Starting solid foods with your baby is exciting and scary. The new fad (at least new to me), called Baby Led Weaning, is a little misleading. It’s not that your child leads the weaning of their breastmilk or formula (but in my opinion, that is great too!). Rather, it comes from the British definition of weaning, meaning “adding complimentary foods” to breast milk or formula. Before I had a child, I had never heard of such a thing and I looked forward to mashing up avocado and sweet potato for my baby when he was ready for solids.
Then in one late night breast feed stupor, I stumbled upon the baby led weaning method of feeding your child, and I thought it was pretty cool.
So I thought, “This seems easier. All you do is make sure your baby’s food is really really soft and they can enjoy different textures and tastes.” And best of all, you can give them basically everything that you are planning to eat as long as it is soft! I’m glad I tried this method out. It is so fun, but also a little intimidating. Here are five things I’ve learned from my experience with Baby Led Weaning.
1. DON’T FREAK OUT
You will basically think your baby is choking for the first month of trying this. Babies have a really strong gag reflex and most of the time they are gagging, not choking. Gagging is their way of moving the food around in their mouth. It’s completely normal. Just make sure the food is super soft and in small pieces and they should be good. And start with something easy to chew with or without teeth, like eggs, avocado, or banana. This is the hardest part. But now that I have gotten over this fear, I enjoy mealtime so much with my little one.
2. ALLOW BABY TO EXPLORE
If your baby doesn’t pick up the food at first or picks it up but is “gagging,” resist the urge to puree and serve with a spoon. Let them explore on their own time. This takes a little patience, but it’s also so cute when they figure it out. We started with banana and the expression on his face after he held the banana to his mouth and then tasted it was priceless.
3. DON’T FREAK OUT
It’s gonna get messy! We bought one of those office chair mats to put under the seat. However, you can use towels, trash bags, or whatever else you use to clean up messes. We also enlisted the help of our dog as an amazing vacuum cleaner.
Food will get all over the place because you are letting them play, and that’s ok! When else can you play with your food? Enjoy watching your child have fun with this. I sure do.
4. PROVIDE BABY WITH OPTIONS
They may love broccoli one day, and not touch it the next. That’s fine. Just keep giving them fun options to try. In fact, just make a softer version of whatever your plan to eat.
5. DID I MENTION DON’T FREAK OUT??
Have fun with this cuteness. And before you get started, fall down the rabbit hole and read the many, many articles and recipes on the internet you can find about Baby Led Weaning. It’s all part of the process, just like reminding yourself to not freak out.