No More Mush! Baby-Led Weaning

babyledweaningIntroducing new foods to my daughter was probably one of my favorite things to do when she was little. I was counting down until she reached the magical 6-month mark so I could whip up batches of homemade baby food. I spent a few weekends leading up to her half-birthday steaming sweet potatoes, freezing avocado and mashing pears and got the camera ready for her first real bite of food. I was anticipating the classic, disgusted baby face. You know, the one where the food is immediately rejected and a look of disdain comes across their face.

Yeah, I got none of that.

Gracyn tasted that first bite of bland baby oatmeal and went to town. She never looked back; never spit it out or gagged.  It was all very anti-climactic, really.

We started slow, introducing one puree at a time, until she had gone through nearly every fruit and vegetable. I was thrilled that she was loving each new food we introduced and it seemed like we couldn’t feed her fast enough. She started grunting at us during dinner until we shared whatever was on our plate. She was willing to try anything, but as a first-time mom, I was hesitant to let her taste my beef enchilada or heavily-seasoned garlic chicken.

IMG_2250

Happiest baby on the block.

I was trying to follow the rules (one food at a time, wait three days in-between new foods, no added salt, etc.)! She lost interest in the purees very quickly and by the time she was 9 months old, she had six teeth and was eating the same foods we were eating at mealtimes, feeding herself along the way.

My second daughter is now 5 months old and again, I’m so excited to start offering her new foods to try. This time, however, I think we might skip the purees all together. Baby Led Weaning is a term I’d heard thrown around on different blogs I was reading 2 years ago but I didn’t really pay any attention to it. After I dug a little deeper, the concept made total sense to me. Let your baby feed themselves from the very beginning. Real food, too. Steamed carrots or a chunk of apple straight off the bat. Obviously she’ll still need some supervision while eating but the concept is geared towards the baby learning as they go. If she eats it, great! If not, maybe she’ll show more interest at the next meal.

I like that baby-led weaning focuses on the process of learning how to eat – chewing and swallowing. I love that we’ll be able to watch her figure things out right before her eyes. Some studies also claim that baby-led weaning promotes healthy food choices later in life. I also love that baby-led weaning seems to take the stress out of feeding your little one. The first time around, I remember worrying about making sure Gracyn ate three meals a day. I was concerned she wasn’t eating what I considered to be enough or eating the same as other kids her age.

This time, in true laid-back, second-time mom fashion, I’m fully aware that the baby is getting all of the calories she really needs during the day from breast milk and/or formula. Any foods added into her diet will be “for fun.” Another bonus will be having Leighton at the table eating with us. Dinner is really the only time we sit down together as a family. Yeah, she’s just a baby, but she deserves to be included and gnawing on a (boneless) chicken wing with the rest of us, right? Don’t worry, we’ll still be responsible about what she’s eating so we can watch for allergic reactions and make sure she doesn’t choke. She won’t be given said chicken wing and be left alone to go to town.

Who knows, maybe she’ll emerge from her baby-led weaning journey with a refined palate. Maybe it will shape her into someone who only puts healthy foods into her body when she’s older. All of which would just be icing on the cake.

Ooooh, I know! Maybe her first real food should be cake?!

Just kidding.

, ,

Comments are closed.