Have you ever heard of Baby-Led Weaning? I'm not embarrassed to say I hadn't until today -- but I really wish I'd been enlightened about this feeding practice when I was introducing my son to solid foods as an infant.
Basically, while your baby is still breastfeeding, you slowly start him on solid foods by letting him feed himself instead of mashing up fruits and vegetables and spoon feeding him during mealtime. You serve soft, small bite-sized pieces of food and let your baby dictate whether or not he eats them and how much he actually ingests.
The theory behind Baby-Led Weaning is that by allowing your baby to decide what he wants to try and developing his own tastes -- versus feeding him whatever solid food you choose to offer -- he'll learn to self-feed and chew at his own pace and will naturally wean himself off breast milk as his food intake increases.
Something tells me this method of feeding takes a bit more patience, but it sounds so much less stressful to me than the traditional way of introducing baby to solid foods.
I can remember trying to get my little guy to open his mouth so I could get a spoonful of sweet potatoes or mashed bananas or whatever I happened to be serving into him. Sometimes he obliged, and other times he wanted no parts of the food. And then I'd get all upset and assumed I was doing something wrong. I'd start to worry that my baby would never wind up eating solids or getting the nutrition he needed.
But once he got a little bit older and started picking up food off his tray and eating it, things really smoothed out in the eating department. The process of serving meals became so much easier.
I only wish I'd known about Baby-Led Weaning back then so I could've given him more independence from the beginning and let him decide which foods to try, which to pass up, and how much he wanted to eat at any given sitting.
I hate to say it, but I can't help but wonder whether he'd be a better eater now if I'd let him take the lead as opposed to giving him whatever I felt he'd most enjoy. He's about as picky as picky kids get as a 7-year-old -- something that isn't always easy to deal with.
It definitely seems worth a shot to give Baby-Led Weaning a try -- because it certainly can't hurt. And if it saves you a few headaches and excess stress? It's more than worth it whether it works or not.
Is Baby-Led Weaning something you plan on trying?
Image via Mary Fischer