Baby-led Spoon Feeding

Banana is thoroughly on table foods now. Eating them ravenously, in fact. The plan was to continue baby-led weaning like we did with big sisters, which we are doing, but also a little bit not.

You see, this child clearly does not understand that food is supposed to be a toy at this point. He does not like the idea of gradually working up on consumption either. He wants Food. In. Mouth. NOW! And he doesn’t want food that he can’t get bites off of, he wants food that he can chop down.

So we started with our baby-led weaning plans. I figured, as I did in the past, that I would causally give him food when it suited me. Within days of starting solids, Banana made it clear he was NOT content to play with toys or nurse while we eat. He wants to eat too! Adding this to the fact that we get free baby food anyway (we’re back on WIC with the up in family size), I figured we’d try some out. Oh boy does he love it! He also loves yogurt, which I’ve been giving him in an attempt to get him to poop more often (even before table food, he was only going about 2 times a week, which just seems weird to me).

So an interesting conundrum. I want to let him have mashed food with a spoon occasionally, but I also want to keep the general concepts of baby-led weaning. Enter baby-led spoon feeding!

The basic idea is that he’s still in control. I put a bit of food on the spoon and hold it in front of his mouth. When he opens, and only when he opens, I’ll put it in. He needs to give a clear signal that he’s ready for more. I give him a few bites, then wait a bit to see if he wants to continue (generally eating my own food in the meantime). When he fusses, I’ll give him more. Lots of pausing to see if he’s done.

I discourage him from grabbing the spoon because it just fouls up with process and makes a big mess, but if he keeps going after it I’ll give him the spoon. I generally put a bit of food on it first so he can eat that at his leisure as he plays with the spoon. He generally stays happy with it for a minute, then drops it. I take that as a signal that he wants more food, so I’ll put a bit more on and give it back.

Really, I’m not sure how much this differs from regular spoon feeding, but for me it’s the mindset. Baby-led weaning is about baby being in control of their own food intake. With my baby-led spoon feeding, I still try to allow baby to be in control. Respecting his feelings of hunger or fullness (and of course nursing before we eat). So far, it’s working for us. And I’m learning that baby-led weaning, as with so many other aspects of parenting, isn’t all or nothing.

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