Baby-Led Weaning?

9.02.2013
[Violet enjoying some finger foods as a one-year-old)

Lucy is about four-and-a-half months old now, so I'm starting to think about feeding her solids. I'm planning to wait until closer to six months to begin, and I'll admit I'm equally nervous and excited.

If you've followed the blog for a while now, you'll remember that Violet suffered from a condition called FPIES, or Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (yes, it's a mouthful!) She basically had a severe intolerance to dairy and soy that didn't show up on allergy tests. The major reactions started when we began feeding her solids and testing out formula (around 5.5 months). After a bunch more reactions and a slew of tests, the lovely doctors at CHOP diagnosed her and recommended that we not feed her anything other than her prescription formula (aka no solids) until she was about a year old to give her damaged GI system time to heal. She now seems to have outgrown both intolerances (hurray!) and eats like a "normal" kid, but I never really got the experience of feeding a baby.

Lucy is a very happy healthy baby and doesn't seem to have the same issues that Violet did, but I can't help but be a little nervous. At the same time, I'm really excited to give this whole baby food thing a go! I've been checking out a lot of different information on the topic and am considering going with Baby-Led Weaning, which is basically just a fancy way of saying I want to let Lucy feed herself. Instead of spoon-feeding her mushy purees, you just give your baby an appropriately-sized hunk of food, like a bit of cooked sweet potato, and let them go at it. Have any of you had any experience with baby-led weaning? Did you like it, and if so do you have any tips for me? Thanks in advance from a second-time mama but a first-time baby feeder :) xo,  Lauren

P.S. Tips for Little Eaters and Fun Products for Feeding Your Toddler

28 comments:

  1. So, I didn't realize baby-led weaning was an official 'thing' with a label and everything until a year or so ago, but it is basically what we've done with our two. I started both our girls on avocado, just mashed it a little bit, but not a full puree, and they loved it. After that I would mostly just steam them some veggies like sweet potato or carrot when I was making dinner for every one else. They always seemed to respond better to getting fresh chunks of food like that then when I would offer it completely pureed or mashed. You'll figure out pretty fast what your baby can or can't handle.

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    1. I know it is such a silly name for such a simple thing! Thanks for the advice :)

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  2. I had a horrible experience with my first (picture lots of gagging and me quickly having to perform the heimlich!), and a great experience with my second (but we waited until he was 8 months to start, since we were trying to avoid allergies). Good luck!

    http://slowfortheconezone.wordpress.com/

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    1. Every baby is truly so different. Lucy and Violet look so much alike but I've had such different experiences with each.

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  3. I planned on doing BLW with my second baby (I basically did it with my first 11 years ago) but she wasn't really into it? We started at 6 months but now at almost ten months she is just starting to get the hang of picking up food and putting it in her mouth (everything else she picks up goes in her mouth but food? Not so much). She also doesn't like picking up anything wet, so fruits and cooked vegetables need to be fed to her. I've ended up doing a combo of BLW, traditional mush-feeding (which I hate doing, sitting spooning mush into a baby is IMO one of the most boring activities on the planet), and hand-feeding her little solids. So I guess my advice is to be flexible, as what works for some people might not work for you.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Tanie!

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  4. I had a similar experience to Tanie. I was all for BLW, but Ruby was not into it. We also waited until she was six months to start solids, but ended up doing purees for the first couple of months. She did prefer to hold her own spoon, so I'd just load it up and hand it to her. Around 8 or 9 months she decided finger food was the best thing ever, but I still (at 16mo) have to cut everything tiny or she'll shove it all in her mouth!
    Moral of the story? Give it a try & remain flexible based on how Lucy does!

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    1. I will definitely follow her cues - thanks Jenny!

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  5. we beleive it was the best decision that we ever made for william! He loved it. It was playtime, adventure and experimentation. He just explored his food. Sometimes he ate a lot and sometimes he didn't. but thats the joy. The theory states that you don't have to worry about it to begin with because they don't need the nutrients just yet. Let them enjoy it. Then the true feeding will come, and it does.Will has always eaten really well though, sometimes he didn't, he would just play but thats what baby led weaning is all about letting them decide how much they want to eat. He eats sushi ( not raw fish though), loves broccoli, kiwi fruit and spaghetti bolognese. he hasn't turned his nose up at anything. Its messy but fun! and he always wants what we are having! He loves my morning muesli as well. He is also experimenting with a fork and spoon. He wants to do what we are doing, so we load it up for him and he does the rest... pretty well to ! I just can't believe for 8 months old how well his is doing with picking things up and general motor skills. :) We have never cut things up really small. just big enough for him to hold and he does the rest... its fun, and our favourite part of the day !!! :) Just let them led you, try not to help them, they will figure it out with time! :) read the book it will answer all your questions. xxxx

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    1. Thanks Pippa! Glad to hear it's going well for sweet William :)

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  6. Hi! I live in your sisters neighbourhood in Australia and have a 10.5 month old baby girl. We did baby led weaning 80% of the time, every now and again we did purees. For breakfast I do cooked oats as a porridge with fruit puree, but other meals are all finger food. Sometimes when we travel I do purees in a re-usable pouch (called Sinchies here!) It really started working for us best when she grew teeth (between 8-9 months), although she did show interest from about 5-6 months. A downside were the opinions from people saying she'd choke, but hey, people have an opinion no matter what you choose to do! It's normal for them to do a coughing type thing to bring up food if it's too big and gets lodged... that's when people often panic thinking it's choking, but it is usually ok if you wait it out (my daughter has done it quite a few times and has never once actually choked, she just gets it up, spits it out and carries on eating, as long as you watch carefully, which of course you'd do, it's fine IMO). Also, it can be difficult to gauge how much they actually eat as it's quite messy. I find it convenient when dining out as bub can share food from your plate as well instead of always packing puree, bowl, spoon etc. Good luck! Hopefully you have a more positive experience this time with Lucy no matter how you choose to feed!

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    1. I've found out that people have opinions and love to give "advice" - you can't please them all, right?

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  7. Hi! I live in your sisters neighbourhood in Australia and have a 10.5 month old baby girl. We did baby led weaning 80% of the time, every now and again we did purees. For breakfast I do cooked oats as a porridge with fruit puree, but other meals are all finger food. Sometimes when we travel I do purees in a re-usable pouch (called Sinchies here!) It really started working for us best when she grew teeth (between 8-9 months), although she did show interest from about 5-6 months. A downside were the opinions from people saying she'd choke, but hey, people have an opinion no matter what you choose to do! It's normal for them to do a coughing type thing to bring up food if it's too big and gets lodged... that's when people often panic thinking it's choking, but it is usually ok if you wait it out (my daughter has done it quite a few times and has never once actually choked, she just gets it up, spits it out and carries on eating, as long as you watch carefully, which of course you'd do, it's fine IMO). Also, it can be difficult to gauge how much they actually eat as it's quite messy. I find it convenient when dining out as bub can share food from your plate as well instead of always packing puree, bowl, spoon etc. Good luck! Hopefully you have a more positive experience this time with Lucy no matter how you choose to feed!

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  8. My goal was to do BLW with my now 9 month twins. It seemed like a wonderful option! You mean I don't have to sit and spoon feed twins? They'll do it themselves? Yeah, not so much. They were so hungry and needed something other than milk in their bellies and didn't yet have the coordination to actually GET things in their mouth. We ended up doing a bit of both, purees and chunks of food. Steamed veggies, fruits, graham crackers. Things they can hold in their hand. Now we can do pieces and they can pick them up. I still do a little puree, just to make sure they have enough. I guess what we did WAS Baby Led Weaning, it was definitely baby-led even though maybe not as rigid as it is intended. By the way, love your blog!!

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    1. Thanks Chelsey! If she doesn't take to it I', definitely not opposed to using purees as well!

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  9. We LOVED the BLW approach. Here's a post on the topic: http://theculinarycouple.com/2012/06/21/the-culinary-kid-6-9-months/. I definitely plan to do it again with baby #2. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks Emily! Loved reading your post.

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  10. Great post and comments. We have a three-month old (with Milk-Soy Protein Intolerance -- looks like it's a cousin to FPIES) and am starting to learn about BLW. Hoping our boy grows out of his intolerance by six months, but if not, there are plenty of fruits, steamed veggies and purees, etc. Eager to see what will work for us.

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    1. Violet just grew out of hers before we had Lucy at around 3 years, which is typical for FPIES. Here's hoping your baby grows out of his much much sooner!!!

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  11. We did a bit of a combo with both of ours, my youngest just turning 11 months now. We started both on avocado and with homemade puree's just to get them used to tasting something other than breast milk (I can only imagine how crazy it must be as a baby, going your entire, albeit short, existence only tasting one thing and then BAM all these new flavors and textures thrown at you. Mind blown!)and then started throwing down whole/finger sized foods. Both my kids LOVE steamed sweet potato cubes and steamed carrots. Basically any veggie, and even most fruits I cut up into a small cube or wedge and if it's not somewhat soft I will steam it for them. We do shreaded chicken as well, the crock pot is great for that. And my daughter loves pasta as well. One thing that my daughter loves and helped with the hand/eye coordination was breast milk popsicles. Nuk makes a 1 oz popsicle mold (set of 4) with really chunky and wide handles. I started giving them to her at 6 months and it helped her grab something substantial and bring it to her mouth. and even now I sometimes freeze yogurt or still breast milk and it keeps her entertianed while I try to cook dinner. Good luck, I am sure you will find a method that works for you guys.

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    1. Hi Margaret! Great tips - I never heard of breast milk pops before - how cool!

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  12. You should check out Chew Chew Mama, http://www.chewchewmama.com/ she's a pediatric feeding specialist and has some really great advice about introducing food.This post especially, http://www.chewchewmama.com/2013/05/31/feeding-fridays-introducing-pureed-foods-no-spoons-allowed-what/, seems like a good middle-ground between pureed food and blw.

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    1. So excited to check out the site - sounds amazing!

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  14. We did this with our first who is now a happy, healthy 2 year old! I can't recommend it enough. It was so much easier and cheaper because he ate whatever we were eating for the most part, and it seems like it would be great for their motor skills and brain development to handle so many textures. Our son is also not picky at all, and I wonder if it's because he was exposed to so many different foods right from the beginning. I read Jill Rapley's book but really we just cut everything into long sticks, made sure it was very soft stuff right and the beginning, and that's about it. I think you will love it!

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    1. I'm hoping for a less picky child - Violet kind of has her foods she likes and getting her to try anything new can be a battle. We'll see what happens with Lucy!

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  15. Our baby boy will be six months old next week and we're getting ready to start. We're going to doa mix of BLW and purees. Our daycare won't sit with them to do the BLW so we have to send in puree'd food for him. But I'm hoping that once he's up to 3 meals a day, that we will do two of them at home as BLW. We're really excited to start though! I'm going to stock up on avocados this weekend as that will be his first food, and I've made some homemade purees of squash for later in the week when we start sending food in with him. I hope Lucy's eating adventures go well!

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  16. We started baby-led weaning at 6 months and had a great experience. My son is now 22 months old and I have never fed him with a spoon.

    Our funniest story is that we attended a cookout when my son was almost one and a woman offered to hold him while I grabbed our food. She tried to feed him a hot dog and he got really upset. I explained that he was used to doing it himself. We gave him the same hot dog and he ate it without a hitch. The woman (who is in her 50s) was shocked and amazed.

    We have been really pleased with the experience and outcome. I am especially thankful to not have to spend money on baby food or spend a lot of time turning real food to mush. I wrote a little bit about our experience here. Good luck!

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