Thursday, November 7, 2013

Our kid eats weird, which is completely normal. And other baby-led weaning stories.

Food is a hot topic for lots of people these days, and rightfully so. We've been huge proponents of eating real foods for many years. I've had a vegetable garden since I bought my first house ten years ago, and I make as much of my own food as possible -- even things like crackers and tortillas.

I haven't had as much time to do that since I had the baby, but mostly due to poor planning and PPD. But since the baby, eating properly became even more important.

We've got all kinds of annoying parenting rules, being that this is our first kid, and we care about everything far too much. One of my biggest is that the wee boy not eat crap. Now, I'm not trying to parent at you here -- I honestly don't care what you feed your little one. A lot of you probably think that what I'm about to explain is completely bizarre and maybe even unsafe and you would probably never allow your child to eat like that.

We do this weirdo thing called Baby-Led Weaning. Another word for it is most-likely "What loads of people did for centuries before baby food was actually a thing." Or "what most people the world over still do." In America, it's weird. In Louisville, at least in the mama community that I run around with, and in the United Kingdom, where the book on Baby-Led Weaning was first written, it's actually pretty normal.

I know a lot of parents who make their baby's food using a food mill or food processor to puree the family meals into little baby smoothies. That saves loads of money on jars of baby food, and it ensures that your kid is actually eating food.

Baby-Led Weaning is a little different.

We completely skipped purees. He was exclusively breastfed until he was six months old. Then at six months, we gave him a pile of whatever we were having for our meal -- roasted vegetables, lasagna, salad, whatever -- and let him feed himself. We didn't cut it up into small pieces, nor did was mash it up with a fork. Some BLW babies just play with their food for months, which is completely okay and normal. Our boy picked up a roasted carrot on day one, shoved the whole thing in his mouth, and learned how to chew.

It was all about him discovering textures, as well as his own gums, tongue, and gag reflex. He gagged here and there on occasion, but he never choked. And we never had to do the here-comes-the-airplane thing with the spoon or throw jars of baby food and spoons in the diaper bag. At restaurants, he eats whatever we're having, whether it's vietnamese soup or pad thai, and we can all actually sit and eat together, rather than one of us having to feed him first. It makes for pleasant, albeit messy, family dinners.

He also has had all kinds of crazy foods that don't come in baby food jars. Also, he just chose seaweed over cheese as a snack. I know he won't always be this good of an eater, but watching him eat a sandwich by himself as a seven-month-old been one of my favorite things about parenting.

Anyway, if you have a new little one, I recommend this book.

My 13-month-old chowing on seaweed. Thanks, Carrie, for the picture.

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