Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The One with Baby Led Weaning

Shortly after Liam's six-month appointment with the pediatrician, we started him on solid foods.  I mentioned a little about this in his 6 month and 7 month updates.

We are doing a modified baby-led weaning (BLW) method of feeding.  When Americans think of weaning, they associate the word with giving up breastfeeding.  With BLW, the weaning is used in the British sense of the word - to add complementary foods.  Considering the breastfeeding fiasco that was my life back in the spring, it's a good thing we are talking like Brits over here.

The essence of BLW is that there are no mushy baby food purees.  Babies eat real food in its "natural" form from the beginning.  Another key component is that babies feed themselves.  There are no jars of mashed foods, no airplane spoons, and no stressing over just one more bite.  Babies eat what you eat and it's a social activity meant to be enjoyed as a family.  There are several books about BLW, this being the most popular one.  I will be honest and tell you I didn't read it.  I did a lot of research online and did take the cookbook out of the library.  I need to buy the cookbook for my Nook at some point soon for some more recipe ideas.

One of the things that I know some people get super nervous about when it comes to BLW is the whole choking thing.  We have certainly had some very intense gagging incidents since Liam started eating foods (and I won't lie, there was some throw up involved once or twice), but gagging and choking are two totally different things.  A baby's gag reflex is located much farther forward on his/her tongue than an adult which helps the baby to move food forward away from the throat and avoid choking.  We watch him like a hawk while he eats and all has gone very well so far.

This is seriously the lazy mom's solution to solid foods.  I don't have to make (or buy) special baby food for L.  I don't have to spend my whole meal time trying to feed him.  I don't have to pack special foods for him when we go places (although I always make sure that I know what kind of food we will be having if we are out and tend to bring something I made along with us just so I know exactly what he is eating).

For us, this has kinda been a go with the flow experience.  Most days, we offer Liam at least one solid food during one meal.  Sometimes, we offer him more than one choice at mealtime.  Occasionally, he eats solids at more than one mealtime a day.  We also always give him his Camelbak with water during or after he eats. 

We started with sweet potato fries (just sliced into sticks and roasted in the oven until fork tender but not too soft) on a weekend afternoon.  Foods in "stick" form are best for little hands as they can only pick up things with the whole fist and haven't yet developed the pincer grasp.

We found that bibs tended to be more of a distraction at first, so Liam ate in just his diaper in the beginning.  We do use the green sprouts bibs now and they are super easy to clean up.  For this first feeding, I put down newspapers on the floor (I had no idea if it would end up super messy), but having a dog really eliminated the need for this in future feedings.  Liam and Max have become best friends since Liam started dropping his food over the side of the highchair.

Speaking of highchairs, it is essential to have one that can be easily cleaned up.  We have the Boon Flair highchair and it has been awesome so far.  It's extremely easy to clean and the orange pad is removable.  There are very few cracks and crevices for food to get stuck in and the tray liner is small enough to fit in the dishwasher.

Because you need to have an easy to clean highchair after a morning meal like this one!

At the beginning of all of this, Liam was only mildly interested in food.  He would try things but would often get distracted and want to play instead of eat.  While the whole point of BLW is to not get stressed out about food, I had moments of "OMG will my kid ever eat food?!"  In the last two weeks or so, he has definitely become more engaged in eating.  I have found since I have been on vacation that he eats better after his morning nap, as opposed to right after his first bottle.  So I'm thinking that my mom will have to take over his first meal of the day because I'll be at school by then.

At this point, Liam has tried a wide variety of foods with different tastes and textures.  I have been slightly lax on giving him a lot of veggies because we don't eat enough of them (it's a new priority in the coming year) or if we do it's in salad form (which clearly won't work for him yet).  

Liam's list of foods and how I prepared them include:
sweet potatoes (little olive oil and roasted in sticks)
butternut squash (little olive oil and roasted in sticks)
carrots (steamed; little olive oil and roasted in sticks)
cucumbers (raw in sticks)
pineapple (in sticks)
apples (sliced in quarters, skin on)
pears (sliced in quarters, skin on)
blueberries (cut in half)
turkey (from Thanksgiving)
macaroni (very little and I put it in his mouth because we were out and unprepared for a big mess!)
chicken (baked)
yogurt (frozen in fresh food feeder)
eggs (scrambled)
cheese (very small bites offered from my string cheese)
bananas (whole with skin left on as a "handle")
avocados (sliced in large pieces with skin on for ease of grasping)
banana pancakes (recipe here)
broccoli (steamed; little olive oil and roasted with stems on)
red peppers (steamed)

He is loving yogurt, apples, pears, and bananas at the moment.  Butternut squash and broccoli weren't a big hit.

I have found that preparing foods on Sunday that can easily be taken out during the week helps to make sure we have things prepped for him ahead of time and makes life less hectic when I'm working.  

A little montage of our BLW experience thus far...

Unfortunately, Liam was sick for Christmas and didn't get to enjoy our beef tenderloin and asparagus.  I am planning on doing a nice dinner on New Year's Day so hopefully he will get to indulge in whatever it is I make that day.

BLW has been a lot of fun for us and I am looking forward to continuing to introduce Liam to new foods and creating healthy eating habits from the beginning.

Here is a list of helpful websites with more info and recipes:
Another great blog post with food ideas: http://www.hellobee.com/2012/09/21/blw-the-first-few-months/

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