Starting solids is a big milestone for our little ones, but it can also be a scary time for moms. How do you know when it is the right time to start feeding baby solid foods? How do you do it?
With my son – I made all of his baby food from scratch and froze it. My mom helped me a lot with this and we had all kinds of combinations ready to go for any meal time.
With Marlow, I have been researching the best way to start solids. Do I want to make all of her baby food again and start with purees, or do I want to try this new thing I have heard about called “baby led weaning” which is essentially skipping purees altogether and going straight for the chewing?
What’s the difference?
First lets cover the basics about when babies should eat solids…
Is My Baby Ready For Solids?
According to the World Health Organization, and Health Canada it is recommended for baby to only have breast milk or formula until 6 months of age. All babies are different, and some may not be ready or interested in food until 9 months or more, don’t rush your baby. If they aren’t ready, they aren’t ready.
Before you start, make sure that baby is ready developmentally:
- Baby can hold her head up well and sit up without any support
- Baby is ready to chew, and willing to do it
- Baby shows interest in family mealtimes and may reach for food
- Baby is developing a “pincer” grasp with thumb and forefinger
- Baby has lost the tongue thrust motion that automatically pushes food out of the mouth
I grew up having family dinners each night and still believe that this is a very important part of our life, so we involve Marlow in our mealtimes even though she is not fully eating solid foods yet. We have her sit at the table with us while we are eating. I give her a bottle of breast milk or formula (whichever I have on hand) to entertain herself. I will also give her a baby spoon and a baby bowl to play with.
She watches us with great interest, and we have started feeding her basic foods, but I pulled back a little after we got back from vacation because she was sick, and I have been seriously slacking on picking it back up again.
What is Baby Lead Weaning?
Baby led weaning is a way of introducing solid foods, where baby is encouraged to feed herself using her fingers, instead of being spoon-fed by someone else.
I was so confused by the name of this for so long, I literally thought it was a way of baby weaning herself off of the boob and on to other foods. I guess it essentially is that, but as I plan to breastfeed until at least one year, she will be getting both for the foreseeable future.
Babies are learning to regulate how much they eat while breastfeeding (or bottle). They stop when they are full. Doing the baby led weaning method ensures that baby is still in control of what and how much they eat.
To start you would have baby join you at mealtimes (as we have already been doing) and offer baby some finger food. Include soft cooked veggies, fresh fruits, cooked meats. You could also make it fun by using cookie cutters!
Some great starting foods for BLW:
- Cooked Pumpkin
- Cooked Sweet Potato
- Cooked Peas
- Cooked Carrots
- Cooked Chicken Breast
- Cooked Egg Yolk
What to avoid while starting BLW:
- Foods that are potential choking hazards like grapes and cherry tomatoes
- Potential allergens like nuts and seafood – I am being especially careful with this category as we have quite a few allergies in our family
- High sugar
What About Allergies?
This is the absolute number one biggest fear for me having my daughter start solids. My son has a peanut allergy and carries an EpiPen.
My body did some weird things after I had Marlow and I developed some severe allergies and now I carry an EpiPen and Benadryl with me almost everywhere I go. I grew up without having any allergies so I could never really relate until recently, and it really put things in to perspective for me of how cautious you have to be when allergies are a part of your life.
I am not telling you this to scare you at all – so I apologize if that is what I have done. I just want to let you know how to spot an allergic reaction:
- Reaction can happen within minutes up to a couple of hours
- Coughing, Hives, Vomiting, Diarrhea are signs of a mild allergic reaction
- Wheezing, Facial Swelling, Trouble Breathing are signs of anaphylaxis
Don’t be afraid to call 911 if you think your baby is having an anaphylactic reaction!
What Is My Plan…
All in all I think it is most important for us to develop healthy eating habits with our baby. A big part of that for us is having a sit down dinner each night as a family. This is how we plan to start Marlow on a more continuous routine of eating solids, and including her in mealtimes. Since this is the only meal that we eat all together, I think it is the best place for us to start.
I think as of right now, I still plan to introduce foods one at a time for the next little while until I feel more comfortable with her trying a variety at once. In the future I will start baby led weaning with her while continuing with introducing new foods as purees. Whichever way we choose – we know it is going to be messy! That is part of the fun though, isn’t it?
Wish us luck! I will post our progress in the upcoming weeks and let you know how it is going!
Do any of you have experience with BLW? If you do, please comment your experience!