I had delusions about being the perfect mom. I would be loving ( I think I have that one), patient, have my kids dressed in cute little outfits and make my own baby food from scratch. Many moms fantasize about this. In truth, it doesn’t happen- unless you are Super Mom and I salute you.
Take baby food. When it was time to wean my first child onto solid food -between working and being a first-time mom – I picked up a jar of Gerber pretty fast. It worked. We packed the baby food in our diaper bag when we went out to dinner. My husband and I fed her, taking bites in between spoon-risings to eat out our own meals. Life was happy.
Since I decided to stay home after the birth of my second child, I attempted to give this “Baby Food Chef” thing a go. I became super excited as his 6-month birthday neared. I chopped, peeled and boiled sweet potatoes for our own dinner and made a batch of sweet potatoes, minus the good stuff(i.e. cream, salt, butter) for him. I pureed his food and sectioned the puree into the individual compartments of an ice cube tray- so they would be “convenient” later. When the time came to feed him, I mixed a bit of sweet potatoes with some expressed breast milk. As I brought him his food, I thought, “this is it. Perfect. He’s going to love it and eat the whole thing.”
He refused to even open his mouth. Wouldn’t take it.
I tried again the second night. Same thing. This time with crying and clamorous shouts of disdain. That’s when I decided to give baby-led weaning a try. In short, baby led weaning is letting the baby eat real food entirely by himself. No purees. No spoons. No adults putting anything in the baby’s mouth. The process is supposed to encourage healthier eating by letting the baby regulate his or her own food intake as well as exposing baby to a much wider variety of food.
To start, I gave my son whole avocado cut into bite sized pieces. He smeared the avocado all over his tray and wouldn’t eat any of it. The next day, I gave him some baby carrots boiled so that I could mash them easily between my fingertips- about 45 minutes of boiling. He picked up the carrots and gummed them a little. A piece of carrot broke off and he immediately started gagging. The books on baby-led weaning warn you about babies gagging on their first foods. My husband and I reach for our son and get ready to finger sweep his mouth. Before we get to him, the piece of carrot flies out. My boy just reaches it for it, unfazed, and tries to eat it again.
Every meal time, we fed him some of our meal minus dairy, nuts and of course, honey. He ate strips of whole wheat tortilla, chunks of broccoli, bits of strawberry. Every time we would go out to eat we took a little bit from our plates – like chunks of chicken from a salad, or a tomato – cut it up into really small pieces and let him feed himself. This is much easier than spoon feeding and my son loves it. He will eat anything – something in itself to be wary of – but definitely a sign of a healthy eater. The only downside is that it makes a large mess. I’m the one slinking out of the restaurant and leaving a huge tip for the waiter or waitress. At home, we have live-in help to deal with the mess: