Okay, so this isn’t really a Going Green post, but since it fits in with the idea of eating fresh, eating organic, I’ll add it to the series.
Have you heard of Baby-Led Weaning? It’s a new, well actually, old idea on introducing solid foods to infants. Way before we had baby spoons and Cuisinarts, babies learned to eat ‘adult food’ by handling, sniffing, tasting, gumming and squishing whatever they were introduced to.
That means big chunks of food for babies to ‘palm’ (since most don’t yet have a pincher grasp by 6 months) and play with. Big chunks might include a strip of toast, a slice of peach or a large chunk of chicken. Any food cut long enough that they can both grasp it in their fist and gnaw on it.
Some of Liv’s favorites? Sliced peaches, pears and apples (sometimes raw, sometimes a little cooked or stewed), strips of roasted carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, squash (roast all of the above with a little salt, pepper & olive oil – let cool), diced plums, blueberries, apricots (small pieces to practice grasping), hunks of chicken, pork, beef, ribs (really!) and sliced bread (loves it toasted), cornbread, avocado and eggs.
At this point she’s still 100% breastfed, so the quantity she takes in is up to her.
BLW means skipping pureed and mashed foods for ‘table foods’, or basically whatever the family is eating for dinner. We decided to experiment with the concept (no extra work pureeing everything? the opportunity for Liv to pick and choose her foods – and hopefully grow to love our dinners – herself? sounds great) and introduced Liv to roasted carrots and Italian broccoli (you know, the long kind that looks a bit like an asparagus) at about 6 months. She’s checking out sliced plouts (plum + apricot = yum) and cornbread above.
I still cut up food that is of choking size (such as these little blueberries which she devours) so she can feed herself.
No, she’s not really pointing :). Liv’s been practicing her hand eye coordination to get that pincher grasp (thumb and forefinger) down – all while playing with her food.
The one downfall? It’s so messy!!
As you can imagine, if baby gets to control where the food goes, it goes everywhere. Thankfully our yellow lab, Bodie, is quick to catch most of the chunks that go tumbling off of her tray!
You have to get used to the idea that about 2/3 of the food that you first introduce will be wasted and in piles on the floor. Slowly that number drops and slowly babies begin to consume more of the food itself.
I think Liv might even love the clean up part just as much as the eating part.
We love it. BLW means I get to put a few choices of food in front of her and she gets to feed herself. I can eat lunch, make dinner or otherwise work with her right next to me. If you’re interested in learning more, Google ‘Baby-Led Weaning’, there are a ton of great blogs and resources out there – including this book.
It’s a great option but we’re not strictly BLW and we also don’t discount purees for when they’re best, such as when we’re traveling (once Liv knows we’re eating she insists on being involved, so there’s no just waiting for a later time in the day to feed her). While out at restaurants we feed her right off of our plate but offer bite sized pieces of beef tenderloin or potatoes so that she doesn’t need to grasp everything (because let’s face it, sometimes a crazy mess of food in every direction just won’t fly).
What we do love is that she gets to participate in our meals! And she totally digs it.
Update: Another helpful post that has been written more recently for reference.