Two Months of Baby-Led Weaning

It’s been two months since Jack start eating solid food using the Baby-led Weaning method. I’ve gotten lots of questions from people, so I thought I would do an update. First of all, I just want to say it’s been going great! Jack is slowly learning to feed himself well and it’s be wonderful to watch him learn. He will try almost anything we put in front of him, and is starting to eat a good amount too. Last night he ate all his dinner and wanted a little bit more! I was shocked, who knew a 7-month -old would devour 5 layer dip and lil smokies?

Bean dip, a tortilla chip, and 2 lil smokies. 99% actually
went in him and he looked around for a little more.

I want to stress that this didn’t happen over night and he doesn’t always eat everything we give up. It’s a learning curve and he’s just now is on the upward slope. So don’t panic if your baby doesn’t clean their plate right away.

I also want to address some of the questions I’ve been getting lately too. I have to say everyone has been super supportive of our choice to feed Jack this way, but they still have a lot of questions. But questions are good, it’s how everyone learns. Here are the most common ones and some answers:

Baby-Led Weaning Questions:

    • What does he eat?
      • Jack eats almost everything we eat. This morning I had toast with avocado spread on it, and Jack had the same thing. This does require me to meal plan and make sure that we are eating nutritious with little sodium and sugar—which is not a bad thing at all! I try to make sure we offer him one protein and one fruit/veggie every meal. And one or two starches/carbs a day. I will post a meal planner next week so you get some ideas. I also want to state that Jack totally know when we are eating something different. If he likes what we offered him, he will glance at our food but not care. However, if he decides our food likes better, he will demand it. Like hands out and screaming until we give it to him. So don’t eat thing in front of your baby that you don’t want them to have.
    • How many meals a day does he get?
Gave him a lick of frozen yogurt,
he wasn’t too impressed.
      • Before I answer, I want to stress that this varies from baby to baby. So what works for Jack and our family, might not work for you. We offer Jack three meals a day—breakfast, lunch and dinner. But this is not a strict rule. Someday if he wakes up late, I skip breakfast for him.Or if we are out on the weekends and are too busy to sit down a for a real meal, nothing bad happens. And he often takes long naps right through dinnertime too. We just make sure he has all the milk he wants and that he’s happy. Likewise, he can have more if he wants. If I am munching on a snack in between meals and he seems interested, I will offer him some. I was eating mango on a hike a few weeks ago and Jack was all over it. He ate a big wedge and still wanted dinner a few ours later.
        He eventually ate that entire wedge of mango–and
        almost threw my keys into the ocean.
    • Does he use utensils?
      • He can use a spoon, but not that well yet. He manages well without it, even with liquidy things.
        Yogurt, no problem. I’ll just lick my finger.

        I try handing him a pre-loaded spoon, but I think he gets too excited and becomes too distracted. I will carefully give him a bite off my fork on occasion, but I’m holding off on giving him his own fork until he masters the spoon. But once again, this is just my baby. Maybe your baby will be a pro with utensils right from the start.

        He was so excited when I gave the spoon,
        he totally forgot about the yogurt.
    • Do you serve his food on a plate?
No plate needed for now.
    • I’ve tried a few times, but he gets too distracted. He either chews or throws them (along with all the food). I usually just place his food right on the tray for his highchair. If we don’t have the highchair, I place the food on a small plate and hold it down so he can’t grab it. Or I just put the food in my hand and let him grab what he wants. According the the advice I’ve read off the Baby-Led Weaning Facebook page, around 9 to 11 months babies tend to ignore the plate, so I will try again later.
  • How does he chew, he has no teeth?

    He was determined to eat that broccoli…
    There’s a video on Instagram too.
    • When we started with solids two months ago,  Jack had no teeth in site. The book said teeth were not necessary and I could still offer him normal, not pureed foods. This honestly confused me, but I decided to give it a try. At first  made sure the foods I offered him we soft enough to be gummed or sucked. Like raw cucumber sticks and chicken chunks. And it worked! After a month he did get the hang of the chewing motion. It takes him forever to actually break down the food, but he does. One day he totally demolished the top of a steamed broccoli floret (though it took 15 minutes). Now he is on the verge of his bottom central incisors cutting through. Then I will start offering him slightly harder things. He really loves roasted parsnips and sweet potatoes, but he usually just sucks them down to mush. I think he will love to actually take a bite and taste the flavor.
  • Aren’t you afraid he will choke?!?!

    Bigger than choking size and smaller than choking size offered.
    • This is the question I get asked the most. Of course I am worried he will choke! I would be worried about it even if we did pureed foods! I’m his mom, I worry about everything that could possible happen to him! The key to not stressing over Baby-Led Weaning is trust. I trust that Jack has natural instincts to survive. I trust that he will try to gum/suck/chew his food as best he can before swallowing. I trust he will know when it’s okay to swallow and when he needs to spit it back out. I trust that if he gags on something caught in his throat, he will cough it back up. And most of all, I trust myself to know when to intervene if this all goes wrong. You also need to understand the difference between gagging and choking. Gagging is when something gets caught or tickles your esophagus, causing your gag reflex to react and cough up what you swallowed. It’s a normal survive instinct and it is important that babies learn this—as scary as it might be for you to watch. Choking is when something gets lodged in your windpipe and you cannot breath. Your gag reflex will react and you may be able to get it out quickly on your own, but probably will need assistance to clear it. I make sure I offer him foods larger than or smaller than choking size. Either small pieces about the size of a dime that he can chew, or chunks the size of his fist he can suck. Matchstick shapes are a great shape and size to start out with. I also make sure that I don’t give him really hard foods that he can’t breakdown in his mouth first, like raw carrots.
      He shoved the whole pancake in his mouth,
      but spit out what he couldn’t swallow.

      You also should NEVER leave your baby alone when they are eating, in case something does go wrong.  That being said, Jack has not yet choked on food. But he has gagged on his food several times—and yes it scared me a little. The first time was on a slice of steamed zucchini. Michael, his parents, and brother-in-law were all over for dinner. We were chatting and eating, Jack all happy to have company. He was sitting on my lap chomping away on the zucchini when suddenly he cough forcefully several times. I quickly put my hand up to see if I could open his mouth when he suddenly coughed it up into my hand. He fussed a little because he was scared, but  reached for some noodles off my plate when he calmed down. I didn’t panic and trust he knew how to save himself. And if he didn’t get it up quickly, I was totally ready to intervene with the Heimlich and CPR if needed. Yesterday he also gagged on the tortilla chip (he ate it too quickly). He got it out quickly and threw up some too. He cried a bit because he was scared again. But after a sip of water and some reassurance from us, he went on to finish his whole plate like I said before. He’s learning to slow down and chew his food properly.

  • How do you know he’s getting enough food?

    More on him than in him, and no idea how much
    actually went in but he had two helpings offered.
    • If you are type-A, controlling person this answer might drive you nuts: I have no idea how much he actually eats. I let him decide. I just make sure I offer him a reasonable amount each meal and he can eat as much or as little as he wants. Some days he eats with gusto like he’s never been fed before—and still tries to steal my food. Other days he screams the minute he gets in the highchair, claps his mouth shut and throws his food at me in. Most of the time he takes a few bites and plays with the rest. All of this is normal. At this age, babies only need around an extra 200 calories from solids (data from my local La Leche League meeting), which is the equivalent to snack for adults.. And their tummies are still small you can’t just expect them to eat 200 calories at once either.
      He spent 30 mins pushing the oatmeal around then wanted out.

      He knows his body better than I do. I just offer him healthy, nutrient-dense foods each meal. Maybe he wants 50 calories for breakfast, 100 at lunch and 100 at dinner? Maybe in the morning he will be too full from dinner still and want to breakfast, 150 at lunch and 50 at dinner. Or it could be growth spurt time and he super hungry so 150 calories at breakfast, 75 at lunch and 100 at dinner. But he can’t tell me any of this so I just need to trust him. However, if your baby isn’t gaining any weight or gains too much weight suddenly, then something might be wrong and you should talk to your doctor.

  • What if he doesn’t like what you offered him?

    I DON’T WANT THE ASIAN STIR-FRY!!!
    • Then he doesn’t have to eat it. If he just too distracted, I will try to put a tiny piece in his mouth first to make sure he’s tasted it. Quiet a few times I think he just gets overwhelmed by something and forget to eat. Once he gets a taste, he usually will start eating. But if his lips are sealed shut and he turning his head away, I let it go. Forcing him to to eat it is only creating stress and who wants to eat when your stressed out? Food should be joyful, not torture.
      This day all he wanted was chicken.
      Guess he needed protein!

      Then I will usually try offering him something else to eat. Maybe he didn’t like my black bean enchiladas that night for whatever reason, he can have some cucumber sticks instead. Or maybe his body needs protein and he actually wants some chicken. He usually will munch on something eventually after a few samples. And this so rarely happens that it’s really not an issue for us.

  • What if he won’t eat anything?

    I can’t remember what I offered him,
    but he really could have cared less.
    • That’s okay. “Food before one is just for fun.” My milk is his main source of food so if he just wont eat, then he can have milk instead. Like I said, skipping meals at this age is okay. Maybe his tummy is upset, or he’s already full? Why force him and make him throw up. It’s just creating stress on both of you. Your baby also might not be ready for solids and this is queue to hold off. But, if you baby wont eat or nurse at all, something else might be wrong and you need to take them to the doctor right away.
  • Do you take him out to restaurants?

    Our mini bear went out for breakfast!
    • We sure do! We don’t eat out a lot but Jack does eat with us when we do. We make sure we order things he can share. Like I ask for a side of veggies instead of fries. Or dressing on the side of my salad. No heavy or rich sauces. And nothing too greasy or salty. The first restaurant he ever ate at was Black Bear Diner (besides the cafe at Ikea I mentioned in the last post). We went for breakfast on my birthday. We sat him in the highchair and asked for a little plate for him. He LOVED Michael’s bacon, but munch on some spinach and potatoes from my hash too.
      He didn’t know what to pick first at Veggie Grill

      He was big fan of  Veggie Grill too, especially the piece of tempeh and tomato from my burger. He almost forgot about the plate this time because he was so excited for food.

      He mostly just played with the menu and
      watched the waitress run around.

      Sometimes he gets overwhelmed by all the people, lights, and decorations so he wont eat much. We went to Red Robin last week and he was more interested in the drink menu and the waitress walking by.

  • Is it hard to not help him eat?

    He can hold a rip bone by himself, he doesn’t need my help.
    • It was at first. I grew up with the standard of spoon-feeding a baby a certain amount, so it was hard to not try to help him. Especially when he would miss his mouth or spit it right back out. I have to tell myself  “It’s not about the food, it’s about him learning the skill of eating. He will get it in eventually, if he wants it.” I do help him if he struggling to pick up something he wants and is getting frustrated. And I must confess, when we are eating out I either hand him one piece of food at a time or place it in his mouth for him. I don’t mind him getting messy when we are out, but I don’t want him to throw it at someone. And at home we have a towel down so I can pick food up and give it back to him. I can’t give him something he dropped on the floor of a public building. And at home I get him more food easily if gets dirty, I can’t afford to do that out. So it’s not quiet within Baby-Led Weaning guidelines, but it works for us. I don’t make him eat anything he doesn’t want to and he still learns how to eat.
  • Isn’t this just wasting good food?

    This is actually not a lot of food on
    him, maybe 1/2 tablespoon?
    • And spoon-feeding doesn’t? Spoon-fed babies still spit out, throw, and smear their food everywhere. Plus it’s not like I’m making him a whole separate meal. He gets a small portion of our food, I don’t make any extra or do anything special (except not put salt, sweetener or heavy sauce). Sure that’s maybe 100 calories we would have ate, but we are adults and can get other food later if we want. So yeah he’s thrown an small omelette at me and wasted it, but it was half an egg’s worth from my husband’s bigger portion. Not a big deal. Plus, I personally think jarred or pureed baby food is more wasteful. All the time, money, and energy spent on cooking, mashing/pureeing, and jarring. Then reheating and separately from your own meal getting them to eat it. Too much for me.
I hope this answer some questions and helped you decide if Baby-Led Weaning is right for your child. By the way, it’s never too late to try this with your child. Even a 10-month-old who was spoon-fed rice cereal from 4-months-old will still like to try eating with their hands for fun!
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