Baby Led Weaning: An Adventure In Joy

by HEAB on March 8, 2011

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I am so excited about today’s guest post from Goddess Leonie, creator of my favorite guidebook and planner.  Goddess Leonie lives in Australia with her love, Chris, and their beautiful daughter, Ostara Faith Avalon.  In today’s post, she shares how she and Chris introduced Ostara to solid foods, and it’s the same approach we plan to take with Summer.  I give you Goddess Leonie…

When my daughter Ostara was just a tiny three month old, one of my beautiful cousins was juggling her six month old on her knee. We were chatting over Chinese food, and she mentioned three little words I hadn’t heard before:

Baby Led Weaning.

I quickly ordered the book & ate it up (ha!)

The philosophy of Baby Led Weaning does away with spoon feeding. Pretty much, after babe is six months, you let her start feeding herself from your plate. You start off with the bland vegetables and fruits, then slowly let her start trying new things.  It totally intrigued me. I hadn’t even thought about how I was going to introduce solids – but I didn’t know anything different from spoon feeding & purees & playing choo-choo trains. {Just so you know – Baby Led Weaning isn’t about weaning from breastfeeding or bottle. It’s just a method of introducing food.} Anywaysies, Baby Led Weaning felt intuitive and right and made a lot of sense to me.

Once Ostara was around six months, she started reaching for food. So we let her. Her first meal? Spinach leaves from my salad.

Ostara’s First Meal

So that’s how it’s continued on. Ostara sits on my laps for meals – we don’t have a high chair, and don’t use them in restaurants. She seems to stay happier, calmer & more content eating from my plate & sitting on my lap (for right now – I know these things change!)

It can be pretty messy sometimes, but I’m pretty relaxed about mess. At home, we eat on the verandah and our Little Furry Vacuum Cleaners (aka Charlie & Angel puppies!) do their special magic cleaning up trick after we’ve finished eating. And when we’re out, I just scoop up afterwards. Good fun!

Evidence:

Ostara is now a year old. She pretty happily feeds herself – vegetables, rice, cornflakes, vegetarian sushi, fruit, pasta. Breakfast is usually rice cereal with apple and pear sauce.

For snacks, we eat berries, peas and corn.  On hot days, we eat them frozen.  Lunch & dinner is whatever we are eating. The thing about this?  Ostara eats whatever we are eating.  And that means I’m a lot more conscious about what we eat too.  I want to make them rounded, whole, packolo-with-nutrition meals wherever I can.  It will be a while longer before we introduce dairy or gluten – there is intolerance to both of them in our family, so we’ll take time & follow instinct as to if/when she’ll try them out.  In the meantime…

it’s just having fun, keeping it simple, joyful & loving…

Today, I went out to lunch on my parent’s farm. What did Ostara do?  She sat on my sister’s lap & ate carrots and peas and roasted pumpkin and lettuce from her plate.  At dinner time, she ate roasted sweet potato and spinach leaves from our dinner plates, and fed her banana to the dogs while giggling like a banshee.  And if she wants to lick an icing spoon? Cool. Bite mama’s icy pole? Groovy.  I don’t worry.  I just try to model having a great relationship with food – by having one myself.

Easy, simple, joyful and happy.

And that’s really the best thing I’ve learned about mamahood (and life):  Whatever is easy, simple, joyful and happy really is the best way. Whether it’s about food or not:  Joy really can lead the way.

___

Goddess Leonie is the creator of www.GoddessGuidebook.com, a popular creativity + spirituality blog for women.

{ 37 comments }

Melissa Cline March 8, 2011 at 10:28 am

We did this with Adam and it was so easy and fun! (Heather you’re my FB friend so you can see the pictures in the album Baby Led Weaning Hilarity) It really is nice to just sit and share a meal with the baby, all eating together.

Having at least one dog to help with cleanup is a bonus. Ha! When eating out, we bring a plastic dropcloth for under the high chair and the staff LOVE us for it.

HEAB March 8, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Melissa,
Yes, I remember seeing the pics of Adam with the drop cloth, and I jotted it down on my “must remember for when Summer gets older” mental list. Thankfully at home, we have hardwood floors and 2 dogs. :)

Beth @ To the Fullest March 8, 2011 at 10:37 am

How interesting! I’d never heard of this type of baby-feeding method before. It definitely makes sense than trying to force Baby to eat.

Jen @ keepitsimplefoods March 8, 2011 at 11:09 am

Fascinating! So much to learn about mommyhood. This is very helpful for the future! ;)

Holly @ Couch Potato Athlete March 8, 2011 at 11:14 am

My sister did that with her kids — they feed themselves. Yes they make a huge mess, but they seem to enjoy it!

Jessica March 8, 2011 at 11:18 am

Awww, I LOVE goddess Leonie!!! So nice to see an update on she and her precious daughter! :)

Baby led weaning is the way to go! <3

nadia March 8, 2011 at 11:43 am

oh man, this sounds so natural and wonderful! I think being force-fed as a kid traumatised me for sure! this is the right way for sure..

Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn March 8, 2011 at 11:50 am

I love this idea! I am definitely going to try this when I have a child, since I am very health-conscious and only eat whole, plant-based foods. Just because they’re babies doesn’t mean they can’t eat real food, right?! :)

HEAB March 8, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Katelyn,
Right! :)

Christin@purplebirdblog March 8, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I love this mentality and would totally do the same if I had babies. Ostara is just gorgeous, and I super love the word anywaysies. :)

Kara March 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I don’t follow any guidelines, but I do let my 9 month old take things off my plate (within reason) She is allergic to cow’s milk protein, so I just have to careful that she doesn’t get anything with dairy. We do still do a lot of spoon feeding though and her favorites are oatmeal and pureed chicken.

Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day March 8, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Interesting there’s an actual name for this.. this is what I did with my kids way back when ( they are 17 and 19 now!).. although we quickly graduated to a chair since they love feeding themselves. I introduced veggies before fruits from my plate.. and to this day, I have never had issues with my kids and food. They always ate healthy food from day one.

Erica March 8, 2011 at 12:42 pm

First off- Ostara is so beautiful! And I love the name! We’re in the beginning stages of name selection…and I’m already getting overwhelmed :) . I want this book- I think this is a fabulous concept. I don’t like the only idea of force feeding rice cereal and the like. Thanks for posting Heather!

Jacqui March 8, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Love this post! My now 2 1/2 year old was weaned this way. She was actually self weaned.. LOL. She never wanted to eat purees. We started that way, and she wouldn’t eat them. After a couple weeks, I started to do some research online, and found out about Baby Led Weaning.. and we never looked back! She now eats pretty much anything (except when we are going through the “No” stage).

Anne March 8, 2011 at 12:50 pm

We did BLW with my son (now almost 3) and it was awesome. It made meals at home and out so much easier. My husband and I could actually eat our meal and Ben got to experiment with new tastes and textures. He will still eat just about anything (as long as cookies aren’t in sight!)

It’s a tad messy at first, but dogs and a hard floor make it not a big deal. And they quickly get the hang of things. I have some awesome pics of Ben munching on broccoli florets and green beans ~8-9 months.

britt will be fit March 8, 2011 at 12:51 pm

great post, never heard of it

Colleen March 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Just a question about the whole sitting-on-lap thing. It seems like it might be difficult to eat and balance baby at the same time; do you ever use a facing-out carrier like a moby or beco to hold baby in place on your lap during mealtime?

Goddess Leonie March 8, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Hola lovely Colleen!

By the time they are eating (around six months), they usually have pretty good back/neck control and can sit up well.

To make sure we get to eat enough food ourselves, we swap baby between us. Also, I’m totally down with eating with hands :)

She is pretty good with staying in place… she’s pretty much just amazed by the experience. I’m not sure if all babes are like this… I know boys can tend to be a bit more active! hee hee hee!

Ostara is a year old now and we’ve just been given an antique high chair – we plan on using this as a fun addition to the routine. Give her her own space and bowl to try eating things out on.

(With the ever present hoover-ing dogs though.. hee hee hee!)

Hope this helps!

Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} March 8, 2011 at 1:48 pm

I made all of Meghan’s first solid foods, but we went the puree route. I read about baby led weaning, but just was too concerned about choking. I did give Meghan a wide variety of tastes and textures at a young age, just not whole foods until she was older. I think it’s an intriguing concept, though!

RunEatRepeat March 8, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Love this concept. Baby time is still a bit off for me, but I hope I remember to get this book!

Leah March 8, 2011 at 2:12 pm

This is what I did with my last baby but I didn’t know that there was a name for it! With #1, I used baby food and rice cereal. With #2 I used brown rice cereal and no baby food. With #3, I just let him eat real food and he did great with it. Now #4 is 2 weeks old and I am planning to do the same thing…so much easier, cheaper, and develops their taste for healthy stuff.

New to the blog, btw, and loving it!

Courtney March 8, 2011 at 2:24 pm

We did a combination of this and spoon-feeding of veggie purees with my son Rhys and it worked well for us. I think the key is introducing a variety of healthy foods and modeling healthy eating. He’s the only 3 year old I know that has a standard breakfast of steel cut oats/flax/cream/walnuts, happily eats any ethnic cuisine we throw at him (Indian and Thai are popular at our house) and requests chevre, penne and roasted brussels sprouts for dinner. I get such a kick out of that ; )

Dogs are a big help keeping the floor clean, that’s for sure!

Jessica@jesscookinit.blogspot.com March 8, 2011 at 3:14 pm

I am ALL for babies eating real, wholesome foods! We have never bought baby food for Sadie (she’s 17 months)…She starts her day like I do–with rolled oats, flax and banana! So proud of her the other day when we were at a Salad bar restaurant and she sat there happily eating broccoli, hummus (she was dipping her broccoli), peas, kidney beans (her favorite), and edamame! Left me wondering, why do we as parents, label things like mac n cheese, and chicken nuggets “kid food” and seriously give up on feeding them anything else?? We train picky eaters…! :(

LauraJayne March 8, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I totally agree – simple pleasures lead to the most authentic forms of happiness! For me, that is cooking and reading a book from a book. Kindle’s may be convenient, but I love the feeling and smell of a real book – especially one that I’ve read over and over!

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) March 8, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Thank you for talking about baby led weaning!!!!!

I think it’s so important for new parents to realize that rice cereal and mushed peas are NOT necessary for the survival of the human race!!

I never bought commercial baby food, never fed rice cereal, nursed my child til she was 3 and we did baby led weaning, by and large. Did I mash and puree some sweet potatoes? Sure. Did I go overboard with it? No.

If we were eating and the food she was interested in grabbing at or gnawing on was safe, i.e. no small raisins or anything, then she sampled it.

I attribute this attitude toward me now having a 4 year old who loves fresh, huge salads with raw broccoli and carrots and green beans with tofu for dinner. She’s never had a hot dog or kraft mac n cheese. But we’re also not purists. She’s had plenty of cupcakes with frosting :)

GREAT POST, and I’ve read the book…and love it!

:)

alli March 8, 2011 at 4:27 pm

fabulous post heather/goddess leonie! i plan on doing the same once my little guy is ready within a few short months. it makes so much sense to me to feed my baby in this way. i wouldn’t want to eat the typical food from a baby jar (…and i have, so i know i don’t want to!) so why would i want him to? i love me a bowl of oat bran for breakfast, and can’t wait to share it’s deliciousness with my eli! same goes for the “typical” toddler foods & snacks: goldfish, mac n cheese, etc., i look forward to making healthy meals to enjoy with my son :)

thanks again for this post, i thoughougly enjoyed every bit!

Fallon March 8, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Very interesting. I think it is great to let them feed themselves with the best food you provide your baby. It makes then independent at a young age but they are also learning to eat their fruit and veggies!

Courtney March 8, 2011 at 6:07 pm

What a great idea! Baby Ostara looks so happy :)

J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) March 8, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Awwww, Ostara is a beautiful baby!!

I like the simple, relaxed technique! My parents always fed me whatever they were having, aside from strained baby food. They never made separate foods and this introduced me to so many foods that I still love to this day. I think it’s an excellent method for getting children to realize that real food is GOOD and there’s no need to fear any type of food. :)

Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner March 8, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Awwwwe, your little darling is so cute! :D

xoxo
Kathleen

Lorne March 8, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Minu is six months and he is starting to try things from my plate. We tried the mono foods, a new one every two days – problem was he just wasn’t interested.
One day I decided to give him some rice from my plate and he didn’t spit any of it out – small mummy victory! :0) We like this way of feeding him, he will let us know how much he wants/needs and he’s learning to eat what we eat.

Great post Heather :0)
Love like minded mummies :0)

Kristina @ Life as Kristina March 8, 2011 at 10:33 pm

I’m forwarding this to all my pregger friends:)

Hannah March 8, 2011 at 10:51 pm

This is so, so wonderful, and completely aligns with the current thinking that children should be allowed to eat when they want, to the extent that they want, so that they grow up knowing how to listen to the food cues of their body. I think this is a really marvellous way to approach the transition period for the baby :)

(One day, maybe I’ll be able to follow it too…)

Monica March 8, 2011 at 11:56 pm

So intriguing! What a great concept!

When I use to nanny, I remember the process of introducing food to the little girl I practically raised from the time she was born and I think this process would have really helped. I see this also serving as a solution to certain toddler eating issues. What a cool concept to teach kids!

Sophie March 9, 2011 at 7:14 am

What a great & lovely written post!

That’s great that Ostara eats like a grown up!! This mommy with her book rocks!!

fartygirl March 9, 2011 at 10:36 am

Ostara! What an inspiring name. Love it!

Dea March 10, 2011 at 12:46 am

We did baby led weaning with Trixie and now with Hudson, and I love it. I also have hardwood floors and a furry hoover, although my 6 pound chihuahua has gained 2 lbs since Trixie started eating. We’re working on that!

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