Baby led feeding is an approach to solid food introduction that allows baby to explore and discover food on their own with parental supervision.
With baby-led feeding you give baby whole foods or foods cut into hand size spears or slices so that baby learns what is a comfortable and manageable bit size for them. This helps create their independence at the dinner table as well.
Never force baby to eat. If baby is showing “signs” of wanting food, and is AT LEAST 6 months old, then offer your baby the age appropriate food. If baby eats it fine, if not, then let baby play, explore, and discover these new textures, tastes, smells, etc..
Most babies that show “signs” of wanting food are actually simply wanting to do what we are doing. So, if you offer food and baby doesn’t eat it, then offer baby utensils instead. Let baby get familiar with eating utensils by playing, exploring, and learning how to use them. They learn by watching so let them practice at the dinner table, not forcing them to eat anything.
Baby should still be getting most, if not all, of his/her nutrition from mom via breast milk. Or, if mom was not able to breastfeed, then baby should be getting nutrition from whatever breastfeeding alternative was chosen, breastfeeding alternative options are homemade raw milk formula, meat-based homemade formula, raw milk, fortified commercial formula, and then commercial formulas. Therefore, if baby is still being breastfeed, raw milk fed, or formula fed, then there is no need to rush the introduction of solid foods.
Great first time foods are avocado spears, bananas, egg yolk, sweet potato, and RIPE pears (cut into spears if desired).
Whenever introducing a new food, no matter what the age is, always do one at a time, and wait at least 3 days, preferable longer, before introducing another new food.
I recommend waiting a week between food introductions, because some potential allergic reactions are delayed reactions and might not appear right away, it takes a few meals of the food to actually stimulate a immune system response if there is going to be a reaction.
Many people believe the myth that if you feed a child too many fruits that they will never eat veggies, because the fruit is sweet. Or that it is too much sugar for them. First, the sugar that is in fruit is natural sugar, quickly metabolized and utilized by their RAPIDLY growing and moving body. Second, I have never actually seen a child not eat veggies because of too many fruits in the diet.
The children that I see that don’t eat veggies is due to TWO reasons. First, they weren’t given it early enough and often enough, you just keep offering, never forcing. Smoothies are a great way to get veggies in once they have been introduced fully into the diet. Second, they never saw their parents eating it, children want to eat what their parents are eating, especially once they hit toddler-hood! If you don’t like the particular vegetable, either find a way to prepare it that you will eat it, keep trying it till you do like it, or find a variety of vegetables that you will eat and keep them on hand, but still offer the other vegetables that you don’t necessarily like yourself and mix them in with your baby’s variety.
Even if baby doesn’t have any teeth yet, you can still offer food, this will actually become a teething comfort mechanism for baby and this will also stimulate the gums and teeth buds to encourage the teeth to come in. Frozen carrots and celery to chew on when teething are great!
Leigh Anne DuChene