About three weeks ago, Remy started getting really interested in what we were eating. At first, we thought it was the shiny silverware that was catching his eye. But we quickly figured out that it was food that he was curious about.
I had heard about Baby Led weaning, and Remy was almost 6 months old, so Tom and I decided to give it a try.
Baby Led weaning is not “weaning” in the American sense of ending nursing. Instead, the term comes from the European sense of “weaning” meaning to introduce your baby to solid food. If you wait until your baby is 6 months or older to introduce solid food, your baby is capable of feeding him or herself, and you can skip the puree stage altogether. For more information on baby led weaning, I highly recommend the website http://www.babyledweaning.com, which also includes sample recipes and ideas for introducing food to your baby.
This was very appealing to Tom and I because we love food, and we want Remy to love and enjoy food as well. And, since Remy and I have finally hit our stride with breastfeeding, his solid-food-meal-times can be all about exploration and not at all about nutrition.
We started Remy with some toast. Simple, messy, fabulous. For the first week or two we were cautious and only gave Remy solid foods once a day or so. Those early days were filled with toast, tomatoes (by chance because they were in what we were eating at a restaurant – and Remy loved them!), and strawberries.
Now we sit Remy in the highchair with us at almost every meal. He gets very excited when we strap him in because he knows he will soon get to explore food!
Generally we just give him pieces off of our own plates. However, I also keep a jar of toast cut into French-fry-like strips in the car for when we are at restaurants. So far, things that Remy has had and enjoyed include: steamed broccoli, roasted mushrooms and apples, waffles, toast, strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes (boiled, roasted, and grilled), tortilla, crackers, roasted bell pepper, and pizza crust. We often give him things that have been seasoned. However, keep in mind that babies’ little bodies don’t process salt well, so its best to add salt at the table or bring salt-free foods to restaurants.
Remy has tried but had trouble with raw broccoli, grilled onions, and untoasted bread. We haven’t given him any egg yet (his pediatrician advised against egg whites until one year and I am too rushed in the mornings to make him his own separated eggs). We also haven’t given him any meat. There is a lot elsewhere on the interwebs about how meat affects a baby’s diapers, and I would rather avoid that as long as possible.
Baby led weaning has worked out great for Remy. Tom and I love it because, although we have to keep a close eye on him and encourage him to cough up still-large bits of food, we can mostly eat in blissful silence. And Remy loves exploring all the new tastes and textures. I also think he enjoys being part of what we are doing, instead of separate.
If you are thinking of trying baby led weaning with your little one, I would definitely recommend watching some videos online of babies gagging and reading up on how the gag reflex differs from choking. Gagging is very normal for babies and also teaches little ones to chew (or gum) their food into small pieces before moving it to the back of their mouths to swallow. Even so, if you are not prepared, it can be scary to watch your little one gag for the first time.
Have any of you tired baby led weaning or thought about trying it with your little one? If it was successful with your little one, what were some of his or her favorite foods? I am always looking for new ideas of things to introduce Remy to.