Thursday, May 5, 2016

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.

 

 

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