Refining Little L's Palate: Starting Baby-Led Weaning

Even as a second time mother, I am constantly learning. Besides, it’s been four years and I have forgotten things! Little L is 7 months tomorrow, sitting up, and she seems to be extra hungry — and it was just time to start on solids. Now, I am not a “by the book” mama. Not that it’s a bad thing, I just don’t have time to read books and I really go with my instincts and talk it out with my pediatrician.

A friend said she did baby-led weaning with her six month old, and I was surprised to see him working on a piece of pork chop! But it made sense: He can’t actually take a piece, they get the flavor, and with enough saliva little pieces do come off, but they are small enough for him to swallow.

We’ve been giving Little L sweet potato, rice cereal, banana and pear mix, and then one day making dinner I gave her a half a piece of toast (extra toasted!) with the crusts cut off. She got to touching, feeling, and finally made her way to her mouth. Little bits came out in her mouth and she looked confused, then swallowed. I sat with her, guiding her, and giving her sips of milk in between. Before I knew it she had had a piece of toast, and eaten all of her soft carrots!

The next day I gave her a thick piece of peach, and again, she looked, touched, and then made her way to her mouth. She tasted and tasted and just worked on it. Little bits came off and before I knew it she had had a good amount. Today we gave her pear, and what do you know, she already knew what to do! The key is to give her something thick she can hold in her hand, and long enough on each end.

I’m not an expert, but the effects seem to be positive. And let me clarify, when I say “baby-led weaning” I mean the UK definition of starting baby on solids, not the US definition of weaning, which means transitioning off breast milk. I had no idea there was a difference until someone pointed it out on Instagram! (I had my first child in the UK, so wasn’t used to that!) Right now we are doing both — giving her new foods to feed herself with, and the smoother blended textures (which is not part of the baby-led weaning idea, but like I said, you do what works for you!).

If you are looking to try this, have a read first, and of course do not leave your baby alone. It’s actually a very fun time, and exciting to watch them experiment!

Have any of you tried “baby-led weaning?” What sorts of foods did you start your baby with? I’d love to know your experiences!

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