I was somewhat familiar with the idea of baby-led weaning before Greysen started solid foods, but had not seen it first-hand. The idea of infants being capable of feeding themselves made intuitive sense to to me, but I could not help but cringe at the memories of the occasional infant I have known in the classroom who choked on her or his solid foods.
I was not feeling 100-percent ready to take what felt like a huge risk at the time, so her very first taste of solid food was mashed avocado. It went so well that I could imagine Greysen safely eating thoroughly steamed or otherwise soft enough foods with her small but mighty gums. I felt up to offering her a slice of whole avocado the very next day, and so our adventure into baby-led weaning began.
Greysen fed herself right from the start. She brought food to her mouth, chewed, and gnawed tiny bits of avocado right from the slice, which was tricky because those were some slippery slices. I continued to simultaneously offer her some foods by spoon, depending on the type of food.
For us, some foods lend themselves better to BLW than others. Things that Greysen chewed easily included watermelon, broccoli, avocado, and banana, to name just a few.
Here is a video of her first broccoli. It took a while, but she eventually ate the crown.
Greysen did have a harder time digesting smaller foods like peas, which didn’t cause choking, but instead went through her undigested and whole more often than not.
I felt comfortable with our approach to eating, so with Moon we again started with a mashed avocado. Though she was six months old, just like Greysen was, she gagged a bit. I think some congestion contributed to this difficulty eating, and so we tried foods slowly, and always mashed.
Now eight months, she has the hang of chewing and readily reaches for food. We are again offering her whole foods for her to pick up and eat on her own, and we are finding that the same foods that worked for Greysen work for Moon – though she likes carrots much more than her sister ever did.
I attribute several positive eating habits that Greysen and now Moon have developed to baby-led weaning practices.
Greysen has always been capable of feeding herself, at first by hand and shortly thereafter with a utensil. She would often take the one I was eating with!
Here is a video of Greysen feeding herself at 9 months. We did not have many infant spoons at the time, so she was wielding one of ours.
Greysen tries and eats a variety of foods consistent with what we eat at meals. No need to cook a baby meal and an adult meal. At eight months, Moon eats foods from our family dinner. We sometimes continue to pull her cooked vegetables or legumes out before we season or spice our food, but ultimately we are cooking one meal for the whole family. This practice has developed some adventurous eaters who are accustomed to eating what we eat at family gatherings or special events.
I also credit this independent style of eating for establishing an interest and comfort in sitting while eating. I think that it is the major reason Greysen is willing to sit while she eats, instead of eating on the run as some toddler-aged children are apt to do.
Self-confidence in knowing their appetites. Greysen and Moon have participated in feeding themselves since they started eating. Eating on their own timetable has helped the girls develop, know, and respect their own appetites – eating habits I hope they sustain for a lifetime.