Fistfuls of food – learning to eat the baby led weaning way

Eating pears

We weren’t in a hurry to introduce solids to Hugo since the American Society of Pediatrics pushed back the recommended age to six months.  I heard the delay was related to statistics on obesity and of course I am in no hurry to wean. However, Hugo appeared very eager to eat food.

I used to have breakfast standing at the kitchen island with Hugo in a sling. I would put one of his toys on the counter in front of him and my bowl of cereal off to the side.  A few weeks ago he succeeded in swiping a handful of rice crispies when I let my guard down. He’s gotten pretty quick about grabbing forbidden objects.

I heard about baby led weaning from a friend around the time Hugo was born. It involves skipping purees and allowing a baby to feed himself. The benefits include a less picky eater later in childhood, no exasperation in trying to cajole baby to eat, and it’s fun for everyone to eat the same food together as a family.

It makes sense to me that if the baby decides when and how much to nurse, he should have the same control over solid foods as he transitions (slowly) from breast milk to solids. One of the mottoes of baby led weaning is “food before one just for fun.” Babies are supposed to get their nutrition from breast milk or formula before age one, so eating should be a fun, exploratory activity.

I ramped up the research as Hugo’s six month birthday approached and bought The Baby Led Weaning Cookbook. We bought a couple of avocados and an organic pear in preparation. Then a few days shy of six months, Hugo grabbed an apple out of my hands and dug in. Yes, we caught it on video. Don’t mind the doleful Civil War documentary in the background.

It was on! I started offering a fruit or vegetable to Hugo once a day. Then I added in a piece of toast or organic brown rice cake. I was shocked when he ate a good deal of avocado then slept three and a half hours in his crib. I thought it was an old wives’ tale that babies slept longer with solid food in their tummies. Unfortunately, that sleep stretch has not been repeated since.

Sometimes he just plays with the food and only eats a little. When we offer something he loves, he’ll eat a lot more. His favorite foods so far are pears and sweet potato fries. Here is a tentative foray into bananas.

It is so much fun to share this experience with Mr. Go, but I wish he weren’t in such a hurry to grow up!

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5 thoughts on “Fistfuls of food – learning to eat the baby led weaning way

  1. there is a great study – totally unduplicatable but a study none the less.

    Around 1910, if I recall, a group of infants were given piles of whole, traditional foods. There was salt, cod liver oil, raw and cooked vegetables and fruits raw and cooked liver and meats of different varieties.

    As you said, the eating would just start out as exploration. Handfuls of salt followed by licks of vegetables. But ultimately they ended up eating a quite balanced and healthy diets.

    At some point in the study they introduced sugar and cooked grains (farina? I don’t remember) into the choices and this threw off the ability of the babies to self-select the right foods. They ended up focusing on those foods and losing a taste for the others.

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    • I had forgotten about that study! I’m withholding salt and sugar per current guidelines for now. I know how terrible sugar is but I don’t think it is possible to keep him from eating it. I plan on giving him a first birthday cake at least.

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      • but why give him birthday cake? what does he get out of it? depleted B12 levels? spiked insulin? weaker immune system? depleted capacity to discern better foods for him? there is no real upside. stick candles in a hard cooked egg yolk – he’d be better off. the fats in it are amazing for his little brain.

        it is possible to massively curtail sugar access and intake. When I was a kid it just wasnt around in my home. Therefore I didnt have it. Did I have sugar ever? Of course but it was so infrequent that when I did have it it was so clear the effect that it had on me that it never took hold as part of my diet.

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  2. I have to choose my battles. We’re vegetarians, concerned about GMOs and pesticides. I’m not rushing to feed Hugo sugar, but I know he’ll have it occasionally. After weaning off caffeine before i got pregnant, I find that I eat some sugar every day. It’s always something

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  3. Pingback: Eating solids with one tooth – follow up on baby led weaning « Long Live Go

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