Today, I roasted a chicken in the oven, with red and gold potatoes and orange and purple carrots. It was delicious! Better yet, it happens to be a great meal for someone who does baby-led weaning. The chicken was extremely tender, as were the vegetables. My 8 month old son definitely approved!
So what is baby-led weaning? It’s simply forgoing “baby food” for everyday food. It’s following the baby’s interest in food to decide when to begin introducing things other than milk. Basically, once the baby starts trying to grab food off your plate, they are ready to try eating food! A couple things to remember…
1) This only really works if you have a healthy diet. I don’t advocate giving your baby bites of food from fast food restaurants, or preservative-laden food. In my opinion, baby-led weaning works best when you are eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and cooking with whole ingredients. And yes, that includes spices and herbs!
2) The best saying I’ve read is: “Food before one is just for fun!” It’s not only ok, but perfectly normal for your baby to “play” with their food! It’s how they learn to eat. They smear it, throw it, mash it, move it around in their mouth and then spit it back out. They are using all their senses to learn about food; taste, touch, smell, sight, and yes, even sound! Baby-led weaning is not for the faint of heart…there will be mess. A lot of it. You will need to give them baths in the sink after every meal. You will go through lots of clothes, and lots of stain remover. Better yet, let them eat in just a diaper! But fear not! Because before you know it, mealtime will less resemble an elementary school lunchroom food fight and more resemble a civilized dinner! Here is my 20 month old, eating the same meal. (Yes, she used her hands a bit, but she’s making great strides with utensils, all on her own timeline.)
I’ve learned that when we follow babies’ cues about eating, refrain from feeding them “baby” food, and allow them to explore our food on their own terms, they grow into toddlers who are less picky and more adept at eating.
Here are some good links, if you’d like to read more: