Starting Solids: Baby Led Feeding

Starting solids, what a fun milestone. Right?! Well, there are so many books, so many products, so many schools of thought on starting solids. This fun milestone sure has the potential to feel overwhelming. But, I was recently able to take the Starting Solids class at The Mama'hood in Denver, Colorado, led by Kelly Euperio, a Registered Dietician + I'm going to give you some of the highlights from the class. Plus, give you the advantages to baby led feeding (also known as weaning). I'll give you a sneak peek, the littles can get pretty messy exploring food, but the advantages far outweigh the mess!

baby led weaning

Generally, babies are ready for solids around age 6 months. Individual development can vary, but human oral + physical development prepares babies for solids at this age. At age 6 months: the tongue thrust stops + the gag reflex is far forward - naturally preventing choking + babies can sit up on their own + are actively reaching for food.  

Some concerns or misunderstandings of baby led feeding (weaning) are often centered on: will the baby get enough food? Ultimately, food is for fun until age 1. It is recommended that babies nurse or bottle feed prior to eating. Once the baby starts solids through baby led feeding, they will learn how to regulate their own hunger + fullness cues.

vegetables

Advantages to Baby Led Feeding (Weaning):

Fun

Natural

Leads to a healthier gut 

Improves fine motor skills

Encourages appetite control

Baby continues to nurse or take a bottle just as often. Solids are a compliment to the milk.

Positive attitude toward food

Exploration of different textures + flavors

Encourages independence 

Easier than making purees

Encourages families to eat healthier meals together

Includes baby in meal time

Mom has a little more time to eat her own meal, as she is not spoon feeding her baby.

Learns to chew vs. gulp food

As in all choices we will make as moms, there will be some disadvantages to our decisions. Baby led feeding can be messy. But, hey, life with kids is totally messy! Others may have concerns over our decision to let our child start solids through the baby led weaning method. We may have more waste with food dropped on the floor. But, I'd love to teach my older kids to keep their food off the floor as well!

weaning vegetables fruit

Ideas for Baby Led Weaning Foods:

Avocado slices

1/2 of a banana in the peel

Mango slices in the peel

Steamed carrot sticks

Steamed sweet potato slices

Very ripe peach 

Steamed broccoli heads

Very ripe pear

Homemade muffins

Steamed zucchini slices

Homemade teething biscuits

Toast slices

Steamed vegetables dipped in hummus

Homemade yogurt pops

Fruit slices dipped in SunButter

weaning

If you'd love to start baby led feeding for your little one, but maybe you have some concerns or questions, I really encourage you to take a class through The Mama'hood, or find a similar class in your area. Sweet little Emerson here is 6 months old. She came to the class with her Mama + tried the foods + had a great time. Classes like this are so great for moms, as we all need support with the many choices + challenges we face in our babies 1st year of life.

vegetables blw

What were your little ones first foods? Have you had a chance to ask your mom when you started solids + what your first foods were? Are you in the Denver area? Let me know in the comments.

 

Photography by: // Lindsey Lee + Co.