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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Baby-led Weaning 2.0

So here we are again. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that I did quite a few posts on baby-led weaning. Starting our journey with Peanut, with that first meal of bacon and apricots, I felt there wasn’t much information out there for how to actually do baby-led weaning. Sure, your kid doesn’t need to start off with purees if you wait until they’re ready to do solids, but how do you actually do it? Beyond the general advice of don’t give them super hard stuff and try to make it the correct size for them to hold onto it while they chomp on one side, it seemed like there wasn’t an abundance of information about how to just give your baby food. If you’re new to all this, check out my past posts about it. This time around, I’m not planning on doing regular posts about baby-led weaning, but I did want to share some of the differences this time around.

Twig’s first food: watermelon.

Twig turned 6 months last month. Considering she was grabbing at my food as I tried to eat for about 2 months, I was definitely ready to let her dig in. It’s nice to be able to sit back during a meal and just eat (of course while watching to make sure the baby doesn’t choke). While grabbing at food doesn’t necessarily mean a baby is ready for it, she seemed to be ready. Turned out to be kind of a yes and no, but I’ll get to that. Now, on to the differences.

Broccoli!

Twig was initially pretty happy that I was giving her something new and tastey to chomp on, she was also pretty upset when some actually came out in her mouth. To the point that she cried. This was way different from Peanut’s “Ohemgee it’s food OM NOM NOM!!!” reaction to solids. I was starting to gear up to have a baby who didn’t like solids, at least for a time, when she suddenly decided it was okay. It was probably only a week or so that she disliked the food coming off in her mouth. During that time, I tried to give her things that were less likely to have chunks come off.

Mashed potato face!

It turns out that Twig’s stomach is more sensitive than Peanut’s was/is. After having regular, large bowl movements while exclusively breastfeeding, she started having obvious problems trying to poo and it was only once every few days. I tried giving her as little food as possible (which was surprisingly difficult after she got past the initial confusion, because she certainly loves food) while her system regulated. I also read about it online and found that lots of babies aren’t ready to process wheat until closer to a year, so we’ve cooled off on grains in general and that helps. I also found that apple sauce helps her get things moving, which is much more agreeable to me than juice or other processed food. And, believe it or not, she becomes more regular if I put her on the potty every morning (more on elimination communication in a future post).

The Apple Sauce Queen

Lastly, we’ve avoiding all sweets until she’s at least a year old. With Peanut, we did no candy until she was beyond two. She still had occasional cookies, ice cream, etc. Now Peanut is a sweet maniac, just like mama. I’m hoping to curb the family sweet tooth by introducing Twig to a wide variety of non-sugary foods before she gets cane sugar. We’re also avoiding honey because of botulism (and nuts until we talk to the doctor, along with cows milk), so really the only sweet she gets is fruit. And she lourves her some fruit. Her favorite food, by a mile, is fresh strawberries. She even tries to eat the ends!

Every baby and situation is different and hopefully this new information will help some of you starting your baby-led weaning journeys.

Did you change anything with how you fed your first child to how you fed your second (or third, or fourth, or twenty-seventh)? What did you decide to do different and why? 

Bye Bye Baby-led Weaning Wednesdays

After some thought, I’ve decided to stop posting Baby-led Weaning Wednesdays post.

Really, where we are at in our Baby-led Weaning, it’s mostly just the same stuff over and over. I feel like I’m fighting to find interesting/useful things to write about and that they’re still not very good.

If things come up that I think will be helpful for other Baby-led Weaning parents, I’ll definitely do more posts. It’s just not going to be a weekly thing anymore. If you have any particular questions you’d like me to address, you can email them to theadventuresoflactatinggirl {at} gmail {dot} com.

So for this last official post, here is a slide show of all of our Baby-led Weaning photos.

Baby-led Weaning Wednesdays: Sandwich Update

For some reason, this is all sandwiches/hamburgers end up:

I guess it’s a step up from entirely taking the sandwich apart like she used to? For whatever reason, she’s decided that all sandwiches must be opened. There was about a mili-second of time where she would actually take bites of a sandwich as a sandwich if I handed it to her, but it quickly turned into running away to go open the sandwich on the living room floor. Guess what Peanut? It’s peanut butter and jelly in there just like yesterday! Can you please just eat the sandwich? No, the whole sandwich! Don’t just lick the peanut butter off!

Needless to say, we now eat all sandwiches in the high chair.

Also, my child isn’t too hot about hamburger meat. The surprised the heck out of me earlier this week by eating only the meat in a hamburger, but other than that, she hardly touches the stuff. She’ll eat the veggies and the bun, but not the meat. This isn’t a phase either because she’s never really liked hamburger meat. After reading something on BabyCenter about children’s dislikes of food having more to do with texture than taste, it makes me wonder about the hamburger meat. Maybe she doesn’t like the texture of hamburger meat? It is pretty weird. Does anyone else’s baby-led weaner not like hamburger meat?

Finally, one more cute/ridiculous photo of Peanut eating her hamburger.

Baby-led Weaning Wednesdays: Feeding Her Baby

This post isn’t really much about Baby-led Weaning, but it’s really cute. You see, Peanut recently realized that her baby doll is supposed to be a little human. Ever since, she’s wanted me to put her diapers on the baby doll, put the baby doll in her car seat, etc. I decided to take some pictures of her “feeding” her baby doll.

First we give it to the baby.

Oh, you’re done with it baby? Guess I’ll try it.

Peanut also started saying baby (like be-be) which is hecka cute.

Baby-led Weaning Wednesdays: Corn on the Cob

One of my favorite things about summer is corn on the cob. I love corn not on the cob, but somehow it’s just a billion times better straight off the source. No need for butter or salt—just give me some of that corn!

Needless to say, we eat corn on the cob frequently in the summer. Even if you’re not a corn-lover like me, I’m sure you do too since it’s so ridiculously cheap and pick-your-own farms everywhere seem to have it. Peanut has always liked corn too and in the beginning of the summer, I used a steak knife to cut the corn off of the cob for her. Then one evening a few weeks ago, she reached for my corn before I was done dishing everything out and it suddenly occurred to me that she could probably handle it off the cob. So I gave it to her and of course, she was a champ at it.

Now she eats corn off of the cob all of the time. Yeah, sometimes she chews on the ends. Yeah, sometimes she keeps trying to bite it off of the same place over and over. What matters is that she loves to do it. (Not to mention less work for mama. We always like less work for mama.)

Look at how happy she is!

Chomping on the end.

She ate a good portion of it!

So what have I learned from this experience? Let my child try things for herself! It’s the big theme of Baby-led Weaning right from the get go, but somehow I lost it a little. I need to remember to back off and let her try things on her own. Only if she can’t figure it out should I step in an help a little.

Baby-led Weaning Wednesdays: Soup

And we’re back! It seems like everything is getting in the way of my weekly Baby-led Weaning post! We had the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival for the last two weeks of August and before that there were weeks of planning the Carnival. To be quite honest, my posting is going to get pretty scarce in the near future because I’m going back to school full-time for the first time since Peanut was born. Hopefully I’ll at least keep up with my weekly posts!

With Peanut being a full-blown toddler, I’m feeling a bit more adventurous with foods lately. I’ve shared everything I’ve eaten with her for the last 10+ months, but there were certain foods that I gave her in easy-t0-handle ways or possibly just avoided all together. Now that she’s using utensils and maybe-kind-of-sort-of less messy, I’ve been branching out. So I gave her soup.

Yes, she’s had soup before. In the past I’ve given her just pieces out of the soup or just loaded the spoon and handed it to her. This time I just set a bowl of soup in front of her, gave her a spoon, and let her party!

Here are my tips for your first experience with soup:

Tip #1: Naked! It’s easier to clean a toddler than her clothes. Some people are opposed to naked toddlers—especially at the table. We spend a lot of time with a naked Peanut running around our house, so it’s not horribly unusual for her to be eating dinner naked. Maybe we’ll pay for it in the future when she’s 4 and wants to eat naked when we have guests over? Guess we’ll deal with that as it comes.

Tip #2: Ice! Soup is now an automatic favorite because I can put ice in it. Peanut is a food freak and will scream the whole time I’m cooking because she wants to eat NOW! (yes, she still screams if I cook when she’s not hungry yet) Then I put the food on her plate and put it in the fridge and that’s when the hissy-fits begin. How dare I not give her the food on the plate?!? Awful Mama hiding food from the toddler! I will kill you Mama! Soup is great because I stick an ice cube in, stir, and it’s good to go!

Tip #3: Don’t use the good china. Yeah, as if anyone uses their good stuff with a toddler! We personally took an old fold-up table outside to eat on. You definitely don’t want to use anything that doesn’t wash off easily. Also, since it’s summer time and we have our new lovely patio, we decided to eat outside. Really, nothing even got on the ground, but I’m still happy that we ate outside rather than risking getting red all over the carpet in our kitchen (Yes, we have carpet in our kitchen. Yes, it is awful). Most of it got on Peanut.

Tip #4: Bathe immediately. I figured that washing her off with the hose (no, it’s not as bad as it sounds) would do the trick, but oh no. It might just be that it was a tomato based soup, but that stuff dyed her skin! After hosing her down we let her play around outside for a while and I’m certain that if she was scrubbed in the bath sooner that she wouldn’t have had that reddish hue for the next few days.

All in all, soup was a good experience. It’s nice to give her something and just let her go at it. There’s zero effort for me in the actually food-eating stage so I’m able to sit back and relax—something rare for a parent of a toddler. She certainly had fun with it too. It was kind of hard to fight the urge to clean her up when she was literally rubbing it all over herself, but I just kept telling myself that she would just get messy again so it would be wasted effort. We’re not big soup people around here, but I think I’ll probably make it more often now.