Anyone else doing baby-led solids?

Lisa - posted on 04/16/2010 ( 31 moms have responded )

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Hi!
I have a nearly six month old. We have just started baby-led solids. There isnt a lot research on this yet (my parenting is based on the latest research)...but intuitively and logically it suits us thatshe shouldn't eat until she can physically pick it up and eat it.
After a good BF and at one of our meals, we put food in front of her and she picks it up, puts it in her mouth, and sometimes she swallows some. I am very keen to stay fully BF as long as possible so I don't want her to replace my milk with solids just yet.

So far she is having a new food every five days, and once a day we give her something to 'play' with. So far we have tried pear, steamed pumpkin, steamed carrot, and mashed potato. She has coughed a little bit at times but seems to be enjoying it. Most of it ends up on the floor!

I wondered how others were going with baby-led solids, as most seem to have their babies on a lot of food already but I don't feel this is necessary. What other types of foods are ok to try at this age?

Thanks!

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Jennifer - posted on 04/25/2010

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Breast milk may be somewhat low in iron, but the iron in it is very well absorbed, and as long as the baby wasn't a premie and the cord was not cut too soon, iron should not be an issue, especially if foods naturally high in iron, such as meat, are introduced. The iron in fortified foods such as rice cereal is poorly absorbed and also blocks absorption of the iron in breast milk.

Amber - posted on 04/23/2010

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I'm thinking baby led solids is the same as baby led weaning...you don't give them purees just finger foods letting them decide what they want to eat?

I am planning on doing the same thing. I read a fantastic book...Baby-Led Weaning Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett. My son will be 6 months next week so we will start then.

I'm pretty excited about it. I think we're going to start with some banana, roasted carrots, avacodo and perhaps some broccoli.

As for the choking hazard. The BLW book talks about the gag reflex which is still pretty far forward on the baby's tongue. Since it's so far forward, if anything gets to far back in the mouth their gag reflex kicks in and they spit out whatever is in their mouth. Gagging is not choking though many parents confuse gagging as choking. Also, the book said that a baby gagging on food is less likely if they are in control of what is going into their mouth.

Here is Rapley's website: http://www.rapleyweaning.com/
Her book was awesome!

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31 Comments

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Nikki - posted on 06/20/2010

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So many people are unaware of baby led weaning, when in fact its been done for years and years, my mum did it with all three of us.

After starting my LO on baby rice from 4 months on advice from my health visitor due to LO not being a great milk drinker. We tried for two months and it was hit and normally miss with her wanting anything by a spoon. She would scream. So what do you suggest to those who think giving a baby finger food is irresponsible? Was I supposed to force feed my baby, hold her down and shove a spoon in her clamped mouth, or give her finger foods, watch her enjoy it and smile and choose all sorts to eat? She is 8 months next week and is doing fab, she loves chicken of all types, pitta bread and bread sticks, boiled eggs, any fruit. She has no teeth but can chew, and is finally putting on the weight. She wont be a fussy eater, she can even eat with a baby fork and she drinks from her own cup. Not once have I forced her to eat anything, she chooses what she does and is very happy with it.

I think people back away from this way of feeding due to being scared of what others might think or say Im not saying dont use purees, my LO will take porridge and a fruit puree by spoon but thats it, but I do think people need to open their minds a bit and give it a try, or respect people for doing it!

Jennifer - posted on 06/17/2010

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My dd tends to jam food into her mouth and then leave it there. Anyone else have this issue?

Candice - posted on 04/30/2010

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Oh my son is just a tad under completely full when i feed him solids. If i feed him when he's full he just wont eat anythng else. So when we sit down to eat dinner or lunch.. I give him a few cheerios to keep him occupied so i can eat my food. Otherwise I'm up in my room feeding him and i miss dinnertime at the table.

Jane - posted on 04/30/2010

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I am not doing it as the introduction to eating. For me, i want my baby to be full as opposed to just playing with the food so she gets a full BF then some veg and THEN i will give her something to hold and if she eats it all good but i think its teaching food as a toy and something to be played with which doesnt sit that well with me. I want my baby that know that meal time is meal time. Feeding herself is important but i dont think i will do with baby led feeding.

Candice - posted on 04/29/2010

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I have had success with Baby led feeding as well! I gave my son heated peas last night for dinner and he was able to pick them up and put them in his mouth. He has teeth so he is able to chew them up. He really likes to heard them pop in his mouth. he seems to like the peas! Which is great because he seems like he's not interested in much else! lol Cherrios and Peas! yum! lol

Lisa - posted on 04/29/2010

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I also wanted to add that so far it is as much work as spoon feeding because of the clean-up job, and preparing the food, which I do for the rest of the family anyway.

Lisa - posted on 04/29/2010

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Thought I'd give an update on our progress. She is doing great. She is still having steamed veggies which she pulverises with her hands and mouth. She also eats pear and has had frozen grapes (great for teething) through the mesh baggie you can buy in the supermarket to put food into to stop them choking. But most things we just give without the bag. She is def swallowing some as its coming thru the other end! When she has had enough she seems to lose interest. My CHN suggested a bit of hard chop meat, we tried tonight and she loved it! She can suck the nutrients out of it. But really, she doesn't need any other nutrients apart from my milk and anything she gets from food is a bonus. So far, I'm really happy with the idea of sharing my food with her, as i have been since birth (via my milk!) that way she learns food is social and fun, and not the obsessive you must eat everything philosophy I was brought up on (and might i add I have heaps of problems with allergies, intolerances and wind pain).
Finally, she hasnt choked yet. I keep a close eye on her of course :)

Candice - posted on 04/27/2010

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Yup that's what we are doing too. although my son is pretty much refusing solids except cheerios. he's a boob man all the way. Sylvia.. your words are harsh! breastmilk is a complete meal. if mom is taking in enough iron and other vitimins from food and prenatal vits.. then just giving breastmilk to a baby who CLEARLY isn't interested in solids (like my almost 7 month old 21 lbs SON) is just fine. calling people numb nuts is just being petty and childish. grow up

Jennifer - posted on 04/26/2010

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Sylvia, I'm not sure what you mean by proper, and I think you haven't read much about baby led solids. For breast fed babies anyway, breast milk is the main source of nutrition until age one and any foods they eat are just for fun and learning. As far as iron, again as I've posted before breast milk may have little iron but what's in it is so very well absorbed that more is not necessary -- the high levels of iron in rice cereal are necessary only because so little of it is absorbed. I myself do not plan on giving my baby any grains of any sort until closer to one year, since baby saliva has very little amylase in it (which is what is used to digest the starch in grains and potatoes).
It has very little to do with convenience and everything to do with allowing a baby to control the amount and type of food consumed (which is what they will be doing for the rest of their life, and if they were fully breast fed, were doing from birth). Babies who are force fed rice cereal using a bottle with an enlarged nipple are the ones at risk for diabetes and obesity later in life.
How much of your food is pureed? The most difficult skill is to transition from purees to solids, which is not helped if the baby has always been spoon fed.
Oh, and if delaying solids makes a pickier eater, then why is it my ds, who I started on rice cereal at 4 months per the pediatrician's advice, is one of the pickiest eaters I've met?
Nobody ever said not to give babies veggies (or meat or anything else), just don't start with pureed veggies. They can eat whole foods just like the rest of us.

Sylvia - posted on 04/26/2010

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what on earth how can someone give crackers and wafers to a 6 months old, I didnt give my 2 older ones those till they were at least 1, might as well start them on chocolate as its so "convenient".
I think baby led weaning in this way is nuts your baby needs proper food and not sucking on a piece of something they cant actually eat or just choke on and they wont have the coordination to spoon feed themselves properly till about 1-2 years I may also stress.

And then as well the Iron levels some other ladies here talked about are very important how can you willingly neglect those cos it suits you as its much easier to just dump the food in front of them while you eat. yes baby should get some finger food to try but they still need their regular solid feed as well as their usual milk as you dont cut down on that till they eat much bigger portions and variety that includes proteins as well.

And if you wait too long to give them solids you will have a very fussy child that wont eat much of anything new and espcially no veggies if you give them sweet stuff all the time like some on here suggest they do.

Jaime - posted on 04/25/2010

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I think that most of the nutrition comes from the formula or breast milk and the food is extra anyways so this sounds kind of interesting.

As for types of food ok at this age, I would say avocado, egg yolk (no whites until 1), any kind steamed veggies (my daughter used to love plantains) and fruits, though i would stay away from berries. You could even make a little veggie puree sauce to flavor up some pasta or rice.

Amy - posted on 04/24/2010

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Not only is eating food important for iron, it is also important because the muscles used for eating are also used for speech and delaying the eating of food can cause speecch difficulties. I began spoon feeding my baby and when she didn't really take too much to the spoon, I trued feeding her from my fingers & she really liked the food that way. Now she will dip her fingers into her food and stick them in her mouth. Eating with her hands is ok in our house since it is in hubby's culture to do so. Babies should not be weaned off the breast or formula until at least age 1. Milk is still their most important food source and should not be stopped. Cow's milk (whole) should only be given after 1 year.

Danette - posted on 04/24/2010

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baby led sounds fine as long as you are monitering their ifon levels. the reason you start solids at 6 months is that their iron levels ( which is what they have been using since birth) are depleted. formula and breat milk do not have enough iron in them. be the time they are 9 months old they need more iron in their diet then a full grown man. so while you may not want them to replace the breast milk they need the iron that your milk can not give them. i say make sure you are discussing this with your pediatrition because they can check iron levels if it is a concern.

Rachel - posted on 04/23/2010

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My daughter is 6 months, My doctor had me giving her cereal and orange vegetables at 4 months. She is now eating cereal and fruit for the morning, veggie and fruit for lunch and a veggie for dinner. But she is only taking about 6 bottles a day.

Jennifer - posted on 04/22/2010

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Yes, we are doing this too. Actually, what has happened is that my baby has actually grabbed food out of my hands and stuffed it in her mouth (if I eat while holding her). She grabbed my pear yesterday and started sucking on it and fussed every time I tried to take it away until she became bored. Happened with a slice of bacon the other day and my apple today as well as my spoon. Those don't really count though do they>

But really we are waiting until dd is at least six months for real food.

You can use one of those mesh bags if you are worried about choking. I think raw fruits and veggies are a choking hazard.

Zoe - posted on 04/22/2010

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I tried baby led weaning and my son choked on a bit of cucumber the other day my partner had to pat his back quite hard for it to come out after having a bad experience with it i wouldn't recommend it, my son is 6months old.

Kyra - posted on 04/21/2010

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My baby has been eating rice cereal and oatmeal since she was 4 and a half months she has been very interested in what i am eating and has been growling at me to give her some since she was 4 months the doc said if she seems interested then its ok to try it. She gets oatmeal for lunch and with dinner either rice cereal of oatmeal with the newest solid introduced. I have just recently given her the gerber puffs and she trys to pick it up and eat it sometimes she gets it in and sometimes she doesnt. I praise her either way. Interestingly enough she still nurses even though she is getting solids at the same intervals she would with out.

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I've never heard of baby-led solids before but it sounds like what I have sorta been doing with all 3 of my kids. My son is 6 mo now and we do give him some baby food, but only at night. He was EBF til I had 2 back to back cases of mastitis and thought I was going to loose my milk (luckily I didn't) and cause our peds said the only reason you need to start a baby on solids between 4 and 6 months is do to some prime window for learning how to eat them. Throughout the rest of the day, I give him soft stuff to slobber on/play with and he swallows some but not much. I'm not as particular as some moms on this. I've given my kids "pizza bones" (just the crust with no sauce or cheese or anything on it). We live in Spain and just today I gave him a piece of a churro out in town. I got yelled at in Spanish about it being to big for him or something. lol I've given him crackers and vanilla wafers. I gave my first 2 kids scrambled eggs and peeled grapes (yeah, I was a little bored) once they got a couple teeth. As long as you are watching him/her to scoop out anything that me may start choking on, I think it is fine. I know some of it doesn't sound very nutritious but he gets everything he REALLY needs from me and he doesn't swallow enough for me to worry about him getting fat or anything. Not to mention cholesterol is particularly good for pregnant women and children up to age 2 cause it helps build brain cells.

Jennifer - posted on 04/21/2010

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my baby almost 6 month and he only on baby food he gets veggies for lunch and fruit and barely cereal before bed time

Margie - posted on 04/21/2010

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i have never heard of baby led solids, i can't imagine they would get much considering how watered down the food is at this stage, at least for my 6 month old, otherwise she gags a little. i'll read up on it some more, very interesting. my kid isn't very interested in solids she struggles with swollowing them, thus she gets very little.

Tracy - posted on 04/21/2010

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I'd just like to say that babies iron levels start dipping and that's one of the reasons you need to start weaning. Your baby should be on solids def by 6 months. It can cause probs if you don't later on. x

Amanda - posted on 04/20/2010

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Hi Lisa my 6 month is strictly bf also..the pedi said she needed to be trying solids b/c of texture issues caused later on...so what i have been doing is bf really good right before she eats...she gets cereal in the morning and baby food carrots in the evening before her bath...i have only been doing this for two weeks...I am going to continue to bf as long as possible....she shows interest in foods but would rather have the breast...She will even eat a couple of bites and then cry for the breast...her pedi said this was fine as long as she was trying the foods...she also said no water to put breast milk in her sippy...what were doing seems to be working and baby seems to be fine with this also!! Happy baby makes a happy mommy!!

Heilin - posted on 04/19/2010

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Hi my child is 6 months and she is breastfed. I started feeding her solids when she was four months old as she was interested since then. However, she would only get one or two solids a day. I hold the spoon out to her and if shes hungry she ll reach out for it but she doesnt always take solids. somedays she wouldnt take any solids but as long as shes taken her milk im happy enough for the moment because she seems happy enough

Rebecca - posted on 04/19/2010

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My boy was born 11/10/09 and were loving BLW. Started about three weeks ago, he struggles to pick things up for himself so I offer a variety and whatever he wants I help him pick up, he holds it and rakes it to his mouth chews and swallows! He loves cheese and banana best, plus roast courgette (zuccini) and parsnips. He's not too keen on any meats yet. I gave him mash, but mostly he just played with it, I didn't bother with a spoon.

I'm also following gill rapsleys book, I like that rather than telling you what to do, it tells you how and why things work so you can figure out what works for you.

We had a little bit of constapation so I got a doidy cup and offer ebm or water with his meal.

We are still bf and I intend to let him wean me :D

the only things I think you need to stay away from are raw honey and high fiber cereal and whole nuts as they are a choking hazzard.

I also made sure I was familiar with first aid procedure incase of choking (video available on YouTube)

good luck! X

Heather - posted on 04/18/2010

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My son was born on Halloween & has a lot of food sensitivties to things in MY diet, so we're still exclusively breastfeeding. With my first son, I hadn't done baby-led solids, but it does seem like a sound idea. As far as what types of foods, I know the first finger-foods my first son ate were: pear, boiled sweet potato, boiled green beans, banana (although I've since discovered banana can cause gas/constipation in some sensitive little ones). I guess I would just stick with basic fruits & cooked veggies at first, avoiding citrus fruits & some of the "gassy" veggies (broccoli, cabbage, etc.) also corn is hard for them to digest & just goes "right through them". Just be sure if/when you get ready to do things like peas you cook them well (I also used to smush them enough that they split open & weren't such a perfect little ball that seemed like it was just asking to be choked on... but that could've been my first time mom paranoia too, lol).

Jena - posted on 04/17/2010

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I'm also doing the baby-led weaning approach. I bought the book by Gil Rapley(spelling?) and refer to that from time to time. I began about two weeks ago at 6 months, he was EBF until that point. I usually nurse him first and then sit him down with me whenever I eat. I try to give him what I'm eating (unless it's really unhealthy for him like pizza) He played with the food for like a day or two, but now he chews and actually eats his food. His favorite things are the Gerber graduates and mashed potatos. He hates regular baby food. I try to give him finger foods or something he can feed himself but if I have to spoon feed him (like with mashed potatos) I just give him the spoon and he tries his best to feed himself, usually misses the first few times but then gets it in his mouth successfully. I didn't expect him to be actually eating the food, just playing with it, but he loves solids. I also want to stay fully BF and he still nurses pretty well.

As for what foods are okay to try, the book I have says anything but like nuts, choking hazards and unhealthy foods with lots of sugar, salt, etc. I have been staying away from citrus fruits though and meat (doctor said to wait till 9 months)
I've also been giving him water in a tiny regular cup so he can practice with that. He's drank from it a few times but it usually ends up all over his tray or the floor.
I've also been wondering if anyone else is trying/tried this approach and would like to know how it's been going/went.

Sharon - posted on 04/17/2010

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I'm not doing this myself, (not introducing solids for a couple of weeks) but my friend has a 7.5mth old who she is doing baby-led solids on. She pretty much puts any soft food in front of her daughter and she does the same as your bub, picks it up, pop it in her mouth for a taste, then usually spits it out or sucks on it. They just use the food they are having for dinner and either cut it smaller (but big enough to pick up), or make sure it is soft. Her daughters fav at the moment is spiral pasta, both to play with and eat.

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