What can I say, Goldie was practically born IN the kitchen. Well, really she was born in the dining area next to the kitchen. It was close to the sink and in a nice cozy spot, so we moved the kitchen table and set up the birthing pool, and that’s where she came out! It’s no wonder that for the past few months, she’s been eyeing up my food!
I’m a firm believer in only starting a baby on solids only when they reach certain developmental milestones: sitting, able to put things (food) in their mouth, etc. Kelly Mom has an excellent page on the signs of when to start a baby on solids. They talk about the ‘open gut theory’, which basically states that a baby’s intestines are fully ready for solid food only when they reach about 6 months old. Now, I’m not counting days, but Goldie is almost 6 months, in another week. She can sit, she can certainly grab, she can chew and she drools and goes bonkers if I’ve got some food in hand!
I started giving Goldie little sips of water from my cup about a month ago. She was grabbing for it, it was really really hot out, and to my surprise, she swallowed pretty well. The past month, this kid has had about 5 ‘accidental’ food tastings. The ‘accident’ was that I wasn’t watching carefully. I was holding her while eating something and the little kiddo shoved her fist in my food, then took the food laden fist to her mouth. There was the hummus at the Greek place… the ice cream… the rice and dhal… it just seemed like too many ‘accidents’ to be a coincident. After all… I never remember Margo having such accidental food tastings!
So, yesterday, I did the old, ‘sit-the-baby-in-the-high-chair’ and gave her some food. A little bit of slippery mango. I think she was tired though, and kept slumping in her chair and face planting and sucking on the tray. Right, I though… NOT READY FOR SOLIDS! But then, today at our markets, I was eating a scone covered in jam and cream (as they like to eat them in Australia) and Goldie shoved my hand, holding the scone, into her mouth! She had been verbally complaining about something and squirming while I was trying to talk to the woman working at the market stall, when all of a sudden, little babers took my hand and smooshed that yummy scone right in her mouth I didn’t even realize at first what was happening, probably because I was so used to Margo (who not too long ago was doing the same thing). I didn’t stop Goldie this time, I just let her taste it. Well, she must have good taste because she didn’t even screw up her face, like most babies do when they taste a new food. She went to town on it and I would have let her keep going, but it was so good that I wanted to finish it for myself (bwahaha).
And so, we have started Goldie’s journey of baby led weaning. Baby led weaning is a fancy way of saying ‘Hold the Mush Please’. The ‘weaning‘ part just means that eventually, one day, the child will eat food and not breast milk. (Who knows when that day will come for Margo?) The whole theory of baby led weaning is that by letting your baby eat real foods, just the way you would, it improves their palate, makes them less fussy eaters and actually helps them learn how to eat better and faster. We did it with Margo from the start. I have to say, now at nearly 3 years old, the kids will eat almost anything and always at least try it.
Baby Led Weaning is EASY!
I like baby led weaning because it’s EASY! I’m sure that babies would appreciate the effort of the mother who purees yummy organic food and puts it in ice cube trays and sits them down for three square meals a day… but I’m no such mother… I’m far too discoordinated for that. I know my mom did that for me (thanks mom). I also like to start a baby on solids at 6 months because by that time, they can feed themselves (if they are truly ready). Less work for me again… score!
Also, with baby led weaning, you don’t have to worry about keeping strict ‘feeding’ schedules. You can just offer baby some food when you’re eating. You don’t have to worry if one day they want to eat and the next day they don’t, because you have gone through minimal effort to make the food in the first place. If you are worried about reactions and allergies to certain foods, you can still introduce foods slowly, one at a time, like the conventional ‘starting solids’ resources say to do.
Baby Led Weaning is FUN!
Baby led weaning also means that the baby can participate in mealtime just like the rest of the family. No ‘special’ baby food that can later turn into a nightmare when feeding a toddler. (Come on, you know what I mean, everyone knows at least one kid who will only eat plain pasta for breakfast lunch and dinner). There are some great resources out there on how to do baby led weaning, here’s one that I like: www.babyledweaning.com. Of course, you want to use common sense when giving your baby any new foods. Bigger pieces are better because they can munch on them. Hard foods, like raw carrot, would probably not be the best at first. Watch your baby carefully at first, until you become more comfortable with their ability to gum their food and swallow.