How to feed your baby is one of the biggest decisions that new parents face. For us, the decision was initially simple: Breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed. After the initial difficulties, I am proud to say I have not only been able to exclusively feed my son this way, but I also enjoy it tremendously. Judging from the huge smiles that Jac exudes every time he lies down to nurse, I think he enjoys it tremendously too.
The World Health Organization says that the optimal way to feed an infant is six months of exclusive breastfeeding. When we reached this goal, we were ready to introduce Jac to some solid food in addition to his full breastfeeding schedule. I have to admit that we decided to start Jac on homemade baby food based on his age and not on visible signs of readiness. Signs of readiness for solids include sitting up well without support, losing the tongue thrust reflex, reaching for food and showing eagerness to take part in meals, and developing a pincer grasp where the baby can use her thumb and forefinger to pick things up. Jac was definitely not exhibiting all of these signs, but we ploughed ahead anyway.
Jac was initially reluctant to eat the purees, but he got into it for a couple of weeks. Then he suddenly went on strike. He only wanted to breastfeed and wanted nothing to do with the spoon or his baby food.
I had been reading about Baby Led Weaning since pregnancy and it really interested me, but it also made me a bit nervous. When I realized Jac was done with baby food and was actually finally exhibiting all signs of readiness for solids at seven months, I decided to give Baby Led Weaning a try.
For a full description and instructions, check out: Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods-and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater Basically, the baby joins the rest of the family at mealtimes, is offered regular food shaped in a way that is easily handleable, and feeds himself what he wants. The idea is that babies learn about food naturally, learn to eat safely, and gain confidence as eaters.
Please don’t try this without first consulting the aforementioned book or a resource such as http://www.babyledweaning.com/. I’m only sharing our personal experiences with Baby Led Weaning and not providing a tutorial, although I’m happy to answer questions in the comments section below if you have any.
We officially started BLW a few days ago, and so far, it has been an amazing experience. We can’t get over how capable our little baby is! We just had to let go a little and give him the opportunity to learn on his own. (That’s probably a parenting lesson we’ll be learning over and over again over the next sixty or so years, right?)
Enjoy the photo essay below of Jac’s first attempts at eating regular food. Note that he does not have teeth, and he has not choked or even gagged. He’s displayed nothing but excitement, curiosity, and satisfaction in this process so far.
|1st food: Cucumber sticks|
|2nd food: Unsalted multigrain rice cake|
|Cucumber dipped in hummus. Jac LOVES hummus!|
|Very clearly telling me he would like to move to his high chair
and have some multigrain toast with strawberry rhubarb jam!
|Multigrain toast with hummus for dinner.|
|Figuring out how to use the tray to balance a slippery banana. Smart boy!|
|Don’t even think about trying to take my banana!|
Here are some additional baby led weaning tips.