As discussed in my previous post Starting Solids: Purées we took a hybrid approach when it came to starting solids. At 4.5 months we started purées, and at six months we started baby led weaning (BLW). Baby led weaning is basically when you feed your baby whatever food you eat, but modified slightly.
In order to prepare for baby led weaning I read the book Baby-led Weaning: Helping Your Baby To Love Good Food by Tracey Murkett and Gill Ripley. The book is helpful in describing why BLW works and tips for implementing. My only complaint, is that they really look down on purées, and make it seem like the only way a purée can be served is by shoving bland-one-flavor mush down baby’s throat. That is not the case, and we have had great success with a hybrid approach of Purées and real solid food! In addition to the book I also took a “starting solids” class at the local hospital — which was especially helpful because the instructor had a lot of anecdotal experiences, pictures and videos to share of local moms who have had success with BLW.
The biggest surprise to me in implementing baby led weaning is that you really can feed your baby whatever you are eating. At almost eight months, Aiden has eaten chicken, steak, beef, vegetables, fruits, bread and grains. I assumed that you could only start with specific foods, especially before teeth come in, but you don’t!
The other thing that was a bit misleading, is that in the early months of BLW, your baby might not actually swallow or digest anything. Aiden mostly just sucks the juice out of whatever he is eating or gums it for a bit before it falls out of his mouth, but that is OK, we subscribe to the motto of “food before one is just for fun.” Aiden still gets just about all of his nutrition from breast milk, and we only offer him real food AFTER a feeding. I also like the purées at this age because he can actually eat them.
We typically provide Aiden with real, solid food around lunch time and dinner time. We will give him some combination of a piece of chicken, fruit and/or vegetable. It’s usually part of whatever we are eating for dinner. Young babies do better with long strips of food (since their pincer grasp hasn’t developed yet) and using a crinkle cutter can also help. If we are eating out, we will make sure we get some sides he can eat which allows him to eat, socialize and also distracts him and keeps him happy! We don’t worry very much about him choking because at this young age, if he get a piece of food that is too big, he has a reflex that will force them to spit it out (but we are familiar with baby CPR just in case).
We don’t really make specific things just for him; however, we are careful not to give him too much salt, dairy or sugar. We do have the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook so that we have some idea of recipes that would be appropriate for Aiden. I also have lots of pinned recipe options — Pinterest is a great place to get BLW ideas.
The other thing we incorporated is water in a sippy cup. Aiden loves coconut water so we usually give him coconut water mixed with plain water in a cup. We haven’t quite found a sippy cup we like yet, so I will keep you posted.
Did you do baby led weaning? Do you have any BLW recipes? Do you have a favorite sippy cup? Please share in the comments below!