Skip The Purees
The best bit of information I ever received from a fellow mother was in the form of a passing comment: "I did Baby Led Weaning with my son…" Weaning, as in the British meaning of the word (to introduce new foods), not the North American meaning (to stop breastfeeding). Confused? Basically, Baby Led Weaning means offering your child whole foods that they feed to themselves. No bizarre combos of fruit and veggie purees, no teething biscuits, rice cereals and empty snacks. No Beaba Food Cooker with matching ice cube storage containers. Just you and your baby enjoying the same meal together. Doesn't that sound idillic? Isn't that a relief? This one simple concept shuts down the entire baby food industry in one fell swoop.
I was once a mother who traveled across the country with her Beaba, and a carry-on bag full of veggies so I could make fresh purees for my daughter. She wasn't so into them and I created a lot of extra work for myself. When my second daughter came along, the thought of all that food prep made me want to just stay in bed and nurse her forever. I was already struggling with preparing family meals and I couldn't imagine how I was going to try and cook something completely separate. So I didn't.
Life became easier when I just started offering my daughter food that was already on my plate. But beyond this amazing simplicity, there are other reasons why I find Baby Led Weaning to be so brilliant:
- Full Sensory Experience
Introducing your baby to food has nothing to do with nutrition - their diet is still primarily milk, and this is where they get all the nutrients they need. Instead, this can be an amazing time of exploration! Your baby gets to touch, smell, taste and smoosh all kinds of new foods, without the pressure of having to eat any amount of anything. If they like something they will most likely figure out a way to get it into their mouths.
- One Family Meal
I am a strong believer that kids learn by example. Babies learn about food by watching their parents and siblings eat around them. Usually they're most interested by what is on your plate - so hopefully you have healthy eating habits!
- Food In It's Original Form
The best foods you can offer your kids are real fruits and veggies. When you get into buying pre-packaged snacks and baby foods (even if they're organic), you are entering into a world of additives, sugar and preservatives - a whole other beast.
I have to be honest, sometimes this approach can be a little messy. Your babe will probably get food in their hair, all over their face and mess up the floor. But if you put them in an old shirt, sit on your hands, give into the mess and let them explore, chances are they will develop a really healthy relationship with real food!
I began introducing food when my daughter was 6 months old. I offered her food that was super soft (so she could gum it), and always in tiny pieces:
- steamed broccoli
- beans (smooshed)
- roasted veggies
As she grew more teeth and became more comfortable with chewing we added
- homemade muffins
- soft-boiled/scrambled eggs
She loved being given the whole piece of fruit or veggie and biting into it as we would eat an apple. She still prefers to eat her peppers and cucumbers this way! Also, because I never stuffed food into her mouth the traditional way, she had to figure out her own spoon technique and became a master at digging out her soft-boiled eggs at the age of one.
For more information on all of this, here is the website I originally used when I was first doing some research: www.babyledweaning.com
Whatever you choose do, try to keep it simple! Life as a parent can feel like a hugely overwhelming responsibility, so lets cut ourselves a break when we can!
Oh, and while we are on the topic of whole foods, I once saw a parent pull out a whole avocado at the park, dig a little hole with a spoon in the top and hand it to their kid. Amazing!