Simple Baby: Introducing Solids

Talking about feeding babies today. I am not a healthcare professional, just a parent, and it is always best to consult with your doctor on the best way to feed your baby.

Our first born was not interested in solid food until he was one.

I tried many many times in many many ways to entice him to consume anything other than breast milk. He would have none of it. It was frustrating and while I watched my friend’s children eat bowls of rice cereal and spoonfuls of mashed up avocado, I wondered what I was doing wrong.

I later found out I wasn’t doing anything wrong. My son just wasn’t interested in food yet.

When Henry did show an interest he quickly got the hang of things and was eating three meals a day with the family.

Feeding young babies solid food can be time consuming and very messy.

This time we have a baby that is interested in food. At almost seven months he is starting to ‘eat’ one meal a day with us.

We’re taking a very simple and easy approach to introducing solids and mostly following Baby Led Weaning. Note: weaning in Europe means introducing solids. In North America weaning means eliminating nursing sessions. This style of introducing solids focuses on self-feeding and eating whole foods, no purees.

Baby Led Weaning has made my life easier and simpler. I don’t have to cook separate food for the baby or buy baby food and I’ve found it to be not as messy as spoon feeding purees. Because we’re focused more on the experience of eating, rather than actual consumption, we’ll probably stick to just one meal a day until Wil is a bit older. Fewer meals means less to clean up.

There are lots of recipes out there for Baby Led Weaning but we just work around what the family is eating. Our go-to evening meal is a stir-fry with some kind of spice or sauce. I’ll pick out some meat or vegetables for Wil before I put the sauce or spice on and that’s it. Easy.

The question people often ask about Baby Led Weaning is, doesn’t the baby choke on the food? In my experience, no.

Wil is able to hold himself up unassisted in his high chair, bring the pieces of food to his mouth himself and move the food around in his mouth. He will gag on a piece of food but always spits it out. At this stage we give him chip size pieces of vegetables, fruit and meat and he mostly gums or chews on it. We always sit next to him while he is eating and never leave him alone in his high chair with food.

The only foods that have, er, made it through his digestive tract so far are banana, avocado, soft carrot and cooked broccoli. The firmer food ends up on the floor or in the high chair once he is finished with it.

Want to know more about Baby Led Weaning? I’ve linked to some books above and would also recommend reading this series of posts from Carli at One Fit Mom. Carli both documents their BLW journey and gives more information on the benefits.

Do you have any tips for simplifying meals for babies and younger children? Our other simple tip: don’t become a short order cook. Most nights everyone at our house eats the same thing and that makes the dinner hour infinitely easier.

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  • Just wanted to say I love BLW! :) I must admit it never occurred to me that it was ‘minimalist’ but I suppose it is! :) Luckily when DD arrived it was the ‘thing’ encouraged by HV so I read up on it, had no experience of anything else & DD was on formula by then sadly anyway so we decided to try it. I probably did more of a mixture because her first food was baby rice & we did buy some baby foods but just cos sometimes we didn’t want her to eat adult food if it wasn’t terribly healthy or if we were eating at a time that was late.

  • I had totally different experiences with my two and in hindsight I guess it was because of how I approached it. Second-born led the weaning not I. This has meant that Dan has always eaten apple whereas Leah did not for years. He also ate a wider variety of vegetables and fruit although she is now catching up. Yes there are always choking risks and hazards, however baby is fed or weaned, but common sense, first aid knowledge and a little confidence go a long way!
    Wil’s looking fine and dandy!

  • Having brought up my kids in Switzerland and by doing what I saw was being done, I am always amazed at the fuss made about babies/children topics in Anglophone areas! It was just brought home to me by a book I read this week, French children don’t throw food, which left me aghast at Anglophone attitudes and smiling about the French, because the Swiss way is similar to the French, but with a few more rules!!
    In any case, my three daughters were not brought up by theories from anyone, just by instinct and they’ve turned out fine (they all also eat pretty much anything!), aged 18-29. One was breastfed for only 2 mths, the others for 6 mths. The first had fruit and veg and meat before having any cereals, the second adored whole milk (cow’s) yoghurt and quark from an early age and in great quantities (apparently a real no-no but it didn’t hurt her!) and no meat for the first year, and the third wanted spicy prawns at 6 mths and still adores meat… whatever, we just went with the flow and family meals. I remember my granny’s friends being aghast because the youngest sucked on cucumber at 6 mths, perfect hooked on a thumb and for cooling teething gums, but apparently “not the done thing”. LOL.

    • Our first ate apples whole before he was two and I had quite a few comments of, is that safe? At that point I was just happy that he was eating food :)
      Lovely to hear from a parent with older children that can give some long term perspective.

  • I made ALL of my 1st born’s baby food (purees), my 2nd would have non of it, so I did Baby-Led Weaning for the 2nd one without knowing it was “BLW”.

    In my experience, my 2nd chews his food alot more than my 1st. My 1st tends to try and “gulp” foods that should be chewed. (This is my opinion only, no idea if this is fact) But I feel that the BLW, helped my 2nd chew his food properly. And purees, only delayed the learning curve for my 1st.

  • I did all kinds of special purees and such for my first, took it a bit easier with my second and made himspecial foods when it was convenient like sweet potato or mashed avocado, with my 3rd I feed him whatever. He is 9 months and eats most things we do (or i offer them), spaghetti, fruits/veggies, a few carbs (we are gf, so little bread like things rarely make it onto the plate), no meat yet though. Its more about the experience, i do worry about choking, so i don’t give foods i consider ‘chokeable’

  • We did BLW with our second son with great success! He had no interest in purées and a friend lent me her book for reference. Family members and friends were always shocked to see a seven-month-old chewing on a whole pear or chunk of broccoli but it worked for him. I would recommend BLW weaning to anyone, it’s a great way to introduce foods to your baby.

  • When you say “chip size” – do you mean British chips (what we Yanks call French fries), or potato chip size (known in the U.K, as “crisps”)? We are two nations divided by a common language!

  • My children are five so I just skimmed the article, but I have to leave a comment about that baby – SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Adorable!! Those big eyes and cute cheeks – I love it!

  • We are dabbling in BLW because my six month old is NOT interested in purees, and I am not interested in spending the time making purees he won’t eat when he would happily suck on a cucumber slice or chew and spit out pieces of sweet potato.
    Thanks for the post to affirm that it’s okay to still nurse a ton and let the baby eat when/what he wants even though we’ve hit the magical six-month mark when books say weaning should start <3

    • Hi Alyssa, I just wanted to reassure you that I went through the same thing with my guy. He wasn’t interested until at least 9mths, so I kept breastfeeding and presented him with food that he could grab and eventually he couldn’t wait to eat. I would call it the “mythical” six-month mark! :) Good luck!

  • I’m not into the paleo thing, but my instinct is to treat baby eating like cave women. They didn’t have spoons or formula. When the kid was ready, they would certainly start picking up scraps of what everyone else was eating. I dislike the hurry that our culture places on our babies. they’ll reach a milestone when they’re good and ready!

  • We did baby led weaning, starting at around 7 months when our daughter could sit up very capably. Mostly we did it because we were lazy! With all the pumping at work and nursing at home, making baby food sounded like just one more thing to do with my small amount of free time, and opening a jar of food only to have her hate it seemed wasteful. She actually was a super adventurous eater with us until around 15 months, and it forced us to eat pretty healthily, but unfortunately in toddlerhood is much picker. I hear “I don’t like X” at least twice a day. And she’s still a slob, but rarely throws food, just gets it all over her face. We definitely had some gagging incidents early on but definitely nothing close to choking – the problem was that until about a year and a half she would just keep putting food in her mouth until she ran out of food on her plate! Now she eats more normally (well, for a 2.5 year old), but for a while we were doling out one or two pieces at a time so she didn’t get overwhelmed with a plateful of food. So, I guess that would be my best advice, to manage their rate of consumption. All in all, watching her eat was pretty amusing – we have lots of funny videos from those first six months of solid food! I would definitely take the baby led weaning approach to solid food with a second kid.

  • There are some times I am tempted to not care what the experts say. But as long as you wait til 6 months, then all the choking hazards are more or less negated, as they have their proper head control, can sit upright etc.

    I have heard people use BLW at 4 months, which I dont think would be as effective, and have many more risks associated with it. But as long as your waiting for those milestones I love the concept of BLW, and thats really how both my kids started eating. I do make purrees if I have some good apples or something.. I mean even as an adult I love a good applesauce. But chicken potato gravy puree or something l ike that.. no way!

  • we did blw with all three kids and were quite happy with the approach. i found most people not familiar with BLW were confused between choking and gagging… as in, “OMG, your BABY is CHOKING!!!!” when that was clearly not the case (to me at least).

    sweet baby!

  • I’m late to the discussion, but the one thing I found helpful that doesn’t seem to be widespread (as opposed to the many that are) was to mix in rice cereal to make things thicker. We did this for everything from applesauce to yogurt and it made it much easier for the tot to spoon-feed himself and have some of the food actually reach his mouth. And while we did feed “real” food (e.g. refried beans, bananas), we also used softer/squishier stuff a bunch when he was truly little.

    I think there are now safety concerns about rice cereal (the flaky stuff intended for babies), but I’d guess there may be plausible substitutes — maybe some raw rolled oats whirred in a food processor, or other, commercial products similar to rice cereal, if it’s been replaced by something else.

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