I had mentioned prior on the blog that I was having a debate on whether to introduce solids via baby-led weaning (bypassing purees and spoon-feeding, giving McKenna tiny finger foods and allowing her to feed herself and be in control of her eating) or the traditional way (purees, cereals, gradually increasing in texture).
There were many things about baby-led weaning that were attractive to me – it required no extra food preparation on my behalf, it would teach McKenna independence by allowing her to be in control of her own mealtimes, would encourage meal time as a family, and also encourage us to eat healthier – as everything we ate would essentially be served to McKenna also. There were also benefits to the traditional ways of introducing solids via purees – less mess to clean, the ability to introduce solids slowly, thereby ensuring that 95% of her nutrition was received from breastmilk, and, the tipping pont for me – no risk of choking.
Anyone who has done baby led weaning or researched, knows that it is very rare a child actually chokes – they moreso gag, as we do, out of reflex. Regardless, I just could not get the picture of McKenna choking on a piece of food out of my head. I was terrified of being alone and unable to help her should something happen, which has lead me to ultimately go the traditional route.
I introduced sweet potatoes first, on May 2nd. Each additional food has been introduced three days later. To date, McKenna has had (in order of introduction): sweet potato, butternut squash, avocado, carrots, pears, rice cereal and most recently, apples. She loves mealtime. She knows as soon as we put her in her highchair what is about to happen. She has even started to take the spoon from us and make an effort to feed herself. She will try anything, and has taken a liking to everything BUT avocado and apples (go figure). We are waiting to see if she simply has an aversion to the letter “a” (I will keep you updated). 🙂
All in all, I have found this route to be easy and successful for us. I make all of McKenna’s baby food – with the exception of carrots (risk of nitrates when not using jarred) and her cereal (but I intend to – I do not like the list of ingredients I read on the back of the processed baby cereals). It takes no time at all for me to make the food, and 90% of the time I bake the veggies/fruits until they get soft, mix it with some fresh breast milk, and puree it with my Magic Bullet. It takes me a total of 20 minutes to get a batch of baby food, which I then freeze in individual ice cube trays for easy access for the week.
I generally feed her one meal of a fruit or veggie a day, at around 11am, after her nursing session. She is still getting 95% of her nutrition from breastmilk, and it will continue this way until she is a year old, however, I anticipate adding a second solid meal by month 7.
All in all, our journey to healthy eating has been a success. With the introduction of solids, McKenna has been sleeping longer (6 hours straight every night for the past week – hooray!) and is still consuming the same amount of breastmilk, which leads me to think my decision to introduce foods at 5 months was a good one. This is a huge milestone for us, and I love making food and feeding McKenna. I look forward to many healthy family mealtimes to come.
Anytime I had thought about introducing solids, I planned to do baby lead weaning, to wait until 6 months, and to skip cereals entirely. Once again, it has been reconfirmed to me you can never make too many plans when it comes to how to raise your baby – you will be proven wrong, almost everytime.