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!
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.
Advantages to Baby Led Feeding (Weaning):
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
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!
Ideas for Baby Led Weaning Foods:
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
Steamed zucchini slices
Homemade teething biscuits
Steamed vegetables dipped in hummus
Fruit slices dipped in SunButter
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.
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.