I remember a few of my mummy friends asking if I was going to do baby-led weaning when Rose turned six months. I tried to hide my blank look and act as if totally knew what they were on about. But I didn’t have a notion. I was just getting into a breast feeding groove and now I was supposed to start thinking about weaning? And baby-led weaning at that?!
All Hail Annabel Karmel
As Rose approached the six month mark I decided to start my weaning research. I was given the popular Annabel Karmel ‘New Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner‘ by a friend and I used that as my number one source for information. I remember Annabel Karmel from by Home Economics days at school when I learnt about childhood nutrition. For me, and many others, she is the go-to person for baby weaning and child-friendly recipes. I found her book to be really helpful as it suggested first foods to try (mainly fruit and vegetable purees) and give me a suggested meal plan for those first few weeks of weaning. With the help of her book, I successfully fed Rose her first fruit and veg purees – working up from one feed a day to three feeds a day in just a few short weeks. Check out my weaning blog post from a few months ago to see how I started on my weaning journey with Rose.
Scary Finger Foods?
I eventually found out about baby-led weaning (BLW) and I have to say I was a bit apprehensive about trying it. For those of you who don’t know, BLW is about giving your baby pieces of food to feed themselves. Think slices of melon and cooked broccoli florets. BLW is really popular and ‘in vogue’ at the minute and the thinking behind it is that it will foster more sociable family eating and reduce the likelihood of your child being a fussy eater. Recent research claims BLW better for baby’s outlook on food (both present and future) as they are feeding themselves and choosing what they want to eat from the beginning. My concern was that that my little gummy Rose would struggle with finger foods since all she had experienced was milk. I felt more comfortable with pureed food and using the traditional spoon-led approach.
Saying all that, however, after Rose had tasted her first few fruit purees, I gave her a slice of melon to hold and suck on. She loved it. I didn’t love it quite so much when she finally knawed a piece off and choked on it. My heart stopped beating for about two seconds until Rose coughed up the offending piece of fruit. It goes without saying that if you take the baby-led weaning approach then you cannot take your eyes of your little one whilst they eat. However, I would say not to let the idea of choking dissuade you from trying BLW. Sooner (rather than later) you baby is going to choke on some food and, thankfully, in the vast majority of cases they will be able to cough the food up themselves.
Inevitably with baby-led weaning, food gets all over their hands and face and gets flung on the floor. A little mess doesn’t bother me though, especially if I see that Rose is enjoying her food. I continued to give her pieces of fruit to suck on, and bits of cooked veg to pick up, investigate and hopefully eat! But it has to be said, the quickest and easiest way for me to make sure Rose is eating enough is to spoon feed her or put the food into her mouth with my fingers. If she reaches for the spoon, then I encourage her to take it and feed herself. I don’t want Rose to get lazy and expect to be spoon-fed all the time. When I have a bit more time on my hands I’ll put small bits of food on her high chair table for her to get to grips with. Most of it will end up down her bib or on the floor but I think it’s good experience feeling the texture of food and, if anything, it will improve her hand-to-eye co-ordination!
As Rose approaches the nine month mark and we have well-established feeding, I feel more confident than ever giving her finger foods like strips of bread/toast and slices of apple to suck and eat. Sometimes she likes handling her own food, other times not so much! A few weeks ago I was delighted to receive Annabel Karmels brand new ‘Baby-Led Weaning Recipe Book‘ all about – you guessed it – baby-led weaning! It has given me lots of fresh new ideas on different things to feed Rose – from simple things like french toast to adventurous rice and pasta dishes.
At the minute, Rose definitely isn’t the type of baby to eat everything that is in front of her. She loves baby porridge, baby rice, yogurt and fruit but turns her nose up at alot of vegetables and meat. I don’t want to fall into the trap of feeding her the same things week-in, week-out (which would totally be the easy route!), as I want her to be an adventurous eater like her dad and I. I love my grub and honestly would struggle to tell you a food or cuisine I don’t like. I definitely don’t want Rose to end up a fussy eater as it is so limiting.
Now that Rose has two teeth through, she can handle a wider variety of food. I definitely think I will be referring to Annabel’s new BLW book more that her other puree-focused book as I want to start making Rose more texture-based meals for lunch and dinner. A lot of Annabel’s new recipes sound like stuff Phill and I would eat, such as Jambalaya, broccoli, chicken and potato bites and carrot and banana cookies. As Rose edges towards one year old I hope she will soon be eating more or less what Phill and I would be.
What are your thoughts on baby-led weaning?