Thursday, September 1, 2011

on baby food

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 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?


  1. Most definitely, I have always encouraged my children to 'explore' their food! Particularly my younger ones, I actually did it as a time saving mechanism, looks like there are more benefits to this then I actually realised!! However I do remember with my first, 13 years ago, also opening up those colourful jars of puree and forcing them down his throat!!
    I think the key is to always offer a good variety of foods, flavours and textures... Looks like Violet loves her food, she's such a cutie...

  2. I wish I'd known about this method, purreeing when you have other kids to feed is just hard work. We hit the fussy period at about 1yr till 20 mths thankfully we are over that hurdle. This time around I had little time to fuss about whether she'd eaten next to nothing for dinner,I think my relaxed approach meant she eased into it at her pace. Violet looks like she enjoys every morsel and looks like she ain't letting it get away.

  3. I had never heard of this until reading about it in a few blogs. It seems like a great way of introducing foods to babies and allows them to explore with their hands which is what they enjoy most:) And the bonus it sounds like having less fussy eaters which is great too. Cute photos of Violet and her high chair is great, it's nice if they can be a part of dinner. Have a wonderful day. x

  4. WHAT A CUTIE!!! A girl after my own heart - eggs, bread and butter and avo! mmm

  5. Oh yay, my children never had the option to be fussy eaters, i simply would not stand for it. They say to try foods at least 10 times before you can truly determine your child not like it & sure, avocado & mushrooms took a few goes, but they are something we eat all the time.
    I never thought about food weaning my children off to the boob, they looked at those first spoons of rice cereal like "hello, your boobs are RIGHT THERE, that's easier" & they got into food slowly & weren't weaned off breast milk until they were 18 months (my 4th was 2, he's a boob man, what can you do??)
    Anyway, as for letting them feed themselves, my 4 were fiercely indepedent & like to weild their own cutlery from early on. With the twins, one would eat & open her mouth like a hungry bird, she was always spotless, her twin sister, OMG, disaster, even mouthful was removed by her hands, examined then put back in, with left overs mushed through her hair, a bit of table art, maybe a wipe of her food onto her sister's arm, it was not pretty. She is now our most ferocious eater, we joke she has 4 stomachs like a cow (which would her 4 poo a day habit until she started school, 4 very different poos from the same child each day??)
    Now my 4th is 7, i just laugh at those of you who still have to feed babies, OMG, that was such an adventure, joyful & fun but one i gladly put behind me. Now they cook dinner & bake, it's brilliant, they feed me!! Love Posie

  6. Tania, it looks like Violet is sure enjoying her food!

    We started Ginger off with rice cereal but while the packet said to start off with tablespoons of mixture and go from there, even at 12 months Ginger would only ever eat about a teaspoons worth. We quickly realised that the finger food method was the way to go.

    That said, at 17 months we still have a fussy eater. I give her porridge each morning with cranberries in it; most days she just eats the cranberries.

    My husband blames me for her fussy eating gene as I was a terribly fussy eater as a child where as he would eat anything! But, we had malaysian at a friend's place the other week and she was totally smitten with ican billis (sp?) - salted dried fish; something I would not even eat now. So I think she is selective rather than fussy.

  7. Yep, we're baby led weaners here too, I've got better things to do than puree foods. That said Miss Two is currently in a selective eating phase too, much to my frustration. She refuses to eat anything green, but loves mushrooms, tomatoes and pretty much all fruit. She used to eat EVERYTHING, oh well hopefully it's just a phase, a short lived one at that.

  8. Being a pre-school teacher I have seen many kinds of ways parents feed their children. When I had Ruby I didn't want a fusy eater. It was going well then bang, it was like over night she wouldn't eat. I never gave her packaged baby food, all home cooked. I have tried so many different ways to get her to eat, now I just don't stress. If she eats great if not well maybe she will later. But she does love her vegies in a patty form.
    I just remember being with a 5 month old who was baby led weaning, I was so paranoid she was going to choke which she did. I think it put me off trying it with Ruby.
    I must say though, those nets you can buy for it are just yuk, can you imagine the germs that you could get in them. I would never suggest those.
    You are lucky Violet eat's :)

  9. Sounds good to me and Violet seems very happy and well nourished!

  10. It was only recently that I heard of the concept of baby led weaning. We have been lucky in that our children have never been fussy. Even as a very young mum I never succumbed to commercial baby food but choose instead to make it myself. All five had mashed/pureed fruit and vegetables until about six months when we started to feed them what we ate and pretty much from the time they could coordinate their hand to mouth we encouraged self feeding.
    It's always interesting hearing how others get on and what they do...will keep this tucked away for next time :)

  11. That is such a great idea. I wish I had known about that when my children were babies.

    I did everything by the book, I was so worried about doing something wrong as a new mum.

    I wish I had had the confidence to just listen to my intuition more. It makes so much sense what you are doing with Violet, and she looks like she is enjoying it very much!

  12. We did a combination of both with Cohen, as we had to be really careful about introducing foods individually because of the family history of food allergy. He couldn't have dairy and we didn't give him sugar either.

    But a family member gave him a spoonful of meringue when he was about seven months old and he ended up in hospital. Guess who is allergic to egg? Don't you love family who don't listen?!

    So after several trips to dietitians, allergy specialists and naturopaths we know all of his allergies. It's only eggs and nuts now, (and grass, dust, cats etc.) but we still limit his dairy intake and he drinks soy milk and loves it. He should grow out of the egg allergy though, we are told. At least we will know with the next one, no egg and no dairy for at least the first few years.

    The other thing I like about baby lead weaning is the idea that children will avoid foods that upset them. For Cohen it was tomato and avocado.

  13. Oh my gosh!!!! You and I just always seem to be on the same wavelength when it comes to post topics Tania!!! I just found out about baby led weaning today from my health nurse and took photo's of Ben eating his first cooked carrot fingers, mandarin segments and pasta for a post on this! I'll still do it because I am so excited about it, but refer to your post as well now!

  14. Goodness your daughter Violet and my daughter Isla couldn't be more similar if they tried! They even look similar and the eat exactly the same foods! It's funny, I went down the rice cereal/pureed route with my first born (I was 18 and terrified, so I followed those books to the letter), this time around I'm so much more relaxed, Isla's first food was a piece of pumpkin eaten with us during a family roast. I didn't even read about baby led weaning till she was well established on 3 meals a day, I just went with what felt natural. :) Doesn't it feel good to be establishing a fun and positive attitude to healthy food from the beginning?

  15. i started the hard way. cooking, mashing, spooning, and then got smart. am right with you, despite the squishy finds underfoot at the end of a meal both my bub and i are much happier with her 'leading' the way in eating. loving your pretty little blog btw. x ashley

  16. yay- found this awesome post! first- Violet is beautiful, her name suits her so! Now, I hadn't made the link with my eldest being a fussy eater, but he is! the next one is much better, mostly because he had his food kind of thrown at him in a hurry. I'm looking forward to seeing how Eloise goes with this, and glad to know there are other mums out there who like it.


Thank you for leaving a comment. If you have any questions please check back later as I will do my best to answer any within the comments section.