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If you think you may be interested in doing Baby-Led Weaning
with your baby…BUY THE BOOK. I cannot possibly cover every detail of the book in one blog entry. I’ve had some people talk to me about it on facebook and I am not an expert. Nowhere close! I totally am all about helping people and would love to give you my input on it but I will always recommend buying the book before trying this type of feeding yourself. Just like with Babywise, my first response when people ask a question is “Have you read the book?” BLW is an easy, worthwhile read. You can buy a copy from Amazon, here’s a link
(in my opinion it’s a great value at only $10)!
I actually read the book with Kye and wrote a blog entry about it back then, you can read that here. Even though I read it then, I didn’t start it from Day 1 with him. So I re-read the entire thing before starting Brittlynn on solids. Since I’m so hardcore about writing my blog chronologically I wasn’t sure how to cover this…I decided to lump all of her solid eating from when we started until just this past week into one post. This covers from 6/15-7/16. She’s 6 1/2 months old up to 7 1/2 months old. Ready for a super duper long blog entry?!?! I promise no more entries JUST about solids again! At least not until baby #3 😉
The concept of Baby-Led Weaning (from now on, BLW) isn’t new. I know when I first mentioned doing it my friend Crissy, who has four kids, quickly said it’s what she does too! Most parents are like me. With the first child they do spoon-feeding but don’t enjoy it and find it to be stressful and annoying so they “slack” some with baby #2. They also don’t like the results from spoon-feeding as they have toddlers or older children who are pickier eaters than they were hoping they’d be so those parents try a different approach. Sounds like me huh?
The book goes into detail about spoon-feeding on page 38. It says it isn’t bad but it’s not necessary. One of the things I found interesting was when the book says that persistently persuading a child to eat more than she needs interferes with her ability to sense when she is full and could lead to a life-time problem with over-eating. Don’t we have an over-eating issue in our country? Um YES! Being in control of how much and how quickly Britt eats not only makes the meal more enjoyable for her but it also means she’s more easily able to recognize when she’s full. Spoon-feeding can encourage babies to eat more quickly than they would naturally, interfering with the sensation that tells them when they have had enough.
Unlike milk from breast or bottle that is sucked directly to the back of the baby’s mouth, solid food has to be actively moved there. This is something she’s unable to do until she can figure out how to bite and chew. That’s why so much of the food she eats falls right back out of her mouth again. It’s a natural way that she protects herself from choking! She still does this often, but now it’s obvious (by her poop diapers) that she’s FOR SURE legit eating the food!
For the first couple of months or so, solid food is all about learning as a baby’s motivation to put food in her mouth is curiosity and copying, not hunger. The motivation for handling food only changes when the connection is made with hunger which happens somewhere from 8 months to a year which is right about when she’ll start needing more of the nutrients anyway.
2nd time eating solids, this time I stripped her down and added a bib!
I remember from when Kye first ate from a spoon that I had to override the tongue thrust which is when he would unconsciously push anything but the breast or bottle out of his mouth. It makes spoon feeding more difficult but it’s a reflex that naturally begins to fade around four months of age.
When I tell people I’m using this method to feed Brittlynn the FIRST thing they say (including Zach) is “won’t she choke???” Gagging and choking are often confused but are different things. Gagging is a retching movement that pushes food away from the airway if it is too big to be swallowed. The baby will open her mouth and push her tongue forward; sometimes a piece of food will appear at the front of the mouth and she may even vomit a little. When this has happened with Brittlynn it doesn’t bother her one bit! It’s safest for HER to just let her be as trying to help her get it out could cause the item to block her airway causing her to choke.
It’s like Kye with survival swim. We have to let him learn and do his starfish and not jump in right away. This gag reflex is much further up on a baby than it is an adult and it’s probably meant for a safety reason – to prevent them from choking. It helps them learn to manage food safely and by letting her figure all of this out, Brittlynn is able to learn not to put too much food into her mouth at one time. Babies who haven’t been allowed to explore food from the beginning may miss the opportunity to use it to help them learn to keep food away from their airway. Many instances of babies gagging or “choking” are actually related to spoon-feeding, especially once lumpier foods are introduced on the spoon. Imagine “slurping” your breakfast cereal rather than chewing it, you’d gag/choke as the lumps would go straight to the back of your throat!!!
Just as drowning is a silent killer, so is choking. If Britt is coughing or spluttering then she is dealing with the issue on her own. A baby who is truly choking will be silent as the airway will be blocked and they can’t get air to make a sound. Therefore I NEVER take my eyes off of her while she’s eating! Normal babies have a very efficient coughing reflex and, provided they are sitting upright and leaning forward, it is usually best not to disturb them while they are clearing their airway.
2nd food: avocado!
Truly exploring techniques 😉
Babies of 6 months of age use their whole hands to pick things up so it’s best to cut foods in stick or “finger” shapes. It makes it so half the length is available for eating while the other half is the handle to hold it with. At around 8 months old she should be able to handle smaller pieces and will no longer need the finger shapes.
I bought a crinkle cutter as it’s supposed to help make slippery foods easier to hold (I use it on bananas and such). I will also sprinkle slippery foods with infant rice cereal or wheat germ. It helps make them easier to grab and hold and also adds some nutritional benefit (I KNOW she doesn’t “need” the added nutrients but why not?).
At around 9 months old she should be able to handle smaller pieces with her finger and thumb (her “pincher”) and then I’ll be able to give her smaller items to eat. She should by then also learn to “dip” and will be able to manage yogurt and such.
It’s important to give Britt enough variety to keep her busy, but not too much to overwhelm her. It’s important not to expect your baby to eat everything she’s been given or try to persuade her to eat more than she wants. I have to let HER be the guide. At first, I just put a few pieces on her tray. As I added new foods I continued to offer foods she’d already tried. Now I give her a pretty wide selection of things. I like the idea that she’s getting to combine flavors and textures in one meal! I do NOT rush her while she’s eating. It can easily take 40 min or so for her to “finish” a meal and that’s okay!
She’s practicing a new skill! And honestly, Kye takes about that long anyway so we just enjoy our time together. I do not put any pressure on her or make a big deal about anything. I just let her do her thing. When the tray is empty (b/c majority of the food is in her lap) I ask and sign “more please” and then scoop it all out and put it back on the tray. When she starts getting fussy and I’ve scooped it from her lap 2-3 times I say and sign “all done” (and have her do the signs as well) then clean her up!
I constantly remind myself that she does not NEED any solids until she’s 1 years old. I don’t stress over it. I don’t over-analyze. Our routine it that I nurse her at the normal times (7, 11, 3 and 7). She gets solids after the 7 am and 11 am feedings (while Kye also eats his breakfast and lunch). At 3 we do just the sippy cup (post to come) and then we wake her early from her nap now in the evenings so she can eat with the family at 6.
We bathe her then still nurse her at 7 before family story time, prayers and bed for the night. If she’s super tired, we don’t wake her to eat with the family. If we’re busy and have to skip solids at breakfast or lunch, no biggie. She doesn’t NEED them!!! When we eat out I don’t want to deal with the mess so I pack some Gerber baby snacks and we let her eat those while we eat our meal. If we have something with our meal that won’t be too messy, then I’ll also give her that to eat.
It works out BEAUTIFULLY and eating out is sooo much better now than it was with spoon-feeding. It is also so much better not to have that pressure to feed her every time. Church was always such a hassle because Zach would have to take Kye out to eat his solids during services. Now? She just doesn’t get solids for that meal!
She finished off all the Gerber snacks I brought so we let her try a slice of bread
I have ALWAYS valued the idea of eating meals together. I used to say that I’d make my husband say he’d be home for dinner every night in his wedding vows 😉 I may not eat with the kids for breakfast and lunch (I don’t eat as healthy as they do!) but I ALWAYS sit with them. We also eat dinner as a family pretty much every night.
It’s so, so important to me and I appreciate it that Zach also values the family dinner table! BLW encourages feeding your baby whatever you are eating, so we do that at dinner. I will stick a plate in the freezer while I’m finishing up cooking then give her some of whatever we eat but put it on that plate first to cool it down. I am also careful not to season with any salt when I cook now. Zach and I just add the salt when we go to eat it as salt is very dangerous for babies!!!
Third food: sweet potato fries!
Really, you don’t need many supplies to make this feeding method work. I HIGHLY recommend the Bumkins Bib
. I bought some cheap bibs from Target that you see in the pictures above because I wanted Britt to have some girly ones and they fell apart, quick. The Bumkins ones are big so they cover her well and they have a large pocket that catches lots of the food she drops/spits out. They are also machine washable! I toss ’em in and then hang them to dry! I still have alllll of Kye’s old ones (he no longer uses a bib) and I bought her three girly ones so she wears a good mix of bib styles 😉
I rinse it out after she eats then just hang it inside out in the laundry room sink to dry out. I usually have two going at once and trade them out so the other can dry fully before I use it again. I hate the idea of her having a wet bib on…yuck! I use the same high chair we had for Kye. It’s by Chicco. I’m sure any highchair will do fine. I like that our tray is removable and that everything washes super easy.
I don’t cook her food as she eats it, I’d rather make a whole bunch at once. As I run low on something, I just make a bunch of new stuff and store it in the fridge. I bake most of the food I give her. I just cut it in the finger length I mentioned earlier, stick it all on a pan (no oil or anything!), heat the oven to 350 then let it bake for 30 min or so. They all come out the perfect tenderness for her to chew/hold. I buy most of the stuff fresh, but do buy some frozen (like the broccoli and cauliflower). I don’t do everything organic, but I do try to follow the dirty dozen list when possible.
squash, red peppers, apples, asparagus, and pears.
Here are six things you should do when you use the BLW method to feed your baby:
1. ensure that your baby is supported in an upright position while she is experimenting with food.
2. start by offering foods that are easy to pick up.
3. offer a variety of foods.
4. carry on offering breast or formula feeds as you did before and offer water with her meals (post to come)
5. discuss the introduction of solids with your health advisers (Um, I didn’t do this. But I would if I had a family history that could be problematic)
6. explain how BLW works to anyone caring for your baby (this blog counts right?).
Here are six things you shouldn’t do when you use the BLW method:
1. don’t offer foods that aren’t good for her
2. don’t offer solid food when she is hungry for a milk feeding
3. don’t hurry your baby or distract her while she is handling food.
4. don’t put food into your baby’s mouth for her
5. don’t try to persuade your baby to eat more than she wants
6. never leave your baby alone with food
Trying some peaches!
You can see the MESS she makes 😉
I remember with giving Kye baby food that everything I read said to wait several days (I think Babywise even said like a week!) between offering new foods to make sure he wasn’t allergic. We don’t have a history of any food allergies in our family and by waiting as long as I did to introduce solids I was already helping reduce the risk of her developing a food allergy. I did wait a day or so after introducing the banana before I did the avocado but I didn’t wait long between each new food (as you can see by the dates!). I’m not saying that everyone should feed their child new foods as quickly as I did. I watched her closely for signs of allergic reactions and am still holding off on some of the top allergy related foods, like peanut butter.
Overall BLW is an EXCELLENT read and has many useful tips…I don’t follow all of it though. I don’t believe in allowing my child to graze throughout the day. She’s on a schedule and I keep her on that schedule. I also don’t believe in not disciplining at all during meal time. Right now if she throws food off of the tray it’s always an accident. She just moves her arms around and some falls sometimes (not even as often as I had expected it to!). When this happens I always correct the behavior and tell her food must stay on the tray. As it becomes intentional she will get “spankings” for it (pop on the hand with paint stick). I do not buckle her into the high chair. Kye had a “choking” incident as a baby (which we now know was actually just gagging and we should have left him alone!) and Zach tried to pull him out of the chair to help him but he was buckled in. Since then we don’t buckle.
Obviously if she starts to try to get out or it becomes an issue then we will use the buckles. I sit her in the chair and prepare her food while she waits. I have a high chair toy from when Kye was a baby that works great to entertain her. I think it’s important for her to learn patience so I like that she sits quietly and waits. I also always fold her hands and pray before she eats. If she gets very fussy, then the meal is over. Whether or not I think she may actually be done. I don’t tolerate acting out at the dinner table!
First dinner with the family! Pasta and butter beans!
This is the only time we’ve had a “choking” scare. I didn’t think about the skin on the butter beans! Oops! Now I always peel them before giving them to her. Mashed food is FINE. It’s not wrong to give her pureed food…she is able to still eat mushed up stuff, it’s just easier for her to pick up the finger shapes.
The whole goal of Baby Led Weaning isn’t about the type of food (baby food vs “real” food etc), it is that the baby feeds themselves. No spoon feeding, no mommy putting food into her mouth. She leads the way on her adventure with solids! We get to sit back and enjoy the show 😉
Blueberries! The skin on them makes me nervous so I mash them up, as well as grapes!
Celery and Cauliflower
She LOVES celery!
I think it feels good on her gums
Here’s a video of her enjoying the celery
Here’s another video of her eating celery too. It’s hilarious to me that in both of these videos Kye’s begging for random food haha
By the end of the meal…
Squash and Apples
Apples are now one of her favorites
Kiwi and strawberries
She has so much fun eating strawberries!
Trying out Daddy’s grilled cheese (whole wheat bread)
Watermelon. Which is, by far, her FAVORITE. Kye and Britt share their favorite!
First meat, chicken (eating my Cheddar Chicken Soup as a family dinner)
She ate this broccoli when we were out to dinner and EVERYONE stopped and commented about it! She loved it and it kept her happy throughout our meal 🙂
Pizza crust in St Augustine
Cream corn and a chicken and rice meal I made for dinner
She really enjoyed gnawing on the chicken!
She’ll often dip her fingers into the food and suck it off
Asparagus and red peppers
July 8th ~ here’s a video!
(you can see how I use the crinkle cutter now for the bananas too!)
Cottage cheese (highest % milk I can find)
When Britt finishes eating I sign and have her sign while I say “all done” (which she can sorta-say now! and she can also kinda sign at this point). Then I remove her bib and put it on the tray and put the tray in the sink. I use baby wipes (cheapest ones I can find!) I wipe her down. I then put her in independent playtime while I clean up (at breakfast), get her ready for nap and clean up when she’s asleep (at lunch) or she goes straight to the bath while I clean up (at dinner).
I just wipe down everything with some wipes and wash off the tray with some soap and water. It is QUICK at this point. Probably under 3 minutes total. Even wiping her down has gotten faster and she doesn’t seem to mind it one bit!
I’m giving her a wider variety and larger portions now too
mashed potatoes for the first time
Here’s a video of her eating watermelon and getting frustrated
It’s so fun to watch her get nice and messy at dinner time, especially knowing Daddy has bath duty 😉
I am in NO WAY saying that Baby Led Weaning is the only way to feed your child. I LOVED the book and agree with majority of the points it made. Like I mentioned in Kye’s eating post, I haven’t been thrilled with Kye’s eating. Why not try something different this time around? I’m very interested to see if Brittlynn is a different eater than Kye when she’s his age. Already she eats WAY more of a variety than he did!!! They don’t make half the stuff she eats in jarred food and that’s all I fed him at this age so I feel like it’s already a big step in a healthier direction 😉
Hopefully she will be a more well-rounded eater and enjoy healthy foods. When I go to Publix and my shopping cart is FILLED with all the healthy foods for her it inspires ME. I need to do a better job in feeding myself the same foods that I think are so important to feed my children! Maybe this whole Baby Led Weaning thing will rub off on all of us 😉
Again, I am nowhere near close to a “Baby Led Weaning” expert. I read the book, I like the method. It’s all about our personal parenting priorities right? I’d be more than happy to help anyone who may have questions about this method of solid feeding! So far we are loving it!!!