It just dawned on me today that Anjali doesn’t eat baby food, nor has she ever eaten it. It struck me as a bit strange, because you just figure a baby eats baby food. But really, a baby can skip baby foodand just eat food. Admittedly, we planned it this way. But after a few months of it, it just became normal. It’s called Baby Led Weaning.
What is Baby Led Weaning
Baby led weaning is, according to wikipedia, “a method of gradually weaning a baby from a milk diet onto solid foods. It allows a baby to control his solid food intake by self-feeding from the very beginning of the weaning process.”
Really, baby-led weaning is just a term, and the wikipedia definition is just a way more thorough way of saying that a baby will start to eat when they are ready. When your baby starts reaching for your food, is able to pick it up and bring it to their mouth, they are ready to start exploring food. Prior to that, their mother’s milk is just fine. As long as you are giving your baby milk, eating does not have to start at some designated time (commonly taught now as 4 months).
As they explore they will develop the skill. As they develop new skills, like the pincer grasp, they will have more control over what they eat.
Our Experience With BLW
Just to give you an idea. Sometime during her 5th month, Anjali started exploring food. This was mainly raw veggies cut into holdable pieces–things like cucumber, carrot and zucchini sticks. She was pretty much “playing” at this point. Eventually, she could break pieces off with her gums (those teeth hiding in there are no joke!), and she started to eat the food. Keep in mind, Anjali continued to nurse and drink mama’s milk. Milk continued to be her main source of food, nutrition, protection and comfort for several months.
Ikea Antilop High Chair
By 6 or 7 months, Anjali was really eating all kind of things–raw, steamed and cooked every which way. Well, we kept her away from foods that were fried and salty. Also, no refined sugar or dairy. We stuck to veggies mostly. Fruit and some meats and fish next. Raw egg was a good one too. We would put her in her Ikea Antilop chair with her food, and let her go to it. Often we would just give her food while she was on our laps, or on the floor. We would try to give her whole foods mostly. We would make some things especially for her, like the occasional applesauce. We would also try to cut things into shapes that she could handle easier. But, in general, she would eat what we were eating.
Now, at 10 months, Anjali is eating so many things. I just shared my rice with kale, eggplant, bok choy and tofu with her. She simply drops what she doesn’t want on the floor and goes for the rest. Now that she has a good pincer grasp, she can pick up the smallest pieces of rice, beans, oats, etc. We continue to keep her sugar and salt intake down. She has a bit of dairy–yogurt and things cooked with butter. No peanuts.
Helpful Tools For BLW
- A good, easy-to-clean high chair, like the Antelop.
- Good, water-proof bibs.
- Lots of inexpensive sheets (ours are also care of Ikea for $2 a piece) to put on the floor, under the high chair. This can get messy.
- Soft cloth for wiping baby’s mouth (they don’t like the wipe down, so try to ease their discomfort).
BLW Helps You Re-evaluate What You’re Eating
Well, I can’t say I have changed my eating habits. We already eat pretty healthily consciously. But watching Anjali’s salt and sugar intake, while letting her eat the same food we are eating, has made us think twice about those things in our diet.
There’s a great photo-time line post for BLW at ALivingFamily.com.