food. Based on what I had read letting the child feed themselves right from the start helps develop healthy eating habits and confidence. Baby led weaning never introduces purees or spoon-feeding and considers it a hinderance to mouth, motor development, and can develop a bad relationship with food. There were all sorts of testimonials in the book about how mothers have tried this approach and their children eat anything. No picky eaters no grilled cheese and french fries. What the heck I’ll give it a whirl.
Your suppose to start the baby with sticks of food they can hold. Like a cooked carrot stick, a piece of cooked pepper or even a wedge of watermelon on the rine. Something big enough for them to hold because their hands can’t really pick up small food yet and the do not yet know how to bite off chunks and chew. Once I carefully read the chapter on choking (my biggest concern) I understood where their gag reflex was(middle of the mouth) and how it is pretty unlikely that the baby would choke (gagging is not choking). So I just tried it. I gave my little on a whole strawberry and let her explore. Oh the fun she had! I can only imagine the pleasure of tasting fresh fruit for the first time, exploring it’s texture and tasting the juice. Not only did she figure out how to gnaw on it a bit it offered some relief to teething.
Once she had practiced with food (and it didn’t take long) she could participate in family meal. That’s the glory of all of this as long as your eating healthy whole foods low in sugar and salt, your baby can just eat whatever your eating. At 9 months Zoe now needs all her food cut into little pieces because she knows how to use her hands properly and likes to put all of anything in her mouth. so I make them manageable sizes for her to chew well.
She eats everything, I mean everything…she has tried and loved: humus, any fruit, any vegetable, rice pasta, falafel, curried vegetables, beef roast (organic/grass-fed free range meat its has better nutrients and free of hormones which are bad for proper growth), oatmeal, chicken casserole..really anything I am eating. Her favorite remains strawberries and she will only eat vegetables with seasoning of some sort, garlic being her favorite.
I did have to spoon feed yogurt and pureed prunes for digestive help ( I now mix it in her fruit in cereal for her to eat by hand) but I allow her to come to the spoon and often she grabs the spoon and puts it in her own mouth. This has been one of the best things I have stumbled upon because not only does she eat what I make, but she eats when I eat meaning I get to eat too!!
Be warned its messier, but worth it.