I wrote a few months ago about how anxious I was to start solid foods with Charlotte. After the experience of attempting to feed my firstborn, I looked at feeding as something that takes an extreme amount of effort, is usually not successful, and is always frustrating. Oh yeah, and more times than not ends up in me cleaning up baby vomit in addition to baby food. Bleh. I do, however, have some pretty cute pictures of baby Grayson in his food-eating days.
|Grayson at 11 months|
I knew, just like with breast vs. bottle feeding her, I wanted Charlotte to take the lead and show me what was best for her. Logically, I know that she is totally different than her brother and her body is able to handle normal human skills like eating without puking every meal. Since I tend to spend, er, quite a lot of time on the internet reading parenting blogs and stalking FB groups, I’d heard about Baby-Led Weaning. Even when I knew very little what it was about, the theory behind it made a lot of sense to me and I decided it was something I wanted learn more about and try with Charlotte.
Baby-Led Weaning skips purees and spoon feeding altogether and babies start with table food right at 6 months (The AAP now says babies can have any food under 1 year except for honey), or whenever they are physically ready to start solids. The theories behind this are babies learn to appropriately control how much they take in according to their appetite, learn to enjoy a wide variety of foods and are less likely to become picky eaters, and are able to practice and develop their fine-motor skills.
(I could go on and on about all that I have learned, but 97% of you probably don’t care about the details. If you do, I highly recommend the Baby-Led Weaning Book and/or checking out the BLW FB page. Great, practical advice and information in both. Or you can talk to me about it later.)
So. We have been doing BLW exclusively for about 2 weeks now (I was doing some spoon feeding at first, but Charlotte quickly lost interest when she discovered she could do it herself) and it’s been fantastic.
I am determined to make mealtime stress-free, enjoyable and adventurous for my little gal. I am completely embracing the sentiment that Food Before One is Just for Fun and looking at Charlotte’s food as a tool for her to explore, learn about texture, and decide for herself what she likes and dislikes. She makes a HUGE mess every time she gets in her high chair (admittedly a downside of BLW) but you know, whatever. We strip her down to her diaper while she eats, clean up, and move on.
At this point, it doesn’t seem like much of Charlotte’s meals are making it into her tummy (although her dirty diapers tend to tell a different story). But we aren’t relying on solids to give her nutrition or calories at this point- that’s what breastmilk and formula are for. Again, it’s all about experimentation and fun at this point. Although most bites she takes end up coming out of her mouth, she’s learning the appropriate size to bite off and how to manipulate that bite inside her mouth. Win!
I’m all about Charlotte eating healthy, nutritious food and learning to enjoy GOOD food, but I’m also not going to stress if she wants a French fry or ice cream once in awhile (she’s had both already). I’ll admit, I am horrible about preparing meals for Ryan and me, but I’ve embraced cooking for Charlotte. BLW recommends that the baby eat with the rest of the family and eat what they eat- this hasn’t been something I’ve been able to figure out just yet due to Ryan’s work schedule and the kids’ bedtime, but I’m working on solving that dilemma somehow.
Every day, it amazes me how much better Charlotte handles food than the day before. I can see her fine motor skills developing before my eyes. Right now I’m mostly feeding her food in “stick” shapes so she can palm it easily gum the part that sticks up above her hand (she has zero teeth and no pincer grasp yet). She does eat yogurt and applesauce from a spoon; I load it on the spoon and put it on her tray for her to pick up and feed herself. Incredibly messy- yes. Incredibly cute- also yes.
Obviously, I am really excited and fired up about BLW, because it’s something that’s really working for Charlotte, and is another step in helping me heal from the emotional wreck that was feeding Grayson. I realize it’s not for everyone, and that’s ok. I know I don’t have to say this, but again, feeding your child is highly personal and each child comes with unique challenges and preferences. Do what works for you and your family and move on!