Hey friends! Today is July 30th, 2018 and today I wanted to talk about Penelope starting solids. How did we introduce solids, at what age did we introduce them, what was her first food, are we weaning from breast milk, and what is our plan going forward? All these questions will be answered below.
First off I want to start by saying that there isn’t just one way to introduce solid foods. There are lots of things to consider when choosing the format in which you want to do this and after researching we choose to introduce solids by way of Baby-Led Weaning. What is BLW anyways? BLW is basically a way of introducing solids in their truest form. So you skip all the purees and just go straight to giving your baby food in it’s solid form.
There are some milestones that your baby must meet before you can start BLW. Your baby must be 6 months of age, he or she must be able to sit up unassisted (this is for choking reasons), and should have lost their tongue thrust reflex (the auto response to push things out of the mouth).
The beauty of BLW is that meal times become more enjoyable for both the parents/caretakers and the baby. The parents no longer have to beg and plead with airplane noises to get their baby to take food or have mom be the last one to eat since she has to feed the baby first. The baby gets to choose for him or herself what foods they want to eat and how much of each they would like to consume. This is a major learning experience for them. They learn that once they are full they stop. Babies that are spoon fed tend to over eat and have a harder time learning this. Babies also get to actually explore their food. Notice the next time your baby is playing on the floor. They will use all of their senses to explore an object. The will look at it, touch it or pick it up, move it to see if it makes noise, put it in their mouth (my daughter’s favorite way to explore and learn about a new toy or anything really), and will naturally smell it. Why don’t we allow them to do this with food? Another benefit of BLW is that your baby will be developing hand-eye coordination while feeding themselves. It takes a lot of practice to learn how to move your hand over to the food, pick it up, and put it in your mouth. You will be amazed how fast they pick this up. BLW also helps them to learn how to move food once it is in their mouth. Up until this point your baby has only had milk of some form, whether it’s by breast or bottle. Both of these feeding forms shoot the milk to the back of the throat and your baby just swallows. During those first few months of BLW meals your little one is learning how to use their tongue to move food from the front of their mouth to the back of their throat. Who knew eating involved so many developmental items!
Another wonderful thing about BLW is that it’s definitely not boring for both parties. It will be extremely messy but that’s the fun part! Plus our dog loves it. Also the food is more visually stimulating than purees are. There’s so many different colors and textures. Imagine if we as adults had to eat all our food blended together in a blender. Yuck! That would not look appetizing to me.
There are a few things to remember with BLW. From about 6-9 months all foods should be cut up into finger size slices. All food should be soft still but in their whole form. For example bake some sweet potato fires in the oven to soften them up instead of giving raw sweet potato. Remember that there is a difference in choking and gagging. Know the difference and how to handle both. When you serve slippery foods either leave part of the peel on for gripping purposes or sprinkle some hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, etc on there to help them be able to grip it better. My daughter loves hemp seeds and nutritional yeast!
So now that you have a general idea of what BLW is, how did we do it? So the general idea with BLW is that baby eats what you eat (limiting spicy items and salt), but we weren’t quite ready to just jump full-force in. So we started with a slice of avocado and then moved to a slice of banana and then a sweet potato fry, and so on and so forth. Penelope will be 7 months old tomorrow and we are now offering her full meals of what we eat, unless we eat something unhealthy or processed. She only really gets meals for dinner right now. We are firm believers that food before one is just for fun and learning. It is not the main source of nutrition. Because of this, she always gets breast fed at least 30 minutes before we offer food. This way she isn’t replacing any of her nursing feedings with solid food. Until the age of one her main source of calories will be from breast milk with solid foods being an addition to her diet. It will never replace her breast milk calories until after one. So despite the name having “weaning” in it’s title, BLW is not a format to wean baby off of breast milk or formula before the age of one.
Currently our schedule is as follows. She nurses around 6pm every night and then will eat dinner (solids) with us around 6:30/7. Then we put her to bed around 7:30 and she nurses again at midnight. Right now most of her food ends up on the floor and that is to be expected. At this point she is still exploring and learning how to handle solids. Again food before one is just for fun and learning so we aren’t concerned with how much she actually gets in.
Well I think that is all for today. I hope you all enjoyed this blog post about how we are handling solids for our sweet girl. It is a blast to see her try different foods and I am loving how much she loves all the veggies we give her. The other day we did broccoli with nutritional yeast and she had a piece in each hand, just going to town on them both. We plan to continue on with letting her enjoy all the fruits, veggies, beans, etc that she wants.
What was your baby’s first food? How did you introduce solids? Were you as scared about it as I was?
Baby Dust To All,