Baby-Led Weaning

>> Friday, May 21, 2010

When we introduced solid foods to our Sweet Baboo, we decided to use a method called Baby Led Weaning. This shouldn't be confused with child-led weaning, which is letting the child decide when to stop breastfeeding. Baby Led Weaning means feeding finger foods that they baby can feed themselves, right from the get-go. Essentially, you skip purees and go straight to table food.

There are a few reasons why we chose this method. Part of the reason was that buying jarred baby food didn't appeal to us. When I was still pregnant, I did a 600 hour work placement at the YMCA Early Years Centre as part of the requirements for my degree. One of the classes I helped out with was a Making Baby Food class, in which we learned the benefits of babies getting homemade food versus store-bought. Parents have control over the ingredients, and you can gradually change the texture from totally pureed to somewhat chunky to get your kids more used to "real" food texture before starting them on table foods.

So we knew we weren't going to buy our baby food, but honestly, you know me--Pureeing everything my husband and I were eating in order for Baboo to try it just wasn't my cup of tea. First, it was kind of a pain. It's hard enough to have time to cook dinner with such an active little guy, let alone having to puree a bunch of it afterwards. Then I thought I'd puree a bunch of foods for him ahead of time, freeze them, and then just thaw before we ate. But that was also not ideal. For instance, it was kind of a waste if we did that to a whole bag of carrots and then found out he didn't like carrots, you know what I mean?  I also wasn't crazy about feeding him food that I had frozen and then thawed. I tend to think that fresher is better. On top of that, we all like to eat dinner together. It was kind of hard to juggle being able to eat MY dinner along with having to spoon feed Baboo his dinner. And then he also just wasn't a huge fan of having someone else stick a spoon in his mouth. He would always try to grab it, and then end up with food all over his hands. It was just no good.

So we decided to switch to the BLW approach. Basically, you cut up bite sized pieces of whatever it is that the grown-ups are having for dinner, put them on your kid's high chair tray, and go. Other BLWers don't cut up bite-sized pieces but rather leave the food in big enough portions that they kid can just hold the whole thing in their hands and bite it off (ie, a banana or a chicken leg), but we were a little too paranoid about choking to go that route. BLW has really worked out great for us. Baboo LOVES the fact that he's eating what we're eating (when we were doing purees, he'd sometimes push them away and reach for our plates!), and it's less waste and let's face it--less work! I'm all about parenting on the path of least resistence.

So what does he eat? Just about everything. Our Sweet Baboo has tried and loved:
-Pasta (either with butter and cheese or tomato sauce)
-Pitas with hummus
-Avocado (spread on a pita or cut into chunks)
-Strips of rotisserie chicken
-Dried apricots (cut into slivers to eliminate choking risk)
-Cut up banana
-Homemade pizza
-Sliced apple
-Sliced pear
-Mandarin orange slices
-Mango chunks
-Blueberry muffin
-Strips of toast and jam
-Perogies with sour cream
-Chunks of Mozzarella, Marble and/or Cheddar Cheese (and a grated version of those cheeses as well)
-Steamed carrot sticks
-Steamed broccoli

And the list goes on. We've also given him some more traditional foods that we had to feed him with a spoon, but those weren't purees. Those things include cottage cheese, mashed potatoes, oatmeal, butternut squash soup, sweet potato and yogurt. We just aren't ready for the disaster that would follow giving him a bowl of oatmeal to feed himself. I guarantee you the bowl would be on the floor within seconds.

Our kid LOVES table food and he loves BLW. It works great for our family, and if you have a kid whose getting to the age where they're going to start solids soon, I'd recommend giving it a try!



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