I’ve been using a self-tailored version of Baby Led Weaning (BLW) with my 9 month old son. Here are a few of the things I like about it:
1. The motto of BLW: “food before one is just for fun!” Since I’m still breastfeeding on a regular basis, I don’t need to worry about making sure my son is getting enough food/vitamins/fats/proteins/etc. in his diet. Rather, I can enjoy watching him explore different tastes and textures knowing he’s getting his primary nutrition from breastmilk.
2. The flexibility factor – we recently spent a month in the US. I loved having the freedom to choose whether to offer him solids or just nurse…depending on what was on our [figurative] plate that day.
3. Simplicity – life is complicated enough as it is. I was happy to skip the various stages of pureed foods (and the time and expense involved) & go straight to solids. (The book does a great job explaining the history behind pureed foods and why they are unnecessary in most cases.) Also, it is wonderful to be able to feed my son the same foods that I am eating (with a few modifications) rather than making separate meals. I don’t want to lay the ground work now for a restaurant-style kitchen in the future. Added benefit: it encourages me to eat healthy since my son eats what I’m eating. Also, I’m hoping that BLW will prevent many of the common power-struggles so commonly associated with food and kids.
4. Skill development – since food before one is just for fun (refer to point 1), my son has plenty of time to practice the skills necessary to feed himself. It’s been fun watching him improve in this department. He’s already come a long way in the few short months that we’ve been experimenting with solids. One of my favorite moments early on was when he grabbed a fistful of tuna with his right hand and then put his left hand in his mouth. 🙂 The skills he’s learning & practicing at each mealtime transfer to other areas as well – he’s got a pincer grip like nobody’s business! And the time he spends chewing and moving food from side to side with the use of his tongue is helping develop the many muscles in his mouth that he will need for speech. On a related note, he *thankfully* has yet to discover “gravity” (i.e. purposely dropping food on the floor). 😉
A few last miscellaneous thoughts:
Food is a social thing. I enjoy being able to share a meal with my son (vs. me spoon feeding him). By including him in family meal-times, he learns by example the “rules of the game” (so to speak). Copying is such an important form of learning…why not employ the same method in learning how to eat? Side note: I must confess, my self-feeding skills have deteriorated since teaching my son how to eat. I often chew with my mouth open and in an exaggerated manner to demonstrate how we chew our food. And I find myself using my fingers more often than I’d like. Let’s hope this is a temporary regression in my table manners! 😉
Also, I tend to think, since we are eating the same foods and nursing, that the flavors being introduced in solid form are then reinforced in the breastmilk.
What’s worked for you in the process of introducing your baby to solid foods?