Baby led weaning wasn’t my first choice when it came to feeding our son.
I did my research on the topic of baby led weaning vs purees, and the idea of my tiny first-born haphazardly shovelling actual food down his own throat (when he’d previously never attempted anything more strenuous than liquid) was immediately a deal breaker. What a terrifying thought. Nope. Purees all the way.
So when six months rolled around, my kitchen became puree central. I bought ice cube trays and built up an abundant supply of frozen puree cubes in labelled snap lock bags. Apple. Pear. Peach. White bean. Sweet potato. I pureed porridge for his breakfast in the mornings and lovingly defrosted pureed fruits and vegetables after his bottles. He took to purees fairly well. He even nailed swallowing within a few short days. He didn’t love everything I put in his mouth, but it was all a learning experience. For us both.
And then the little guy learnt to seal his mouth shut.
It was Fort Knox. No mere plastic spoon would pass between those little pink lips. Meal times became epic battles. With every spoonful of puree, I managed to wedge into his protesting mouth, I wondered if I was causing irreparable damage to his relationship with food.
So, I tentatively began my research again. I googled like a boss and asked BLW-advocate friends about their experiences. We took the plunge.
It turned out baby led weaning was the Golden Ticket to solids bliss for my son. And we haven’t looked back. However, we have learnt a few things along the way. Here’s what you won’t read in the books about BLW…
1. Giving your baby whole food can be terrifying
We got off to a rocky start with baby led weaning. The various BLW websites recommended first foods that were soft and easy to grip. One of the popular choices seemed to be slices of avocado with the peel still on. “Your baby will gnaw the avocado out of the peel” they said. “It will be fine” they said.
However, with his very first bite, my baby managed to tear off a bit of avocado peel using his tiny pearly teeth and swallow it. There was coughing, there was spluttering, and I spent the rest of the day convinced that it was just sitting there in his throat, waiting to cover his windpipe and choke him.
Yes, there were many heart-stopping moments in the beginning. Giving your baby whole foods can be terrifying!
2. You become best friends with mess
Those cute cloth bibs I was gifted with abundantly at my baby shower? I looked at them wistfully as I strapped on his industrial plastic scoop bibs before meals. An even more savvy Mum might consider a feeding poncho or heck, a raincoat. Maybe even a drop cloth on the floor under the high chair.
Our son’s relationship with our dogs really blossomed at this life stage, and it had everything to do with the generous handfuls of food that were constantly splattered all over the floor. Mess is life with baby lead weaning.
3.That independence, though
Baby led weaning was my son’s first taste of independence. Boy, he relished it. Pretty soon he was batting us away as we tried to give him sips of water or a spoonful of mashed potato. He wanted to do it all himself, even if it meant things went ten times slower and were ten times messier (see above point).
4.Food becomes enjoyable
Now that we weren’t force-feeding my son purees, he became smitten with food. He loved trying new things and quickly developed favourites – sucking up long spaghetti noodles, chewing on soft bread, stuffing his cheeks with mashed potato, holding warm handfuls of scrambled eggs. Feeding himself was a glorious new realm of play for him. Seeing my son experience the joy of food was a beautiful thing. (Even if it was messy, slow, challenging and scary!)
Ultimately, switching from purees to baby led weaning was the right decision for our family. Baby lead weaning made the solids transition work for us, and fun for him – and it made for some pretty great photos too…
Have you tried baby lead weaning? What was your experience?