Whether you choose the purée route, dive head-first into baby led weaning (BLW) or decide on a combination of the two, the introduction of solids is an exciting and, for me at least, bittersweet time (I honestly realize how quickly time flies when the six month mark rolls by!).
With Adrien, there was never a question of which method we’d use. I’d researched the introduction of solids extensively with Charles about six years ago and settled on BLW for him. We followed suit for Amélie and then for Elliot. Given that out littlest one was checking all the boxes with regards to being ready for solids and feeding himself, we just continued on the same route for him.
What is Baby Led Weaning?
In a nutshell, baby led weaning, or BLW, is a method of introducing solids in which you allow your baby to feed himself instead of spoon-feeding purées. Some of the positive points that are touted as a means to encourage parents to try this method are the following:
- If baby controls what goes into his mouth, then he can decide when to stop eating (ie: when he’s not hungry anymore). This sets him up for a better relationship with food and a better chance to not overeat.
- Since baby feeds herself, you, as a parent, get to eat your meals hot because you’re not spending your time spooning food into your baby’s mouth and possibly coaxing her to eat it.
- Baby eats what his parents eat which avoids preparing two meals.
- Baby will be less likely to be a picky eater (because she is introduced to whole foods and can see what she is eating).
What to expect?
By now, I’ve started to see patterns emerge from my experience in introducing solids to each of my kiddos. Here are a few things that I’ve noticed and tips & tricks I’ve picked up over the years:
- A drop in weight percentiles at the 6 month well visit. This has happened to every one of my kids.
- Roasted vegetables can be as soft as boiled or steamed veggies and are infinitely easier to pick up, hold on to and bring to the mouth than the more slippery steamed/boiled option.
- Fruit peels are your friends. Keep them on to allow your baby to have a better grip. Seriously, I was reticent to leave them on at first because I didn’t want my baby to eat the peel. As it turns out, they don’t want to eat the peel either. So win-win!
- At first, baby may want to feed (I’m talking about milk here) more frequently. At 6 months they are generally hungrier. It takes them a while before getting the hang of feeding themselves (we’re currently 3 weeks in and I’ve noticed a vast improvement over the pas few days). Just go with the flow and follow their lead.
- Spreading out both arms to either side of the body and letting the food in their hands fall to the floor seems to be the preferred method to say: I’m not hungry anymore.
^^ Charles, Amélie, Elliot and Adrien at the same age^^
Last but not least…
- Food. Everywhere. By everywhere, I’m talking on the hands, in the hair, behind the ears, on the bib, on the seat of the chair, under the bum, under the bib, on the floor, on the highchair tray… I strongly suggest investing in an easy to clean highchair (mine is NOT easy to clean) and, if it’s too cold where you are to have your little one in just his diaper, a long-sleeved bib (or two, or three) is a must unless you want to do even more laundry than you are already doing.
So, does BLW live up to its claims?
Well, yes, no and perhaps. Lets look at each of the points one by one.
- No overeating: in our family, this didn’t really happen. My three eldest are very good eaters. We often have to tell them that they’ve had enough to eat (no you really don’t need a third plateful). Our eldest has even been sick from eating too much on one occasion.
- Hot meals: yes, I can actually sit down with my family and enjoy my meal hot. That being said, BLW isn’t completely hands off. For instance, in the first weeks at least (until baby gets better control over how to hold his food), I am often finding myself fishing food out from the seat of the highchair and placing it back onto the tray, or catching food before it hits the floor.
- Less food prep: yes and no. Since baby eats what we eat, there is less food prep. I do have to cut his veggies a little differently, cook them longer and skip the salt. That being said, I don’t shy away from other seasonings or aromatics.
- No picky eaters: perhaps. None of my kids are picky (just take a look at Charles’ lunches). But then, my husband and I aren’t picky either and I’ve never been one to make one meal for adults and another meal for the kids. Then again, I was fed purées as a baby. As far as I remember, there wasn’t a separate meal for kids and adults at our house either when I was growing up. I think what’s most important is to expose our kids to a variety of foods early on and to not be discouraged if they don’t like something at first.
What method of introduction of solids did you go with? What did you like about it.