Baby Led Weaning Journey #4

To say I do baby led weaning seems so trendy! I read up on it quite a bit with my third baby because it was a buzz issue. With my first two babies I did not know my philosophy of introducing food to babies had a name. It was kind of neat to read about the third go round.

My philosophy started with some research into the Weston A Price diet and what order they suggest food to be introduced to babies. So at about 9 months we started with bits of meat and then soft cooked green beans, carrots and the like. I tried to be normal and feed the first baby rice cereal, once I even gave her a jar food, but it just was not my style so those foods took a nose dive.

With our first three babies, we traveled all the time and we had to order our diet around foods we could easily make. Cost, ease and availability suggested that I use unsalted or un-sweetened canned veggies and fruit in addition to boiled eggs, bananas and avocados. We would order meat somewhere or buy a rotisserie chicken and split our food with the babies. It was also easy to find cheese, crackers, pretzels, apples, oranges and the like when the children were old enough. When we had to eat out, we tried to east cost effectively at Cracker Barrel, Chick Fil A, Sarku Japan, and local restaurants (Asian or diner style). Not all these foods were high on my list of ‘healthy’ foods, but the healthiest I could provide with our lifestyle.

Baby #4, Felicity, came along last year and shes been eating solids since December already! She is 12 months now and quite the pro! Her favorites are cut tomato and cooked carrots. She really only needs spoon fed if I am serving her my applesauce (which took some serious convincing for her to try!), I even put her yogurt in a snipped bottle so she can feed herself.

I think what draws me naturally to this philosophy is both the desire to breastfeed primarily for the first year and the idea of fostering independence. There is also a bit of insecurity of knowing how much a baby needs to eat and not wanting to over feed (maybe it is just me, I over worry). So I give the child the power to decide how much is enough. Like magic, when they are done they clear that tray onto the floor so fast!

Baby Led Weaning is a bit of a mess, but my absolute favorite part is watching those tiny fingers manage a pincer grasp with all the focus and dedication of a surgeon and put that food in their mouth with pride.

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My biggest hook up is cleaning avocado, but I have made it through 4 babies unscathed

 

Baby Led Weaning with Baby #3

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I have started weaning the little one here! I cannot believe that time has gone by so fast and she is ready for solid food already. She began her curiosity of food early like my other two, but I was able to stave her off until she was 7 months old. I prefer not to give solids until it is necessary, but it worked out that we began letting her explore at 7 months.

At first she squished the food in her fingers, rubbed it into the table, plaited her hair with it, and pushed it onto the floor. All told, she rarely got more than a tablespoon or two of food inside her mouth. That is, until about a week ago. She is now 8 months old and something in her just clicked and she is now eating her food with great accuracy. She still makes a mess on the floor, but this wonderful meal pictured above, she at half an avocado, and only dropped two or three pieces.

Because she is breastfed, she has little need for solid food yet, but it is nice that we have been able to eliminate allergy concerns for many normal baby foods already. She has been introduced to egg yolk, chicken broth, green beans, potato, carrot, broccoli, peas, black eyed peas (but that was not a good idea :/), grilled chicken, avocado, sweet potato, potatoes, banana, cantaloupe and honeydew. It has been an easy journey, I don’t force her to eat, I just provide her with food while the “big people” eat and let her explore. If she is hungry, she eats, and when she is finished, she just splashes the juices. I still nurse her every 2.5-3 hours since that is where she derives her calories and nutrition.

At night, I do use a spoon to feed her egg yolk to supply her with iron. I add a little butter, avocado, chicken broth, or banana to make it easier and tastier to eat. Until a few days ago, she could only eat about 1/3 -1/2 of the egg yolk. This provides her with vitamins A, E, D and K, as well as DHA and iron a quite a bit of other nutrients (see chart below :). I wanted to avoid gluten until she has more teeth, so baby cereal did not seem like the best option for us.

I enjoy watching babies make faces at new foods and explore the new world of textures and taste. What is your favorite part of introducing solids? Which did you introduce to your infant (I could use some help with my imagination!)?

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Baby-Led Weaning

I have been patiently waiting the arrival of baby (GIRL!!) number 3! I have been just enjoying the family I already have and not dwelling on all the emotions (good and bad) that make pregnancy feel longer and more emotionally taxing. But being around a newborn the last few days, and talking with friends who are talking about their pregnancies has got me thinking. About a LOT.

What do our parenting philosophies look like on child number three? My poor son is going to be a middle child! Do all girls have the same intensity of personality as my first daughter? Please let this child be easy to nurse. Is this child going to develop at the same speed of my last two (who rolled over both ways from birth and crawled at 3 and 4 months!!)? And that is not even the tip of the iceberg!

I have done tons more research on baby food and baby feeding since weaning my last child, and have decided that I will wean my third child just as I did my first two. Why? Because it is easy, and I believe that research has proven it is easiest on the baby’s stomach, and there are no long term effects on the child (short term either for that matter).

I didn’t know there was a name for this method either time I used it, I just wanted to NOT do baby food. My reasons for this, some important, others not so much, are:

1. There are ingredients NOT listed on the labels that are harmful

2. It is messy

3. It promotes feeding solids at too early an age which can lead to digestive issues later in life

4. I didn’t have a food processor and I’m never even in my home state so it wouldn’t have been helpful anyway

5. Breast is best ;)

I did research on what foods are best to introduce at what ages, I still contain that knowledge, but experts differ so I would NEVER tell someone which ones to feed their child. That is for every parent to decide for their families. But I did start with protein and veggies and did not in any way shape or form allow my child to have gluten until at least 8 months, but it was more like 10 before they ate bread at all.

Honestly, I exclusively breastfed my children to 8 months for my son, and 10 months for my daughter. I accomplished this by not putting them at the table at meal times and not eating while holding them or distracting them while we were eating. They both ate a bite or two of this or that at 6 & 7 months but no meals. The second a child starts eating solids, the less milk fat they receive and the less milk you produce, even if they are nursing the same number of times.

When it was time to begin solids, I just gave my children food from off our plates. They began with green beans (canned because they were soft), potatoes (esp sweet), small pieces of grilled chicken, eggs, bananas, canned carrots and broccoli tops, etc. I just cut them small enough for them to put pieces in their mouth and chew (well, mostly gum since they only had like 8 teeth at the time!).

This method of feeding requires parents to have healthy food on their plates (wink, wink ;), but aside from that, it is super easy! No mess, no hassle, no overfeeding baby, no wondering if they ate enough. Baby ate at his/her pace and Mom could eat in peace! Baby developed the necessary skill of chewing food, and felt the wonderful pride of self-sufficiency. I did not need to travel with any supplies to feed the baby or wonder what ingredients were hidden in the containers (there are so many baby food recalls it makes me nervous!).

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This is my son’s very first taste of food! 6.5 months, and Sis and I were eating pickles and he stole this from her!! He crawled away like he stole a precious jewel and ate it about 5 feet away from us. A pickle was both of my kids’ first tastes, maybe its why they aren’t picky eaters now? ;)

So in all my thinking and further research on the topic, I have decided that I am going to nurse and wean baby number three just like my first two.  I think no matter how busy I will continue to be the next few months, this moving, hiccuping 1-2 lb baby is going to be in my thoughts!!

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Just so you know, I did give it to him in a safer format when I realized how much it meant to him to keep eating it, lol!