Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine what it would be like to virtually clean the slate of all the things we’ve come to know and accept as normal, and sweep all the way back to a simpler, purer, unclouded time of simply living, and particularly, simple eating. When it comes to baby’s first foods, our children’s nutrition has become a formulized science, a quite confusing, utterly void of anything good, type formula. We are given step 1-4, told which bags, jars and cartons of food to buy when and how to feed it, and how much they should consume.
After a month or two of serving up, “just add water” fortified infant cereal to my son, I began to question the quality of what I was giving him. If only I’d flipped to the back of the bag I would have taken one glance at the ingredient list and tossed it in the trash. I ditched the expensive bags of oatmeal, rice cereal and other over processed baby cereals full of added sugars and began grinding my own grains and cooking cereals from scratch. I referred to a great baby food book called, Super Baby Food, and packed every bowl full of nutrients for the best meal possible. Not only is this a fraction of the cost of instant cereal, it majorly trumps commercial baby cereals in both nutrition and cost and takes very little time to prepare. This was mainly his breakfast meal, lunch consisted of a doctored up whole-fat yoghurt, and dinner was often similar to breakfast.
More recently, and now that my son is passed the stage of baby cereal and eats all that we as a family eat, I’ve been introduced to a way of introducing food that is healthier, easier, and keeps in rhythm with the development of your child and his need and desire to wean to newer foods. Baby led-weaning is really a dressed up name for letting your babe self-feed. While breast-milk still remains to be their prominent source of calories, food is offered in proportions they can pick up (and won’t choke on), and voila! They eat it when they’re hungry, and stop when they’re full. Who knew eating could be as simple as cook, cut and serve?
Babyledweaning.com, a site dedicated to the practice of baby led weaning, offers plenty of information and tips on how to get started. Seeing as mainstream baby feeding practices have veered so far off from what’s natural, we have to inform ourselves on what should be normal. Here’s some of their tips:
- Have a good trawl on the internet for blogs, info and in particular video clips of BLW babies. Seeing little tiny 6-month-old babies demolishing their food and hearing the gasps of admiration from the proud parent behind the camera (and by parent I mean Dad. It’s always the Dad), will do your confidence the power of good.
- Next, forget ‘baby food’. Food’s food, as long as you’re not adding salt. To start off with, think chip-sized because it’s an easy shape for little 6-month-olds to grip, but you’ll soon move on to smaller pieces as it’s more interesting for a child developing a pincer grip.
- (Slightly bitter) experience suggests that the more effort you put into making something special for the baby, the less likely they are to eat it. Give them what you’re having. If they hate it, fine, they’re getting their calories from milk anyway.
- Never put food into a child’s mouth, let them put it in by themselves so that they can control it as it moves backwards. If the baby gags, remember that it’s their way of moving food around in the mouth and don’t panic. Some parents have found that making exaggerated chewing faces and noises reminds the child to get back on track.
- Don’t get too hung up on three meals a day, it may take a while to work up to that. Whatever’s convenient and enjoyable for you is best. And don’t put too much on the highchair tray at the one time, just a couple of pieces of food will stop them feeling overwhelmed.
Check out their link for a more extensive list of suggestions for baby led weaning, and find out if it just might be for you.
The choices are many, but the most important is that your growing baby has a balanced, nutritious diet!