Why Baby Led Weaning was best for us.
The “latest and greatest” for starting your baby on solids is Baby Led Weaning. Basically, you introduce a series of solids to your child and skip the whole pureed step all together.
If you are anything like me you ended up doing this “new trend” before you realized it was a “thing.” I am not up on all the lingo of the so called “trends” that keep popping up. Mostly because I take my mom advice from the women I have watched raise children of their own. My great-grandma, grandmas, and mom have taught me a lot about how to be a parent. Because my information mostly comes from these sources I have learned to do a lot of things the “old way” or “how we used to do things.” My great-grandma passed away just about a month before my second child was born but she taught me a lot about raising babies before she went.
One of the things I learned from these amazing women was how to feed a baby. I learned about feeding them table foods when they were ready, and letting them learn how what size bit was too big. That certain foods worked great for a baby that wanted to be big but had no teeth (mine barely had 4 teeth by their first birth days).
I started hearing the term “baby led weaning” as my oldest started nearing 6 months and all the moms around me with similar age kids were discussing it. My first reaction, honestly, was “great another new fangled trend where the kid is more in charge than the parent!” After reading so many people ask who was doing it I decided I better look up exactly what it was so I would have an answer for why we WEREN’T doing it.
Once I had finally read what it actually was, I nearly laughed out loud. At its core baby led weaning was exactly how I planned to feed my kid.
At it’s most basic definition it’s feeding your kid real food instead of purees or only formula or breastmilk. There are different ideas about when to introduce certain foods but we never followed those guidelines. I mostly overcook a little bit of whatever it is the rest of us are having cut it up in appropriate sized bites and call it dinner.
Mine don’t get together until they are a bit older so I usually have to cut things smaller for longer simply because they don’t have the teeth to chew it. I peel apples and cut meat chunks very small for longer than other parents simply because I don’t want to have to worry as much about such choking hazards.
My Best Tips for Succeeding at Baby Led Weaning:
1. Don’t let anyone else tell you how to feed your kid
If you like the idea of baby led weaning and want to stick to all the “rules” go for it! If you’re more like me and just want your kid to learn to eat what you serve then do that. As long as your kid is a healthy weight, growing, and meeting milestones then keep doing whatever works best for your family.
2. Once they start learning to eat they WILL gag
I know it sucks but it doesn’t matter if you choose to do baby led weaning, give them only breastmilk for a year, or do a mix of methods, they will gag as they learn to chew and take bites. Learn the hook and scoop technique (I have no idea if that is the technical term) and get good at it because you will be finished too big bites out of their mouths for a while. Get over your fear that they are dying if they are gagging and learn the signs of what real choking/distress look like. It’s actually best to let them work it out on their own if they aren’t in any distress. (Ps I’m the strong one when it comes to this over Hubby. He hates the “learning to eat” phase.)
3. Food is an experience for little ones
The same way everything else in their life must be explored, touched, and looked at, so must food. Give them time to learn about the food they are putting in their mouths. I always tried to give my little one’s plenty of time to eat new foods. Often times they would just mash it around their plate the first time they were served something new, eating only small bites here and there. That’s ok. They had to figure it out. One thing I learned a little late is that some babies hate having something shoved in their mouths. It wasn’t until Baby Girl came along that I learned this lesson the hard way. It took me a lot longer to get her to eat anything than it did her brothers. She just wasn’t interested in having a spoon shoved in her mouth. How we got her to eat is a whole other post but the gist of it was to just let her play with a pile of food until she ate it.
It’s OK to Do Baby Led Weaning Your Way
Life is hard as a first time mom and learning to try and feed your kid once they old enough for solids pushes you into a whole new set of territory right as you feel you finally have the whole bottle/breastfeeding thing down.
Ultimately, we have never regretted our decision to do modified baby led weaning and teaching our kids to eat real food early on in their lives. The Boys are both great eaters and Baby Girl is learning to be.