Sunday, February 12, 2012


Today is the anniversary of Sprout starting to eat solid food. Just like when I think of every other milestone, the time seems to have whipped past. After rejecting his high chair the first time we offered him solid food, probably because we hadn't put him in it ever before, Sprout started chowing down on his steamed broccoli florets when on Mama's lap. He was a lot less adept with the mango spears--probably too slippery.

Since that first day a year ago he's eaten so many things. Nowadays--barring the rare toddler pickyness episode--will eat whatever we're having. With the exceptions of citrus fruit & anything leafy, that is. He loves rice & beans with salsa, curry, sushi rolls, samosas, anything garlicky. One of the reasons we tried introducing solids via the Baby Led Weaning method was that it is supposed to make for a more adventurous eater--seems it was a success for us.

What I've learned about feeding Sprout in the past year:
  • Put baby in the high chair a few times at dinner before you ever feed them anything. Getting them used to the seat seems to help them focus on the food later.
  • Baby Led Weaning is way less work than spoon feeding purees, even if you don't make them yourself, you still have to shop for them.
  • Babies have very sensitive taste buds but that doesn't mean they won't like spicy foods! 
  • It was tempting to just throw all kinds of food at Sprout, rather than trying things one at a time & keeping track, but when he had horrible diaper rashes due to his diet, it was tricky to isolate what caused it. (watch for burn-like bum rashes the day after you've fed acidic foods like kiwi, raspberry, tomato--I know quite a few kids who seemed to react to those, at least for the first year or so)
  • Special baby or toddler snacks are usually really low on food value--Mum Mums in particular are just sugar & starch, basically. Plus they're super expensive by weight. Oh, & they stick to EVERYTHING like wallpaper paste.
  • Look in the 'adult food' aisles of the supermarket for portable snacks. (or better yet, make your own!) Just as convenient as the prepackaged toddler cereal bars or fruit snacks are Larabars, which are very minimally processed & has no unpronounceable ingredients.
  • Every kid learns to do things at their own speed. For example, one suggestion in the Baby Led Weaning book was to provide 'dippers' of bread or fruit so baby can eat yogurt, etc on their own. We tried this nearly a year ago, I think, but Sprout only really got into dipping last week. His best friend, on the other hand, who's just a month older, has been dipping for nearly a year.
  • No matter how you feed your baby, pieces of food or purees, at some point they are going to gag. It's a good idea to learn the difference between gagging & choking before you start solids. Gagging is a natural reflex that all babies have which helps them move food forward & away from their throat to prevent choking. (It's a safety mechanism & it's the reason why Baby Led Weaning works--the gag reflex is quite far forward in the mouth in six-month-olds, so they are actually less likely to choke on chunks of food than if you wait until nine months to introduce finger foods.) It looks scary, but is painless & not upsetting to babies (unless you freak out about it, which will scare them). Don't whip them out of the highchair & start the baby version of the Heimlich manoeuvre. Choking, I don't need to tell you, is dangerous, but thankfully rare.
  • If your baby or toddler is refusing a food, it may not be the taste but the size, shape, texture or temperature that s/he doesn't like. For example, Sprout's gone through stages where he prefers apples whole, or sliced thinly, or in quarters or in little cubes. He also hated anything cold at first & still isn't a huge fan of ice cream or popsicles.
Hope some of this is helpful to some of you out there! Please let me know if you have any Baby-Led Weaning questions. I'm not an expert, but I learned a lot going through it with Sprout.

I put together a slide show of some of Sprout's 'culinary adventures' over the past year on YouTube. Enjoy!

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