Like many moms and fellow Hellobee’ers, I was apprehensive to try BLW right away. We started solids at 5 months because Baby Squiggles was showing all the signs of being ready for food: he was reaching for our food and eyeing us while we ate, he had great head control and could sit up assisted, he used his hands very well and his tongue reflex was gone.

Actually one of the main factors for being cautious regarding BLW was because we lived in a townhouse with a carpeted dining room! I had no interest in dealing with carpet stains and cleaning up food from the carpet at each mealtime. I had considered a splat mat to combat this problem, but decided against it at the time because of his age.

Getting accustomed to the high chair! At 5 months we had to prop him up with blankets!

My other reason was due to his age; I was worried he wouldn’t be able to handle the food very well, and that he might choke or get frustrated when he wasn’t able to successfully eat any of his food. Now that he is older and I look back on it, I realize how food before a year old truly is more of an exploratory experience, not nutritionally needed, so I definitely could have been more lax on this issue.

starting with a banana puree 

I decided to attempt a modified BLW approach. I wanted to use all the amazing baby-food making equipment I received at my shower and have fun making purees for awhile. We started out with pear, banana, and avocado purees. Every week or so we would introduce a new puree. At our 6-month appointment we received the go-ahead from our doctor to feed him almost anything we wanted with the exception of honey and nuts. I decided to also hold off on dairy, citrus and most grains as well and focus on more nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits.

he wanted to try the very first time!

Our equipment used for purees was vast as we received a lot of gizmos and gadgets, but my favorite was the baby bullet steamer that we used to steam carrots, broccoli, beans and other vegetables. We then used the immersion blender to make batch purees.

Between 6-7 months I started pureeing his foods with a little more texture; with both the immersion blender and the baby bullet I was able to “pulse” the food until it reached my desired consistency. It was a very gradual process and I started with very soft foods such as ripe avocados, bananas, ripe pears and fully-steamed carrots to ensure that even though there were small chunks of food, they were very small and mashable with his gums.

Over the course of a month, Baby S really started to adapt to gumming small pieces of food in his purees. He was slowly building up his ability to “chew” his food and move it around efficiently. I liked this process because it truly helped avoid choking as he was gradually learning how to eat. In reality, most of what we think of as choking is really a baby’s gag reflex and that is a common fear and debunked myth regarding BLW. However, as parents our instinct is to protect and that’s why BLW can be so terrifying to parents. So really, this method helped me avoid the fear of Baby S “gagging.”

One of his favorites: banana pancakes! It is such a great BLW food

When Baby S was 7 months old we moved to a new apartment and our new dining room had wood floors! Since he had been eating more and more textured foods for two months, I decided I was ready to commit to BLW all the way. We started feeding Baby S more and more of what we were eating, but still cut up into tiny pieces. As he was learning how to pick things up and bring them to his mouth, the beginning was rough and 75% of his food ended up on the floor as opposed to in his mouth – but the learning process was so fun and it was only a short matter of time before he grasped how to bring the food to his mouth directly.

At 10 months old, Baby S eats just like a toddler (sans silverware). He eats exactly what we eat and most of the time I don’t even have to cut his food into tiny pieces because he is so skilled. We have never had a choking experience and I can count on one hand all the times he’s gagged. I am really happy we did it this way, if only for my peace of mind! I definitely will be more open to the idea of BLW for subsequent children now that I have done it successfully.

drinking homemade beet juice – yum!

I think this modified approach is great for parents who aren’t ready to commit to the effort and “fear” of BLW right at 4-6 months, but still want to encourage independent eating for their children. One issue I did encounter though, is that as I was working to transition to textured foods, Baby S was so accustomed to purees he had a period of time he refused to try to feed himself because it was easier for him to have me spoon-feed him. It took a little work to encourage that independence and with some children it may take longer than just a couple weeks.

he cried when the green smoothie was all gone! 

What approach did you take to starting solids? Would you consider a modified baby-led weaning approach?