photo by cafemama

Have you figured out when and how you're going to give your baby solid foods? I started when my daughter was 7-8 months and sort of just made up my own rules. But I just read an article some of you might be interested in about baby-led weaning, which says you should give babies finger foods and have them learn how to eat for themselves rather than spoon-feeding them pureed foods.

Gill Rapley, the founder of the baby-led weaning movement, just came out with a new book called Baby-Led Weaning, and she also has a DVD, and a web-site with information about how to introduce solid foods with helpful links.

Here, from an article in the Guardian, are Gill Rapley's 10 commandments for turning your baby into a good eater. (They have been condensed by me.)

1. Start weaning at 6 months. It's the best age as a baby's digestive system isn't ready for real food until then. And by that stage, they need the chance to feed themselves real food such as steamed whole vegetables, strips of chicken, pieces of fruit or cheese sticks.

2. Sit your baby upright for meals. If the baby is upright, and you make sure they have control over their food (don't put the food into their mouth - let them do it themselves), choking is no more likely, and may be less likely, than it is when a baby is being spoon-fed.

3. Offer, rather than push, meals. Allowing babies to eat what they want means they'll learn to choose the nutrients they need, and to listen to their bodies telling them when they've had enough.

4. Eat with your child. Eating with people will ensure babies learn more than just how to handle food—they'll learn about taking turns, conversation and table manners.

5. Expect a mess. It's a fun and important part of babies learning about food.

6. Don't get emotional. "If you feel hurt that your child isn't eating the food you've prepared, think about why you're taking it so hard. You might have anxieties about whether you're a good enough parent, and that's the issue you need to address.

7. Don't cut up food too small. Before they master pincer-gripping with their fingers and thumb, babies need big pieces of food they can hold.

8. Treat mealtimes as play times. Food is to be experimented with, played with, and investigated. And to be tasted.

9. Don't give food to hungry babies. Give them a milk feed first so they won't be frustrated, then finger food so they'll be able to enjoy experimenting with the food.

10. Watch your language. Encourage the baby to think of food itself as interesting and pleasurable, rather than associate it with negativity.

Okay, so I broke a bunch of these rules (I pureed away because I'm paranoid about choking). How about you? How did you introduce your baby to food?

If you haven't started giving your baby solid foods yet, do you think you might try baby-fed weaning? If not, what are your plans?