Sunday, February 21, 2010

Baby led weaning.... skipping the purees.

Disclaimer- this is just the way I feed my babies.  If you dig the mush, give your baby the mush.

So, it seems like in this country when your baby turns 6 months old (or even sooner- eek!) you start giving them rice cereal.  Stomach filler, I like to call it.  Because it doesn't have a whole lot of nutritional value.  I gave my first babe rice cereal mixed with breastmilk because I just thought that is what you are supposed to do.  I quickly stopped when I thought "why am I doing this?" I realized that she wasn't so much into the mushed up food and just gave her chunks of stuff instead.  I didn't even know there was a name for it, but apparently it's a whole movement or way of thinking about how you feed/introduce food to your baby.  Baby led weaning.

The Rationale

  • The bulk of babies diet for the first year should be breastmilk.  This means we don't need to force them eat baby food....
  • Which brings me to the 2nd point... baby led weaning is all about letting the baby explore food.  They get to discover different textures, the feel of the food as they smoosh it, grab it, squish it.  It's definitely a lot more stimulating sensorily than eating mush.
  • Many worry about choking, but it makes sense that if the baby is able to regulate what goes in their mouth they are less likely to choke than if they are spoon fed all the time.  Babies do not develop the ability to push things to the back of their throat until they develop the ability to chew.  Also, if you DO NOT HELP the baby get the food to their mouth- they will get it there when they are developmentally ready to.  It's sometimes hard to not want to help the baby get something to their mouth- but I *try* to refrain, telling myself that if he's struggling to pick it up, he's probably not ready to eat it.  I think this is such an important point to emphasize... DON'T HELP THEM... it's so easy to want to help them get the food to their mouth, but just don't do it!
I think the easiest way to do it is to give them something that is "chip" size, because at first they aren't going to be able to eat whatever they grasp.  So I look for things that have handles... broccoli and cauliflower florets, zucchini sticks, carrot sticks, bananas.... there are a whole bunch of foods that are good sized for grabbing.

Also, I don't do the whole 'give them 1 new thing, wait a week, then give them another new thing.'  I guess this is because 1) I'm lazy and 2) he's eating so little that I would be able to tell what he was reacting to if he did react and 3) we don't have a history of allergies and I am not introducing gluten anyway, which is the main one I'd be concerned about.  Baby led weaning is all about letting the baby be apart of the family meal, so Jasper man gets something of what we're eating.  Steamed broccoli, roasted cauliflower, some pieces of fruit, whatever.  Last night he DID get some homemade chicken stock from a spoon, so I guess I will say I am not 100% anti spoon or anything, but 97.3% of the time I just let him feed himself, but if I'm eating applesauce, or soup, I'll help.    

My son is almost 7 months old and still not eating much food.  His primary source of nutrition should be breastmilk for the first year, so at this time food is just a sensory experience.  And if he gets some in his mouth and swallows it, yay for him.  But if he doesn't and he just smears it around, paints with it, squeezes it between his fingers and plops it on the floor, that's fine too.  

Plus, watching a baby eat the tops off a bunch of broccoli is super cute.

1 comment:

  1. I like how you were polite and put a disclaimer. You are much nicer than I am. I will just spout off my opinions and not care what anybody else thinks (except when I do).