"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Monday, March 15, 2010

baby-led weaning

I wouldn't say Evan was a "picky eater." I would say that now, of course, but he's a toddler, sort of comes with the territory. He was pretty adventurous as a baby, though. As long as it was mushed into a runny paste of gooey-ness, he would eat everything from avocados to black beans to quinoa. But there was a caveat: it had to be pureed and it had to be on a spoon. The kid did not do finger foods.

We introduced "solids" (a very loose interpretation of that word) at six months and started putting very soft chunks of food on his tray at about seven months. He didn't touch them until he was nine months and two weeks old (yup, I kept track of these things). He picked up one chunk of super soft sweet potato and gobbled it up happily. Then, he didn't touch a piece of food again until he was SIXTEEN MONTHS OLD. (For those of you who don't have kids, this is ridiculous.) And even then, he didn't "touch" his food--he went straight to the fork. And still today, just one month shy of his THIRD birthday, Evan eats his sandwith with a fork. I'm not kidding. He'll be that guy, like the one from Seinfeld, that cuts up his 3 Musketeers bar.

Now this wasn't all bad: he is probably the cleanest not-quite three year old you'll ever meet. When other kids have cupcake frosting from ear to ear and forehead to chin, Evan is happily licking every last bit off of his fork and hardly needs a napkin.

But there have been some challenges, too, that I'd like to avoid this time around. I, literally, had to spoon-feed the kid every single meal until he could handle untensils. Now with two, I just don't have that kind of time. Even when he could handle utensils, some food just wasn't made to stay on a spoon (beans, rice, noodles, chunks of chicken, etc.). I ended up taking his meals and chopping them up with one of those "slap chop" things. Wanna guess how appetizing that looked?

So we're thinking of trying something new with Max. It's called baby-led weaning, and here's some information:

Baby-led weaning basically refers to the practice of skipping pureed "baby food" and going straight to table food. It's a slow and natural, "baby-directed" transition from breastmilk to solids during which the baby self-feeds, first with fingers and later with a spoon. Here are some of the benefits of baby-led weaning (source):

*allows babies to explore different tastes, textures, colors, and smells of food
*encourages independence and confidence while the baby feeds himself
*helps naturally develop hand-eye coordination and chewing skills
*helps to minimize mealtime battles and picky eating

Here are some more links if you're interested:


Already, at just over five months, Max is showing a greater interest in our food than Evan ever did. He's really adept at grabbing toys, grasping them, and bringing them to his mouth (important first readiness cues). He's getting close to sitting up (necessary before starting solids) and he has been sitting with us at mealtimes for months now (therefore learning basic eating skills by watching before participating). We've recently started giving him a bowl and spoon to play with while we eat, which is supposed to help, too.

So here's our plan:

At about 6 months (or later if he's not yet sitting up on his own, but not before), we'll begin by giving Max 2-inch chunks of super soft veggies and fruit...maybe banana, avocado, sweet potato....we'll be getting into really yummy fruit season, luckily, so probably peaches, too. I've heard good things about super mushy broccoli, so we'll give that a whirl. And hey, maybe if Evan sees his baby brother eating it, he will, too! I'll keep the ol' blog updated with our progress and hopefully some pretty cute pictures, too.

I'm excited to try this with him and see if it helps to avoid some of the eating frustrations we had the first time around. Of course, had we tried this with Evan, it may have been a complete disaster...maybe he's just not wired to get messy (um...I'll claim genetic responsibility for that one).

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