I should start by saying I come from a long line of worriers. That being said, I am trying desperately to break that cycle and be one of those laid back, easygoing parents. My efforts can be jolted by the occasional challenge that comes from dealing with what I like to call “ the biggies”. This would be eating, sleeping, and illness. Thankfully, we haven’t had very many illnesses in my soon-to-be one year old’s life (though that hasn’t stopped me from taking her to the doctor at least once a month), and sleeping deserves its own article. In this post I would like to share with you my experience giving my baby solid foods. For all the new mommies standing in your kitchens staring at 15 different sippy cups, pouches, fresh fruits, puffs, yogurt melts and everything in between … this one is for you. I see you, boo. We are in this together!
Let’s go back to when my baby, Poppy, was five-and-a-half months old. She was not sitting unassisted and wasn’t necessarily showing all of the telltale signs of being ready to start solids. However, it was clear she was bored. A friend of mine suggested I try solids, and the committee in my brain went to work debating. Frantic, worry-about-everything English went into a tizzy about her not being six months old yet, which you probably know is the golden age to start solids according to Google. New, laid back English said two weeks couldn’t possibly make a difference. Off to Publix I went!
My pediatrician suggested oatmeal instead of rice, so I bought the organic flakes and mixed them with breast milk and we fired up our iPhones. We had so much fun, I didn’t even pay attention to how much I was feeding her. Poor thing was constipated for days after this event. I put the flakes back on the shelf and we tried again in a few weeks. I fed her less, but we got the same result. My advice is to skip the cereal altogether — not because it is horrible to give them carbs or whatever ridiculous reasons you have read on the internet, but because it’s kind of pointless and their tummies just are not ready for something so heavy after only having breast milk or formula for so long.
Now, if you can relate to anything you have read thus far, you know about baby led weaning (BLW). I bought the book and joined the Facebook groups (search for Baby Led Weaning and Baby-Led, Combo and Traditional Weaning), and I have found them to be immensely helpful. I learned a lot about the development of fine motor skills and how that correlates with a baby’s need for more solid food. This means the more they are able to pick food up and feed themselves, the more food their tummies can handle. This made good honest sense to me, but my baby wasn’t sleeping and I was convinced she would stop nursing so much at night if she went to bed with a full tummy. (I later learned that wasn’t true, but that’s another story.)
That’s when I started reading about how combining BLW and purees could be harmful because a baby may get confused and choke on the solids. I couldn’t buy that. A baby knows the difference between eating and drinking. See, the hot topic with baby led weaning is choking. Here is where laid back English started to take charge (thank God). I have spent years working in childcare, am CPR certified, and I know how to handle a child choking. I have done it before. I also knew that common sense would go a long way. I decided to try avocado. This is a fabulous first food. It is soft enough for a toothless mouth to mush up, yet hard enough for little fingers to grasp. Bananas were also a big hit. I would encourage you to lower your expectations. One tiny bite was a huge success for us in the beginning.
At this age, most babies have yet to master the pincer grasp, which is when they are able to pick up objects in between their thumb and fingers. This means they are using their whole hand to pick things up. Bananas and avocados can be slimy, and lots of it will land on the floor. Some other great starter foods are sweet potato sticks (cut finger-length in the oven with a little olive oil), steamed broccoli, cucumber sticks (quartered, finger length), and Poppy’s all-time favorite: strawberries. I literally just gave them to her whole and by the time she was seven months old, she would eat a whole strawberry in one sitting!
I usually tried solids once a day and then fed her some purees at night. She did just fine going back and forth. There is a combination feeding Facebook group that I found that was super helpful during this time. I encourage all of my mommy friends to get CPR trained, but in a crisis it is sometimes helpful for me to have a mental cheat sheet. Here are some reminders:
- Never leave your baby alone while eating.
- If your baby is silent and blue, he or she is choking and you should act immediately.
- If your baby is coughing, let her be. She is trying to work the food out.
- DO NOT PANIC. Our babies can sense how we are feeling and if they start to breathe fast, it will make the situation worse.
- Never put your finger into a baby’s mouth when he has food in it. It could lodge the food further down his throat and worsen the situation.
- Small, round foods (blueberries, black beans, etc.) should be squished between your fingers before given to the child.
- Stay away from grapes … I know you can cut them, but I don’t even bother.
- No honey until age one.
Please don’t let these tips frighten you! My baby has only choked one time, and it was actually on a puff that must have dried out. I will write a follow-up article soon about how things have changed in the last few months and will add some of my favorite recipes!
Did you do baby led weaning with your little one? Share your experience in the comments below!