Beginning Baby Led Weaning seemed daunting to me at first, but once we got started it was easy as anything. While there are a few different steps and procedures we went through getting started, it really was simple and fun.
We bought our high chair after Ryan’s pediatrician cleared him to start solids at his 6 month appointment. We knew we needed something that would fit well in our small home, so we chose the Graco Slim Spaces high chair and are really pleased with the decision. The fabric is machine washable, it has a removable tray with two layers, (essentially two stacked trays for lack of a better description.) adjusts to grow with the baby, has an additional pad to support him when he’s smaller, and folds up to fit in small spaces. Essentially, we love it. And in terms of equipment, this the the number one thing you need, and really all you need.
I have found that the easiest way to prep foods for baby is using a steamer basket that is expandable and fits in a normal old pot. Chop up the food into sticks that are the length/width of somewhere between your pinky and your ring finger. Put into the steamer basket and cook up until soft. There are a bunch of different ways people test if the food is cooked and soft enough, such as if you can smush it easily between your pointer and thumb. I have found that if (at first – by now, Ryan can eat a lot of different textures) I can begin to smush or crush it when I push a chunk to the roof of my mouth with my tongue, it’s a perfect texture for little gums.
We started with carrots as our first food. Our pediatrician suggested starting with vegetables, because some babies have a hard time accepting vegetables after they have fruit. (Uhm, I can’t blame them.) As you can see, Ryan was a bit skeptical but he definitely ate and chewed them a bit his first go. At this point, he was shoving everything in his mouth regardless, so I knew the carrot would at least make it that far, but it was fun to see him start to nom it.
The first week or two, Ryan would take a bite or two and stop, and a few other times he wouldn’t bother picking up the food at all. On these days, I mixed a both of traditional solids introduction into the mix. I would smush up the carrot or sweet potato roughly with some breastmilk and put it on a spoon and let him taste it that way. Usually at that point, once he tasted the food he would have a renewed interest in the food and grab a stick and go to town, but other times he was more into the mush. When that happened, I took a different approach.
We bought these baby spoons made by Gerber. They’re small and long enough for a baby to grab and the ends are great for scraping goo off baby face. I would pre-load three or four of them and hand one to Ryan and lay the others out. With that, he could essentially self-feed with a spoon. I found that I didn’t have to do this past the first few weeks, but it’s a helpful skill he has retained and we now use the same method for things like guacamole and oatmeal.
It’s important to note that most sources recommend spacing out the introduction of different foods by three days – that way, if your child has a negative reaction to something, you can easily figure out what it is. We followed this for the first month and a half or so but eventually we dropped the rule, mostly because I forgot. Besides Ryan’s MSPI, there are no food allergies in our family so we were confident with our decision. If there are known allergies in your family, I would definitely consult with your pediatrician on how to handle food allergies moving forward.
I think the most important thing to remember is that there is no one plan for how to introduce solids. Do what is right for you, what is right for your lifestyle, what is right for your family. Everyone is different and that is so important to remember, especially as new parents who are confused and just trying to do right by their children. If you follow your gut, you’ll always come out on top.
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