When my eldest, Luca, was a little baby I had never heard of baby-led weaning. I read many of the mainstream baby books available and thought I knew most of what there was to know about anything in that first year. At six months on the dot I began introducing rice cereal, later progressing to bland pureed vegetables and fruit. Trouble was, Luca never really enjoyed these first foods and it was nine months before he was eating three meals a day. He was very fussy with his food and only seemed to enjoy those little bottled sweet baby foods that I brought with us on outings. This fussiness with food continued well into toddlerhood. I remember well the frustrating rice cracker fase.
Fast forward eight years and this time around things have been a little different.
After a friends recommendation, and some reading here (the original book here), I had a different view towards baby food. Baby led weaning encourages first foods to be finger foods. Foods that baby can pick up and eat herself, such as toast. With no mention of rice cereal.
It encourages a more relaxed approach to weaning onto solids, while of course still continuing to breast or bottle feeding. In our experience we slowly worked our way up to eating more and by about eight months Violet was enjoying three meals a day. Her high chair lets her sit with us at the table so we all enjoy eating together.
Baby led weaning encourages the baby to learn to feed herself, rather than being fed with a spoon. Mainly finger food, but in time, baby learns how to feed herself with a spoon. Violet is still getting the hang of this spoon business, and she seems to prefer to scoop it up with her fingers. Which is fine.
Interestingly, it is claimed that babies that feed themselves are far less likely to be fussy eaters in the long term. One thing I do know is that Violet really loves her food. Far more than my other two did at this age.
Favourite foods include pear, toast, buttered bread, weetbix dampened with milk, soft fried egg, chunky vegetable soup, pancake, pasta, yoghurt and avocado.
But, essentially it is also about saving time, as Violet just has a little something of what we are having for tea.
Be warned though, this way of eating is not for the faint hearted. We've had a few little spluttering epidodes as Violet has been learning to eat. As for the mess...my goodness! And just remember that there are some foods that aren't suitable and need to be avoided.
But overall it has been a positive experience. And Violet is loving her food, which is really what it's about, isn't it?