Friday, August 2, 2013

Baby Led Weaning - 1 Week In

Nomming a garden fresh cucumber.  Love the face!

I mentioned in Molly's 6 month post that we were beginning the process of baby led weaning.  I had read quite a bit about the topic, but didn't really know what to expect when we actually applied the concept.  Would Molly take right to it and enjoy food?  Would it take awhile for her to come around to the process?  A week into Molly's real food journey and I'm very happy we decided to use the BLW approach.  I'm very pleased with the progress she has made so far.

Her first introduction to solids was avocado on her 6 month birthday anniversary.  She basically squished it and mushed it around her tray having lots of fun and got a few tastes in by sucking the mashed avocado off of her fingers.  She still takes a similar approach, but she's caught onto the whole concept.

It only took a few times putting food on her tray and she's onto the process and will pick up whatever is presented, study it for a bit, maybe squish it a little bit, but pretty immediately put it right into her mouth for a taste.  Sometimes she makes an unhappy looking face, but she keeps going and continues to taste and gum on whatever it is.  She has progressed to the point where she's actually chewing and swallowing bits of food now.  Quite a bit of progress for a week!  So far she has tried avocado, cucumber, broccoli (steamed florets), sweet potato (roasted "fries", unseasoned), and zucchini (steamed).  She seems to be enjoying her introduction to foods and has come to expect her serving when we sit down to dinner.  Basically she gets some of what we're eating for dinner.

Sweet potatoes are the clear favorite so far.

A few notes I have on BLW:

One of the biggest hurdles to get over (for me at least) is understanding, and accepting, that this is a very gradual process (and that's part of the benefit).  Parents of other babies Molly's age are talking about how many ounces of purees their babies are eating in a day.  There's really no way to measure her intake and right now it's not much, but I know that it's part of the process and that the actual experience and tasting of food is what's most important right now.

Something that I was a little curious/apprehensive about going into BLW was the issue of choking.  The concept of starting babies on with runny purees is definitely the norm so it takes a shift in thinking to use BLW.  As I said before, I've done quite a bit of reading on BLW so I understand the concept of babies' gag reflex and how it works to prevent choking.  There's a very large difference between choking and gagging and although choking has crossed my mind I'm not overly concerned with it (and I've become more comfortable with it as I see the way Molly handles her food).

I was concerned with the gagging and wondered if a lot of gagging was going to be involved at first until Molly got the hang of processing food in her mouth.  I know that gagging is normal (and babies do this with purees too, especially when they move up to thicker/chunkier varieties), but it still makes my heart jump into my throat so I wasn't really looking forward to seeing a lot of it.  But really, Molly has done great.  I think she gagged just a tiny bit, once so far and again, it's a normal part of babies learning to eat regardless of how they're introduced to foods because of where their gag reflex is located in the mouth.

It's messy.  That's a drawback, for sure.  But, even with the traditional route to solids using purees there comes a time (or two) when babies have to lean how to feed themselves (and then they move onto utensils!) and it's a messy process.  Hopefully we're just getting it out of the way early.

I love how hands off it is introducing her to foods.  I love that she gets to introduce herself at her own pace and that I can still enjoy eating with the family without having to shovel purees into her mouth.  I love that she's trying things that it would have taken a while to get to if we had used purees (I never pureed things like zucchini or broccoli for first foods.  Some things just don't lend themselves well to pureeing and some things you don't want them eating a ton of at first introduction because it could upset their tummy).  I feel like this method of food introduction really fits well for us and supports what I gleaned as a parent the first time around - mainly that babies will progress at their own pace anyway and all that you can control is the food that's offered, not what or how much they choose to eat.  That can be a very frustrating lesson to learn.  I really believe that this process will streamline the whole introduction to foods and make it an easier road to eating for both Molly and I.

More avocado.

I'm really looking forward to watching her journey with food unfold!

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