Baby Led Weaning….Take 2!
How is our second fat and happy vegan baby eating solid foods already??? Time flies! Let me tell you, this baby can EAT. He loves food and I generally feed him 3 meals per day, and sometimes snacks! FVB took much longer to get into foods, so this is a fun experience for me. Here is how I knew he was really ready:
- He was 6 months old,
- He had TWO teeth
- He was able to sit up on his own (for a little bit, anyway)
- He was showing a lot of interest in eating/drinking- staring at me when I ate and reaching for food items and cups. His new favorite thing is glass beer bottles (which he sees on a daily basis in our house)!
I’ve learned a few things about starting solid foods, both through my research and my experiences, so I’d like to share just a little bit of what I’ve learned.
Based on my research, I decided that baby led weaning was the way that we were going to approach introducing solid foods to our kids. Before I write more, I just want to state the obvious: I am NOT a doctor, nutritionist, or any other type of health professional. I am just a mom who likes to read things on the internet and make informed decisions based on what the science says. There is research on the topic of introducing solid foods, as well as some research on baby led weaning, though not a significant amount as this is a relatively “new” approach to feeding. I love this article on starting solids from the website KellyMom, which is awesome because it provides “evidenced based information,” which means it’s based on science- yay! If you want to read other articles and research on BLW, it’s out there. Here are a few links if you are interested: Science Daily study, Research Roundtable Discussion, Science News Article, Baby Led Weaning Evidence Report.
*Caution, it is hard to stop reading once you get started. I did go down a rabbit hole on the internet researching the quote “food before one is just for fun.” Apparently people really want it to be “food before one is MAINLY for fun,” because…IRON! People get very panicky about iron. I won’t go into a long boring side rant about this, but a good article to read is here.
It’s important to note that HVB’s main source of nutrition is breastmilk, and will be for at least one year, and possibly longer depending on how picky he is! He is growing like crazy- at 6 months he was 20 pounds and 26 inches! (That is roughly the 93rd percentile for weight and the 24th percentile for height, if you are into comparing.) Since I am the one MAKING the milk, I try to eat as healthy as possible! I certainly don’t track calories or anything like that, and I do indulge in sweets, coffee, and alcohol. Mainly though I try to eat lots of fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts/seeds, and whole grains. And I try to drink a lot of water. Click here to read more about how I eat while pregnant and/or nursing.
I view food as a fun exploration and not much more than that for now. I trust that HVB will eat exactly what he needs and nurse as much as he needs. I think following that baby’s lead is one of the most important things about introducing solids. So….what does this baby led weaning thing actually look like in action??? Well, it mainly looks like a giant mess of food everywhere.
To start, I’m sticking mostly with fruits and vegetables. His first food was an apple that I was eating, which he mostly just sucked the juice off of and aggressively gummed. Others we have tried include: banana, avocado, peach, tomato, sweet potato, red pepper, corn on the cob, cucumber, blueberry, and strawberry. I’ve also offered rice, beans, oatmeal, quinoa, and some hummus. He’s also tried toast and a veggie burger. This is not to say that all of these food items made it into his stomach, but they were presented to him on his tray and most everything was in his mouth at some point. I like to put one or two things on the tray, in addition to a spoon, and then try really hard to just sit and watch without helping too much. At this stage I do pick things up when they fall, otherwise meal time would last approximately 3-4 seconds because the first thing he does is slide everything off the tray in an attempt to pick it up. I will also try to put things directly in his hands. He definitely grabs for the food and moves his hand immediately to his mouth. So I know that he is excited about eating! It’s fun watching him learn how to eat, especially when he tries to use utensils. FVB started solid foods this way, and he mastered using utensils pretty early on, so hopefully his brother follows in his footsteps.
I’m seeing a lot of growth already, even over the course of just a few weeks. The beginning stages of BLW can feel confusing– like, what do I actually put on his tray??? My advice is to just do it. Put food on there and see what happens. The only real thing you have to worry about is choking, so educate yourself on how to cut food appropriately. This guide is amazing! At the beginning it really is just about pushing food around and trying to get things into their mouths. It’s messy and not a lot of eating actually happens. But, they really learn pretty quickly, and you get more confident as time goes on and you watch them attempt to eat. HVB has really improved his ability to pick foods up in just the short few weeks that he’s been eating. And I’m telling you, he REALLY eats. A lot. Food before one really is FUN!