Children, Life, Parenting
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Baby-led weaning

With the Griwi twins, Otus & Leo, embarking on their weaning journey this week, it got me thinking back to when Zachy first started his adventure with solid food.

I always knew I would follow the baby-led weaning approach.  Not because I had done masses of extensive research on purees vs baby-led, but because my dear friend, Lindsay-Lindsay-Lou, midwife and über mum to Poppie & Jackson, had weaned her two children this way.  And they were magnificent little munchers.  I remember watching in complete awe as Pops tucked into spag bol with grated parmesan cheese on top at 7/8 months old.

Baby Led Weaning is really just about letting your child feed himself – you just offer food in a suitably sized piece and if they like it they eat it and if they don’t they won’t. No purees, no ice-cube trays, no food processor, no potato masher, no baby rice, no weird fruit and veg combos…

There was also the distinct advantage that by following the baby-led method, I wouldn’t have to finally work out how to use the blender (I am sure that the instructions that came with this piece of equipment were labelled incorrectly in the factory and really intended for a package to NASA)

So, I bought the Baby Led book by Gill Rapley and read as much of it as time allowed me to with a new baby.

“Just chuck a bit of banana at him” Lins suggested when I asked her how I should get started.

So I did, and he really liked it, but not as much as he liked it mashed up on toast or broccoli, houmous, cheese on toast, strawberries, sweet potato, chicken and pasta.  I was ridiculously proud of him and even more so when other people would look at him in amazement as he chowed down on cottage pie with cheesy sweet potato mash.

I wasn’t too rigid about only letting him feed himself though.  There were some foods I gave him a hand with – his weetabix or porridge in the morning and yoghurt after lunch were all spoon fed to him until he learnt how to use a spoon for himself.

I know there is a concern from some parents about the risk of choking but we didn’t experience any of these problems with Zachy.  He gagged occasionally if he broke off a bit of food off that was a bit too big for him to swallow, but he quickly worked out how to push it to the front of his mouth and spit it out… and if he didn’t, I was right there next to him with one hand hovering over his back and two fingers poised to go in there and retrieve the food from his mouth myself.

Not everyone supported or understood this method of weaning Zachy though and I faced a lot of criticism in the beginning.  Not any more though.  People congratulate me now on how well my son eats and are genuinely impressed at the many different variety of foods he is willing to try.

There are some downsides though – the mess being one of them.  A lot of food will end up on the floor.  And, by a lot, I mean most of it.  You will need to be very forgiving of this at first, just until they work out that these tasty little toys are not just to play with, but actually fill up their tummy too.  Another, is waste.  It is heartbreaking to slow cook a lamb tagine for 3 hours only to see it end up on the floor.  I would perhaps save these more inspired dishes for when they are a bit more skilled at eating them.  Unless you’re making it for yourself as well of course.  There’s nothing Zachy enjoys more than sitting round a table with the whole family at dinner time and eating off my plate as well as his!

Otus & Leo have got off to a fine start this week as you can see from these pics of them getting stuck into some yummy broccoli.

It’s just the start of the journey with food for these two boys and I hope it proves to be as positive and happy a one as ours was with Zachy.

How about you?  What are your experiences with baby weaning – good or bad?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on baby-led vs puree vs combination of both.

13 Comments

  1. Hey, nice to see a positive post on blw. I see a lot of criticism so have been a bit reluctant to try it myself, even though I can see my daughter is itching to grab her food and have a go herself! Maybe now I will let her have a go, after putting down plenty of plastic sheeting, that is… 😉

    • Grenglish says

      BLW is brilliant! I definitely recommend giving it a go, I don’t think you will regret it. My son is 21 months old now and had chicken fajitas for lunch today! So so clever 🙂

  2. Chloe says

    I never imagined doing purees, much prefer the more lazy approach and wanted Arlo to ‘eat what we eat’. We started off well with BLW but, much to my disappointment, he’s since decided he prefers the traditional purees. So, we are doing a mix of the two and hoping to introduce more BLW as we go.

    • Grenglish says

      I think most people do a mix of the two, we certainly didn’t stick to just finger foods.
      Arlo will definitely get there, BLW takes a bit longer to fill their little tummies I think, so purees are probably more appealing to him at the moment!

  3. gill jdlm says

    I did a mix with my twins, now 3. They LOVE their food. Violet wakes in the morning and demands lunch. blw definately works, just takes patience and a whole load of teeth gritting as stuff gets chucked around. Food is an adventure..

    • Grenglish says

      I think a mix is a good way to go, that way you make sure they have something in their tummies! It does take patience and I can understand why some people lose their nerve and don’t stick it out but Z is the same as your two and loves his food. I honestly believe that’s because of blw. LOVE Violet demanding lunch when she wakes up! Just like her mummy then 🙂

  4. Sarah Derrig says

    Oh how I wish I had done this when Sadie was a baby! I stupidly did the whole puree thing from when she was 4 months till when she was 9 months and then at 9 months she started doing her own thing but somehow I can’t help feeling had I done BLW when she was 4-5 months old she’d be a much better eater now! Well done Smudge! And the time spent each week pureeing food and freezing it was pure HORROR!!!!

    • Grenglish says

      Not stupidly, I think that was the advice back then. The UK government are now recommending a combination of both, I think. The advice always changes so I think as mums, we need to just trust our instincts and go with what we think is best. Don’t think I could have done all the pureeing and freezing – sounds a bit like too much work! You are an absolute hero for doing all that!

  5. Noo says

    Ayzia never wanted purees or anything else for that matter. She was and still is an appalling eater. Wish I’d tried BLW – may have made for a very different relationship with food. (Sometimes I wonder if she’s really mine, given I’m a bit of a glutton for all thing foody!) xx

  6. KazziH says

    Cassie is coming up to 5 months and I’m starting her on BLW at the minute, she sits at the table and sucks away at fruit and veg. Its encouraging to hear how others do it as I’ve not come across many mums that have, thanks for the insight x

    • Grenglish says

      I so shocked it’s not more popular actually, I have friends who have not even heard of it but it’s brilliant. Not sure I could have been bothered with all that puree malarkey! My son responded really well to BLW, he loves food. Good luck with it, let me know how you get on 🙂

  7. Thanks for sending me the link. Sounds like quite the adventure and I am kind of looking forward to it. I did spoon-feeding purees with my first and I didn’t enjoy the experience at all. Neither did he really. He only really started to enjoy food when it started to become proper solids which is why I’ve decided to go with Baby-Led Weaning this time. Maybe I need to cover my whole kitchen in protective film first though 😉
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