I was told about Baby Led Weaning by an old friend before I had even started trying to get pregnant. We had been two childish people judging mothers who let their children be fussy (silly, silly me), and she had mentioned that her sister had seemingly avoided that problem by using the Baby Led Weaning method. I knew that I wanted to be pregnant soon and so made a mental note of this. During my pregnancy I bought the book and started reading up on it and watching the videos on YouTube and loved it. When I did get pregnant, I talked to Ian about it and he agreed that it seemed like a good idea and that it was something we could try.
Baby Led Weaning is not intended to be weaning in the American sense, as is weaning the babies off of milk, it is intended as an accompaniment to breast or formula milk. It is, as the name suggests, allowing the baby to lead by feeding themselves; they explore the food and in turn learn to pick it up, put it in their mouths, nibble/chew it and then swallow it. The benefits of Baby Led Weaning are that babies can eat what you are eating, at the same time, and in our limited experience, this seems to encourage her to eat whilst we do. It is also fun for her to look at and handle the different types of food, and probably even more fun for us to watch her doing so. It is messy, but with a bit of preparation, i.e. a pelican bib, bin bags under the highchair and a stash of wet wipes, it’s very manageable. As I have already said it is also meant to make them a lot less fussy later on, which would be a massive bonus as I would dread to think of raising a child like myself!
I probably should have started writing this at the very beginning of our Baby Led Weaning journey, but sadly I am a little bit lazy and also started it rather half-heartedly after being rather childish about the fact that she didn’t sit up straight and use a knife and fork to dig into her food straight away. I think I also worried a little that she may take to it so well that she no linger wanted me to feed her. But I’m starting now so two and a bit eeks to write about!
I have the Baby Led Weaning book and I had read it prior to beginning, but presumed that I could just bung some food in the baby steamer, or give her some of ours straight off the bat and it would be ok. I used the Beaba Babycook Solo Steamer to steam some broccoli and gave her a few pieces of Ian’s parsnips that I had roasted.
She spent the majority of the first time squishing the broccoli in-between her fingers and dropping it on the floor (I had prepared myself by putting bin bangs all over the floor), but towards the end she did put a parsnip piece in her mouth and she seemed to like it. She puts everything in her mouth at the moment, bar a bottle or a dummy, so I think she presumed that the parsnip was fair game, but the taste seemed to make her want more. When I did eventually take it off of her she got quite upset and dropped her bottom lip. The broccoli, however, was not a winner, on either of the first two tries, and she pulled some hilarious faces every time she ate it. But I love broccoli and therefore she will unfortunately have to learn to love it as it will be as present in her life as me and daddy!
We tried porridge and toast fingers for breakfast a couple of times and it appeared that she had more fun squishing the porridge than eating it; although when she did attempt to eat it, the great majority of it made its way into her lap. The toast on the other hand was a winner and seemed to serve a dual purpose; not only did it taste good, but it also seemed to act as a teether. The first few meals were more of a learning curve for her, and we had to be patient and wait till she was ready to try it. Ian did feed her a strawberry the second time, with the logic that if she liked the taste she would be more willing to reach for it herself, but I reminded him that the principles behind Baby Led Weaning are that the baby does all the reaching and feeding, and the parent does not get involved. We have to pick the food up from the highchair and move it from the edge of the tray back to her reach, but apart from that we are just there to watch and enjoy.
I was so excited at the prospect of feeding her all of these different foods that I went into overdrive in Waitrose and bought every fruit and vegetable I could think of, but I try to limit what she has in front of her to one or two items, just to make sure that she’s ok with them. I also did the cheats way and bought parsnip fingers in a silver tray ready to roast and this was so much less of a ball ache than peeling and chopping them myself, especially as I don’t eat them.
We tried carrots and parsnips together, and both of them seemed to go down a treat. Parsnips seem to be a particular favourite of hers as they are easy to hold and long and flexible, and therefore very easy to swing around. She did eventually get the hang of putting these in her mouth, and seemed to realise that eating them was as much fun as using them as weapons.
On week two we bought a lazy packet of veg fingers from Marks & Spencer that had butternut squash in it and she was straight into it. This was the first time that we noticed she was taking the food away from her mouth with big bits taken out of it. This happened again when we went to Cote in Marlow and gave her a carrot to play with so that we could eat our food before it went cold.
But no food so far has been as successful as mango. She absolutely loves the stuff. Again we buy it in fingers as I think it would get wasted otherwise, but they are the perfect size for her to hold and she sucks away at it until it is half the size it started off as. I coupled this with some slices of watermelon which seemed to cause a lot of internal turmoil in her; she clearly liked it as she kept eating it, but with every toothless mouthful came a wincing face that cracked us up.
Alongside Baby Led Weaning I have also been making some purees up to satisfy my Nan’s bordering on psychotic wish to feed her with a spoon. I have experimented with apples, mangos, peaches and pears, and she will eat them happily, but it is a lot more work. I am lazy enough to know that when we are out it is still easier to feed her myself as opposed to messing around with heating and trying to feed her the purees, and that in most cases Baby Led Weaning is still not an option outside of the house as she can’t sit up properly in the highchairs in most restaurants. But the more we do it at home, the more comfortable I will be doing it whilst we are out!
From now on I will be feeding her daily so I will do a weekly update of all of the new foods I manage to give her.
For more information have a look at: http://www.babyledweaning.com/ . There are also lotof fun and interesting blogs and videos that helped me a lot in making sure that we ready and doing the right thing.
WARNING: After her first few meals we noticed a difference in her nappies. The end result of her banana eating was probably the most interesting!! After the first week she went four days without a poo and I went into panic mode, but I think this was her digestive system adjusting to the changes.