Before (and when) I was pregnant, I remember thinking, "I can't wait to puree my baby's food!" I was so excited at the thought of blending up sweet potatoes, squash, avocado, apples, etc, putting them in little ice cube trays and popping out a couple to feed my baby. Something about it seemed so wholesome and it appealed to the part of me that wanted to raise my baby on good, healthy, homemade foods.
And then I came across this blog post by one of my favorite bloggers - BLW FTW, OMGah
Reading this blogger's experience made me want to explore the idea of Baby Led Weaning for Hadley, and I'm SO glad we did, because here we are:
|Eating her first banana|
|Eating sweet potato wedges & banana|
|Eating quinoa and sauteed peppers and yellow squash|
So, we've jumped in headfirst to this whole "baby led weaning" adventure and so far, it's going well. I'm not going to go through all the principles off because I don't have much time for this post to begin with (it's TOUGH working full time at home with a baby, y'all), but it basically follows the thought that anything you eat can be ate by your baby, with the exceptions of nuts, honey, and excessive salt or sugar. There is a recommended amount of salt that you can give a baby but I've decided to forego it altogether, so for instance, when I sauteed her peppers and squash I used a tiny bit of unsalted butter. And we'll also be avoiding any added sugars/juice for as long as we can.
There's so many thoughts out there about what you can and can't give a baby, and for a while I tried to read up a lot on it, like delaying certain foods such as berries, grains, dairy, etc. I think at this point I'm planning to just go with my own instincts and trust that if it's not a good food for her then we'll see the repercussions from it and adjust necessarily. That doesn't mean I'm planning to load her up on noodles and strawberries, but we're not going to avoid those foods completely. We will give her small amounts of whole grains and berries (probably in smaller quantities and definitely not all together, just in case we do come across an allergy) and we'll avoid cow's milk dairy foods for some time. But otherwise, the options are limitless, and that excites me! Yesterday when I made my lunch I had to think, "Okay, what can I eat that she can eat?" so I made the quinoa, peppers and squash and it was SO good, and so healthy for me too. So there's benefits in it for our whole family.
I think the biggest reason I'm choosing to do this is that I want Hadley to grow up appreciating the foods she eats. I am terrified of raising a child that has a picky palate and I will do everything in my power to avoid that! My belief - and the belief of BLW - is that, if you start them on a variety of foods at a young age where they're able to taste it, touch it, experience it, they won't grow up with that whole "Ew, I'm not trying that!" attitude that you see in so many children. That's not to say they won't develop preferences - God knows I won't eat an olive if I can help it - but they won't shy away from foods just because they're unfamiliar.
I also like the fact that it teaches a baby that they're a part of a family and not the "main event" - they eat whatever the whole family is eating, and they eat whenever the whole family's eating. Mom doesn't have to feed the baby her special foods while Dad eats and then she gets to eat, or doesn't have to delay dinner another hour because she's feeding the baby their meal before putting the rest of the family's meal on.
One last thing, Hadley has begun "eating" food but there's not a lot of actual eating going on :) The BLW book says that for the first couple months of beginning foods the baby will probably not ingest most of the things they eat, and if they do, it will be small quantities. But they say that a time will come - usually when the baby can chew and move food around in their mouth more easily - that things will "click" and they'll start really eating. So, that quinoa up there? Most of that didn't even get in her mouth, but she was able to taste it and touch it, which is a win in my opinion because that's how babies learn. This is a learning experience, for both me and her. And the whole choking thing - which is the first thing that crossed my mind - while I do worry about this and never walk away from Hadley for more than a second while she's eating, I've noticed that if she bites off something that's too big for her it comes right back out of her mouth. The book explains that babies basically have a built-in gag/choke preventing reflex that prevents them from swallowing foods that are too big. The key with this is that they must feed themselves and control the food going in their mouth. Plus, the sooner a baby learns how to chew her food and know how much to put in her mouth, the more likely she'll know later on how much is too much to bite off. We've had one instance where she coughed a little, but I'm honestly not too worried about her actually choking on her food. And God forbid that happening, but if it should, I've read up on baby CPR and am planning to take the Red Cross course!
So to all you Mommas, while I reserve the right to completely change my mind and start puree'ing her food, I have to say that right now, I'm so excited to really jump into the adventure of food with my girl and see where it goes! Here's to an adventurous eater :)