When Baby Shortstop turned 6 months old in November, I started him on solid food- his first taste of food happened to also be his favorite- butternut squash. I have a Baby Beaba- a little device for steaming food and pureeing it all in one little perfect sized spot- which I love. So, that month, I got some green beans, some butternut squash, some peas, some apples, some sweet potatoes and such and I froze little ice cubes of pureed food. He liked it, and it is such sweet, adorable fun to feed a baby at first. But, after awhile- especially with baby #4- it becomes a chore and even at times, a battle.
By January, I ran out of those ice cubes. I was just starting to think that I should probably have another baby food cook day when I ran across an article which led me (I often find myself getting lost wandering down the rabbit hole of clicks and links on the internet) to the website Baby Led Weaning.
The “essence of baby led weaning,” is that starting at around 6 months, “You just hand them the food in a suitably-sized piece and if they like it they eat it and if they don’t they won’t.”
I wasn’t too interested in any theory behind it or any study claiming this or that… but I was struck by the thought: My baby is ready to feed himself? No more waving spoon airplanes in front of baby’s tightly closed mouth? Sweet! I don’t need to have a baby food cook day after all! I get out of some work! The lure of a life of ease- or at least a little bit of an easier life- hooked me.
Thus our fourth-baby self-feeding adventure began. It has been wonderful. I give him some of whatever is appropriate from the meal I am feeding everyone else. And I just don’t worry about how much he eats- if he wants to eat it, great. If he doesn’t, that’s alright too. Though I don’t really have to worry at all because he is like a vacuum. I plop some food on his tray, turn my attention to my other children for a minute or two and wow! His tray is empty. Thankfully, there were a few times I was able to get some pictures and boy is it cute! Messy, but adorable!
I started pretty simple- banana, sliced cooked apple (steamed in that Baby Beaba), and cut up baked sweet potato.
Then blueberry oatmeal, which is quick oatmeal I made for the older kids anyway, mixed with frozen blueberries- which cools the oatmeal off nicely- and a dash of cinnamon and sugar-
Then I started feeding him from whatever we were eating- like chunks of baked potato-
A frequently requested lunch at my house is quesadillas and avocado and he managed pretty well with that.
Then he seriously inhaled the Shepherd’s Pie I made for dinner- browned ground beef, frozen mixed vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes and baked-
He also loved the mac n’ cheese mixed with the frozen veggies (I love these- I love that they are already chopped for me and that they cool off hot meals so quickly! I use them alot!)
One of his favorite foods is strawberries. He also likes pancakes.
Other things he’s enjoyed- Santa Fe Chicken, spaghetti with mushrooms and sausage (all chopped up), steamed baby carrots and asparagus, chopped up cucumbers and pears, mandarin oranges, pita bread with hummus, toast.
One thing I did not expect- but should have- was that once he had his first taste of independence, that was it. There was no going back. He now must hold the metaphorical or literal utensil. He waves his arms madly around trying to grab any utensil I might be holding- to say, attempt to feed him some of the oatmeal so as to avoid some of the mess.
In conclusion, on the one hand of this baby-led-weaning is mess. On the other hand: freedom! And I sure do enjoy the freedom.
I do have to add that I still use those little squeezy pouches of baby food when we go out. Ah, they are just so easy and Shortstop likes them, as long as he is the one holding the pouch.