My baby has been a big eater from the day she was born. She nursed every hour and a half for the first 2 months of her life. But around 4 months, the doctor noticed she hadn’t gained much weight since age two months (which I attribute to her sleeping through the night and not having nighttime feedings) and suggested we supplement with baby cereal. We did that, she loved it, and she put on a few pounds.
When we started her on other foods, though, we did a modified version of Baby-led Weaning. Have you heard of it? Simply stated, it is the idea that babies can eat regular “adult” food and don’t need to bother with first foods like rice cereal and pureed foods. Essentially, baby-led weaning eliminates the need for buying jars of baby food. You simply offer manageable sized sticks and pieces of food on the baby’s high chair and let her self-feed.
I had heard of this method when I was pregnant with my youngest, but it wasn’t until I read Janssen’s convincing post about her experience with it that I really considered trying baby-led weaning.
My husband and I both loved the idea of introducing our baby to various flavors and textures right away in hopes that this one wouldn’t be a picky eater. Whatever I made for meals, be it pancakes, spaghetti, chili, or teriyaki chicken, I gave the baby an appropriate sized portion – in pieces about the size of a baby carrot – and let her have at it. She was in food heaven!
I was a bit nervous that the baby would choke and gag a lot, but I can’t remember a single time that she ever did. In fact, I think that by allowing her to gnaw on pieces of apple, chicken, etc., she actually learned how to chew better and more quickly.
True baby-led weaning says not to spoon feed at all, which we didn’t totally follow. We spoon-fed her soups, yogurt, oatmeal, etc. (some of her favorite foods, actually). I also did buy squeeze pouches of fruits and veggies to keep her entertained at church and on car trips.
Some of our go to – and her favorite – early foods were grilled chicken strips (any meat, really. She’s definitely a carnivore.), sliced fruits (especially bananas, grapes, pears, and berries), avocado, broccoli, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, and basically anything with a strong flavor (hummus, pickles, etc.).
Since babies are so little when they start this self-feeding (my baby was about 6 months), they don’t often have many teeth and don’t always get the food right into their mouth every time. I never worried about her getting enough calories though because I still frequently nursed her. (On her first birthday, she was still nursing 6 times a day! She would have nursed forever if I would have let her.)
Also, it’s messy. But it’s an extremely cute mess.
Maybe she was never going to be a picky eater, I don’t know. But I never worry about whether or not she’ll eat what I’m fixing. This week alone she has happily eaten a dinner salad, chicken tacos, beef and banana pepper sandwiches, and honey garlic chicken for dinner. It is so nice to have a child who doesn’t complain about food.
(She’s not perfect, mind you. She still loves to throw her food and turns her nose up to muffins, cooked carrots, beans, and potatoes.)
I am wholeheartedly a baby-led weaning convert. It’s cheap, convenient, and has been baby-approved in our household.
Have you tried this method? I’d love to hear your experiences!