There are so many reasons I do Baby-led weaning. If I had to boil it down I’d say it just feels right. Remember my cave-woman test for babies? This one scores an A+. But in the interest of fleshing out a blog post, here are (in no particular order) my top 5 reasons for choosing BLW.
Fun for baby
Babies so dislike the airplane-spoon game that it’s become cliché. What they do like and, unless you’ve had blinders on for the last 2 months of baby’s life you’ll be well aware of this, is to grab stuff and put it in their mouths. I can’t even count how many hours have I spent lately trying to stop Lady Fair from eating my hair, jewelery, coffee mug and car keys. Not to mention leaves whenever I reach into the garden while babywearing. She keeps trying though – it really is her favourite thing to do – so why not let her do it with her food?
Do these ‘puffed snacks’ have too much salt? Does the lid of the apple sauce jar have BPA in it? Who knows? And with BLW, who cares? I’m so tired of worrying whether something is healthy or not, especially since the stuff that appears to be healthy is often not all it’s cracked up to be. But with broccoli, there isn’t really that much to wonder about.
Healthy food relationships
I am a woman who was born and raised in North America. In other words, my relationship with food is seriously messed up. I’m also slightly overweight, due, in large part, to those messed up food attitudes. If I’m unable to listen to my own body speaking to me, why on earth would I think I could hear someone else’s from across the table? Bottom line, the less I control how (and how much) my kids eat, the better for them.
True story: when Little Man was about seven months old he went on a very uncharacteristic food jag. All of a sudden he was a meataholic. His veggies, even his beloved brussels sprouts (not kidding, that was his FAVOURITE food as a baby) went straight to the ground for a solid week. Just when I was starting to thoroughly panic about it, I got my first post-partum period and man, was it a doozie. Clearly I had been serving up some very low-iron boob juice and his little body knew that. Had I been spooning food into his mouth as per my own judgement, I would have been putting in things his body didn’t need.
Einstein famously bought 7 copies of the same suit so he wouldn’t need to waste mental energy choosing his clothes every day. BLW allows for the same mental efficiency: “should we eat this vegetable today, or that vegetable?” Pretty easy decision.
Menu planning aside, the prep is also incredibly easy. No strainers, food mills or special little ice cube trays needed. Step one, make yourself a meal. Step two, put some of it on baby’s plate. Ta-da!! Going to be away from home? No problem. Pack an avocado and a knife. Alternatively, you can probably find something in your restaurant meal that’s baby-appropriate.
I’ve watched in awe as parents I know order a coffee they don’t want just so they can ask the Tim Horton’s cashier to microwave their pureed turkey-sicle, for which they needed to lug around a cooler. Ya, I’m so not that energetic.
Safety – the Biggie
The thing with pureeing food is that it’s like putting a life-jacket on during your swimming lesson. No one drowns during a structured, supervised swimming lesson. They drown when no one is looking, especially if they weren’t allowed to properly learn to swim. Kids are at risk for choking, there’s no doubt about that. Part of the risk comes from having small throats that food can get stuck in easily, but the other part is from not having the skill to coordinate jaw, lip and tongue movements to control where food goes. Just like you can’t learn a proper breast stroke with a lifejacket, you also can’t learn to move food around your mouth if your food is always inserted to the back of your moth where you have no choice but to swallow. Letting kids eat pieces of (appropriately soft) food helps them master the skills of not choking so when they get hold of a pebble or piece of lego when it isn’t meal time, they’ll be safer.
Stay tuned for Part II where I get into some of the practical how-to’s of BLW!
BLW Part III: The Cuteness