Updated: Apr 2, 2019
Almost 13 years ago, when I had my daughter, all I knew was that I had a tiny human that depended on me for everything. And unlike so many moms today, I never had anyone try to tell me to give her food before 6 months old. Even if they did, it wouldn't have felt right to me. Back then, I didn't even know baby led weaning was a thing, but when I was ready for her to eat food; little did I know baby led weaning was what I was doing.
She was about 7 months old and even though I did have baby food due to having WIC at the time, I fed her real food. No pureed foods aside from apple sauce.
Fast forward to 2017 when my son was approaching 7 months old. Dwight asked me about baby food. I said "baby food? No need, he will eat what we eat." Although he has two older sons from a previous relationship, he knew nothing about breastfeeding or baby led weaning. He was actually pretty scared to give Jai actual food. So just like with breastfeeding, I schooled him on baby led weaning. Babies imitate what we do. They see us chew, and they most likely will instantly chew if you give them food. And that's exactly what Jai did. With not a tooth in site, he chewed; well, gummed down his first taste of food. Dwight was surprised. Then, I boiled some sweet potatoes, made sure they were cool enough for Jai and I let him do his thing (see video here).
Normally, when introducing food, babies don't care to eat food for hunger. In the beginning stages of giving solid foods, the purpose is more about developing motor skills. It helps develop chewing skills, hand-eye coordination and dexterity. Jai didn't care to actually eat food for hunger until he was about 14 months old. So don't worry yourself if you notice your baby has no interest in eating. Just let them play with the textures and explore.
I love baby led weaning is because unlike pureed foods, you aren't forcing it in their mouths. Baby led weaning allows them to feed themselves, WHEN THEY ARE READY. In the beginning, if you give a baby food, they'll probably play with it, taste it a bit, but most likely play with it. With puree foods, babies are forced to just swallow. Baby led weaning skips that whole process of staged baby foods. To be honest, it's just a marketing scheme. Baby led weaning is proof of that.
Now, Jai is a year old, 15 months old to be exact. And he has tried everything we had. From green beans to sushi. And he has been feeding himself for months (see video here). Yes, baby led weaning is messy and can even be scary for some people. But for me personally, it is the better decision.
What kind of foods are great for baby led weaning?
You want to give your baby foods that are soft. Here are some suggestions:
Baked or boiled potatoes/sweet potatoes
Cooked apple slices
It's probably best to start with veggies to help your baby get used to healthy eating.
What foods should be avoided?
There are some foods that shouldn't be given. Especially if your baby doesn't have enough teeth.
Leafy greens like lettuce, collards, etc.
Some foods can cause constipation or are just too heavy for your baby's stomach. But for the most part, our baby can eat whatever you eat. And yes, that includes seasoned food. Don't be afraid to lightly season your babies veggies.
Important tips to remember:
When baby led weaning, always remember to give your baby milk FIRST, then food. And if baby is up for it, give milk again AFTER eating. this helps prevent constipation and dehydration. Remember, if your baby is under a year old, milk is still his/her primary source of nutrition. Also, give your baby large pieces. This helps prevent them from choking. As they progress and develop the pincer grab, you can give your baby smaller pieces of food.