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Our baby-led weaning journey

Our baby-led weaning journey

August 10, 2017

When my son, Cohen, was approaching the six month mark, I started to think about different solids approaches. There is the traditional weaning approach that starts with purees, baby-led weaning which encourages babies to self-feed with table food and whatever the family is eating, and mixed approaches. After tons of research, I settled on trying baby-led weaning. Both of my sisters-in-law were doing it with my niece and nephew, and I had read all about the benefits: introducing different textures, reducing any sensory issues, teaching important skills like the pincer grasp, and establishing a non-picky eater who will eat whatever we eat.

It sounded like a no-brainer! Once son Cohen was sitting up unassisted around 6 months and was showing an interest in food, we decided to give it a go! Our first attempt was a banana. The results in the photo are self-explanatory:

 

Ok, so maybe no banana. The next day we moved on to Avocado. Avocado was better, although he wasn’t super excited about feeding himself, and was more interested when I fed him which wasn’t really the typical baby-led weaning approach.

As months went on, it wasn’t a perfect instagram-story road. Until about 11 months I would say he wasn’t REALLY interested in solids. We always offered, but didn’t make it a big deal if he wasn’t interested. We tried to make mealtime a non-stressful, fun experience to avoid any associations of stress with eating. Given that babies naturally love to copy their parents, it made mealtime way more fun for him when we introduced his own bowl, plate and spoons and forks. The silicone stick on bottom has also been KEY as he absolutely loves throwing them, and we found out the hard way with a glass plate that was nearby! He also wasn’t really into feeding himself until about 13 months., At 15 months he is now using utensils, and even feeding us!


Lessons Learned:

  • Don’t make mealtime a stressful experience. Be patient and don’t create pressure.
  • Offer, and offer again. There were many foods Cohen didn’t love the first, second, or even 10th time around. He went from hating Banana to it being his favorite food, refusing Salmon and now loving it.
  • Give options. This helped reduce stress for Cohen and for me. I wanted him to eat so I wouldn’t wonder if he was hungry, he was busy figuring out tastebuds and textures.
  • Be flexible. There were times baby-led weaning experts would have said we were not following the approach word for word. I needed to adapt in real-time based on how my son was reacting, and I had to be okay with it.
  • Don't compare. Just as with any milestones, don't compare to what other kids are doing. It just creates stress and pressure. Some babies immediately get into food and feed themselves at 6 months. Cohen didn't really do both until about 13. But now he loves food and literally eats anything, including spicy curry!
  • Meal plan. I know, I know -- this is so hard! But forcing myself to do it meant that he ate healthy and well balanced meals and so did we!

 



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