The introduction of solid foods did not go well with my 1st son. It was a problem from the start. I was naive and much less informed than I am now. I also wasn't very confident in my own instincts and I followed other people's recommendations instead of following my little boy's lead. So I tried those (god awful, over-processed, nutritionally deficient, not any better than a cardboard box) baby cereals and he was not having any of it. He also hated purees in general (I always say he's a smart kid). Needless to say that it was a struggle to get him to eat anything. The entire process was excruciating.
Understandably, when my 2nd boy was nearing the 6 month mark I was really not looking forward to his starting solids. Breastfeeding was so easy. No need to clean anything. No need to think about what to make or bring when we're out. Always ready. Always enjoyed.
But this time, I was prepared. I did a lot of research and I was determined to try Baby Led Weaning. The Wikipedia description is very accurate and gives a great overview of the process. Here are a few other links that I always refer to when presenting this topic:
The food looks mashed, but he did that himself
The last link in the list is by far the best at explaining why this approach makes sense, including the historical and developmental reasons. This is the core of BLW:
"No purees, no rice, no pablum. No mashing, no whizzing, no pulverizing. In short, no spoon feeding. It’s. Just. Not. Necessary. But wait, you say… babies need to learn to eat, right? Of course you need to feed the baby, don’t you? Well… no, actually. Your baby will feed himself."
You don't feed your child. Ever. You offer food. Real whole food, preferably whatever you've made for the rest of the family and allow the child to feed himself (assuming there are no health issues, of course). No need to puree anything or buy any special foods or feeding gadgets. You trust your baby to be able to judge for himself exactly when or how much he needs or wants. You trust that your child will eat when he is developmentally ready to do it. You trust.
In fact, EJ's first solid food happened when he swiped the banana I was eating and took a huge bite out of it. That was it. He was ready. He was 6 months and 1 day old. From that day on, he kept stealing all of my food.
Clearly loving food!
I watched EJ enthusiastically taste, mash, play with, throw, gag on and eventually eat lots and lots of food. The best part of this approach is that it is gradual and is an extension of the natural breastfeeding relationship (which should also be baby-led). And so it promotes extended breastfeeding (or natural age of weaning).
And when you think about it, it only makes sense. We're born with a survival instinct, so why wouldn't our development include being able to feed ourselves when the time is right for our bodies to need it. Isn't the human body simply amazing? ;)
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