Introducing Solid Food: The ‘Baby Led Weaning’ Way

Baby Led Weaning

My husband has a thing about us raising each of our children exactly the same way. However, as I have explained many times to him, this is not always ideal. So when I noticed that my second child, “Little Dude,” was not loving spoon-fed purees (unlike his big brother who didn’t mind them at all), I decided to go another direction and skip that feeding stage entirely, and adopt what is called: “Baby Led Weaning.”

Baby Led Weaning, is all about letting your child feed themselves from the very start of the “solid food” transition. According to BabyLedWeaning.com,  the word ‘wean’ is meant in the British sense, not the American sense. So rest assured, the word ‘weaning’ in this particular situation means ‘adding complementary foods’, NOT ‘giving up breastfeeding.’ You still nurse or serve bottles of formula before, during, or after solid food. In my opinion, it’s actually way easier to feed baby this way — especially if your hands are full with more than one kid. Let the very capable baby feed himself — supervised, of course. As long as food is soft and diced for little gums and few teeth, and are not on the “forbidden foods for baby” list, you can serve variations of what the whole family is eating. Just be sure to invest in some waterproof silicone bibs — believe me, you’ll need them!

So…what has LD been eating over the past 5 months? Below is a list of a few healthy, easy, go-to foods that are perfect for self-feeding. Keep in mind, the items with the items listed with an asterisk (“*”) following them, are not typically “first foods” — meaning, you should probably check with your doctor to see what age to introduce them. Most of them were incorporated into our routine by 8 months.

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  • veggies and fruits (diced, peeled, or steamed if not already small and soft)
  • diced cheese*
  • small pieces of bread (toasted and un-toasted)
  • diced pasta*
  • homemade lean turkey meatballs*
  • pancakes (plain)
  • waffles
  • Cheerios
  • cooked fish (salmon, halibut, tilapia)*
  • canned tuna*
  • diced tofu (un-cooked or cooked, firm)
  • beans*
  • lentils
  • eggs (scrambled and hard-boiled)*
  • teething wafers
  • zucchini carrot oatmeal muffins
  • diced deli meat*
  • shredded chicken*
  • frozen fruit “Popsicles” (frozen chunks of fruit in a mesh feeder – great for self-feeding snack AND for teething!)

Of course, as with anything, there were a couple of set-backs for us when it came to BLW: We struggle when it comes to spoon-feeding anything to LD. The kid wants to grab the spoon and usually makes a mess, and then tosses it behind him (loaded with food, of course). Plus, since he doesn’t seem to like puree-like textures much, we struggle spoon-feeding him important foods like oatmeal or yogurt. However, I find that if I put his oatmeal or yogurt in a reusable food pouch, he will “drink it” (and chew on the spout, of course) completely on his own.

reusable food pouch

Nature’s Little Squeeze reusable food pouches are washable, and open from the bottom!

The other set-back, and perhaps it’s the toughest, would be LD losing interest in milk. This is breast milk AND formula. Eventually, I was able to incorporate milk into his eating routine (either by serving it a little at a time during the meal OR adding it to his actual food items), but milk his intake dropped from about 24 ounces to 12 ounces the first few months he started eating solid foods. Fortunately, he seems to be interested in taking 24 ounces again — fingers crossed he keeps this up. Breast milk and formula are vital to baby’s health until 12 months, so speak to your doctor if you have these same concerns.

When I had my first child, I followed every rule out there — including the “text book” way to spoon-feed purees to your infant. Even though Bubba ate well when he was LD’s age, he’s not as open-minded at the age of 3.5. So, even though I didn’t set out to do BLW with my second baby, we fell into it, and it’s working great for us! BLW claims to set babies up for well-rounded eating habits, and a lot of my Mom Friends will attest to that. So far, LD loves to eat, and will try anything. I am hoping these healthy and adventurous eating habits carry on through out his life, but only time will tell.

LD pretty much helps himself to everything…including Mommy’s water.

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