Learn how to modify baby led weaning to make it work for you if you like the concept but are scared of baby choking.
I’ve been meaning to write this post forever and I’m finally getting around to it! I get questions all the time about how I feed Squish and now that we’ve been at it for about 3 months now, I thought I’d try to put everything I’ve done so far in one post for easy reference!
To give you some background information, Squish has always been a good eater. He was a big baby (9 pounds when he was born) and due to my struggles with breastfeeding he’s been formula fed for a while now. When we went to his 4 month appointment, our pediatrician advised us to hold off on solid foods until as close as six months as we could but to also pay attention to max formula recommendations.
I loved the idea of baby led weaning but wasn’t ready to commit 100% at first, so here’s how I modified it to work for me. In case you’re unfamiliar, the general concept of baby led weaning is allowing your child to feed themselves (no purees) and choose what they want to eat from the very beginning.
By 18 weeks, Squish was making it quite clear that he wanted to eat food.
–If the videos aren’t displaying, click the caption and it should take you to the instagram post so you can watch them–
We gave him a few tastes of things here and there (that video was March 6, 2015, he was born Oct 29, 2014) over the next two weeks but I wanted to hold off a bit longer to give his digestive system as much time to mature as possible.
I also let him nom on some cold cucumber slices and raw carrot sticks just for texture.
By 20 weeks he was able to sit up unassisted for short periods of time, he was always very interested in what we were eating and he constantly made attempts to grab food off our plates. He was also maxing out the daily recommended amounts of formula at 35-36 oz per day.
We decided it was time so we ordered him a high chair and dove in! (For your reference, the high chair we have is the Graco Blossom 4-in-1 Seating System and we love it! Just before he turned 5 months we started giving him a little solid food almost every day. I decided from the beginning that I didn’t really want to give him a lot of purees. I like the baby-led weaning approach because it helps introduce them to different textures and practice chewing at an early age. It was actually pretty amazing how good he was at chewing from the very beginning. Although I like the theory of baby-led weaning, I knew I’d need to make a few changes for my own comfort.
We’re learning! Getting better each day at grabbing pieces by himself! #babyledweaning #blw #20weeks A video posted by Lindsay L, RD (@theleangreenbean) on
From the very beginning I let him practice grabbing things for himself. His first two foods were sweet potato and avocado and those first couple weeks he also tried carrots and butternut squash. I cut the veggies into sticks and then alternated between roasting and steaming them. At this point, he seemed to prefer steamed to roasted. For the avocado I just cut it into chunks and gave it to him.
Although I wanted him to practice his coordination, giving him total control of how much he bit off still scared me a bit so I watched super closely and took larger pieces out of his mouth occasionally. For the avocado I just cut it into chunks and fed it too him since it was too slippery for him to pick up. After letting him practice a little each day, I usually just broke the veggies into chunks and fed those to him one at a time so he could chew them.
I also started giving him oatmeal around this time. I made my own from the very beginning using this recipe- Homemade Oat Cereal For Babies.
I went back and looked at my five month letter to him and according to that here’s what he was eating when he hit 5 months:
Right now you’re eating solid foods twice a day. Usually around lunch time I’ll give you a few finger foods – 2-3 slices of avocado and 2-3 veggie sticks. It can get a bit messy but you actually manage to get almost all of it in your mouth. Around dinner time you eat about a tablespoon of oatmeal.
You’re still drinking your formula as well. We bought these Born Free Glass Bottles and absolutely love them! Now that you’ve started eating some solid foods, you’re drinking 5-6 bottles a day…anywhere from 24-31 ounces.
Over the next month we didn’t make a whole lot of changes. I gave him a few new foods, including roasted red peppers, bananas and peaches. Here’s what I wrote in his six month letter:
You love to eat and have been eating solids for over a month now. We didn’t really try any new foods this month. You still love avocado and sweet potato and roasted red pepper strips are another favorite. We switched you to all 6 oz bottles and you typically get 5 of them per day and then around lunch time i’ll give you some solid foods while daddy eats his lunch- usually a couple strips of red pepper, a couple sweet potato or squash sticks and some avocado. I usually give you a couple tablespoons of oatmeal and some fruit in the evening.
Admittedly I got a bit lazier over the next couple of months and found it just easier to feed him chunks of food and let you chew them, rather than letting him try to feed himself as much. I still let him practice, just not as often. I felt good about it because he was still chewing, experiencing different textures, etc but I also had greater control over the size pieces he were getting.
At his six month appointment, he got the all clear to eat pretty much anything that wasn’t a choking hazard (like chips, popcorn, etc). Previously it was recommended you wait a bit longer to try certain foods due to food allergies, but that’s no longer the case, especially since our family doesn’t have a history of food allergies. He also got the ok to start drinking water from a sippy cup.
Right about 6 months he started sitting in a high chair when we went out to eat. I don’t give him a ton of water but I keep a sippy cup in the diaper bag for when we’re out because it’s a good distraction…and I’ll give him some after we go on a walk if it’s hot out.
I also started giving him Gerber Puffs while we were out to eat because they were a good distraction. I started with these because I thought they dissolved most easily, but I learned that Cheerios are actually specially formulated to dissolve easily for babies so I’ve switched to those since I eat them anyways.
We tried several new foods after he hit the six month mark. Here’s what I wrote in my seven month letter (about what he ate during month 6)
Eating is going well. You LOVE food. About halfway through the month we dropped your early morning feeding so you currently get 4 (6oz) bottles a day. They’re usually around 9am, 1pm, 5pm and 9:30pm. I feed you Cheerios in the morning while I eat my oatmeal to keep you from sticking your hands in my bowl. Around 12pm you have lunch with daddy when he comes home from work. You tried a bunch of new foods this month. After your six month appointment, we started working our way through some of the 8 major allergens. You’ve tried:
- eggs (scrambled, fried and hard boiled)
- tree nuts (almond butter)
- wheat (pancakes and puffs)
- fish (salmon)
We still have milk, shellfish, soy and peanuts left to try. You’ve also started eating meat. You’ve had chicken thighs and pork tenderloin so far. You’re still loving all your favorite fruits and veggies from previous months as well. Depending on our schedule for the evening, sometimes I’ll give you some more food while we’re eating dinner to keep you busy…other times you’re sleeping while we eat. Around 9pm I give you some oatmeal mixed with scrambled egg and prunes. (You have some issues with pooping regularly so we give you prunes every day).
During this month he also tried little pieces of chicken thigh, pork tenderloin and turkey meatballs.
Now that he’s getting fairly comfortably with eating regularly, my goal is to start encouraging him to feed himself more and more. Every morning I give him a few Cheerios to practice grabbing. He’s getting better about getting them with his two fingers, but he has trouble getting them into his mouth. I also want him to start choosing what he wants to eat more and more out of the foods I offer him.
Every weekend I prep a few veggies and some oatmeal with an egg for him while I’m doing my Sunday Food Prep. Over the next few months, I anticipate he’ll he more and more of what we’re eating. I’ll be back with Part 2 in a couple months!
Again, I realize this isn’t exactly baby led weaning, but it’s definitely a different approach than starting with all purees. For us, it’s been a nice combination approach that’s been working well for us!
If you have any questions, let me know!
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