When our son was old enough, I was excited to introduce him to food. I did the only thing I knew, which was to go out and buy some different baby food purees and start introducing them to him, a new one every three days. My excitement quickly faded when our meal times started to look like a speed race of us trying to spoon as much puree into my son’s mouth before he got upset, either my husband or I having to eat cold food, and always having to make sure we had baby food with us when we went anywhere or went out to eat. After about one month into starting our little one on purees, my husband and I were exhausted and frustrated. I think our son was too. This was not turning out to be the fun adventure that I was expecting it to be.
Our frustration led me to look for another option, aside from spoon-feeding purees, to introducing my son to food. In my searches, I found many resources that dealt specifically with baby-led weaning, something I had never heard of before. Baby-led weaning is a way of introducing solids to your baby that allows them to feed themselves foods in their natural form. There are many resources out there that help you get started on baby-led weaning, help you with tips on how to modify foods to make them safe for your child to eat, and a lot of information about just how great baby-led weaning is for your child.
I am not a nutritionist, and I believe that you will find what is best for your family when it comes to introducing solids, but here are some of the reasons why we absolutely LOVED baby-led weaning and why we will do this with all of our kids to come.
It Encouraged Independent Eating. Starting baby-led weaning meant that we modified the foods that we eat every day to be safe for our son to try and that he could feed to himself. We relied heavily on the instructions we received from taking a free webinar on how to start baby-led weaning from the Instagram account @babyledweanteam to learn how to modify each type of food. Not only did that mean that we were then able to eat at the same time as him because he was feeding himself (hello again, warm food!), but he was also working on his fine motor skills while eating. He learned to feed himself instead of us spoon-feeding him. This also allowed him to decide how much he wanted to eat and determine when he felt full.
Helps Avoids Picky Eaters. Because of baby-led weaning, our son tried 100 foods before he turned 1 year old. In fact, in our mission to get him to explore all different foods, textures, and flavors, I even tried new foods myself! Some of the 100 foods our son tried were: broccoli, asparagus, mango, crab, farro (this one was a first for me), beef, and much more. My son is now almost 2 years old, and he will eat basically any food you give him. This makes going out to eat so much easier because I know that no matter where we go, he will eat the restaurant food. Goodbye bringing special food with us for him.
He Eats What We Eat. I did NOT want to be making a meal for my husband and me and then have to make something totally different for our son. That isn’t something that I wanted to start because it wouldn’t be something I continued as he got older. I wanted to do everything I could to avoid my son being an “only mac and cheese and cheese pizza” kind of eater. Not that mac and cheese pizza is bad, but I wanted him to eat what we do. Baby-led weaning enabled him to do this and taught me how to modify the foods we eat so that they are safe for him. Last night I made a roast in the crockpot with beef, carrots, potatoes, and green beans – and that is what we all ate for dinner.
It Made Mealtimes Happy. The month that we did spoon-fed purees was stressful and frustrating. If he didn’t want to eat the food, I would get stressed because he wasn’t eating, and then I wasn’t eating because I was trying to feed him. He would get frustrated because I tried to force a spoon into his mouth that he didn’t want. It was a vicious cycle. Mealtimes were something that I had started to dread. After we started baby-led weaning, mealtimes were immensely more pleasant because I let him lead, and I could sit and watch while enjoying my food. It was so fun watching him explore the different foods and textures. The only thing that caused me stress after starting baby-led weaning was the mess. When a child is feeding themselves, there is DEFINITELY a mess. We fixed that, though, by putting an easily washable rug under his highchair and using a good bib that catches any food that falls. Now that’s a happy mess!
We love baby-led weaning. Introducing solids to your child should be an enjoyable thing for both parents and baby. So if you haven’t found what works for you and your child yet – I highly encourage you to look into baby-led weaning!