Monday, August 31, 2009
In my parenting group, almost all of the other parents have started giving their babies solid food. I think they all started with rice cereal. This is what I had initially planned on doing as well because I had heard that that's the best first food because it's bland and easy to swallow. However, there is little nutritional value. Then, a friend of mine said, "You should look into baby-led weaning." The first time I tried to look it up online, all I found was information on extended breastfeeding. Then, I stumbled across some information on a forum that I frequent and learned what it's really all about. I also got some information from the British (I think?) website babyledweaning.com. As far as I've been able to determine, the main ideas behind this theory of baby feeding are that, when babies are developmentally ready, you can give them finger foods and they will have control over what they eat, helping them to eat healthily to meet their own tastes and needs; they also start out with real foods, which is what they are typically interested in anyway; fresh, whole foods are the most healthy; and it saves work and stress for the family. Sounds great, right? But for some reason when it came down to actually starting food I still wasn't totally on board. (See my previous post.)
Last week Sweet Pea turned 6 months old. She has achieved all the typically-listed signs of readiness (sitting, interest in food, etc.) except for teeth, so I have been thinking that it's time to try some food that she can actually eat, rather than just lick. On a few different days over the last two weeks I tried sharing some home-made, mashed or pureed, baby foods with her. We tried avocado, then sweet potato, then applesauce, then peaches. Yes, I was totally breaking the rule about only one new food every four days. There are no allergies in my family and these are low-allergen foods, and of course I carefully watched her during and after trying to feed her. With each of these I set the food on a tray in front of her, and took a taste myself to show her, then Average or I tried giving her a fingertip bite. She tasted at least a little bit of each, but the only thing that didn't get a 'yuck' face and quick spit-out response was the applesauce. I've heard it can take up to ten tastes before a baby will like a food, so wasn't worried, but was a little disappointed that she didn't seem to enjoy anything.
Then, one night I ate dinner a friend's house and Sweet Pea was reaching for everything on our plates. My friend held Sweet Pea in her lap and let her grab some of the leftovers from the plate. Sweet Pea grabbed and put in her mouth: baked potato, watermelon, and a corncob. She was enjoying herself and seemed to be enjoying the food a little and actually eating some of it, so maybe there really is something to the baby-led weaning idea of self-feeding regular adult food! It looks like I'm swinging back to the baby-led weaning side. I'm not in a rush to get her to eat a lot since she is gaining plenty of weight just on breast-milk and is still only waking 1-2 times/night to nurse. So, my plan is to continue to slowly introduce new things, in sizes that she can grab and self-feed.
I hope the frozen peaches and sweet potato purees don't go to waste. I can always cook with them, I guess. Or maybe she'll like feeding herself these eventually? But I don't think I'll miss skipping over the spoon-feeding purees stage, begging and/or tricking my baby to open her mouth to stick food in, as I've seen people do sometimes.
I am discovering that with parenting, the best laid plans are not always what actually works with an individual baby. So, I might be updating that I've totally changed my mind again in a few weeks. What did you do with your baby? Or what do you plan to do with your future kids?