I admit I blame traditional weaning methods for my first born’s extreme fussy eating patterns. First time round I carefully listened to the public health nurses advice. Start off with five spoons of baby rice at 11am. However not when the baby is too tired or too distracted. Make sure it’s not too runny. Not too thick. Not too hot. Not too cold. Do this for four days. Not three days, not five days, just four days. Then and only then can you proceed and introduce a second type of unidentifiable mush. So I served up the mush for four days and subsequently served up a series of strange and unusual purees. I would spend hours boiling up broccoli and pears, whizzing them up in the food processor and pouring them into ice cube trays and into the freezer so I would always have a plentiful supply of baby mush (by the way the ice cube tray thing does not work. It is impossible to pry a single cube of rock hard frozen food out of these so don’t even bother trying). My hatred for cooking and hours of meal preparation was compounded further by the fact that my darling little boy point blank refused all the nutritious green gunk.
Second time round I was determined to foster healthy eating habits and to avoid the overbearing stench of overcooked broccoli that permeated my entire house. Second time round, I discovered baby led weaning. No stress, no fuss, no weird pureé combinations. Baby led weaning involves shunning the traditional pureé and spoon methods and allows the baby to feed themselves with whatever you happen to be eating yourself. This allows the baby to enjoy eating as opposed to ‘being fed’. The baby has the control over what he/she wants to eat!
So this is how it works in our house. Every day for breakfast I always eat boiled eggs and toast. I just mash up a boiled egg with butter and cut up a slice of toast and place it on front of Jamie. He can eat it or play with it or do whatever he wants with it. I do not intervene I just leave him to it. For lunch I usually have fruit and turkey sandwiches. Again I will cut up some melon, strawberries and nectarines along with a small baby sized sandwich and a cup of water. I do exactly the same for dinner. Jamie eats mashed potatoes, pasta, rice, couscous, well cooked vegetables strips of meat and whatever else I happen to be making. For snacks on the go crispbreads, rice cakes, rusks and bananas are particularly handy and are easy for small hands to grip and chew.
With baby led weaning you must be prepared for mess. A significant proportion of each meal will inevitably end up on the floor, in his hair, on the freshly painted walls and in every orifice and crevice. However it is less stressful and less time consuming for everyone. In addition baby led weaning helps to develop hand eye co ordination and allows the baby to explore the texture, feel and taste of foods in a way that they may not get to experience through traditional weaning methods. Best of all baba number two loves food and is now a fantastic consumer of all types of foods, I believe, thanks to baby led weaning.
Article by Jane O’ Halloran