Coming up on 6 months for the bambino, we had to give thought to giving him solids! The thoughts of spending days cooking, pureeing and freezing food was the stuff of nightmares. So I quickly latched on to the idea of Baby Led Weaning. You just give them what you’re having yourself. It sounded like a win win situation. We eat healthier in an effort to give healthy food to the bambino, no separate cooking, no spoon feeding, everybody happy!
So armed with the most gigantic bibs (more like overalls actually) and The Baby Led Weaning Cookbook (by Gill Rapely & Tracey Murkett), we took the plunge. While the recipes looked great, I found the first part about why baby led weaning works to be the best part of the book and just ended up doing my own thing with food. The main rules were no honey before 1 year of age, and as little salt and sugar as possible.
Well, the bambino was just overjoyed at this new experience given that everything goes in his mouth anyway! He was flying it with the hand to mouth co-ordination. Now some items ended up squashed in his fist and he remained confused as to why these items weren’t going into his mouth. Some items were squashed into the table as it turns out that this was a lot of fun too. His enthusiasm knew no bounds. His new favourite place to be was his highchair wondering what gourmet feast would be put before him.
We started with broccoli, baby corn and green beans. He found it easy to grip these and seemed to enjoy the taste – that being said he has yet to refuse any food. Definitely takes after me there. Now admittedly, he probably swallowed 1% of the food we gave him and 90% of it ended up on the floor or down his highchair or stuck in his hair. After a couple of weeks he got more adept at chewing (with his gums, no teeth yet) and he was definitely actually eating more judging by his nappies. We moved on to steamed carrots, roasted sweet potato, roasted parsnip, bread, toast, avocado, banana (although I’m trying to stay away from fruit mostly due to the natural sugars), cucumber, melon, cabbage, noodles, chicken, salmon and asparagus. Yes, who knew my child would just love asparagus – I don’t think I even tasted asparagus until well into my 20’s!
A lot of people worry about the baby choking on food. In my experience so far, he has never even gagged, let alone choke. In the Baby Led Weaning book I mentioned above, it states that a baby is just as likely to choke on spoon fed puree as on whole food. With baby led weaning, the baby controls what they put into their mouth and how fast they eat so it is very safe. No matter what way you are feeding your baby, it is so important to know what to do in the event of a baby or child choking. Here’s a short video showing you what to do.
It sounds too good to be true right? Well, sometimes the mess is just too much for me to take!!! So in recent days I gave in and actually made some purees. The handiest one was butternut squash. Cut this giant vegetable in half, remove seeds, roast for 30-40 minutes, then scoop out the flesh and puree in a blender. He loves it. I also made some pear puree, some sweet potato puree and some parsnip puree. It’s handy to have these portioned out in the freezer if you’re ever stuck or eating something hugely unhealthy yourself. Double chocolate muffin for lunch anyone?
And there are some things that I just couldn’t cope with him eating with his hands although if I was strictly Baby Led Weaning I should let the bambino eat the likes porridge and yogurt with his hands (I shudder at the thought!). I give him porridge, yogurt (just natural organic yoghurt with no sugar) and weetabix with a spoon. He really loves yoghurt, maybe because it’s not too far removed from the milk taste. I’ll also give the purees with the spoon.
His bottle feeds are still exactly the same. He hasn’t dropped any and I definitely agree with the saying
“Food under 1 is just for fun!”
I try to give any solids about an hour after his bottle. If you are considering trying Baby Led Weaning, I would recommend giving it whirl. It’s messy but a lot of fun too. It’s good craic seeing their expressions when they taste a food for the first time… mostly a look of utter disgust but my bambino perseveres through that one and just carries on! It’s a good idea to have them eat when you are eating so they get used to the idea of mealtimes and can learn from everyone else. I will warn you, your breakfast, lunch and dinner will go cold every time because you’ll be entertained and mesmerised watching your baby eating! Take lots of photos.
Disclaimer: I have not been paid to mention The Baby Led Weaning Cookbook, I paid for my own copy and only mention it because I found it useful myself.