Monday, May 6, 2013

First Solids & Baby Led Weaning

AJ got his first taste of solid foods just one week shy of turning 6 months. I decided I wanted to try out a baby-led weaning (BLW) (or baby-led solids BLS) approach to starting solid foods. It basically means we skipped purees and went straight to just regular food.

I bought this book off Amazon and read it before we started.

I actually wish I would have read the reviews for the cookbook version and bought that one instead. Many reviewers say it summarizes the book nicely at the beginning. 

The premise behind BLW:

  • Your baby sits with the family during mealtimes and feeds himself. No spoon feeding necessary! 
  • Your baby is offered food in pieces that are a size and shape he can handle. Usually strips or sticks that are long enough that your baby can hold onto it and still have food stick out the top of their hand. No need to mess with making baby food! 
  • No worries about how much your baby eats. He decides for himself! At first your baby will just be discovering food and they won't actually eat very much at all, if any at first.
  • Your baby continues to have as many milk feedings as he wants and will decide when he's ready for less. 
AJ was showing the signs of readiness to start solids. These include: being at least 6 months of age, sitting up with little to no assistance, accurately grabbing objects and bringing them to mouth, gnawing on toys and making chewing movements. 

I decided his first food would be sticks of roasted sweet potatoes. I had read that sweet food was actually a good first food for breastfed babies since breast milk is so sweet anyways. I've also heard that meat is also good for the iron content. 

We were making sweet potato fries to go with dinner. I just drizzled them in some olive oil and roasted in the oven until soft. I kept some separate for him, since I sprinkled ours with paprika, and I wasn't sure how he would like it. 

He wasn't really sure of it at first. But quickly picked one up and brought it to his mouth. 

It seemed he mostly chewed on his thumb rather than the potato. He did bite off a little chunk and quickly spit it out. 

It was very anti-climatic. I don't think I gave him anymore solids for almost another week since there was really nothing I was making that I thought he could eat. If I'm being honest, it all made me very nervous at first to be giving him such big chunks of food. Even now that he's almost 7 months, I like Jack to be home when he eats so I'm not alone if he starts choking. There have been a few heart pounding moments where he takes a big bite. But he always just spits it out. The book says they will not choke, but it still makes me nervous. 

The next foods we tried was roasted pork loin and squash. He loved the pork! But hated the squash. As soon as his mouth touched it, he shivered in disgust. I had made a herb roasted pork loin that had a lot of flavor, and I think that's why he liked it so much more than the squash. He really enjoyed sucking the juice out of it. 

Some points about BLW:
  • According to the book, a baby's gag reflex is at the front of their mouth until around 8-9 months of age where it moves to the back like an adults'. So it's very normal for a baby to gag a lot on their food and it doesn't necessarily mean they're choking. The gagging is what makes me nervous. 
  • I love that we get to eat at the table as a family. Jack and I used to always eat in the living room in front of the TV and now we eat at the dining room table. I love it! 
  • He has yet to really ingest much food at this point. He mostly plays with it and spits it all out. 
  • BLW has made the transition to solids relatively stress-free (minus mommy's nervousness about choking). We just offer him some food on his tray and if he eats it, awesome. If not, that's ok too. I'm not too worried about it. I know eventually he'll get the hang of it. 
  • It's messy. See photo above. Food ends up all over him, his highchair and the floor. Sometimes it's just easier to strip him down to a diaper to feed him and he usually goes straight into the bath after dinner. The clean up isn't too bad though. I just wet a cloth, take off the tray and then wipe him down. Then I take him out of the high chair and just wipe down the chair and wipe off all the food chunks onto the floor. Then just collect all the food chunks on the floor and pick it up with the rag. I have a little bucket by the sink that I throw the wet rags into and then just wash them all. This is saving us lots of paper towels by cleaning up this way. 
  • Minimal effort. He eats what we eat. Just no salt and no sugar. No need to make baby food! 
  • We've encountered some raised eye brow looks from people. It's definitely not the norm among my friends and family. My mom and grandma are constantly worried he's going to choke. His pediatrician said it was ok for us to introduce solids in this manner, so we're sticking with it.  
If you're considering BLW with your baby, I highly recommend you read the book or do some research online and decide if it's right for your family and your baby. I don't think this approach is right for all babies and all parents. 

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