About a week or two before Baby Markers hit the 6 month mark, we slowly began to introduce solids. She had been showing interest for a few weeks and was reliably sitting up unassisted, so we figured it was time to give it a go.
It’s worth noting that I decided not to start with rice cereal. I know the argument is that it’s easy on their stomachs, but it just doesn’t seem particularly nutritive to me. It made more sense (in my own mind) to start right away with veggies.
I also wanted to try Baby Led Weaning. I loved what I had read about creating healthy, non-picky eaters and I liked the idea of letting her explore the foods she was trying – as opposed to swallowing pureed foods. I wanted her to get used to the different tastes and textures in the hopes that this would result in a more adventurous eater overall.
For the first couple days, I would give her a few bites of avocado or banana at a time, just to get her used to the food in her mouth. I didn’t puree anything, only mashed it up and gave her small manageable pieces.
We stuck to this loose schedule as we introduced new foods. I didn’t always wait three full days before introducing something new, although that is recommended. Since she did fine the first few weeks and we don’t have a history of food allergies in either of our families, our pediatrician gave the go-ahead to be a little bit more adventurous.
Schedule for Starting Solids
- Week 1: avocado, banana, sweet potato
- Week 2: apples, peas, butternut squash
- Week 3: nectarine, carrots, cantaloupe, cauliflower
- Week 4: peaches, broccoli, plums, beets
- Week 5: pinto beans, tofu, watermelon
- Week 6: egg whites, pineapple, mango, oats
- Week 7: salmon, quinoa, spinach, pears
- Week 8: chicken, honeydew melon, tomato, matzo balls
For the first month, I gave Baby Markers one meal a day. I typically feed her breakfast after she wakes up from her first nap (usually around 10:30-11am). Now that I know she can tolerate most fruits and veggies, I try to diversify her meals with a vegetable, fruit and protein. I also give her water out of her straw cup throughout the meal, which she loves to handle herself! I’m starting to feed her a 2nd meal around 5pm, but I’ve kept it small at this point so it’s more like a snack. I plan to move to 2 full meals a day at 8 months and then 3 meals a day at 10 months.
As for baby led weaning, it was difficult for Baby M to grab the avocado and banana pieces, so we started with steamed sweet potato. We struggled a bit because the soft pieces were too soft to hold onto and the harder pieces made me nervous for choking reasons. She actually swallowed a too-big piece and ended up gagging it back up (which is a natural reflex, I’m told) and we got the entire thing on video… parents of the year, right!? That little episode made us pretty nervous, so we tabled the big chunks of food for a while.
For a few weeks after that, I fed her mashed or small pieces of food at a time (from a spoon) and I also put small soft pieces on her tray for her to feed herself. Because we didn’t start with purees, she learned to chew her food as opposed to just swallowing it, obviously before she even had any teeth! This was both hilarious and adorable to watch her chomping away.
Now that about a month has passed, she’s almost feeding herself exclusively – so we are back to doing 100% baby-led weaning. It took a month to work out the kinks, and for her to get used to picking the food up, biting off pieces and chewing them well enough to swallow. I’m glad I didn’t give up on baby-led weaning completely, and I realize now that it was just a learning curve for both of us. The combination of food-on-a-spoon and food-on-a-tray let her try new things effectively, and each week she got more efficient at picking up the pieces and getting them into her mouth.
Right now her favorite foods are carrots, banana, watermelon, broccoli, mango, peaches and chicken. It’s fun to put a few things on her tray and watch her pick out the pieces she likes the best. Usually it’s whatever is the sweetest!
I don’t worry at all about how much she eats. It’s been said here before, but food before one is just for fun, since she still gets her calories from formula. When it seems like she’s finished (by either throwing the food on the floor, banging her hands on the tray, or putting her head back and pushing it away), I take her cue that we’re done. I never force the issue or “airplane” any food into her mouth, I just follow her lead.
My advice to any new mamas curious about baby led weaning is this: do what makes you feel comfortable, and don’t overthink it! If you’re concerned about choking, only give pieces that are small enough for your baby to easily swallow. Let them play with the food on their tray, but don’t worry about how much is actually getting in their mouth. They’ll figure it out soon enough. You’ll be able to tell when your baby is ready to handle bigger pieces, so go with your instinct. And have fun!
What approach did you take to starting solids?
Hellobee Series: Baby Led Weaning part 10 of 101. Baby-Led Weaning by Food
2. BLW Gear Faves & Fails by Mrs. Stroller
3. BLW - The First Few Months by Mrs. Stroller
4. Getting Started With Baby Led Weaning by Mrs. Superhero
5. Baby Led Weaning by Mrs. Superhero
6. Getting Started with Solids, Purees, and Baby-led Weaning by Mrs. Bee
7. Time for Big-Boy Food by Mrs. Yoyo
8. My Modified Baby-Led Weaning Approach by Mrs. Pen
9. Little Tea Cup versus the spoon - part 2 - favourite first finger foods by Mrs. Tea
10. Starting Solids with Baby Led Weaning: A Conservative Approach by Mrs. Markers