Baby-led Weaning with Real Food: Guest Post

I’ve decided to take a little break from blogging (read more about the reasons why), but wanted to continue to provide interesting and insightful content on my blog in the meantime. I asked for help and my tribe answered my call, so for a while I will have guest posts from various bloggers interspersed with posts by me when I am moved to write. Thank you for your understanding. — Amy (CDG)

Today’s guest post comes from Abbie who blogs at Farmer’s Daughter.

Baby-led Weaning with Real Food

As an advocate for real, healthy, local foods, I was dreading introducing solids to my son.  I just couldn’t imagine having his first food be processed cereal.  I’d also seen jarred baby food and was completely grossed out by it.  Nobody could tell me that those were the best choice for my son’s health; my instincts said we needed to take a different route.  After discussing the topic of introducing solids with some twitter friends, I got recommendations for two books that I love and recommend to all parents:

What I learned was basic — to allow Joshua to choose what he would eat and what he didn’t want to eat; to allow him to feed himself; to offer him plenty of healthy foods to choose from; to put away the food mill and spoon; most importantly, to relax!

Instead of giving bland cereal as a first food, I looked to the season.  Joshua turned six months in September: apple season.  It has always felt appropriate to me that Joshua was a spring baby, and it seemed fitting that Joshua’s first food was applesauce.  Homemade, chunky applesauce made from apples grown on the farm where I grew up, that I picked as I walked through the orchard with my mother and carried Joshua on my back.  While processed cereal didn’t feel right, applesauce sure did.  I spooned a small bit of applesauce into a bowl for Joshua and allowed him to squish it between his fingers to his heart’s content.  He wiped it in his hair and it got on his bib and on the floor.  Not much made it into his mouth, but that didn’t matter.  Breast milk supplies all of the nutrition he needs, and solids at six months are about learning: taste, texture, aroma and hand-eye coordination.

Cold apple slices quickly became a favorite for my teething baby.

Now nine months old, Joshua has sampled all of the following (in no particular order):

  • Fruits: apples, applesauce, banana, avocado, blueberries, raspberries, cranberry-applesauce, dried papaya
  • Veggies: butternut squash, potatoes, broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, snap peas, green beans, corn, green squash, cucumber, vegetable broth, salsa, tomato sauce, (sometimes veggies were topped with olive oil or butter)
  • Meats: beef (steak, ground beef), pork (pork chop/roast, sausage), turkey (roasted and ground), chicken, salmon, haddock, scrambeled eggs
  • Dairy: cream-top yogurt (banana, blueberry and peach flavored), sour cream, cheddar cheese, monterey jack cheese, American cheese, cream cheese, butter
  • Bread/grains: toast, pizza crust, whole wheat tortilla, bagel, pasta with and without tomato sauce, Italian bread, pancakes, stuffing, organic puffs and teether biscuits

And most certainly other foods that I’ve forgotten to mention.  At his nine-month check-up, his doctor was impressed that we don’t buy baby food and told me to continue to introduce foods using the baby-led approach.  The doctor said most advice about solids including which foods to offer in which order are based on old wive’s tales and not on sound science, and that holding off on introducing foods such as meats can deprive babies of essential nutrients (like iron, which is more easily absorbed from breastmilk and meats than from fortified cereals).  The only foods he said to wait on are peanuts and peanut butter, honey and cow’s milk.  (For safety information on introducing solids, see the books listed above.)

Joshua loves to feed himself and while this approach is messy, it has been a perfect fit for our family.

Abbie is a wife, mother to one-year-old Joshua, environmentalist and teacher who believes in following her maternal instincts and being a steward to the Earth. She blogs about simple living, sustainability, gardening, cooking and mothering at Farmer’s Daughter.

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13 thoughts on “Baby-led Weaning with Real Food: Guest Post”

  1. We are doing baby-lead weaning too ( and I am super jealous of your supportive doctor. Our pedi didn’t seem to like the idea of him having meat and she told us outright to avoid spices. I like her otherwise and I hate having to omit things when she asks questions. At least she is with us on whole foods instead of cereals and purees.

    Baby-led is just so much more FUN than purees. We started out by spooning mush to my son and he always just looked so BORED.

  2. I really wish I had heard of baby-led weaning 4 years ago! I did most of it by the book, except I missed the part on no honey and no spices. I’ve since looked up the reason for honey and thank goodness he was fine! As for no spices, that is just weird. Since when do kids need bland food? I cook lots of international dishes and to this day at age 4 my son will eat just about anything…except the ubiquitous mac and cheese (that is unless it is made with a really strong aged cheese with lots of flavor).

  3. I did almost exactly the same thing! Once I introduced meat, we were golden … the baby devoured it like there was no tomorrow, and was clearly digesting it much better than he did with vegetables.

    Now, at just over one, he pretty much eats everything I do. Still trying to keep candy away from him, but he eats healthy food like it’s going out of style.

  4. Did this with both my babes but it started becuase the first wanted nothing to do with pureed foods. I now have a 6 year old and almost 4 year old that are extremely healthy and happy and eat a larger variety of foods then any of their friends. Now the 6 year old doesn’t eat much of any food, but he does eat a large variety of things! I recommend this to all my friends.

  5. I did almost exactly the same thing! Once I introduced meat, we were golden … the baby devoured it like there was no tomorrow, and was clearly digesting it much better than he did with vegetables.

  6. Interesting blog! Is your theme custom made or
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