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Baby-Led Weaning: 6 Months Old

by Meghann on May 5, 2016

As I mentioned in our 7 month update, Annalynn started solids last month and it’s already been quite an adventure.

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I love food… a lot. I love to cook, I love to eat, I love to taste, I love unique flavor combinations, I love it all. Food has always been a passion of mine and I couldn’t wait to share this passion with Annalynn.

I honestly thought I would be chomping at the bit to start her on “real” food before the WHO recommended 6 month mark, but somehow the first 6 months sort of flew by and Annalynn remained on a liquid diet. It probably would have been a different story if Annalynn had showed any sign that she was ready for solids. Instead she showed zero interest in food until 6 months, at which point it was like a switch had flipped on.  All of a sudden she was sitting up on her own, trying to grab what I was eating, and seemed genuinely interested in food on my plate. So a couple of days after her half birthday I cut up some cucumber sticks and avocado, put her in her high chair, and let her go nuts. She loved it.

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We started with the  Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) approach with solids because it made the most sense for our family. I read Baby-Led Weaning by Gill Rapley right after I returned to work and fell in love with the concept. The idea is to skip cereals and purees and jump right to “real” food. Basically Annalynn has been eating what we’ve been eating right from the beginning (with a few modifications, of course).

We had tacos the other night; Annalynn had ground beef, avocado, and gnawed on a tortilla.

We had pasta with meatballs and zucchini; Annalynn had a meatball and zucchini sticks.

We had quesadillas, she had a quesadilla slice.

We had roasted sweet potato, she had roasted sweet potato.

I could go on and on. Basically, since she’s eating what we’re eating (and I don’t have to worry about prepping anything separately) it makes meal times super easy and convenient.

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The first month of solids is all about exploration and play. Annalynn loves to dig her hands into the food and feel out the various textures. And since she’s currently in an “everything-in-the-mouth” phase, it’s really a natural instinct to bring everything to her lips to taste. It really doesn’t seem like she’s eating anything at the moment (more just gnawing and gumming), but that’s okay. Right now food is fun, there’s definitely a learning curve for figuring out how to chew or swallow. Whenever she does manage to swallow anything, her eyes get real big and she has this super surprised look, as if she’s not really sure what just happened.

 

Annalynn also enjoys feeding herself with a spoon. I usually pre-load the spoon with whatever (in this case, yogurt) and then hand the spoon off. She take control from there.

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One of the big concerns with BLW is the gagging a lot of babies experience due to their extra-sensitive gag reflex. The gagging is often misinterpreted as choking, which is super scary. We watch Annalynn like a hawk whenever we give her food and, thankfully, so far the gagging has been very minimal. Whenever she does gag, I give her a second to figure it out on her own and if she’s making noise (or I see it coming back up) I know it’s a good sign. If you do pursue BLW, I would HIGHLY recommend reading up on gagging so you’re very familiar with it.

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I will say BLW is very messy. Personally, I find babies covered in food to beabsolutely adorable. My phone is now full of photos of Annalynn trying new food and it makes me smile every time I scroll through them. It also helps having a dog who doesn’t mind assisting with clean-up duty. Maddie gets VERY excited when ever she sees the high chair pulled out.

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Daycare has honestly been the biggest challenge with BLW. We waited a couple of weeks before sending any food and I spoke with the director, as well as all of her teachers before sending anything. Daycare might be the one place where purees would be easier because that’s what they know and that’s what they’re used to. So far I haven’t been super creative with what I’ve sent. Annalynn mainly gets roasted sweet potatoes, banana, or avocado at daycare. I prefer to send really soft, squishy items that don’t really mess with her gag reflex. If you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments!

So there you have it. We’re one-month in with solids and so far doing good. Annalynn is open to trying most new things and hasn’t turned anything away yet. We’ll see how that changes over the next few months! I’ll write an update once we’re further along to see how that goes.

 

 

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ashley May 5, 2016 at 5:01 pm

How do you deal with concerns about allergies? My pediatrician said to start with high-allergen foods and only introduce a new food every 2-3 days for the first month or so.

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2 Katie May 5, 2016 at 9:12 pm

Very cute! Glad it has been a fun process. You may know this already, but just incase, avocado and dogs don’t mix well! Might want to keep the pup away when there is avocado involved.

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3 Aimee May 5, 2016 at 9:44 pm

You could try sending:
Very ripe diced peaches or pears
Ricotta or cottage cheese
Grits or polenta, just have the teacher microwave then loosen up with pumped milk

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4 Lindsey May 5, 2016 at 10:03 pm

Glad BLW is working for y’all! We ended up doing a mixture of BLW and purées because baby boy loved to eat! At 13-months, he still loves the pouches and it’s a great way to get more veggies in him. As for school, we didn’t bother sending food there until he was nine months. It worked well; he was more adept at swallowing by them and a ~little~ neater.

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5 Jessica May 6, 2016 at 7:27 am

I didn’t do BLW with my first but I did with my second and it really was the best. They both love to eat now. You can’t really go wrong. I will say the gagging used to drive my family crazy and then they were in awe when they realized how quickly the baby recovers.

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6 Jill May 6, 2016 at 8:23 am

We did a combination of purées and finger foods for both of my boys, because they were such big eaters! The purées just seemed to fill them up and the finger foods got them used to eating real food. As you said, they will pretty much eat whatever you do, as long as it’s small enough! Some ideas: Mac and cheese, grilled cheese with sliced turkey (cut in tiny squares), ripe pears/peaches, watermelon, tiny pieces of deli meat, pieces of tortilla dipped in refried beans, baked apples, smashed cooked peas, cooked carrots, smashed corn… Hmm that’s all I have for now 🙂

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7 Meghann May 11, 2016 at 11:09 am

I like the grilled cheese idea. She loved the quesadilla she tried.

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8 Rachel May 6, 2016 at 9:06 am

Some things we send to daycare (in addition to the things you mentioned): scrambled eggs, cut up deli meat, lima beans, black eye peas, steamed broccoli, carrots, green peas, and blueberries. I also send puree foods that fill him up. Once he turned 10 months old, his teacher worked with him to start eating off of the lunch menu for the older kids and I was very surprised when they told me the variety of food he was trying.

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9 Meghann May 11, 2016 at 11:09 am

These are great. Thank you for the ideas.

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10 Shannon May 6, 2016 at 9:46 am

How appropriately timed! I’m planning on doing BLW and just ordered Gill Rapley’s book this morning. I’ve been waffling on whether I wanted to read it or not, so I’m glad to hear you liked it. My baby is 5.5 months so while she’s not ready just yet (and neither am I!), I know it’s coming. Have her poops changed? I think that’s what I’m dreading the most about introducing solids.

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11 Meghann May 11, 2016 at 11:08 am

Yes, they’ve changed, but not as drastically as people had warned. I’m sure they’ll change even more as she starts to eat more and more.

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12 Melissa May 6, 2016 at 9:53 am

Baby led weaning freaked me out because of the choking and allergy thing, so I like hearing success stories! We did the puree route for our daughter and also gave her puffs and cheerios to get her used to feeding herself. Now at 18 months she eats pretty much everything, except we’ve recently entered a lovely toddler stage of suddenly NOT liking bananas and scrambled eggs, one of my go-to breakfasts for her. Hopefully it’s a short-lived phase.
Melissa recently posted..Core Organic Review + Giveaway

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13 Libby May 6, 2016 at 10:15 am

I took a million pictures of my daughter eating and when I wasn’t sure what kind of art or decor to hang in our kitchen, I had canvases made and now they proudly hang. We loved baby lead weaning and had a really positive experience. Have you tried a silicone feeder for daycare? Our provider felt more comfortable with that. We would send eggs too, and they were easy on her gag reflex.

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14 Reenie May 6, 2016 at 10:41 am

So cute…. looks like Maddie is waiting on Annalynn to either throw or drop some food. HA!!

🙂

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15 Laurie May 6, 2016 at 12:23 pm

Our daycare was equally unfamiliar with BLW when we introduced it to them (they’d cut up the steamed carrots, broccoli, cooked apples, etc. I sent and my poor little guy didn’t know what to do with it!), but soon they caught on and were telling other parents about it. You’re smart to gradually introduce them to the method, but don’t be afraid to let them learn too!

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16 Blythe May 6, 2016 at 12:55 pm

We did the exact same thing, and it worked great! She never had a jar of baby food, and would never eat the purees out of the pouch- but at four we all eat the same thing (curry, steak, veggies). She is the best eater which I think is half luck on our part, an half we always wanted her to eat real food.

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17 Jen F. May 6, 2016 at 1:05 pm

Thanks for sharing this! I have a 3 week old – so no where near ready for this, but so interesting to read. I didn’t realize there was a book so I will have to read up on it!

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18 Cara May 6, 2016 at 1:06 pm

First of all, can that baby get any cuter??!!! Seriously, she is so damn cute! We love BLW around here, all 3 of girls went through it, SO much easier!
Cara recently posted..Alayna #10

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19 Madeline May 6, 2016 at 2:20 pm

daycare was open to it with us, but I still sent some pouches for them too since they have more kids to keep their eye on and they could use those in a pinch. since we had no history of allergies on either side, our ped was cool with us just jumping in with foods and we started with nut butters and things like yogurt (my daughter LOVES plain greek yogurt) pretty early. hummus is another great one! one random discovery was frozen waffles straight out of the freezer (still cold) are AWESOME for teething babies. plus, as they gnaw on them it softens them up.

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20 Meghann May 11, 2016 at 11:04 am

Good tip on the frozen waffles! Annalynn likes to gnaw on apple slices to help with teething. And our ped said the same thing since we didn’t have a history with allergies and she was over 6 months.

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21 Nicole May 6, 2016 at 3:58 pm

We are doing BLW too! I haven’t sent any food to daycare yet since really at this age they are mostly experimenting and getting most of the calories from milk (she’s also 7 months). But, I keep thinking about what I will send when the time comes (I was going to wait til she’s a little better and less messy) – I was thinking hard boiled eggs, avocado and pre steamed veggies made in advance would be good to start and maybe little hummus or avocado sandwiches as she gets better (right now she still has no teeth) plus fruit of course!!

I’m really enjoying the process and she’s improved quickly (her poop lets us know she’s digesting it!).
Nicole recently posted..RnR SD Half Marathon Training Recap Weeks 5 & 6

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22 Meghann May 11, 2016 at 11:03 am

Thank you for the ideas! I like the hard boiled egg and hummus and avocado sandwich.

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23 Liz May 6, 2016 at 6:10 pm

I really like the idea of BLW, but I did a combination of BLW and purees for my daughter (who is now 14 months) because I was afraid of the gagging! I would be more open to doing fewer purees for my next kid, but in hindsight I am actually glad I got her used to pureed food for a few reasons. One is that I have SO MUCH LOVE for pouches. My little one has a milk protein allergy, so being able to bring a pouch to restaurants to have in case we don’t end up wanting to order non-dairy options is really nice. The second is that once she started eating more of our meals, I liked being able to puree or mash meals that would have been more difficult for her to eat BLW style (like rice or quinoa) or that contained things she wouldn’t eat in chunks (she never really liked proteins like beans, meat, or eggs unless they were mashed with other stuff or pureed). I also just really like the convenience of being able to use jarred meals every once in a while if for whatever reason things get crazy and I don’t have fresh food on hand for her. I do love the ideas behind BLW, though, so I will be interested to see how you adapt it as Annalyn moves forward towards eating more solids and less milk. Perhaps I’ll get over some of my hangups and go all out with it for my next kid! I don’t know if I could give up my pouches, though…..ha!

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24 Jess May 7, 2016 at 4:38 pm

We do a combination of purees and blw. Sometimes it’s more convenient to feed the baby. I really like pouches when we’re traveling.

I was gifted with a few rubber bibs that have a little pocket to catch foods. Those are great for blw since the pocket catches food that doesn’t make it to her mouth!

Watching the baby try new foods is so entertaining! Mine makes the most hilarious faces when she tries new foods.

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25 Meghann May 11, 2016 at 10:53 am

Yes! We now own four of the pouch bibs!

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26 Caitlin May 13, 2016 at 2:48 am

I’m so glad you wrote about this! We aren’t at the point of introducing solids yet (my daughter is 2.5 months) but have been looking into baby led weaning. When the time comes, I think we will probably do a combination of BLW and some purees until the gag reflex has calmed down a bit. I love hearing other people’s experiences though.

I also wanted to say I have been enjoying all of your posts about breastfeeding, pumping, and life as a new mom! As a new mom myself it is so helpful reading how other people are doing things. I head back to work next week and will be figuring out pumping, etc. I am wondering how things are going with Annalynn’s sleep! I remember you saying that you got Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (or whatever the name of that book is) and I am wondering where you are with it now. If you ever have the chance of have things to say about it I’d love read a post about that 🙂

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27 The Many Thoughts of a Reader June 1, 2016 at 4:02 pm

Daycare was our biggest issue too. I sent a lot of applesauce! 😉

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