As a bit of a vegan foodie, introducing solid foods into Luella’s diet has been something I’ve been looking forward to since she was born. In my mind she’ll be a little gourmand, chowing down on the same curries and quinoa dishes as her mum and dad. And then come the words of warning from everyone else. My mother cautioned that she had to put pasta sauce on everything to get me to eat veggies. Everyone who’s ever had a kid seems to have woeful tales of their picky eaters.
Funny that these same people then ask me why I’ve not started Lu on rice cereal yet. The reason is we’ve decided to try baby-led weaning. So what’s baby-led weaning (or BLW) all about?
Skipping the purees and allowing babies to feed themselves family food right from the get go.
Here’s what I like about it:
- The goal is not to get them off of breastfeeding straight away, but rather to supplement those feeds.
- There’s no need to mash up special foods for your baby, they just eat what you eat (or perhaps slightly modified versions of it).
- You don’t spoonfeed them. By allowing them to feed themselves they learn hand-eye-coordination. In the early days of BLW mealtimes are less about getting food in their bellies and more about giving them a sensory experience. They get to experiment with textures, flavours, smells, temperatures, and colours.
- They’re also learning independent thinking by getting to decide what they want to eat, how much, and how long it takes. There’s no focus on cleaning your plate.
- I’m hoping that by exposing her to these things early she’ll end up a less picky eater.
So far our journey into BLW has been fairly minimal as you’re meant to wait til 6 months. Why do some people start solids at 4 months? Because manufacturers of baby rice cereal tell them to. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about parenting, it’s if someone can make money off of something you’re *supposed* to do, do your own research to see if it’s really necessary or beneficial.
But since Lu is extremely curious about exploring the world through her hands and mouth at 5 months, I’m starting to let her experiment with food. Mostly, she’s sucking it, rubbing it on her face, and learning how to get it to her mouth. And that’s the whole point right now. Here’s what we’ve given her so far:
- Raw green beans from her Pop’s garden – a chomping device
- Raw red capsicum and lightly steamed broccoli- she loves to suck on these
- A little mashed sweet potato – this one actually got digested… though it came out looking the same as it went in
- Bok choy, spinach and rice noodles – mostly just got licked and played with
- A few sticks of plain tofu – pretty sure these just ended up mashed on her plate
- Some dahl with basmati rice – the most flavourful thing she’s tried and most of it ended up on her face and singlet but she seemed to have fun picking out kidney beans and trying to stick them in her mouth
Since Lu will be turning six months right before we move, we figure that’ll be a great time to really start implementing mealtime, where we all eat together at the table. It also encourages Jim and I to eat really healthy and try to stick mainly to whole foods. One thing we’ll need to watch is sodium.
So how is BLW different for vegan babies? It’s not really. Babies don’t need milks other than breast milk until at least a year. And since it’s encouraged to continue breastfeeding you don’t need to worry about what vitamins might be lacking unless your own diet is deficient. A lot of BLW babies are given meat in chunks, which is the big difference. Lu will instead get her protein from the same places we do – legumes, soy products, and veggies.
We’ve got an exciting and messy journey ahead of us!