Baby leads, I supervise. Essentially, baby is allowed to choose when she eats, what she eats, and how much she eats. She is apart of family meals, and she gets to explore a little bit more everyday, with every meal. She is small, but she is a small person. So she gets small person meals!
I’m a pretty firm believer that everything, and I mean EVERYTHING you feed your child, especially infants + toddlers, will use valuable belly space and should be nutrient rich since their intake is likely small portions, they don’t have a whole-lot-a room to spare for “fillers”.
Do you know what I mean when I say “fillers”?
Preservatives, artificial and processed foods. For babies this would include unnecessary extras like baby cereal. Well, you read it. Unless otherwise noted by a medical professional or for medical reasons such as reflux, baby cereal isn’t a dire need according to newest research which naturally overrides previous recommendations from the AAP. In an effort to reduce/ prevent food allergies it had been recommended to introduce white rice cereal as an infant’s first food, for years. During these years that they thought bland rice cereal was unlikely to cause digestive problems or allergies unfortunately backfired. In retrospect, the number of children developing these issues actually skyrocketed while these recommendations were in effect. Coincidentally, so did the rates of obesity. Or is it NOT a coincidence?
I think not.
The AAP has since revised and researched further, and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAI), recognize now that delaying the introduction of foods that commonly cause food allergies doesn’t prevent food allergies–even in infants born into family with a history of food allergies. Studies show that the introduction of eggs, fish, milk, and nuts during the first 12 months of life actually reduces the risk of developing a food allergy. I learned this, and when starting out BLW with my daughter at around 9 months of age, I offered her all the colors and tastes of the rainbow. No junk, simply whole foods. It has since changed my diet, and the way I think about food and meals when it comes to my family. Our health is number one, and I feel like I’m doing us all a justice by putting all of my time + efforts into this.
Wouldn’t you? Given, you have the tools to success; would you put your extra time into improving and creating healthy eating habits? When she gets sick, it gets kicked pretty quickly and that shows me it’s worth it. Even when I’m coming down with a stuffy nose, (like I was before the GRiZ concert last weekend), I kicked the feeling without feeling many symptoms at all. I would say probably within 24 hours, with extremely minimal discomforts. Even enjoyed the concert stayed out late, ate crappy, and STILL felt like a champ come Monday morning. I can thank whole foods for this.
As far as the fillers goes, you could argue that cereal is necessary. Or I could tell you that fruits and vegetables do a better job from a nutritional perspective. As a quick reminder and for safety’s sake, I’m speaking about infants who are ready to eat. That’s 6 months+— current research shows understanding that 6 to 12 months old may be a critical time when a baby’s immune system needs to meet a new protein to learn how to accept it, rather than fight it.
When infants start eating solid foods, they are shifting from the relatively simple diet of easy-to-digest breast milk and/or formula to a more complex diet with a variety of foods (with milk still being the main nutrition until age of 1). Baby-led weaning is a food weaning method gaining popularity quickly in comparison to traditional weaning (pureed feeding) and it is intended for children 6 months and older. Children under the age of 6 mo. have an immature immune system and it is recommended to not start solids until ALL signs of readiness are met:
- Sitting up well without support
- Baby has lost tongue thrust reflex and does not automatically push solids out of his mouth with his tongue
- Baby is ready and willing to chew
- baby had developed a “pincer grasp”
- Eager to participate at mealtime and may try to grab food and put it to mouth
6 months is more like a guideline, at this age for my daughter she could care less about food, it interested her slightly. And by slightly, I mean for a minute or two. She’d taste the puree and instantly object. She did for about two months until one day, she was ready. She didn’t sit up until she was crawling at about 6.5-7 month range, and when she did have a taste of some baby food she grew incredibly irritable and constipated. That was the first time, I thought about switching up methods from TW ⇒ BLW; when she did decide she was ready, which we both clearly found better. At the time, she also didn’t demonstrate a very good pincer grasp, nor did she swallow very well without objection. This was her way of telling me she wasn’t ready to process foods and I highly suggest you’d do the same with your little one as far as reading their reaction once you do start. Your are your baby’s only advocate to listen and read their signs as well as choose for them–at this time, not for long. Reading their expressions and body’s reactions is very important, especially when your giving them such independence they’d never had before. Food is a big area to explore and it is an intriguing discovery for them + their taste buds.
Don’t be afraid to let your baby eat, I started to feed or I should say started letting her feed herself at 9 months. I’ve touched on this previously in other posts, but it truly wasn’t fun to have to puree food, store small bits, or buy it pureed, spoon-feed it and all that jazz. Its much more FUN for us having her eat whatever we eat! No cooking separate meals and endless dishes from cooking everyone’s food. Not to mention, I mean the puree looks rather gross, how could I blame her. We embarked on this wonderful journey of baby led weaning about 4 months ago, and I feel I did myself another justice, by leading her into healthy food eating habits, EARLY.