When I was researching how to transition my first baby to solid foods, I knew I wanted to feed my baby the best possible foods. In theory I wanted to make my own baby food, because then I would know exactly what she would be getting and her food would always be fresh and without preservatives. Honestly, that was not only overwhelming, it wasn’t something I really wanted to spend the extra time on. While working full time, my “free” time was so limited, I couldn’t imagine trying to squeeze one more thing in. When I came across baby led weaning I was intrigued and super excited. I read up a lot, bought a book, joined Facebook groups and got prepared.
What is Baby Led Weaning?
First off, I should explain that baby led weaning is not a method to wean your baby from breast milk or formula. It is a way to introduce solids to your baby that encourages them to eat and feed themselves. I have always been a pretty healthy eater and wanted to make sure I instilled the same habits with my girls early on. Baby led weaning allowed me to have more time to spend with my family, while teaching my babies good habits from the start by offering them a variety of foods right from the beginning. Essentially you give your baby what you are eating, in appropriate sizes for their age. I will also say, that this can get frustrating as kids will like something one time and then hate it for months.
Combo Feeding Options
When I started as a first time mom I followed the baby lead weaning “rules” pretty strictly, honestly that didn’t work out as well for us as it did for others. I did wait till she showed all the signs of readiness (sitting unassisted, developed her pincer grasp etc.) which means I did not start to give her solids until closer to 7 months. At first she mostly played with her food, she would “taste” it but based on her bowel movements she wasn’t actually ingesting much food. That is quite common for most kids, but around 9 months I felt like she was hungry even after all her nursing sessions and her “meals” and my mama heart knew she needed more calories. Strict baby led weaning followers say that if you want to go to purees you need to give your baby a 2 week “reset” break. I did not do this, I understand the concept behind it, but I just knew she needed a bit more food as she was burning so many calories moving around!
I started offering her some pouches so she could feed herself and she gobbled them up! This in conjunction with her meals got her eating at a really solid pace by a year old. Don’t get me wrong she was still nursing a lot and that was still her first and main source of calories. Slowly as she got older she was eating 80-90% of the same foods we were. I would often offer her more carbs than I was eating (sweet potato has always been a big favorite!) as I tend to eat a more paleo diet.
Please note, I am not a doctor and just sharing our journey with you. Discuss feeding options and/or concerns with your pediatrician.
Baby Led Weaning Family Meal Ideas
My absolute favorite part of baby led weaning is how “easy” meals are. I don’t make a meal for my husband and I and a completely different meal for the girls. Often I add extra stuff on their plates that I’m not having but its usually fruit, a starchy carbohydrate or a vegetable I know they like. On that note, even if I know they don’t like something I still occasionally offer it to them. Eventually then end up trying it again and liking it. This might take years, but you never know the one time they will take a bite of it and love it! I only offer a small piece to not overwhelm them and if they don’t like it to push it aside. As a baby they often throw what they don’t want, but as they get older I teach them to hand it to me, put it on the side of their plate and eventually just push it to the side of their plate.
Adult version-Lettuce, spicy taco meat, cheese, avocado, tomatoes, salsa, cilantro and onion.
Toddler version-She makes herself with spice free meat, a little lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and avocado in a bowl.
Baby version-Spice free meat, avocado, tomato and some apple in a category plate.
Adult version-Salmon with curry sauce on top of rice with broccoli.
Toddler version-Pieces of bite size salmon, side of rice and 1-2 pieces of broccoli (so she can hold it and just eat the top off)
Baby version-Finger nail size pieces of salmon, rice and chopped up broccoli.
Meal-Zoodles and Meat Sauce with Pasta
Adult version-Plate of spirlazed zoodles and meat sauce
Todller version-Meat sauce, pasta (separated) and a veggie. My toddler doesn’t like zuchinni, but I still give her a little piece and another type of veggie on her plate.
Baby version-Meat sauce, pasta and the zucinni cores from spiralizing the zuchini.
For myself and my family, baby led weaning was the best thing I did when it came to food. I am constantly getting compliments on how my girls are such good eaters and eat a wide variety of food. They have both gone through their picky phases for sure, but I know baby led weaning helped shape their eating habits early on. We still use pouches at 3 years old for a quick snack, when we are out and about or as a little something extra when they need something at the end of a meal. At the end of the day however you decide to introduce solids to your baby, is right for your family. No matter what someone is going to say something about your choices, that is one thing I have realized!
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