Baby Led Solids: Research & Experiments

Baby Led Solids: Research & Experiments

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Confident "Baby-Led Solids"

When I talk to people about introducing babies to solid food, I'm keenly aware that most have not heard of the concept of baby-led solids. Baby-led solids is a commonsense method of introducing solid foods to babies without pureeing, mashing, grinding, spooning, or making humiliating airplane noises. Simply wait until your baby is 6 months old and hand him appropriately shaped foods, letting him feed himself! Tons of new research proves the benefits of this amazing method, and one advantage is that it encourages your baby to become a confident eater. But what about mom's confidence when faced with skeptics?

Everyone who's ever known the joy of handing a slice of pear to a 6 month old and watching him pummel it into his eager face has also dealt with these skeptics. They can come in the form of your sister, who has six kids and clearly knows all there is to know about child rearing, or the random stranger who has an overwhelming urge to contribute his two cents to your child's upbringing. If you're ever in a position where you are tempted to question the sanity of baby-led solids here is an insanely logical argument to bring you back to firm footing: babies naturally put things in their mouths. That's right! Nature intended babies to eat "real" food from the age of 6 months onward, which is why they desperately want to chew on anything within reach, especially if it smells like food.

As anyone who has ever been within a fifty foot radius of a 6-month old knows, everything goes in the mouth. Babies don't know they're "not supposed to put things in their mouths." That's the great thing about giving them real food - they automatically put it in their mouths. They don't worry about whether they're getting enough iron, or if they're going to choke. I'm not saying to disregard reasonable care in these things (see FAQs page of blog). Babies come with all sorts of nifty safety features: they have hands that are incapable of picking up most choking hazards and they have gag reflexes, to name a few. I am suggesting you remember that babies are hardwired to do things that benefit them. Just as "demand-fed" babies are rarely undernourished, self-feeding babies can automatically balance their diet if given a healthy selection of food to choose from.

Imagine all of those moms out there who spend all of baby's playtime preventing things from going in the mouth, then spend all of mealtime repeatedly shoving a spoon into said mouth...Why fight nature? Let them chew broccoli!

3 comments:

  1. With both girls, we did purees but we also let them start putting solids into their mouths as soon as they were able (older daughter around six months, younger around 7.5), and from the first bite of solids also gave finely chopped food instead of mush. Who wants to eat mush, anyhow? (Unless it is supposed to be mush, like applesauce).

    You also get assumptions that they can only eat purees until they have teeth, but really, they can do quite a lot with their gums. My baby managed to gum down watermelon this weekend. She LOVED it.

    But baby led solids is also a fun and exciting way to freak out the grandparents, who assume the baby can't eat anything smaller than a grain of rice.

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  2. Gillian (South Wales)September 20, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    My child's first solid was a spring onion. That's otherwise known as a scallion.

    Oh, and a stick of celery.

    It wasn't intentional, but he apparently was ready to start eating solids and not just waving it around to be part of the family meal.

    We never did purees, and he was eating sandwiches under a year old - really easy to go out and about with him. Oh, and at nine months old he wiped a market stall out of spiced biltong samples.

    He's almost three now. Baby-led weaning was the only way to go for me, and there's *so* much research out there now - just look for Ms Gill Ripley for the real science-y stuff

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  3. Thanks for this post! My husband just sent it to me saying something along the lines of "Have you heard of this... it's like what we are doing anyway?" LOL! I had heard/read about BLS, and though we still do some puree's, DS loves anything that he can put into his mouth! Had to giggle with your last "Let them chew broccoli" comment... Broccoli was one of my son's first play food and is still one of his favorites!

    http://picasaweb.google.com/bgenie/RandomAndTripToLittleRock#5516989288986245874
    DS with broccoli at around 7 m.

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