Last week the NY Times ran a piece on one mom's experience with baby led weaning (BLW). Perhaps you've heard of it, tried it, or have no idea what it is! I heard about it shortly after M. was born from a few other breastfeeding moms thinking ahead to the next phase of our little one's dietary evolution. I eventually checked out the BLW bible by Gill Rapley and really liked the overall tone of the concept. In a nutshell, rather than weaning your baby from breastmilk to pureed baby foods and eventually to solids, they go right to solids once they begin to express an interest in foods.
Around 6 months M. started to show interest in what in what Daddy and I ate, and one day while eating a piece of fruit she actually grabbed it from my hand and began gnawing on the rind. That was a clear sign to me so, I started sharing food with her. It turns out we both loved it, and still do. It's become yet another way for Hubby and I to learn more about our daughter and her emerging personality.
In the beginning there was much more experimentation than actual dining, but since she was still nursing regularly there wasn't any concern for her health. Over the months I've noticed her develop a really strong affinity for vegetables (she loves roasted veggies, especially brussels sprouts and carrots), and so far she will eat just about anything. I don't know if this is the cure for picky eaters, but we're off to a great start.
The idea that I can give my child what I'm eating with little additional preparation is awesome. I've noticed I'm wasting less food because I'm also able to make purees out of leftovers for future meals. This is where the BLW purists will probably kick me off the island, but we do both--I purchased my own refillable pouches from Little Green Pouch (LOVE THEM) and make purees for her to eat on the go and those times when I just don't have anything really baby-friendly to eat around the house. I simply freeze the food in ice cube trays and pop a few out when I need them-it works for just about everything from roasted cauliflower mash to sweet potatoes with berries. They thaw quickly and taste great (we often end up sharing them :))
I joined a BLW Facebook group that gave me a chance to learn more about other mom's experiences around the world. The biggest fear in that group by far (which I initially shared) is choking, but with supervision and properly sized chunks we've had only two gagging situations that quickly passed. In fact both times she popped the food back in her mouth after spitting it up!
There is the accompanying mess, which we try to contain with a mat under her high chair and the occasional diaper-only meal for extra messy foods. BLW also works great while dining out which is perfect for us--on a recent trip to Boxing Room she had a tad of fried alligator and shared my savory bread pudding (along with a health dose of puffs). If you're looking for more details, be sure to read Gill Rapley's book for yourself, and as always, take away what you can use and leave the rest for someone else!