Baby led weaning means letting your child feed themselves from the start of weaning. You serve your baby finger length foods and let them gum, suck, nibble and chew. With baby led weaning there is no puree, spoon-feeding or weekly batch cooking with ice cube trays. Basically baby eats what you eat.
My eldest was traditionally weaned, and Frankie combination weaned, he was traditionally weaned at the beginning and I then switched to baby led weaning at about eight or nine months. I witnessed huge differences between my two older kids eating habits. Kayla ate alot of jars, mush and plain foods while Frankie was milling full home made dinners before he was one. He eats every single plate of food we hand him. Kayla on the other hand just wants potatoes, pasta or chips. I struggle to get her to try new foods and everything is covered in gravy or has a dollop of ketchup on the side. So with all this in mind I decided to give baby led weaning a bash from the start with Kadie.
I bent the rules a bit and started two weeks earlier than the recommended WHO guidelines of 6 months. In my opinion she was ready, she was sitting up in her high chair licking and sucking her lips and fists during our mealtimes, getting frustrated with us, staring at our plates and reaching out to try grab some food off us. If there not signs of readiness I don’t know what is.
Kadie’s first taste was a slice of melon. She licked and sucked and smiled in delight. She loved it. To date she’s tried pretty much everything, even eggs and that’s a huge thing for me as we have a family history of allergies and food intolerances. Aswell as the allergies I was really nervous at the thought of baby led weaning such a small baby, the thoughts of her choking almost made me quit before we had even started. For that reason I did a paediatric first aid course with The Nursery. Since then I’m more at peace with myself and now know what to do god forbid she does choke on food. I’d recommend anyone with a baby to do a paediatric first aid course, even if just for the likes of fever management and bumps. I’m more confident now dealing with them and it’s invaluable information for the bigger things such as CPR, burns and respiratory issues.
At present her favourite foods without a doubt are melon, kiwi, butternut squash soup and banana and egg pancakes. She would eat them all day long if you let her. I use a mesh feeder for banana and really squishy foods because she loves them but struggles to hold onto them. Technically this is cheating and some BLW mama’s have recommended rolling the banana in oats but it still ends up in slush and frustrates her.
Baby led weaning is messy, very messy! I’ve yet to feed her outside of the house yet. Tink, our lab is loving it though. If she see’s me prepping a meal she loiters around the high chairs in delight. As soon as the food is served up she plonks herself right under Kadie’s chair, it’s actually quite funny. We also have a Tidy Tot Tray and Bib Kit for messy meals, basically it’s a tray that you pop over the high chair. It comes with a cover all bib that attaches to the tray preventing food from falling on her lap, the chair and floor. It’s an absolute life saver. Tink hates when we use it. It’s so easy to clean and the bib is one size, it fits Frankie too.
At present the The Baby-led Weaning Cookbook is my little bible, I’ve whipped up some fab meals that suit the whole family from it, even Daddy approves. Pre-loaded spoon meals are gas. I’ll admit I do try and avoid them on busier days. She feeds her eyes, ears and nose but that’s all part of the fun and exploration. She getting better each day. My mam has a heart attack every time she see’s me coming with all the spoons.
All Kadie’s food is cut into bitesize or chip/wedged shaped pieces with exception to noodles, peas, blueberries and the likes. I keep those whole to promote her pincher grip. She’s yet to pick up a pea but I can imagine it will be long before she flicking them across the room at her sibs.
She’s had lots of different types of foods to date, including curry, chicken, steak, tortilla pizza, pinwheels, and spagetti. Some days she will just play, lick and suck other days she will demolish and demand more. It’s still early days too so I’m not worried about how much she is actually eating. She’s six months and just gone into 12-18 months clothes, that will do me fine.
We are five weeks in now and she’s doing great. She loves playing and exploring, while actually eating her food. I think she’s the best fed in the house, followed closely by Frankie. For the first time ever I have enjoyed the first weeks of weaning. Before I know she’ll be eating chicken off the bone.
If your interested in doing a Paediatric First Aid course The Nursery will be holding another course on April 23rd. Courses are €50 and there is both morning and afternoon slots available. Check out The Nursery on Facebook for more information.
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