Believe it or not, my daughter’s second food was a chicken drumstick (the first was avocado)!
That’s right, we skipped purées and went straight to solids.
If you’re shocked by this (like all of my family) you’re not alone! The reason I felt confident feeding her a chicken leg is because I selected an eating method called Baby Led Weaning to introduce solid foods to my daughter.
According to this method, a firm/nearly unbreakable food like a chicken bone, a strip of steak, or a mango pit can help a baby to learn the bounds of their mouth. In this particular instance, she didn’t actually swallow much of anything – but it didn’t take her long after to figure out how to chew and swallow softer foods!
What is Baby-Led Weaning?
Baby-Led Weaning is an eating method that starts babies (typically 6 months old) directly on solid food, rather than purées and spoon-fed foods. Despite the name, it’s not related to weaning your baby off milk/formula.
Why I Chose Baby-led Weaning.
- It’s easier
- She eats what we eat!
- She eats independently – we don’t have to spoon-feed her!
- She can dine out with us and eat off the menu
- She can eat a more balanced diet
- She eats healthy fresh and homemade foods
- Can reduce the likelihood of picky eating in the future
- Works on her motor skills/coordination
- My pediatrician was familiar with this method and encouraged it.
Before starting baby-led weaning I spoke to my pediatrician and she recommended this book to get us started. I did plenty of my own research too and came across a great resource called Solid Starts.
Solid Starts is a FREE must-download app because it features their First Foods Database!
In the database, you simply type in the food you want to feed your baby and it tells you how to cut/prepare the food for the age of your baby. It also details which foods are choking hazards or common allergen foods and how to properly introduce them to your little ones. As a bonus feature, they even include recipes for some of the foods in the database! Or you could check out some of these clean recipes.
Using this app, I have confidently introduced my daughter to over 50 fresh healthy foods during the last three months. It was incredibly helpful to learn how to cook and cut foods for her stage of eating/development. She loves this method just as much as I do. She’s eaten chicken, steak, salmon, watermelon, mango, pineapple, brussels spouts, broccoli, avocado, peanut butter, yogurt, corn on the cob, potatoes, beets, and so much more! She gets to decide what she eats and how much she eats because I’m not sticking a spoon in her mouth.
Some things to consider if interested in Baby Led Weaning:
Are you OK with a mess?
- As opposed to spoon feeding it’s hard to keep things clean while the baby explores the different foods. For me, this isn’t really too much of a con as I feel it would happen eventually – we’re just making a mess a little sooner than our spoon-fed friends.
Who feeds the baby?
- My daughter stays at home with me, so I’m always the one feeding her – so if someone else is feeding your baby on a regular basis it could be an added challenge to solely use the baby-led weaning method. From what I understand there are some daycares that do offer baby-led feeding but remember, it’s not an all-or-none method, you could do both purees and baby-led weaning!
Is your pediatrician on board with this method?
- For me, it was a requirement for our pediatrician to be well-versed and supportive of this eating method before I chose to implement it.
Do you know the difference between gagging and choking?
- I found this article from Solid Starts helpful in explaining the key differences.
Are you well versed in CPR and baby first aid safety?
- As with anything, it’s best to be prepared should a problem arise. The Cedar Rapids Mercy Birthplace recommended these two videos for baby and first aid safety.
How to Provide Infant (baby) CPR
How to perform first aid and CPR on a choking infant / baby?
For me and my daughter, baby-led weaning made sense and has been a huge success, but it might not be for everyone. Even if you’ve started purees, it’s not too late to start baby-led weaning! If this method is new to you I recommend checking out some of the resources linked in this article and doing a little research yourself to see if it’s a good match for your family too!