This time around, as Henry approached the six month mark, I knew I would have neither the time, nor the desire (and certainly not the energy!) to spend his precious naptimes boiling and pureeing away. I wanted to make starting solids as painless as possible for all of us. So I started looking into Baby-Led Weaning (BLW), also known as Baby-Led Feeding or Self-Feeding. I knew a number of families who had tried this method for feeding solids, often with their second or third babies, and I was interested to know what it entailed.
Now that I'm the one doing it and posting photos all over Instagram and Facebook, I've had several friends ask me about it, and I am more than happy to share my experiences.
There are some good resources on the internet, including the Baby-Led Weaning site, Baby Center Canada and Canadian Family. But there aren't a lot of specifics out there, mainly because the idea with BLW is that pretty much anything goes. You kind of have to wing it, which can be a bit challenging for those of us who are admitted control freaks. And I think that would be especially true for first-time parents.
Even this time around, it felt like a bit of a leap of faith, given that Henry's diet had consisted exclusively of breast milk up until he turned six months. I had been intimately acquainted with every drop of sustenance that had passed his lips, and now I was about to plop some food down on the tray of his high chair and let him go to work on it.
But, when it comes to babies, I have always tried to consider how things would have been done back in the bad old days, before high chairs and blenders and fortified baby cereals and the onslaught of parenting information with which we are bombarded every. single. day.
So I let him go for it. But that's not to say that I didn't have a preliminary checklist to ensure safety and my own confidence in this practice.
I also talked to our family doctor about my plans. Her resident, who I initially told about my interest in BLW, brought up concerns about Henry's iron levels when I said I was planning to skip fortified cereals. But then I talked it through with our doctor, mentioning my concerns about him becoming constipated, the way Lilah did on fortified cereals, given that he was already one of those legendary, exclusively-breast-fed-once-a-week poopers. The bottom line of our conversation was that fortified baby cereals are not actually a necessary step, and you can introduce meat and dark, leafy greens quite early on, if you are concerned about baby's iron levels. (Which, I'll be honest, I really wasn't.) Again, I go back to the days of our ancestors. Somehow, billions of babies have survived and even thrived without iron-fortified baby cereals or iron supplements. Gasp!
-It seemed like a natural progression from breastfeeding.
-There are some studies that show it encourages babies to grow into children who make healthy choices and are in touch with their satiety cues.
-I had a hunch it would make family mealtimes easier, less stressful, and more inclusive.
-Cavemen didn't have blenders or fortified baby cereals.
-Fine motor development.
-Did I mention I'm lazy?
It turns out I have a lot to say on the subject of BLW, so I've divided it up into segments to make it a little more digestible. (Haha, get it?)
***Stay tuned for the next installment of this post. I'll give the specifics on what foods we started with and how it all went.***
Please share your own experiences with feeding babies - I'd love to hear about them!