Thursday, April 16, 2015

Baby Led Weaning

When we began feeding Meghan, we fed her homemade purees....and she would take 3-4 bites and be done. She was not interested in eating spoon-fed foods. At the same time, we were beginning services through Infant and Toddler Services to address her bottle taking, sensory system, and tongue movement. The wonderful therapist we worked with encouraged us to allow Meghan to take the lead in eating solids by giving pre-loaded spoons or whole solid foods for her to explore. That began us down the trail to baby led weaning.

While we do not completely follow all of the tenets of baby led weaning, we use the concept and it has been wonderful for our daughter and our family.

At 13 months, Meghan feeds herself all of her meals excluding those that need spoon-fed (she no longer likes having sticky/wet fingers and so does not like to feed herself pre-loaded spoons). We eat oatmeal 3 or more days a week and she likes to have this spoon-fed as she hates having messy fingers. At times she will also eat greek yogurt or homemade applesauce off a spoon - but this is inconsistent.

It takes a lot of trust to feed baby using this method. From what I have read and researched, a baby will manage their own nutritional needs when presented with healthy options. Young children do not necessarily eat a balanced diet each day. But when you observe the foods that they choose to eat, they do manage their dietary needs over the course of a week or month. Sometimes they will eat more dairy, sometimes more veggies, etc. We have seen this to be true of Meghan! Her eating from day-to-day is not very consistent, but when I tally her eating over a week or two - it's always balanced!!

One of the cool things about this method is that Meghan has chosen some of her own favorite foods that we might not have expected - broccoli and prunes!

Another benefit of this method that we are beginning to see - Meghan is a neat eater. She knows where her mouth is and is very good at getting food there. On her birthday, she enjoyed her cupcake very much - but there was very little mess at the end because she is so neat!

(The "mess" after eating her birthday cupcake!! That's it!!)

People often wonder about the word "weaning" in the title baby led weaning. As baby is ready to eat more solids, she will naturally begin to decrease the amount of milk she takes. We are seeing this with Meghan - she takes as much milk as she likes after eating a meal, but those amounts are lessening as solid foods are becoming a greater percentage of her dietary and caloric needs!

If we are blessed with another child, we will definitely go this route with him/her! It's a "lazy" way to introduce solids in that you aren't constantly making or buying purees or spending much of your day spoon feeding a baby. Instead, I am able to work in the kitchen or eat alongside my daughter at meals - I love that!!

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