While trolling Facebook (side effects of breastfeeding!), I stumbled upon this unique concept of ‘Baby Led Weaning‘. My baby was only four-months-old at that time and hence the entire thought of feeding the baby was new to me. While the pediatrician was quite sure of me exclusively breastfeeding till 6 months, I still wanted to be in the know.
Day 2: Brain racking, over researching has led me to believe that banana is safe to begin with. Done! But BLW argues that the baby should be allowed to ‘explore’ textures. “Food till one, is for fun”, apparently. Uhh, not so much when you’re maid-less. Who’s going to clean the mess, d-uh!
What followed was mashed / steamed fruits and veggies for a week, moved to lumpy stuff and within a month to proper bites (much to the chagrin of my ever doting father, still!).
We’re now 16 months old and feed ourselves, leaving people aghast at the adult sized bites.
Here are the few things I learned along the way.
1. Trust your baby:
For me that was always rule no. 1. Even though uptil 8 months I was spoon feeding him, I never ever force fed him. He used to make the decision of his own accord whether it was 2 bites or 2 idlis. Babies have an inbuilt survival system that will not let them go hungry!
2. No sugar, no salt:
The best(est) part about introducing food to a baby is the beautifully clean palate that they have. You can mold it any which way. However, it has been scientifically proven too, that the NSNS should be applied till the baby turns one. In short, all food, whether fruit or pulse have their own levels of sodium and sugars in them. No need to increase for baby. This way the baby gets the ‘natural’ of food.
Call it mother’s instinct or what have you, but I had complete faith in this rule too, atleast till the first few months. While introducing new food to the baby- offer a small bite the first day and gauge his / her bodily reactions the whole day. Next day offer a bit more. And the third day offer a normal sized bite. Once you are sure about there being no allergic reactions, continue to offer as you would.
4. Take it slow:
Your baby has a whole life ahead of him to taste and experiment. If he doesn’t like something, take a break. Try again after a week or even 10 days. Agreed babies have a clean palate, but they also have preferences.
5. Be watchful:
Always always keep an eye on the baby whether your feeding him by spoon or baby led. And always know the difference between gagging and choking (yes, they are different).Try to learn the basics on how to handle the baby in times on choking and gagging, if need be.
6. Do your due diligence:
Be thorough with your research. There are a lot of naysayers, for example, to introducing eggs in the first year. My baby tasted egg yolk at 7 months, but that was also because we had no history of allergies in the family. Similarly, for nuts. Refer Note 3 and 4.
7. Experiment, experiment, experiment:
Do not fear to tread an untrodden path. Babies love new foods, it’s all to do with a whole new world beyond breast milk and formula. Smoothies have been a favourite in our kitchen, so much that he recognizes his cups, the blender et al.
I did finally throw caution to the winds and let him self-feed at 8 months onward, and now at 16 months he thoroughly enjoys munching on chicken legs and pastas or or what have you. He loves his bitter gourd as much as he loves mango seed (more for me, yay!) and I attribute it ALL to a clean palate.
What are you following with your baby?? Traditional or babyled weaning?? Share your story with us in the comments below.