Baby led weaning was something I'd read a little bit about back when Ez first started eating solids, but he didn't have any teeth till he was a year old and I just couldn't comprehend how he would chew food. Turns out baby gums are like little metal compactors so I didn't need to be so concerned, but we still stuck with purees for him.
Fast forward almost three years and we've got one of the pickiest eaters on the planet. Since a lot of people claim baby led weaning leads to more adventurous eating habits I decided to give it a shot this time around. You can read more about baby led weaning here, but basically it means you skip purees and cereal and go straight to solids that babies can pick up and eat themselves.
Here's how the experience has gone for us:
Declan enjoys putting everything in his mouth and chewing on it, but once it reaches an appetizing slimy mush consistency he spits out about 80% of it. And that's after he's already swiped about 80% of his food onto the floor. So I'm not keeping strict count, but I'd say he's only eating about one bite at a time. At nine months he has slowly started swallowing more of his food, but it's been a long, slow, messy process to get to this point.
Originally I tried really hard to give him a good mix of all kinds of foods. But Declan's the second child, so you know what that means. His meals have evolved into scraps of whatever big bro won't eat off his plate. Lots of sandwich crusts, discarded apple cores, small bites of waffles, cut up fruit, and a handful of cereal scattered directly onto the table. My poor little hobo child. Obviously I don't stop and take pictures of the table scraps he eats (often directly from the floor), but on a good day Declan might get a complete meal like this one (probably not though):
|eggplant, melon, brussels sprouts, tofu|
Declan has given us quite a few choking scares. I've tried cutting his food up in thin strips so he could grasp it better or tiny chunks to make it easier to swallow and it made no difference. It got to the point where meals were giving me a heart attack because I was constantly watching him to make sure he didn't need to be heimliched. I've heard that babies have extra sensitive gag reflexes and it's usually nothing to worry about, but I'm a mom and worrying is my job, so we switched solely to purees for awhile.
In terms of actually swallowing his food he seemed to prefer the purees. Now we do a combination of both and that is working well for us.
His favorite foods include:
- Green smoothies
- Plum fruit & veggie pouches
- Rice cakes
- Sweet potatoes & squash
- He'll try most veggies but he spits a lot of them out
In the end we didn't really stick with one weaning style. Some moms have told me their babies started stealing food off their plates from a really young age and loved solids from the get go, others said their babies had no interest in solids till they were almost a year old, so just like with everything else all babies seem to have their specific tastes and go at a different pace. For us it was actually very freeing to have an "anything goes" mentality this time around, compared with Ez where we felt we had to do only cereal for a certain amount of time, and then just one pureed food for a week at a time, introducing everything slowly. I'm obviously no expert so my only advice for other moms would be to not get caught up in the "rules" of whatever weaning method you choose. Pick and choose what works for your child and go with your gut.
And just for fun, here's Declan spitting his food out at us: