Sunday, December 19, 2010

Baby Led Weaning

We are hugely enjoying parenthood. Yes, we're exhausted, yes it's an enormous challenge physically, mentally and psychologically, yes it is overwhelming. And it's fantastic. It is so much fun watching Kate develop and to see the changes as she gets more and more control over her actions. We didn't have any experience with babies, and I figured that babies were just lumps until they were a few months old; so I was sure surprised to find that Kate had a definite personality right from day one, and it's only got stronger.

What we've just started recently is introducing Kate to solids, and we're doing it through the "baby led weaning" methodology (thanks to Mila's Daydreams for the inspiration, otherwise I would never have known about it). So instead of spoon feeding her mush, then graduating up to solid solids, we're giving her pieces of whole food with appropriate shapes and "handles", and the argument is if she can support herself sitting comfortably, has sufficient development to pick up the food and bring it to her mouth, and be given the opportunity to work out how to move the food around her mouth on her own, she'll be able to feed herself when she's ready. Obviously, we have to provide her with healthy choices, and to not give her physically dangerous shapes or textures, but otherwise, if she's given the opportunity to figure it out on her own, with plenty of time, then she'll manage ok on her own. I really liked the idea, so here we are trying it.

Kate has been sitting up quite well for some time, but I didn't want to introduce her to solids until she was at least 6 months. Instead, we've been sitting her up at the table with us when we eat, and we gave her a baby spoon (plastic & silicone) to play with on her tray along with some other toys. She worked on getting it to her mouth, and figuring out how not to gag herself with it. Then we progressed to raw carrot sticks that she could do the same process; once she got something with flavour to suck on, the spoon was history. I was going to keep up with the raw carrot sticks for a bit longer, but yesterday we got some sweet potato fries on the ferry, and she was all eyes, so we thought "what the heck". We found one long enough for her and let her grab it and straight to mouth and suck suck suck, and grumpy pants when we didn't want to give her any more (they were a bit too salty so I didn't want to overdue it; besides, it was just an experiment).

Hmmm. OK. So last night, her Grandma prepared her some separate roasted veggies (with the appropriate dimensions and no added salt), and I cut a stick off for her from my steak, and she was hugely happy. She noshed on the squash right away, then tried the French fingerling potato (white shot with pink), then really sucked away at the steak, and finally tried the purple potato. We were fascinated at what she wanted to pick first and the fact that she ignored the purple coloured food until last, but once she tasted it and realized it was the same as the potato she'd been enjoying, she really got into it. This morning was some apple, banana and mango slices. She tried them all, but banana was the first and primo choice. The mango produced some consternation and a decision that she wasn't really that interested in the mouth feel or taste but loved the hand-squishiness of it! The apple was a bit of a challenge to get a handle on but she did enjoy sucking on it.

A whole new dimension has been opened up, for her and for us! What fun (and what a mess!).