Baby Led Weaning – Week 1

As I mentioned in my last post, we took some baby steps with solids last month by sporadically introducing rice cereal when Gus was five months old. However, ever since I first learned about baby led weaning shortly after Gus was born, I decided that would be our primary method of introducing solids. For those who are unfamiliar with baby led weaning, the basic premise is that your baby feeds himself and eats what you do. That’s really all you need to know, but it is explained in more detail here:

We are now six days into doing solids the BLW way, and so far I am a huge fan (and more importantly, so is Gus)! Since everyone has their own spin on how they proceed with BLW, I thought I would share what we’ve been doing so far, and what I plan to do in the future. As seems to be the case with most people who do BLW (as far as I can tell anyways, it is still pretty new to me), from time to time, I will stray from the pure BLW approach.

Variety of Foods Offered

I have been offering 2-3 different types of foods per sitting, which is working well. I have introduced a ton of different foods (which I will list below), but after the first few days, I am now trying to have at least one familiar food offered at each sitting.  I think for the time being we will stick with some trusty fruit basics at breakfast (apple, pear and banana are what we’ve done so far), and introduce new foods at lunch/dinner.

As part of the BLW exercise, I have a goal of introducing Gus to every fruit and vegetable in our grocery store over the next 6 to 12 months (I actually don’t know what a reasonable timeline is for such a goal…6 months seems ambitious, but 12 months seems generous).  This goal makes the weaning process even more fun and exciting, and will be good for the whole family, as I know that there are certain fruits/vegetables that I stay away from buying, either because I don’t like them (hello brussel sprouts! hello okra!) , am not comfortable cooking with them (hello squash!), or just plain don’t know what to do with (hello persimmons! ). For now, the plan is to buy at least one fruit and one vegetable on each shopping trip that is out of the ordinary for us, so I started a few days ago by buying papaya and eggplant.

My overall plan is to focus on fruits, vegetables, meats and fish initially and stay away from breads and pastas as long as possible, mostly because I think there’s less nutritional value in the breads and pastas and because I’m not worried about whether he will like them or not (what kid does not like pasta?).

Complexity of Foods Offered

I bought the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook as my primary BLW reference, and it includes some fantastic sounding recipes (green curry chicken anyone?) for meal times with baby. For now though, I am keeping things simple and primarily offering one ingredient foods (raw or steamed fruits/veggies) or very simple preparations (salmon with a mustard/ginger/brown sugar glaze).  I look at what we are eating and select foods/ingredients that meet this criteria, so while Gus is eating a version of what we are eating, strictly speaking it is not the same meal. I think we will probably continue on this path for another week, maybe two before offering more complex meals.

Variations on a Theme

I am doing a few things which are not part of the BLW approach. The biggest deviation so far has been the baby cereal, which I started last month before Gus was old enough to try BLW. I started with rice cereal, and have now also done oat cereal. The plan for now is to give him one serving of baby cereal a day to ensure that his iron needs are met. Now, like everything else, there are several schools of thought on how necessary this actually is, however I feel like I am able to “check a box” by doing this and worry less about the risk that by doing BLW I am not meeting his nutritional needs.

I have also been using a little mesh feeder for certain foods (it’s a mesh bag that you put the food in, and then screw into a plastic top which has a handle baby can hold). It is a nice alternative for foods like apples which are hard and potential choking hazards, and as a bonus I can tether it to his high chair so when he throws it around, it does not end up on the floor like the other food. Since part of the BLW philosophy is that it gets babies used to different textures, mushing food through mesh does not accomplish this goal, but I have found this variation to be very helpful.

Lastly, I am planning to offer Gus soup in his bottle from time to time, since I have some soups that I think he would enjoy fairly early on.

Foods Introduced So Far

Gus has enjoyed the following foods to date:

Fruits – apple (in mesh bag), pear (in mesh bag and alone), banana (served as 1/3 of banana, nibbled like a cob of corn), stewed apricot, nectarine (cut in a wedge).

Vegetables – turnips (steamed and mashed with carrots – surprisingly like baby food, but actually part of my mother in law’s Christmas dinner), carrots (see turnips), asparagus (steamed way softer than I would normally do for ourselves and served in an individual stalk), basil (one giant leaf), beets (borsch soup in a bottle – I think this one upset his tummy a bit).

Meats – pork (marinated in Italian salad dressing and roasted on the bbq), turkey breast (part of Christmas dinner), salmon (broiled, with a brown sugar, mustard and ginger glaze).

Other – buffalo mozzarella (a big slice).

So far, everything has been a hit. He mostly sucks on things, but from time to time I will see him take little nibbles of stuff, so he is actually eating a tiny bit here and there. It’s been super fun watching him explore and shove food into his mouth, though it is also nerve wracking as I am constantly watching to make sure he hasn’t bit off a huge piece that he can choke on.

That’s the scoop for now. I had other thoughts I wanted to share, but since this post is sufficiently long as is, I’ll save them for a future BLW post.