I promised an update on T and her love of eating…
I’ll preface by saying that I’m in love with this form of introducing food! Baby-Led Weaning is a form of ‘self-feeding’, or allowing babies – from their very first introduction of food – to control their solid food consumption and their overall food experience. Weaning is a bit deceiving as BLW is not weaning in the formal sense (aka giving up breast milk in exchange for food), instead, it’s more of a theory of putting your baby in the driver’s seat when it comes to food (making it easier on mom and developing an awesome palate for baby).
This one decision (which I initially learned about on another blog prior to Liv’s introduction to foods, though I can’t recall which as it was so long ago…) has probably been the best child-rearing decision I’ve ever made. I hesitantly and carefully introduced Liv to BLW when she was six months old, by the time Taylor was the same age I excitedly and happily launched into BLW with full force.
You can read all about our experience the first time around (part 1! with more details on what foods we introduced and when) here.
That first introduction of food, so priceless!
Taylor has had not a drop of baby food (think rice cereal, cream of wheat, jars of peas) nor a blended meal (with the exception of little cups of applesauce) and instead munches on roasted veggies, chicken, fish, tortillas, cheese, fruits… whatever we’re eating for our meal.
Now that I have a three-year-old who was raised on BLW, I can look back and see the wonderful benefits that it has allowed us. Liv, for the most part, eats everything. We skipped over bland purees and invited her to dine on curry chicken or soups filled with fresh herbs and her palate has like-wise followed suit. The other night Kevin ordered oysters and Liv didn’t bat an eye at trying one (while I was turning blue in the corner). I’m coveting these moments because I know that eventually she will become more picky… as most preschoolers do… as she realizes what other kids like and dislike and as she begins to realize that she has a choice.
If you’re interested in this style of introducing food to babies, I highly recommend the formal Baby-Led Weaning book as there are too many details to go into here (I just wouldn’t do the system justice, plus it’s helpful to read up on your baby’s gag reflex and the way they develop swallowing techniques so that you can feel like a safer, smarter parent).
Such hesitation, and then such joy with that first ‘food discovery’ :)
Oh man though, it’s the best!
Self-feeding means that you provide a range of foods and babies explore, feel, taste, mush and gnaw. This goes on for a month or two, and then, as if a light is switched, they start to swallow and ingest. Babies control what goes into their mouth, how it goes in, when it goes in. They begin to love all flavors and they are excited to sit down to a meal.
There are no spoons, no messy purees, no making separate meals for separate members of the family, no packing cold boxes of pureed food for traveling or to the park, just babies enjoying the food that we eat everyday. (We still adhere to all doctor recommendations as to when it’s okay to introduce nuts, honey, milk, etc).
A few iPhone shots of Taylor’s journey. The best part is how excited she is to eat! Babies who are introduced to all foods don’t know that some of them are not supposed to be loved by children (think dishes that are well spiced, straight from the sea or ethnic foods). Everything is a special treat, whether it’s cut up dates, avocados, pad thai, roasted peppers, tri tip or a piece of toast.
My thinking is is that if babies are not introduced to unusual flavors such as rosemary, cumin, cilantro, cracked pepper… when will they learn to try and love them? We haven’t introduced any of the above herbs on their own of course, but they are all a part of regular meals.
One thing that we are especially careful with is the size of foods that are handed over to Taylor. Right now she gnaws on large, fist-sized chunks of food (sliced veggies, hunks of meat – she holds the bulk of the food and sucks/teeths from the other side) or foods that are cut up to be roughly the size of a raisin to avoid choking and to teach chewing/swallowing. Teeth are not a requirement however :). Amazing what babies can do with strong gums!
This new one leg up trick is so funny – who eats like that? This girl. All of the time. T is now 10 months old and we’ve been using BLW for just over 4 months, happy to report that we are still as in love with the concept as we were when we gave it a go with Liv.
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