Baby-led weaning seems to be a trendy thing in the mom-o-sphere right now, so I took this book out of the library. It isn’t hugely different than the booklet I was given about starting solids that is produced by the provincial health authority (see link for .pdf access). The main difference food is never puréed in baby-led weaning (BLW) and the baby feeds themselves with their hands (so the parent never spoon-feeds the child).
It sounds intriguing, but it also sounds messy. The authors admit that it is, and suggest laying a plastic sheet over the floor under the highchair. A more serious concern I have about this method is that I’ve been told that at 6 months a breastfed baby has depleted iron stores and needs iron-rich foods. Hence the advice to start feeding a baby meat and iron-fortified baby cereals first and then move on to other foods.
My perceived problem with BLW is that the book suggests that the first few months of solids is for exploring foods and that the baby may mainly play with the food, perhaps chew it and spit it out, not actually consuming very much of it. So how would I know if RJ is getting enough iron for her growing body?
This book does have some tasty-looking recipes for the whole family (because another principle of BLW is that the entire family eats the same thing) and useful advice about how to cut foods into shapes that are easily handled by a baby.
After flipping through this book I decided to give RJ a chunk of solid mango. I was nervous that she might choke, but as this book points out, a baby’s gag reflex is closer to the front of their mouths and babies will frequently gag when eating new foods: it’s very protective for them. RJ gummed the mango and swallowed some impressively big chunks. And things looked pretty well processed when they came out the other end. So it was an interesting experiment.
Ultimately though, I’m planning to continue feeding her iron-fortified baby cereal. She’s also had some jarred baby food, mashed tofu, banana, mashed avocado, and minced chicken so far. I am hesitant to feed her table food because of the recommendation that babies avoid cow’s milk until they are 8-9 months old, and many of our adult foods contain dairy products. Also, I tried giving her scrambled eggs a few weeks ago (as both the provincial booklet and the BLW book recommend) and she developed hives. So I don’t want to feed her anything with eggs in it for awhile. I hope she grows out of her egg sensitivity because eggs are great. On the other hand, I was a vegan pre-pregnancy so I am confident that I could run an egg-free household pretty easily if I needed to.