I’m a lazy mum.
There, I’ve said it. I am terribly lazy. I don’t do stuff like hand wash my baby’s clothes separately, for instance. Who has time for that?! And when it comes to feeding the baby solids, I do not ever puree.
Truth be told, I find steaming and blending baby foods a chore. No number of gadgets can convince me that feeding them puree is the way to go. Sure, they have no teeth but have you tried sticking your finger into those gummy mouths? The toothless grins belie strong jaws that can chomp down hard on ANYTHING.
And so I opted for baby-led weaning.
I first chanced upon it before Aidan was born, while randomly surfing through my list of subscribed blogs. I rather liked the notion of it: feeding baby food that we eat, sans sugar and salt. And so we embarked on it when Aidan turned six months. We had so much fun that we decided to do the same for Zac.
What is baby led weaning?
Basically, it means no mush, no puree. Bubs eats the same stuff that the big people eat, with no salt or sugar. These are bad for their systems.
Essentially, we are putting bubs in control of the portion of food that he eats. You put the food in front of him, he gets to decide what he wants to eat and how much. I like the autonomy of it, I don’t think shoving food into the mouth of my baby is necessarily the best way to cultivate good eating habits. Different folks, different strokes though.
How do we start?
I usually start off with steamed vegetables that are soft enough for bubs to gum and yet sturdy enough to withstand his grip. This usually means broccoli, pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato. And once I ascertain that he is able to chew/gum without gagging, I’ll move on to more sophisticated food.
Currently, at seven months, Zac has moved on beyond the steamed veggies phase and he has tried pasta, banana pancakes, minced beef and fried egg. I’m planning to introduce more meats and fish. Maybe oatmeal and toast soldiers too! Basically, be brave and let them try anything and everything (except honey and cow’s milk).
Aidan started eating food like prata, chicken rice and bak kut teh at a really young age with us. If we are worried about the salt content, we’d usually ask for a glass of hot/warm water, rinse the food in the water to get rid of the sodium and then give it to him.
Won’t he choke?
Don’t mistake gagging for choking. Gagging simply means baby has swallowed a too-big piece of food and the gag reflex is pushing the food out. So it’s not a bad thing when baby gags, he is learning that hey, this is too big a chunk for me to handle. Aidan hardly gagged while Zac has gagged a few times since we started.
Having said that, it’s good to be cautious and make sure you don’t leave baby alone with his food.
Is he eating anything at all?
You should check out my kid’s output – I can usually find bits of blueberry or carrot in it! Yucks! I have to say, both my boys are excellent at demolishing food. Zac can easily finish four or five little florets of broccoli on his own PLUS a few sticks of steamed sweat potato, with minimal help. That boy can eat. He ends off his meals with a frozen strawberry – that poor strawberry has no chance, really – and a little bowl of yogurt.
I’m scared. Can I do partial BLW?
Of course! If you are worried about choking or that baby is not getting enough solids, you can always do partial BLW. We practise BLW when we are home so Zac gets a meal a day like that but the grandmothers think it’s ridiculous and that their precious will STARVE so they insist on stuffing him with porridge in the day. Fine by me, as long as I get to do what I want when I am home and they don’t bother me with their nagging.
What will I need?
I invested in a steamer when I first started BLW with Aidan because I was steaming food during weekends to freeze for weeknight meals. But really, you don’t have to. All you need is a good highchair that’s easy to clean (we are using a Boon Flair but the Ikea Antilop is a cheap and good option) and maybe a big bib. We gave up with the bib after a while and simply let the kid eat topless, and then haul him into a bath after. Convenient! We also have a set of Boon bendable utensils to help them get used to eating with a fork and spoon, as well as a little espresso KeepCup for water. I am not a fan of sippy cups, Aidan went straight to a straw cup and we never looked back.
Is it going to be really messy?
Erm, I’m not going to lie to you, it’s pretty messy. We are talking about oil stains and squashed pumpkin and little bits of broccoli. Which is why it’s important to get a highchair that is easy to clean.
Will my kid be a champion eater?
Truth is, I don’t know. Aidan was a fab eater for a while and then he wasn’t and then he was again and now he eats everything but vegetables. Age has a part to play as well but before he turned into a tumultuous toddler, he was really, truly a foodie.