Avery is now 10 months old and has pretty much mastered the art of self-feeding (and making a mess in the meantime!) and over the months, she's had some pretty tasty meals I'd like to share!
First off, I want to say that I am not promoting nor bashing Baby Led Weaning. The concept behind it is simple—taking baby's lead as they are ready to start having solids. They learn to feed themselves, start with relatively complex foods, eat what the rest of the family is having, and get to choose which foods and how much of those foods they eat. (Have you seen a toothless baby gnawing on a piece of steak?)
As opposed to traditional puree feeding, in which the parent spoon feeds easy-to-swallow textures. Hello, Gerber.
Which is better? I don't think one is necessarily better than the other. It all depends on the individual baby. But if I had to make a recommendation for a first time mom, I'd say to do a combination of the two.
What worked best for us in the beginning: I would spoon feed baby food, yogurt, applesauce, etc., and then offer a self-feed food, like a rice rusk. That way, baby gets a good amount of nutrition but will also have the opportunity to develop motor skills and play.
So should you try BLW?
1. Baby Led Weaning does not have to be all or nothing!
We started out doing traditional, spoon fed purees. Even as a nurse, I wasn't comfortable with BLW and I don't think Avery was developmentally ready either. She did great with swallowing purees and we eventually moved on to more difficult foods. Once her coordination improved, I started incorporating more BLW-friendly type foods into her daily food intake.
BLW can be intimidating, especially for uneducated parents. In my honest opinion, BLW is a little bit of a fad… but if BLW is what's best for your child, go for it!
So as time has gone on, we've incorporated more and more BLW friendly foods in our meals. When possible, Avery eats the same thing we do.
Read more on BLW risks and benefits HERE.
2. Baby Led Weaning does not have to be complicated!
I see all these BEAUTIFUL plates of food on social media and I think their aesthetic is part of what makes BLW so popular. But guess what--your baby does not care what their plate looks like (for the most part).
Sometimes, breakfast is a frozen waffle—yep, still frozen! For the most part, lunch consists of leftovers from the night before. Dinner is part of what we are already eating. And sometimes… I throw puffs on the floor for her to pick up and eat.
It's way easier than planning yet another meal for her.
Some Things I've Learned
Meals can be well-rounded, but offer the veggies and main course first, THEN fruits. BLW supports the baby's choice in what they eat, but you also don't want to create nutritional deficiencies or poor eating habits. Which leads me to my next discovery:
It's all about balance. Some days I prepare homemade recipes and fresh produce, other times I make some instant potatoes or boxed mac'n'cheese.
I let Avery try EVERYTHING. My goal is for her to try a variety of foods. I'll let her taste coffee, ice cream, iced tea, cake… but I'll also let her taste things that I don't even like—cottage cheese, fish, cabbage, oranges. I want her to experience the most foods as she can.
You have to try foods more than once. Sometimes, a food may not be a huge hit, and the next—she may love it. And vice versa.
Introducing small amounts of water, diluted juice, and oatmilk can be beneficial for constipation issues!
Meats (Not a huge hit in our house):
Pulled pork BBQ
Sweet potato fries
Squash / Squash casserole
Red beans and rice
Mac n cheese
Transitioning from exclusively breastfeeding to introducing solid foods has been so much fun. I love to watch her try new things and jump and squeal when she likes something! I'm so happy that she is willing to try new foods—and will even take a second bite just to make sure she doesn't like something!
What is your baby eating?