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first foods

Before introducing solid foods, S did some cursory online research. What she found was a battleground between parents who advocate for baby-led weaning and those who favor the more traditional, spoon-fed approach. As is typical of parenting disagreements, this debate is characterized by impassioned exhortations from parents and experts on both sides who fervently believe that theirs is the only right approach.

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Search parenting sites for “baby-led weaning” and there is a plethora of information on how to have one’s baby feed himself from his first mouthful of solid food. “No runny rice cereal, no applesauce, no airplane spoon games,” boasted one New York Times article. Instead, start with finger foods such as steamed carrot sticks, whole bananas, and even chicken drumsticks. With this approach, babies share in family mealtimes and in the process, the theory goes, become more adventurous eaters while acquiring a feel for portion control. Advocates of this approach claim that by six months babies are developmentally ready to skip the mush.

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It all sounded very logical and appealing, so S waited until well into Munchkin’s sixth month and then steamed carrots and cauliflower for his first meal. She knew that we had to be patient while he mastered the necessary hand-eye coordination to feed himself, but the learning curve proved a little too steep. In practice, Munchkin still is not coordinated enough to feed himself after a month and a half of trial and error. Even if he manages to pick up a piece of food, which is not often, it does not usually make it into his mouth. While we would love to leave Munchkin to his own devices and have our hands free to eat our meals at the same time, we know he needs our help right now.

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Even so, we are not squarely in the spoon-fed faction either. Munchkin may be getting more calories from his purées than from his own exploratory eating, but he does not seem to enjoy being fed this way nearly as much. He loves yogurt and sweet fruit mashes, for example, but feeding him some of the less appealing vegetable purées can be a trying experience. On the other hand, there is nothing Munchkin loves more than to devour a nectarine or plum, moving his head wildly from side to side and running his gums back and forth along the juicy flesh. Most fruits are soft enough that we see no need to mash them and just give them to him whole.

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Rather than worrying about following a particular feeding philosophy, we are simply trying to follow Munchkin’s cues, letting him eat what he can on his own and helping him when he needs it. The most important thing is that he seems to be really interested in food, especially if it’s what we’re eating. For now he eats just about anything he can get his hands and mouth on — purées, cereal, and yogurt alongside cut-up chicken, avocado, bread, or whatever else we have on hand. We learned long ago that everything with babies is a phase, so we’re trying to enjoy this one while it lasts — before he becomes particular about what he eats.

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Very wise. I had to have a second child before I learned to let Baby guide me.

    October 2, 2014
  2. Sarah #

    I envy you. I was willing to do a combination of baby-led weaning and purees. My son loves purees. He will eat anything if it is mashed up. But he will not feed himself and he has struggled with more textured foods. It might be terrible to say this but he seems a bit lazy about the whole process in that he doesn’t like to chew and would rather just swallow his food right away than have to actively chew it. He also will just not put much food into his mouth. He gets super distracted by the texture of whatever he is holding and will just play with it. Every day I try to give him some finger foods during one of his meals to practice with and another meal involves only textured food (usually a more chunky puree with rice/quinoa/couscous). I have discovered it is also easier for him to eat something he doesn’t like if he gets it first. If you are up for more ‘baby foods’ I highly recommend the website Weelicious. They have some fun combinations and tips.

    BTW I love the tripp trapp highchair. My husband was not a fan of the design so I bought another kind and have been really dissappointed in it (its already falling apart and it was not cheap). I would be interested to hear your review and whether or not you would recommend it.

    October 2, 2014
    • The adage that every baby is different could not be more true then when it comes to eating. At least you know your son is eating healthy and getting a varied diet through his purees. We need to start getting more adventurous with spices and blending up stews and things. Thanks for suggesting Weelicious! I need inspiration and recipes now that Munchkin seems to be getting pickier about his veggies.

      If I may ask, what kind of high chair do you have? We really like the Tripp Trapp and having Munchkin right at the table with us. With his limited hand-eye coordination, sometimes I wish we had a high chair with a tray but I like that we’ll be able to use it for years to come. I did some research before investing (because it is quite an investment) but we also got to test out different high chairs on our recent travels. I have to admit that the Ikea Antilop high chair really isn’t shabby for $20.

      -S

      October 2, 2014
      • Sarah #

        We have an Oxo Tot Sprout chair that I bought off of Gilt. The cushion for the bottom of the chair started peeling after only 3 months of use and now the back cushion is also peeling. My son is not that active in his highchair so I am inclined to believe that the cushion is just poorly made. I found I could buy a replacement cushion but they cost $40. At this point I might just go ahead and leave the highchair at post when we leave in 6 months.

        I have a friend who got a tray for her Tripp Trapp. I believe they sell them on Amazon and you can also find it here:

        http://www.pishposhbaby.com/stokke-tripp-trapp-tray.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cse&utm_term=stokke-tripp-trapp-tray&utm_content=Stokke&gclid=CP7vvIvkkMECFW4V7AodB0YAAw

        I have also been using a kids food cookbook from Tyler Florence, called “Start Fresh”. Its a wonderful book and has food for every stage, including creative ideas for family dinners in the later chapters (no chicken nuggest or anything like that). My son really loves spinach and roasted pears (an odd combo but it seems to work) and roasted squash. There are lots of intriguing veggie/fruit combos. Some of the recipes are even available on the Food Network website if you want to try them out.

        October 3, 2014

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