starting solid foods, puree vs. baby led weaning

My Experience

If you read My Formula & Frozen Milk Strategy you’ll know that I just started formula at 24 weeks and solids at my baby’s six month by month date (two weeks later).

Before I go on I must clarify that US weaning and UK weaning are completely different.  In the US when a woman talks about weaning her baby it’s about getting them to STOP breastfeeding at any age ,she is trying to ‘weaning the baby from her boob’.  In the UK I have no idea if there is any phrase for this process, but UK weaning means to START eating solid food (here it’s confusing as well solid means mashed up to whole food and everything in-between).  I know it really makes no sense to me either being American.  So Baby Led Weaning is about starting solid food BUT in a very specific way.

At one of my free Children’s Centre classes we learned basic stuff about solid foods – when you can start (no earlier than 17 weeks but need to start at six months) and they need to display signs that they are ready to eat – can hold their head steady so they can swallow and not choke, are interested in food (i.e. they watch you eat and can follow your fork from plate to mouth), can swallow food without pushing it back out (this is hard to tell unless you actually give them food to try but waiting until six months you’re more likely to moved past the tongue pushing out developmental stage).

The types of weaning – everything puree first gradually making the consistency lumpier until you can introduce a solid OR baby led weaning which is food that the baby picks up with their fingers and feeds themselves so no puree.   They say that baby led is ideal for babies who have breastfed because it is a natural extension and next step if you like.  It is also easier for them because they have already been controlling their intake of breast milk so they will be able to know how much to feed themselves. There isn’t a lot of information out there about baby led weaning so I am assuming it’s a rather new concept so I hope that this post will be the most comprehensive plan of action for you if you are considering this option.

The third thing we learned about was types of foods that are age appropriate – some you can start before six months some you can’t start till after six months or even a year.  Then you learn about how you need to introduce food – some say to start on baby rice mixed with breast milk or formula to get them interested in food.  But if you start with that or go straight to produce you need to start with vegetables over fruit no matter what.  This is very important because breast milk and formula are already ‘sweet’ so if you go straight to fruit which is also sweet than most likely your baby will not want to eat any vegetables and that will be a disaster and you’ve created a picky eater from the first mouthful!  You also need to start with only one fruit or veg at a time to make sure there is no allergic reaction before you can start mixing them together.


So the choice is between puree’s or what you typically get in baby food jars/pouches or finger foods.

Either way you’ll need a high chair, splash mat and bibs.

Puree 

Gear Needed – stick/hand blender & baby food ice-cube trays (if making your own), spoons, bowls

Pro’s – your baby get’s used to eating with a spoon, you can freeze 1 oz cubes to use at a time, you know exactly how much your baby has eaten and their are loads of amazing pouches like Ella’s Kitchen which is 100% organic

Con’s – you have a lot of time making food and freezing leftovers for another day, you have to feed your baby, you have to gradually change the consistency of the same foods to get them used to different textures or possibly pay more money for pouches

Baby Led Weaning

Gear Needed – crinkle cutter blade, steaming basket, soft skin peeler

Pro’s – your baby eats ‘real’ food, they feed themselves so you can eat at the same time creating a more inclusive meal time bonding, you don’t need to do a lot of prep or making food

Con’s – it is supposed to be messy, you don’t really know how much they eat, they don’t eat with utensils

How I Did/Do It

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ONE – I started formula first for two weeks then solids the day after her six month bday (by months) she was intently watching food go to my mouth as I would often hold her on my lap while we ate dinner.  She could also almost sit-up on her own and when I did give her food for the first time her tongue didn’t push it out immediately.

TWO – I knew what foods were appropriate and ones to avoid from my class – they gave us this guideline sheet – but be wary there are other guidelines out there for more foods to avoid by age like strawberries but this is the minimum I would useIMG_4223

THREE – I decided to start with baby led weaning and then introduce puree food because I like the social aspect of us all eating at the same time, want her to develop her hand-eye coordination and pincer grasp and I know I’ll use baby food pouches on-the-go at some point so I will be able to introduce multiple textures and eating from a spoon

FOUR – I purchased my high chair, splash mat, plastic bucket bib and crinkle cutter to start – I realize that it’s not that messy if you don’t want it to be, it all depends on how much food you put in front of your baby at a time.  I also realized that I needed a soft skin peeler (I also bought a Kuhn +Rikon) to remove apple, nectarine, peach etc skin before steaming to avoid choking

FIVE – I choose dinner as this is the easiest time for us to all be at home and eat together (she has a bottle between 6-6:30pm then we eat together between 7-8pm then she immediately has a bath – read Why the EASY Method Schedule is the Best Thing I Did for information about how and when she feeds and sleeps throughout the day)

SIX – Some say to stick with the same thing for 5-7 days before moving onto the next to ensure that there are no allergies but also so they can ‘like’ the food as sometimes it takes 5-10 times of eating something for them to actually like it.  We have no allergies in our family so I decided I didn’t have the time to spread it all out that long nor did I think she would enjoy that so I did a single food two days in a row and then move on to the next single food and after I offered everything on the print out below for her age I started to serve more than one together or use pouches that have only one or two other fruits or veg she never ate before so I knew if she had a reaction those would be the culprits

SEVEN – So you know what is appropriate above by age but with baby led some things aren’t good or safe for self-feeding (choking) and you need to make sure you prep the food correctly.  I found this really useful site that has a pdf for baby led weaning by age with foods which I have downloaded and printed out and stuck to my fridge.  I write on it the date she has tried things and her reaction – it’s really useful as well to be able to instantly see what else you have yet to try, or what you need to buy at the grocery store.

I also found out that with baby led you need to steam all vegetables until 1 year old and steam all fruit until 9 months old (except avocado and banana). Before steaming I cut into strips with my crinkle cutter – to make things easier to grasp. Once steamed you should be able to smoosh the food easily between your index finger and thumb (this takes a while to get right because it needs to be mushy enough but if it’s too mushy then it’s hard to pick up or hold). I steam my fruit/veg for about 20 min to be smooshable enough and then let cool but not get cold.   It takes some getting used to and can be frustrating for them not being able to pick up or hold anything and scary for you because they are trying to learn how to swallow which means they can gag a lot.  I have found that tiny pieces that I smoosh off at the end of a stick with my fingers are easier for her to swallow and I just feed her with my finger.  As she gets better with swallowing (as they can’t chew!) then I will go back to her holding and gnawing on something herself.  I have found out that if I buy one small carrot or parsnip that it is more than enough for two nights as they only really eat about a tablespoon at a time when they are first starting. Here are the really handy baby led weaning pdf printouts of food  

EIGHT – I started with avocado even though I found out that it’s a fruit not a vegetable, it’s not sweet like typical fruits.  I didn’t start with baby rice like a lot of people say to do and mix with milk to get babies used to eating – I didn’t use it because I knew I wanted to do baby led, it has no nutritional value and I knew she was ready for actual food and didn’t need to be eased into it – see my chart for how I introduced foods

NINE – I will start her on organic porridge for breakfast after her second feed so she will be having two meals a day, get another texture and learn what a spoon is.

TEN – After two weeks of veg I started single fruits so I will then go onto giving multiple foods she has already had singularly probably through pouches during the day for lunch as we are usually out then, she needs a third meal introduced and the organic pouches from Ella’s Kitchen and HIPP Organic already have great blends of things already so it’s a win-win

What I Use 

Splash Mat – after doing loads of research this one from JoJo Maman Bebe seems to be the best option as it is wipeable, hoseable and machine washable.  It also doesn’t feel like a cheap picnic tablecloth and looks nice enough on my floor all the time.

High Chair – if you already read my Why I bought Stokke Baby Gear you’ll know that I bought the Stokke Tripp Trapp high chair if you haven’t read this then it will tell you why I think this one is the best option.  *UPDATE* During my trip to the US my mom bought her a used high chair that had a cloth cover and it was just ick gross – it’s not wipeable and crumbs get into all the cracks, it’s so I’m soo glad we have a wipeable wooden and plastic one that has no nooks and cranny’s.

Bucket Bib – I have a flexible plastic-free bucket bib from modern twist which is easy to fold, pack and rinse and I love that it is not harmful chemical laden plastic but instead pure food-grade, hand-silk screened silicone

Crinkle Cutter Blade – I bought the Kuhn Rikon Krinkle Cutter because it is a round blade that you can rock instead of other ones which you just chop – I bought mine at Harts of Stur  here in the UK but you can also find them on Amazon or at Williams and Sonoma. 

Fork & Spoon – I found this JJ Rabbit brand when looking at new innovative baby products and I had no idea that there was such a thing as ergonomically correct baby utensils – but it totally makes sense.  Basically the way babies hold or grasp a fork or spoon often makes it difficult for the end of it to get to their mouth – these ones are slightly bent making it easier for them to feed themselves.  I also love the fact that everything is made of plant-based materials so it’s totally safe.  It says for 9 months and up but I will use these to feed her myself until when she’s ready developmentally to use them to feed herself.

Travel Placemat/plate –  I also bought a JJ Rabbit placemat to use on-the-go as it rolls up for easy storage in your diaper bag and because it’s plant-based it can be used as a travel plate with food directly on it.  They have other cool stuff like sippy cups, plates, bibs and bowls as well.  

****UPDATE**** this is an absolute must have product.  We use it every time we leave the house and get food at a restaurant.  If we didn’t have it then the food would need to be on a plate that she could throw or push off the table or the food would go directly on the table which you don’t know if it’s clean or full of chemicals so this really is an amazing product.

Travel high chair – I also came across this cool product while searching for things I need for my trip to the US for two months.  This Totseat travel high chair allows any chair to be turned into a baby safe seat no matter where you are.  It is fabric so completely foldable to keep in your diaper bag or to take with you for a holiday where you aren’t guaranteed to have a high chair waiting.

****UPDATE**** I haven’t really used this that much.  The times I needed it on holiday she was eight months and was starting to wriggle a lot and throw her body back when angry so she kept banging her head on the wooden chair which made her more upset and angry so I had to sit her on my lap and feed her instead.  This may be helpful now that she is older but I haven’t tried it again.

If you want more info on how I am incorporating frozen & fresh milk with formula read My Formula & Frozen Milk Feeding Strategy.

If you’ve already started solids but are wondering how to get to three meals a day and when to ditch the pouch read Baby Eating Solid Foods But Not Sure How Much Milk Or When To Ditch The Pouch And Bottle?

 

****UPDATE****

My baby just turned one and lots changes with age.

I still would 100% start off with baby lead weaning and vegetables like I did because she is great at picking up food and swallowing because she has had a lot more practice than other kids who only ate pouches.  Also it was much easier to ditch the puree and go to her eating our food exclusively because she was already used to the finger foods.

We are still eating Hello Fresh five nights a week for dinner and she eats it with us every night – no special baby or kid food in our house!!

Starting food can be confusing so I hope this helps!  Let me know how you get on with your baby.

 

#baby #babyfood #solids #puree #babyledweaning #babyselffeeding #babysolidfoodfeedingstrategy #highchair #bib #splashmat #crinklecutter #utensils #totseat #jjrabbit #moderntwist #stokke #jojomamanbebe #kuhnrikon #hipporganic #ellaskitchen #newmom #millennialmom

 

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2 thoughts on “starting solid foods, puree vs. baby led weaning

  1. Stefanie says:

    Wow, thank you for gathering all this information! It’s very helpful.
    I also started with baby led weaning a few weeks ago and I’m always thankful for new tips and tricks. I like the idea that you also introduce eating with a spoon.
    Like you, I changed formula when we started with bwl. I found an organic alternative from HiPP, that’s especially designed for babies, who start to eat solids. You can find more information here.
    All the best,
    Stefanie

    Like

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