Baby Led Weaning...Sort Of

I had to qualify this post with a "sort of" because I can't say that I am a sold out, to the letter, baby led weaning mama. I basically bought the book, read the first 7 pages, looked at all the cute pictures, and never picked it up again. So really, I just have a fly-by knowledge of baby led weaning. And maybe that's all that is really required.

Introducing solids and feeding are/were some of the biggest fears I have faced in new motherhood. Its my duty in life to keep this baby alive, fed, and satisfied and transitioning from the known of breastfeeding to the unknown of solids definitely threw me for loop. What helped me the most, was reminding myself that as we are introducing solids into Ethan's diet, those solids do not replace any milk intake. Breast milk was still his number one method of nutritional value. The solids that he was starting to eat were more for learning and practice. Whew! The pressure I felt to make sure he ate the food was lifted. Because there is no guarantee that a 6 month old isn't going to just lick all the meatballs and promptly throw them on the floor. So much for nutritional value.

The most nebulous aspect of BLW is "knowing your child," but it is also the most important. As a new mother, the constant requirement to "know your child" is daunting, if not down right irritating. Know my child? I'm a new mom without a clue what I am doing, maybe limited exposure to any babies, and I am supposed to understand this little being that can't communicate save screaming and crying? Mercifully, no matter how absurd "knowing your baby" sounds, it inevitably becomes a part of a new mom's psyche. So don't worry mama, you'll get there.

What I thought was laziness, fear, or just not owning a highchair, was in hindsight, me knowing that Ethan wasn't ready to start taking solids. Ethan didn't take a bite of solids until he was past 6 months {contrary to some pediatricians recommending starting as early as 2 months!!}. And we didn't start consistently feeding him solids until he was 7 1/2 to 8 months old. I don't think there is a standard age at which babies need to start solids; it is truly up to the baby. Ethan started with egg yolk and wasn't too pleased. It wasn't until we fed him cucumbers weeks later that he started to show interest in food.

Aside from the when, there is the debate on what solids to feed babies. We {mostly me} had an opinion and made our choice on what we were going to feed Ethan well before he was born. We had received charts, printouts, and books that contained what has become the traditional schedule to introduce solids. However, our schedule choice deviated most significantly in terms of grains. We will not give Ethan grains {more specifically flour-based products, he has tasted oatmeal, corn, and rice} until he is two years old. We are choosing to defer a diet with heavy starches until Ethan has developed the enzymes to break down those foods properly. That being said, I am not a doctor, nor pretend to be one. I have done some research and made the choice that fits our family. I encourage any and all research to make informed decisions for your families. We have talked with our pediatrician and they support our decision. Enzymes aside, part of the decision came from my aversion to making a separate meal for babies and dealing with bread tantrums. If they don't know what they are missing, they don't miss it.

So now that I have made it clear what Ethan doesn't eat, what does he eat? Ethan eats what we eat and has been developing a diverse palate.  If you are interested, a list of what he eats regularly or at least has tried includes:

Mushrooms, artichoke, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, peas, carrots, bell peppers, jicama, mango, bananas, pears, green apples, berries, steak, chicken, shrimp, pork, sweet potato, pickled herring, fish roe, eggs, tuna, salmon, avocado, coconut cream, and butter.

All of these foods are served in a whole manner that he can pick up and feed himself. We have fed him purees occasionally, but for the most part have tried to let him lead the feeding. We don't give up on foods that he initially rejects. I have read {can't find a link!} that babies sometimes need to be offered a food up to seventeen times to grow accustom to the flavor or texture.

In addition to what we feed Ethan, we have also been cognizant about the order of the foods during the feeding. I try to start with meats, then veggies, dairy {no cows milk before one year}, and lastly fruits. He eats fats throughout the meal. By offering fruits at the end of the meal, he has a chance to eat other items without gravitating to only eating sweet foods. I know if I fed him banana at the same time as eggs, he would reject the eggs and only eat the banana.

What I thought would be a less labor intensive method of introducing solids, is in actuality a method that requires diligence and patience. I do believe that the reward is worth the effort. As of now, Ethan does extremely well eating a variety of foods and has no texture aversion. I do understand that there will be foods that Ethan will truly not like, but for right now I am willing to work to not have a noodle, rice, bread eating child.

Of course I feel like I should say that this method is what works for our family. I am in no way stating that it's our way or the highway. Every family needs to choose what is right for them. It just happens that what is right for us is grain-free with baby leading the way!

I would love to hear what methods and madness you have dealt with in introducing solids to your little one{s}! What worked, what didn't. I'd love to hear it all!

Vi ses senare!

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