We are finally here! After lots of reading, talking, and excitement we can finally start to experiment with solids! This isn’t necessarily something we wanted to rush, and we love breast-feeding, but this little guy was definitely ready, and we were ready to try baby-led weaning.
Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) is all about allowing your baby to feed themselves right from the moment you introduce solids.
Before starting I would recommend reading Baby-Led Weaning The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods. This book has an abundance of information, teaching you everything you need to know. It tells you the signs that your baby is ready, Goes in depth on the foods you should and should not feed baby (pretty common sense, no processed foods, nothing high in sugar or salt), and talks about how and why to start. It even shares examples and stories from other families.
After reading the book and doing my own research I fell in love with the premise of BLW. It is all about your little nugget finding his way with food all by himself and weaning from the breast (or bottle) when he is ready. Since birth he has decided when and how much to eat, so why stop now? Maybe I am expecting too much from a baby’s intuition, but I like the idea that he will pick when he is ready to move on to the next step, opposed to me making the decision for him. He gets to play, experiment, and eat whenever he is ready. Not to mention it is a little easier on mom and dad, because there is no need to buy pureed foods or puree them yourself. The idea is to share your food with your baby. This way of eating is also said to help your little one have a good relationship with food, help push them to be open to try new foods, and teach them to begin to know how much food is enough. You want to allow them to interact with the foods with no help from anyone else. This also means that they may not actually eat for quite sometime. This is fine with us because I don’t mind continuing to breastfeeding for awhile. Now, if it gets to a year and we still aren’t weaning, we will be doing mommy-weaning instead.
Keep in mind that with any type of feeding you should always be prepared (remember your 5 P’s! Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Yes, I just took us back to elementary school haha). We researched how to handle a choking incident if it were to occur here.
While BLW is all about sharing the food on your plate with your baby, I was still concerned about the possibilities of an allergy. We decided that we would do 4 things a week (maybe more throughout if we came across something we really wanted him to try). This way we would know where an allergy came from if he happened to get one. As the weeks stack up we will change his plate daily and after awhile once we know there are no allergies, we will share our plate with him at every meal. This also gives us time to see how he interacts with different foods. I choose not to do only finger foods. I also used mashed or soft food that I knew had a smaller choking hazard and then added a carrot to see how he handled it. (just in case he decided to just shove it down his throat. Thankfully this didn’t happen). He actually handled it very well, so I plan to add more finger food in the following weeks.
He really did well with everything on his plate and week one ended up being a breeze. Here is everything about our first week, good and bad.
THE MENU: mashed potatoes, a very steamed carrot (hard enough to stay together and be held but soft enough to break apart), avocado, and banana
We prepped all of this early in the week so that we could continue to use it as needed. We found that you don’t need much of any of the food at the beginning, especially since it will probably end up on the floor. We put just a little bit of everything on the plate so that he could try it and get a feel for handling the different foods.
THE INTIAL REACTION: He was a little weary at first, but once his got his hands dirty it was go time. I don’t think he realized that any of it was edible. Which makes sense, he is used to putting things in his mouth, but the only thing that has filled his tummy so far has been breast milk. I think right now he thinks food is the same as anything else he would try to put in his mouth, and at times he was definitely convinced the plate was the main course.
HANDLING EACH FOOD:
Banana – Surprisingly easy to handle and pick up. He grabbed a piece of banana and brought it to his mouth as the second item he tried. He chomped a little and then dropped it. Near the end of the week we decided to use a half of a banana and peel the skin off around only half. This made a handle that was easier to grip and he ate it like a popsicle.
Avocado – The avocado got stuck to the plate and wasn’t easy to work with. I think if the avocado was less ripe and cut into little sticks it would be easier to handle. He didn’t pay much attention to it because it was too difficult to get ahold of.
Mashed potatoes – These seemed like they were fun to squeeze in-between his fingers. Mashed potatoes were everywhere! I think he enjoyed the flavor because he kept licking the plate and his fingers which were covered in them.
Carrot – By far the easiest to grab and manage. He grabbed the carrot first thing (probably because it was easy to hold) and put it in his mouth. He ended up biting a piece off but then gave a confused look and spit it back out. He really enjoyed chomping on these throughout the week, but never ate much.
THE MESS: Oh the mess. This is not for the faint of heart. We had food everywhere, all over the kitchen and all over him. If it wasn’t so much fun to watch him, I think I would have been freaking out the entire time. We even lifted him out of his bumbo and found banana on his butt! So be prepared for a little cleaning. We started to plan eating times around changes. So right after dinner is bath and jammies. After every meal I give my husband the option of “kitchen or baby” to clean. He always picks kitchen hahaha. I think the baby might have been easier at times though. If you draw baby like me remember to always check your babies mouth to see if there is any leftover food that could cause a choking hazard later.
INTRODUCING MORE FOOD: This week happened to be labor day weekend so I figure if he was doing good with his 4 items so far I may introduce more. We packed a little lunch box with all of his food so he could eat with us. Although we ended up sticking with mostly carrots so the clean up was a little easier. Since he was doing so well with his food he also ended up trying some yogurt from daddy and grandpa even gave him a little bit of whipped cream!
DON’T FORGET THE POOP: The entire week I was convinced he was just playing with his food and not eating any of it. Which I was fine with because this can be the process for some babies. Then the first diaper came in… He was definitely eating. They look and smell, very… different, to put it nicely. The interesting thing is how some food can affect your babies poop. I opened up one diaper to find a TON of little black strings. I was horrified. It was the middle of the night or I would have called my doctor, so instead I began to google. Normally this means going down the rabbit hole and I feel worse at the end, but this time almost every single article came to the same conclusion, bananas. Apparently bananas can cause this in some babies. And since he had eaten bananas that day it seemed to fit. I nixed bananas for the next couple of days and boom they were gone. Hysterical. So we are back on nanners, cause this little guy loves them. If this happens and you are concerned though, I would still contact your doctor.
THE WEEKS OVERVIEW: We had a very successful first week with solids. It was so much fun to start this new venture with Jax. He really took to the food and enjoyed tasting and trying all of them. I think out of the four foods the carrots and bananas were most successful. The mashed potatoes were good but messy. For the next week we are going to add more finger foods. Knowing now that he can handle them makes it easier to put different kinds on his plate. It is definitely messy but worth the clean up. Seeing him handle this food makes me a proud momma!
After reading the Baby-Led Weaning book my husband and I decided that this was the best option for our family and lifestyle. This may not be the best solution for every child. When choosing a feeding style like this you need to be hyper vigilant and make sure to research and stay very informed on the subject. This post is just the recap of our experiences.