Weaning age guidelines are a little bit confusing at the moment. 3 months, 4 months, 6 months... you hear different versions. I held off on giving Emily any traditional puréed foods, even when she reached 4 months. By then I'd read up on Baby Led Weaning (BLW) and was entirely sold on the idea. When I first heard about it, all I could imagine was mess. And yes, mess is most certainly a feature. However, there are also so many benefits to letting a baby guide the way to the introduction of food. So I waited.
Emily has been chewing on toys and her hands for a few months now. One day in Malta, we handed her a raw carrot (washed, sliced in half lengthwise) as a teething aid. I figured it was hard and cold and might help. She grabbed onto it and sucked on it like her life depended on it.
I hadn't given it to her as "food", but her reaction got me wondering whether she might be ready (despite the fact that David and I are not - preparing for BLW has made us realise the huge amount of junk that we eat on a daily basis and we are desperately trying to change that, but it's far from being an overnight process!)
I still wanted to wait until she was 6 months or older so I didn't try again. But later on that same day, as she sat on my lap while I ate (tried to eat) a piece of Maltese bread, she lunged at it, mouth wide open and arms outstretched. I was slightly taken aback at her enthusiasm.
I handed her the crust. Within minutes, it was reduced to mush and she was looking for more.
For several days, this didn't happen again so - especially as she'd only just turned 5 months - I didn't push it. But this week, I've begun offering vegetables and other items off my plate at lunchtime (when she happens to be awake for it!), simply placing them on her highchair tray and letting her get on with it if she wants to.
So far, she's tried some banana, parsnip, green bean, courgette, more carrot, plain spaghetti, tomato, and is already beginning to show preference (probably based on colour!). Her interest is not consistent but I am certain it will increase as she gets older.
It's an exciting time and watching her face register new tastes is magical. I am looking forward to the journey beginning in earnest.
Should anyone be interested in learning more about BLW (I know after mentioning it on twitter that it is not common knowledge to the extent I thought it would be), this is a book that has really helped: Baby-led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food.
I've also found these blog posts helpful and inspiring and I genuinely urge you to have a read:
- The Nursery Nurse on BLW: Getting Started and Tips for First Foods
- Dawnie Brown on BLW: Our Experience
- Mummykins on Starting BLW and several other posts
- Suburban Mummy on BLW & Self-Weaning and Dinner-Time