Wednesday, December 3, 2008

starting solids: purees vs baby-led weaning

Goodness, time flies. Layla is six months old next week and I decided to try her on solids the other day - she keeps looking longingly at our food when we eat and has grabbed for Zak's sandwiches a few times, so that's my sign to start! I did the same with Zak and he took to it like hungry boys do to any kind of edible substance. Layla didn't quite get off to the same start - her reaction to her first mouthful was priceless, so I had to capture it on camera. Despite the dry retches, gags and horrifed faces, she kept it down and kept opening her mouth for more! The next was much better - we got smiles, no gags and she even grabbed the spoon off me and gave feeding herself a go. Too cute.

Just like we Zakky, I started on the usual organic rice cereal with tasty breast milk and I'll prob dig out the blender soon to start pureeing the carrots and pumpkin again once she's got used to thicker cereal. A bit of apple can come afterwards (always best to start on the savoury rather than the sweet) and then it's dabbling in everything else.

While this is a pretty stock standard way of introducing solids to your child, I was interested to hear from a friend of mine about a newish feeding fad called Baby-Led Weaning (or BLW). Basically this is letting your baby (from six months) feed themselves what you're eating. They're not exactly going to pick up a knife and fork and start hoeing into a steak, but they'd get it in finger-food form, suck and taste it, and when they're ready, they'll begin to bite into it and chew a little. No purees, no spoons, but lots of mess. I've never heard of this before and to be honest, I just can't imagine my little Layla sucking on a piece of meat as her first non-boob meal. Or feeding herself a carrot stick. But maybe in a month or so I can see her sucking on some melon or banana. But I think I need to introduce the first tastes the good old fashioned way first - via a mushy mix.

As always, there will be people who'll swear by it and those who pan it, so what are your thoughts? Has anyone out there has tried this? How did you go? What do you think about it vs traditional methods? Is it encouraging the child to put everything and anything in their mouths? You can find more about it here - the author of this site has also written a book on it. Would love to hear your thoughts as usual.


Dani, Luke and Ten said...

I heard about this after I started my son on solids. I did used to give him pieces of banana for him to hold from 6 months. It is suprising how well they manage. I guess in the beginning there were no blenders so puree food was never an option...!

You can only try and see how it goes!

Layla is beautiful!

Viv said...

The look on her face on Day 1 is priceless!

Anonymous said...

My sister did BLW as are/did a few of my friends, they all swear by it. Me, I actually enjoyed whizzing up purees in the blender!

upsydaisy said...

We are big fans of BLW.
When I first took the decision to go down this route, like you I still thought " this isn't really gonna work!" I couldn't picture my 6 month old daughter feeding herself....but she did and has been ever since!
I have a few friends who are now struggling to get their little ones off puree and smooth foods. So with this method it's a sure thing that you will never have that problem.
Far from being a 'new fad' this has been around for years. It simply didn't have a name. A Swedish friend of mine told me yesterday that this method of introducing solids is common practice in Sweden.

Read the book and if you are still not convinced then fair enough, but it made so much sense to me.

People I have spoken to mainly worry that their babies won't be able to feed themselves enough food in the beginning. But if you read the research, babies under one actually need a lot less food than people think. Their main source of nutrition should still be their milk.

Natalie Walton said...

I have to admit the BLW makes a lot of sense to me. I often think about why so many babies have allergies these days. Of course, it could be a multitude of reasons but I do wonder about this softly, softly approach of introducing foods and pureeing EVERYTHING. I mean, what do they do in the remote parts of China, Africa and South America. But, on the other hand, if you just hand a piece of sausage to a baby with no teeth how are they supposed to eat that?! They'd starve. This coming from a mum who has just today learnt that her baby is only in the 25th percentile for weight. My instinct was telling me that my breast milk was not enough for my baby and now I learn that I've been starving the poor boy. Yours sincerely, a very guilty mum.

Anonymous said...

I just have one question: what about choking? I understand the concept behind it but if they bite off a piece of whatever too big for them, what happens?
It's not an attack on the movement, it is really an honest question because my 9 months old son eats nothing at the moment.

The Mom Venture Blog said...

I'm wondering about choking too. I on my 3rd baby who is 8 months old now and am not comfortable giving him a banana even, because he could get too big of a piece in his mouth and choke! Believe me, I've had choking incidences and it's quite scary, especially with my middle child, who would always bite off more than he could chew! I can see avocados or other things that are really soft, but my 8 month old is still not the greatest at getting the soft avocado into his mouth and then he just gets frustrated, so I just stick with the purees untill they are ready for more solid foods.

As for not having blenders and what they did in the past, I'm sure they were able to boil veggies up soft and then mash them. Not that hard.