We've been at this weaning business for about 4 weeks now. We started earlier than I had hoped at 24 weeks, because Effie was just so eager and ready to get at it.
For a good week or more before we started, we had her sitting at the table with us with a spoon and empty cup, so she could start to learn what it is we do at mealtimes.
Before we had Milo we were terrible 'eat on our lap' types, but now we eat every meal together when we're all home, at the dinner table. I love it and though getting a meal on the table for 5.30 whilst looking after two children and attempting to get homework done and all the other million jobs that seem to need doing between 3.30 and 5.30, means I've come to really dislike cooking dinner, I love the time we all have together. Sitting round the table eating and talking about our days, is a wonderful thing made even more so now Effie can join us.
If you haven't heard of baby led weaning before, you can read more about it's principles here, but basically it's the concept of allowing you child to choose the food they eat, versus spoon feeding them. So your baby is presented with some easy to handle, easy to gum, foods and you leave them to it (supervised of course). There are so many benefits to this way of weaning and it is currently the method recommended by heath visitors.
One of the best benefits to me is; less work! Effie just has a little of whatever we're having. Holding off the salt is the only difficult thing I found about this. Moving the salt I use for cooking away from it's usual spot has been helpful in stopping me adding a sprinkle every time I boil a pan.
Last week for instance we had a roast, Effie sampled everything accept the meat and the gravy. Meaning she ate, sweet potato, parsnips, celeriac mash, broccoli, green beans and yorkshire pudding. And she loved it!
The other benefit is the baby gets to experience all the individual flavours and textures of different foods. Rather than just one generic texture; puree. I don't know if there's any evidence to prove this but my theory is that this makes for less fussy eaters. By experiencing all the foods early on, I assume children will be more willing to accept new textures and flavours as they grow.
It also helps develop muscles in the mouth and tongue, through the act of chewing and moving the food around in their mouths, which means they are able to create a wide variety of sounds sooner. Which is believed to aid earlier communication.
The biggest pro for this way of weaning for me is, it's fun! Oh so much fun! For all of us. We love watching Effie choose what she's going for next, struggle to get a grasp of it, then congratulate her when she manages. She loves feeling part of what we're doing, watching everyone else and mimicking our chewing actions.
It also means I can actually eat my dinner now and whilst it's still hot. I've spent the last 6 months eating one handed with a baby on my lap, more frequently attached to my breast. If I was spoon feeding, eating would still be a one handed endeavour for me.
Everything about this form of weaning is perfect for us. I'm passionate about it's benefits and so glad that it is now the recommended weaning method. When I had Milo it was still a little bit of a strange approach for some. But we did it our way then and I'm so glad we id. At (almost) 6, Milo is the least fussy child I've ever met when it comes to food. He'll eat anything and is always so eager to try new things.
Here are a few of the foods Effie is especially fond of so far, if you were thinking of doing baby led weaning yourself these are great foods to get your little one going. I cut everything into chip shapes, so it's easy for her to get a grip on. I got myself a crinkle cutter, which I use to cut everything up, so she can get a little bit of a better grip on them. With the banana, I cut them into 3 pieces, then separate each length into 3 pieces, along the natural split in the banana, since discovering this tip our banana eating world has been changed forever!
- Pear (nice and ripe)
- Carrot (steamed or roasted)
- Sweet Potato (steamed or roasted)
- Broccoli (steamed)
- Green Beans (steamed)
- Pepper (roasted)
- Rice Cakes
I recently found a post I wrote about weaning back when Milo was 10 months old over here if you're interested.