When you think of babies, you probably think of warm, cuddly little things. Do you ever think of the stuff they need and the things that help them grow? Food and how they feed is probably not on your instant baby vision, is it?
Well, of course food is an essential part of growth, but what do you feed your baby and how? I know, some people who make pureed baby food for their little ones, but does the baby actually need this? After all, your baby is most likely getting some nutrition from the milk they’re already drinking.
Many Scientists agree that baby purees are an “engineered social need,” meaning as a civilization, most babies for millennia past have done just fine without strained peas. So how does a baby get that first yummy bite of food?
Principles of Baby Weaning for Food
It’s simple, really. According to the principles of baby led weaning (weaning in this case meaning starting on foods other than breastmilk or formula) you wait until the baby is:
- able to sit up on their own,
- showing an interest in foods, and
- can reach for food and hold it in their hand.
At that point, you can give them food you think they can handle (avocados are good first foods) and let them try it out. Some may end up in their mouths, a good chunk in their hair, some will hit the floor. But whatever gets in their mouth, they will gum, chew, and either spit it out or swallow it.
I know. It sounds almost too easy! But really … almost everything else in baby led weaning is just fine tuning these basics – that a baby will eat when they’re to do so. So baby purees are not really needed as a first step food (but where will we put all our nuts and bolts without the baby food jars?)
I did baby led weaning with my child, and it was so much easier than I expected. I always made sure food on his tray were soft and cut into small-ish pieces. As he got better at the chewing and eating thing, I started leaving larger pieces of food on his tray.
I have a friend whose daughter was 2 weeks younger than my son, who also did baby led weaning, and she took to it so well that she was eating chicken drumsticks on her own at 8 months! (She’d growl at you if you tried to take away the bone, too. It was funny. 🙂
When Is the Best Time to Get Your Baby on Solid Foods?
It’s important to remember that most of their calories will and should be coming from their milk until they’re at least a year old. So don’t worry if they’re not eating proper food yet.
The first year is all about learning and exploring. Your baby will just be figuring out what tastes good or bad, how it feels in their hands and mouths, and how well it sticks to the wall. 🙂
Bear in mind that if it’s been too long since their last nursing session/bottle, they might get too “hungry” to eat solids properly. Try to time solid meals in between liquid meals for now, so they can enjoy their food without getting frantic and crying because they can’t eat it fast enough.
Some ideas for good first foods include bananas, avocados, mangos, soft steamed carrots – anything soft.
As your child gets a bit older and more experienced, add some pieces of cheese, cooked eggs, and small pieces of cooked chicken to their tray. Stay nearby, help them if they gag a little, but I think in general you’ll be surprised and delighted at how easily your baby takes to real food!