When it came for the time to introduce Olivia to solids I was a little overwhelmed. At 5 months we had just gotten her reflux under control so she was just beginning to nurse well and I felt confident she was getting good nutrition and growing every day. Adding solids into the mix just confused me. I didn’t want to do anything to hinder the wonderful nursing relationship I had FINALLY started having, but I also did not want to delay this next step because I knew she was ready to eat. I mean seriously, the girl stared down my morning banana like it was nobody’s business.
All along I had thought that Baby Led Weaning (BLW), sounded like a great idea. For those of you that don’t know, BLW is basically skipping puree and letting baby feed themselves. (Read more here.) It seemed so intuitive and so progressive. I read a lot of blogs about it and most of the moms seemed to be really happy they chose that route. After some more research I was pretty convinced we would do it too.
At Olivia’s 6 month check up we discussed solids with her pediatrician. She recommended the traditional route (rice cereal, rice cereal, rice cereal) and basically laughed when I told her about BLW. After her response I felt conflicted. We decided to try spoon feeding first.
Olivia seemed okay with the cereal but after a few times she started fighting me for the spoon. I felt like I had to "trick" her by distracting her so I could get the food in her mouth. It felt so wrong. I hated it. Meal after meal I tried to feed her and avoid her hands grabbing and pushing away the spoon. In the back of my mind I couldn’t help but think that I should just let her feed herself.
Soon after I steamed up some carrots and offered her some other BLW first foods. Avocado slices, softened apple, pear, ripe nectarines and plums, etc. She really seemed to enjoy it and I loved watching her taste new things. Yet, after a few licks and squishes, she began biting off chunks. And then it was BIG chunks. Soon after followed some major gagging and it was horrifying. I had nightmares about choking and mealtimes became more stressful for me.
Joe and I took an infant CPR class but I still worried. I stuck to the foods I felt were safe and I found comfort in the fact that her gag reflex worked so well. Soon enough she had learned to chew and was managing foods really well. At around 8 months she had a great pincer grasp so I started offering small pieces of food instead of large chunks. And that’s where we are now. Basically at this point she is eating like many other 9 month olds who are onto finger foods I think.
I must say that I never really fully embraced BLW and their suggestions to feed baby whatever you are eating because it didn’t always seem acceptable to me to give her what we were having. Not that it wasn’t healthy but often our meals included foods that had foods that were not soft enough, not organic, included something she had not yet, or contained too much salt. I’m just not laid back enough to go full steam ahead so in the end I still cooked her separate foods. We also followed the spacing rule (about 1-2 days in between new foods). I’m thankful we did this because we believe Olivia may have an egg intolerance.
Because of this, BLW is often more work for me than purees sometimes. I can’t just grab some pre-frozen homemade puree or the occasional jarred puree. Sometimes she will eat a pouch on the go, but she just doesn’t seem to like them all that much.
So basically what I’m saying is that my experience with BLW wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. But mostly it’s because the BLW method is probably best for more relaxed parents. I think if I had stuck to feeding her purees and then just introduced finger foods a little bit after that we would be in the same place. And maybe there would have been less panicking for me in the beginning. I don’t think I would go this route for a second child. But who knows, maybe I’ll be an old pro by then.
Moms- did you do BLW or traditional purees? How do you feel about the route you chose?
At what age did your baby eat mostly finger foods?