I was actually a little nervous to start Stevie on solids. Partly because exclusive breastfeeding is just so easy and starting solids meant an additional layer of responsibility as a mother. It also meant I could no longer deny that my little baby was growing up. But I was mostly nervous to see how she’d take to baby-led weaning.
Baby-led weaning is a method of introducing finger foods right from the start and skipping purees altogether. I’m such an advocate of the method… I’ve written blog posts sharing the benefits we experienced, taught seminars on the topic, and even created an online guide to help other parents benefit from the wonders of a self-fed baby.
Have you read? Why We Love Baby-led Weaning
My son, Jones, took to baby-led weaning incredibly well and the benefits were numerous, not only for him, but as a whole family. He loved exploring foods hands-on and he’s turned into an incredibly adventurous eater with an impressively broad palate. He’s not even 3 yet and yesterday he asked for “leaves” with his eggs for breakfast. He ate the large plate of spinach I gave him that was covered in apple cider vinegar and nutritional yeast, then asked for a second helping. It was a proud mama moment and solidifies my belief that setting your baby up with healthy habits from the beginning can reduce pickiness in toddlers. That being said, I know all babies are different and I was eager to test my methods again and see if I could achieve a similar success the second time.
When We Got Started
Jones didn’t meet all of the developmental signs of readiness until a little after his 6 month mark, so I waited a bit to introduce him to solid food. Stevie hit all readiness signs about a week before she turned 6 months, so I decided to offer her solids when she hit her 6 month mark.
How Much Food?
At first she was definitely just tasting & exploring and it took about 2 weeks until she actually started to really chew and ingest food. If a self-fed baby is given the chance to develop their skills with finger foods, they'll get the hang of it eventually and begin consuming just what they need.
Is Baby Eating enough?
Some parents are concerned with how much solid food their baby should be consuming and ask me how many tablespoons are ideal. The truth is, I don't recommend a certain amount and suggest letting your baby be the guide. So far I haven’t had to pump breast milk for Stevie, so to be honest I don't actually know ‘how much’ milk she drinks. I offer the breast and she stops drinking when she's satisfied, which is the same philosophy I follow with solid foods. I keep offering food until she starts showing signs of disinterest. Sometimes she'll eat a larger quantity, sometimes not much at all, but I never try and convince her to consume more than she's inclined too. Keeping in mind that sometimes babies don't eat much when they're distracted, so minimizing stimulation around them allows babies (and adults!) to focus on their food and remain in tune with their internal cues of fullness.
Between 6-7 months Jones was happy eating once a day, but Stevie started showing increased interest for food twice a day after about 3 weeks of starting solids. By this I mean she was always reaching for the food when I was eating and became especially vocal watching her brother eat when she wasn't. I always suggest starting slow with solids and definitely recommend against jumping into 3 meals a day right away.
A Great Start!
Stevie doesn’t have any teeth but she can chew and swallow very well and she’s very good at manipulating food in her mouth. She hasn’t reacted to any foods yet, unlike Jones who showed an initial reaction to both salmon and egg whites. Stevie’s shown a preference for fermented foods, which doesn’t surprise me because both Jones and my husband love sour flavors too. We’ve had a great start with first foods and baby-led weaning!
Is baby-led weaning the best way to start solids?
Baby-led weaning was a fantastic fit for my family, but it's definitely not the only way to provide your baby with a healthy start. I firmly believe that spoon-feeding or a combination of baby-led weaning and purees can both be healthy options as long as you understand how to follow your baby’s lead. Baby Knows Best: Your Guide To Starting Solids will help you make an educated decision about the style of introduction that's best suited to you and your baby. Whatever method you choose, this comprehensive guide will show you how to provide your little one with a wide variety of healthy first foods so you can enjoy this new adventure together with confidence!