Jan 22, 2013

Bring It On!

Preface:  This post is in no way intended to imply that other methods of feeding are incorrect.  At the end of the day we all make choices; this post is about the choice I have made for my baby regarding the introduction of solids.


In the weeks (more like months) leading up to the introduction of solids I began collecting information from my sister and friends.  It was at this point I began to feel extremely overwhelmed.  Where would I find time in my already hectic routine to steam, puree and feed my baby?  As Brody's 6 month milestone crept up on me I was dreading this next phase. 

One afternoon I set out to find recipes and feeding schedules and stumbled across a website which led me to a woman's blog, which then led me to buy the book Baby-Led Weaning.  After a few hours on the Internet and my nose in a book for a day or two, I was sold on this theory and also for the first time, excited about giving Brody food.

So what is Baby-Led Weaning (BLW)?  In short, it is exactly what it says, baby-led.  There would be no cereal, no purees, no spoons just whatever we would be eating for dinner (slightly modified.)  Now we're talking.  This is the lazy man's way to feed your baby and for this working mama, perfect!

The term weaning threw me for a loop.  I don't want him to wean just yet but as it is clearly spelled out in  the book, weaning is a process and occurs mostly between 9-12 months as they begin to eat more food.  In this method of feeding you invite the baby to the table and offer them whatever you are eating.  In the beginning the food should be slightly steamed and cut into spears so they can grasp it.  Once they refine their grasp and move closer to the pincer grasp you can offer smaller foods (cheerios, peas, blueberries, etc.)  To begin you offer things like broccoli spears, baked sweet potato fries, avocado, banana, apple, cucumber, etc. 

Yes, I know what you are thinking- won't he choke?  How can he chew without teeth?  My same thoughts exactly when I first began reading.  As far a choking, this method is actually said to make babies less likely to choke.  They learn to chew their food in stead of just swallowing.  When we spoon feed babies we push the food to the back of their mouth and down the hatch it goes.  With BLW infants learn to use their gums to mash the food down before swallowing.  There is no relearning as you begin to offer food that is a little thicker, (think stage 1, 2, 3 foods) they are used to textures and chewing from the beginning.  But an apple?  How will they chew it?  Brody does not have any teeth, (and no signs of teeth coming anytime soon) but even if he did it would probably be his bottom front teeth.  When was the last time you chewed your food with your bottom front teeth?  Other than biting in to something probably never.  So if we waited to introduce food until they had molars (teeth you chew with) it was be nearly 2 years before we gave kids food.  Back to choking... infants' gag reflex is much farther forward than an adults (or even a child's for that matter.)  Their mouth is designed that way for a reason; to aid in the prevention of choking.  Of course feedings are highly supervised and like I said, food should be softened so it is easy for them to mash with their gums but not too soft that they can bite off too much at a time.

Here is what I love about this method so much: there is no pressure for him to have to eat. My job is to prepared food that can be shared with him and offer it to him. Since his primary source of nutrition is still breast milk, (and will remain that way until his first birthday) food for now is just for fun. He doesn't need to eat but it's great to involve him around the table. While he's exploring foods and textures, he is also working on his social skills, fine motor skills and strengthening those muscles in his face and mouth which will aid him in speaking some day.   This method is so aligned with my philosophy as an educator and I think that is what appeals so much to me.  Well, maybe a close second behind the laziness factor :)

Now to the fun stuff... Brody's first experience with food!  On his 6 month birthday (last Thursday) I placed him in his chair and offered him some food.  First and apple slice and the he joined us at the table for dinner.  I had made fajitas so I gave him chicken and peppers (both really soft and without any seasoning.)  He just pushed them around fed the chicken to the dogs (oops) but he did manage to pick up the pepper.  He has no yet figured out the coordination and getting the food directly to his mouth.  He holds the food, brings it to his mouth but mostly sucks his hand.  No big deal, we'll just keep offering food.  We have offered him something at least once a day since them.  No set schedule but just when there is time and food available.
Apple slice... he just played with the food and pushed them off for the dogs.

Green and wax beans.  He was able to easily grasp these and sucked on a few

 Bananas and cheerios

 Apple slice again... this time he got it to his mouth and sucked on it for a second (or two)
 Avocado!  This was actually the first food he swallowed.  I warned the daycare (since they would likely change the avocado diaper)


 Such a mess but so much fun!

In closing, when I started reading about BLW I wanted to see what a 6 month old looks like eating table food.  I headed to youtube and check out what I found:


It's hilarious so please watch.  This baby is loving her food!

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