Hi friends! How’s the day going?
So this has been a common request over here on the family page since we combined baby-led weaning with purees for both of our kiddos, and it worked out well. As always, talk with you pediatrician to help determine the best feeding strategy for your family. Most pediatricians will suggest introducing solid foods around 6 months, when baby can sit up upright on their own. Some start a little earlier, and some wait longer. Do what’s best for you, and what your doctor suggests, k?
So for Liv, I had read a lot about the benefits of baby-led weaning. If you’re newer to the concept just like I was at the time, baby-led weaning (or BLW) involves giving the baby soft foods that they can hold onto and chew (like a piece of steamed sweet potato, banana or avocado). They bite off the appropriate amount. the term “weaning” doesn’t mean that you’re weaning them off of breastmilk or formula; instead, you’re adding solid foods into the mix.
I bought a baby led weaning how-to book, and basically it said, “Give you baby soft food they can hold, and let them bite it.” Aka it was a waste of $12.
Why I Like Baby-Led Weaning:
-The baby gets to decide how much to eat, and what they want to eat, when offered a plate of various soft foods. This is different than spoon-feeding, because they have more control over their eating experience. While they might not *eat* a lot of the food at first, they’re able to explore tastes and textures. They might just hold the food, or lick it, but they’re being exposed to different tastes while improving their fine motor skills (picking up the food) and oral motor skills (actually chewing, swallowing).
-It’s EASY. While I love making purees, it’s super easy just to give a baby a bland, soft variation of what you may be eating for dinner.
Why I Don’t Like Baby-Led Weaning:
-Gagging. While the gag reflex is a protective measure and helps the baby to learn his or her own limits, it still scares the sh*t out of me, especially with P’s reflux-induced choking incidents. Even though Liv didn’t have reflux, she definitely gagged when we tried certain solids with her. I feel like with purees, there isn’t nearly as much gagging; either they swallow it, or spit it out.
-It’s pretty messy. While babies are good at making a mess, this can take it to the next level, especially with more liquid-y foods like applesauce or yogurt. Baby-led weaning suggests giving the baby the spoon and help teaching them how to eat, but yes, this means applesauce in their hair and all over the floor. We’ve been using way more Honest mopping pads than usual.
How We Combined Baby-Led Weaning with More Traditional Purees:
(please keep in mind I am NOT telling you how to feed your baby. That is up to you with the advice of your pediatrician. Every family and baby is different. It’s up to us to make the best choices for our unique families, babies, and needs.)
Initially we offer super soft foods, but in sizes that wouldn’t alarm me as a choking hazard. With baby-led weaning, they suggest giving a baby a piece of banana and letting them bite off pieces. P take enormous bites, so that didn’t work initially. She’d end up gagging and spitting it up. So I roughly diced the banana, and it was a little slippery, but she made it work. These pieces were extremely small; nothing that a swig of water wouldn’t be able to wash down.
(I separated these into the stages we offered each food)
Stage 1: Around 7-8 months
Scrambled egg yolks (later, the whole egg, scrambled)
Avocado (I would give her the larger pieces of avocado because she took more reasonable bites)
Steamed zucchini, peeled and diced (again, super small pieces)
Stage 2: Much later, after chewing and swallowing skins were established
Blueberries, cut into quarters (later, cut into halves)
Peeled beans, cut in half (later, leaving the peel on and cutting them in half, until finally she was ready for regular beans)
Grapes, peeled and diced (later, cut into quarters)
Salmon, plain, baked and diced
Steamed butternut squash, peeled and diced
Steamed carrots, peeled and diced
Apples, peeled, steamed and diced
Steamed peas, whole
Steamed broccoli florets, diced
Bread pieces with butter
We have always initially offered each kiddo options on their high chair according to what stage they were in, and then offered purees towards the end of the meal. We use the organic ones from target, homemade, or oatmeal pureed with steamed apples or a fruit pouch.
Feeding our girls continues to be one of my very favorite things. The snuggles of breastfeeding or a morning bottle, the grunts of satisfaction while gulping a handful of berries, or in Liv’s case now, sharing a huge bowl of pho. A comforting aspect of introducing solids is that it’s not meant to be their sole form of nutrition; breastmilk or formula does all of that for you! So the solid foods are more for fun and as a teaching opportunity. If they eat, great, but if not, you know they’ll be getting breast or bottle later for their real nutrition.
So, tell me friends: did you do the baby-led weaning thing or stick to purees? What is your kid’s absolute favorite food? I feel like it changes all the time, but right now Liv is really into bagels with cream cheese, and P goes crazy for avocado.
More baby food posts here: