It’s been ages since my son was a baby, but there’s one thing we did with him that I’m really glad we did but have never written up. It’s still not entirely common but is gaining more traction all the time. It’s the idea of baby led weaning!
You’ll also see it called child-led feeding, baby-led feeding, baby-led weaning, BLW, etc. but it basically amounts to letting baby self feed solids instead of doing it for them, and keeping the solids in solid form rather than mashing or turning it into purees. Skip the mushy cereals and go straight to things like bananas, avocado and steamed sweet potatoes.
It just made so much sense to me the more I learned about it. Just how the child has controlled their intake when breastfeeding, they control their intake of solids. They can’t accidentally ingest anything their body isn’t really ready for (e.g. can’t handle things like beans until they’ve got the pincer grip and precision to pick things up, can’t take bites until they have teeth, etc.). Plus, you want the baby to learn to manipulate the food in their mouth and chew, not just suck it down.
Baby gets to experience new textures, shapes, etc. along with just the colors and tastes. They get to feel like a part of the family, eating things that look like what everyone else is eating, which may make a difference in how much/well they eat. They may not consume a lot, but that’s not important in the beginning anyway. It’s really all about trusting the baby’s instincts!
The Baby Led Weaning Wikipedia page is great for explaining the basic concepts, but one of my best sources throughout was Kenniscentrum Borstvoeding (don’t worry, it’s in English). They have a chart on the site that explains what to introduce and when, put together by a nutritionist. The person that is known in the Western world for introducing the technique is Gill Rapley. She has books, a DVD, and more on her site that are also good.
My best tip, that I still remember after all these years, is to use a crinkle cutter when cutting things like vegetables (we got ours through Pampered Chef) as the edge it produces makes it easier for baby to hang onto things once they get all slobbery. 🙂
All in all, BLW was a great experience for us and I believe it made a big difference in our son’s good appetite, variety of foods eaten, and early mastery of a regular cup and utensils.