I was honestly pretty unsure on how to introduce solids to Jaxon when he first started. Sure, I knew a lot about functional nutrition but I knew nothing about how to translate that into a safe way to feed this tiny little human.
I started, like most parents, with purees. However, while researching feeding practices I came across “Baby Led Weaning”.
It is less common in the States but is catching traction thanks to social media. I find that a majority of my “social media” inspiration accounts are usually over in Europe or Austrialia! (It is amazing that I can make relationships with these women who are so similar to be but so far away!!)
I have definitely learned a lot in this first year of baby led weaning!
Choking vs Gagging
The question I get most is “But aren’t you afraid of him choking on such big pieces?!?”
Of course, I am afraid of my child choking!! That is precisely WHY I chose to do BLW. Because this method teaches him to actually chew bites off his food first rather than traditional American weaning which teaches baby to swallow soft purees first. Read more about this in our free Baby Led Weaning 101 Guide.
Water, Water, Water
Offering water as soon as you start solid foods is incredibly important! We struggled with constipation in the beginning. It wasn’t until Jaxon began using his training sippy cup, that his constipation subsided. We also began using this constipation cure when times got desperate.
Offer water with every meal and throughout the day (2-4oz per day from 6-12 months). However, water should not take the place of milk. It is in addition to breastmilk/formula (under 1) and whole milk (after 1 year old).Munchkin Click Lock Weighted Straw Cup, 7 Ounce, Orange
Embrace the Mess
My husband is about as OCD as a human being could possibly be- so this was especially hard for him to get on board with. But the mess is just part of the process.
Unfortunately, eating requires a great deal of practice. Which means there will be many spoons and fists full of food that don’t make it in your little one’s mouth. Remember the old saying “practice makes perfect”? Well eating alone definitely requires practice to be even sort of perfect!Better Life Natural All-Purpose Cleaner, Safe Around Kids & Pets, Unscented, 32 Ounces (Pack of 2), 2409C
But just because there is going to be a mess doesn’t mean you can’t take a few steps to “lessen the blow”.
Having a highchair with removable parts allows for quicker cleanup time! You can find the exact chair we use in our BLW101 Guide. We also have our favorite natural all-purpose cleaner linked there!
Eat with the Baby
I’m home alone with Jaxon a majority of the time. It is very easy to get sidetracked with other tasks while he is eating. (Even if it is just instagraming his meal, I still get distracted)
I have found he is much more likely to eat his whole meal if I am sitting with him. And usually, he will try to eat most of my food too! This is how I found out he has a fairly good tolerace for spicy foods.
Sitting down to eat with him was also very beneficial to me. During the time he was 6-12 months old not only was I a new mom to a infant, I was also back in school taking 3 more health education classes (nutrition was my major but health ed. was my minor and I took more courses for my CHES) and I was also planning our wedding! We were engaged when Jax was born but didn’t have our wedding until he was 9 months old. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed and exhausted duirng this phase and making a point to sit and eat with Jax really was the only way I had time to eat back then.
Offer a Wide Variety
It happens to all of us- the “meal time rut”. You feel like you keep serving the same thing over and over again.
I have also become more comfortable creating and utilizing a “freezer stash”. Frozen food can offer just as many nutrients as fresh but will stay edible for much much longer. This allows me to use what I need and save the rest for another time. Plus having a stack of frozen pancakes makes my morning A LOT easier! Spinach banana pancakes were one of our favorites but the possiblities are endless. Check out these banana blueberry pancakes too.
I found that serving a wide variety of foods has helped him be a less picky eater. Exposure to a wide variety of textures, flavors, and colors has helped him feel more comfortable with those foods over time. There are still some that he is learning to like but overall I do feel that he is more open to trying new foods than his peers. I buy seasonal produce because it is usually on sale. But it also keeps us eating different produce every 3-6 weeks. Rather than be constantly buying the same things over and over.
Month by Month
6 months old
The idea of BLW was completely new to me at this time! I was busy researching and trying different methods for preparing foods safely. I found banana (with a handle), avocado (with skin for grip), and steamed green beans (with grass fed butter), and eggs (either scrambled or an omlet finger) were my favorite (most easy) to serve.
7 months old
Around the middle of this month, he developed his pincer grasp. Which means he was able to pick things up using only two fingers and honeslty much earlier than most babies do- my advanced little man! This opened a whole new world of possiblities! I was then able to begin offering smaller things like beans, sliced blueberries, and diced foods.
8 months old
During this month we began eating soft meats! I was able to share my favorite comfort food with him: pot roast. You can find the full recipe for family friendly pot roast here! Introducing iron rich foods is important for infants however I waited a while to offer meats. Looking back I wish I had started sooner but now I know for the next baby (whenever that happens).
9 months old
At 9 months old, I was so crazy busy getting ready for the wedding that this time is still a blur. He began flipping his plate all the time during this phase. I started being calm and allowing it to happen but I would not return things thrown on the floor. If he continued throwing after that I would assume he was done or becoming frustrated and end the meal.
10 months old
Around this time we started our battle with constipation. It subsided with a little help from some prune juice and probiotic rich yogurt. Around 6 months old I began using the American Sign Language sign for “more” when I was feeding Jax. At this stage he FINALLY correlated what it meant and began using his sign language to ask for things!
11 months old
We took our first family vacation during this month! I loved that we didn’t have to plan for “special meals”. Jaxon was able to just eat whatever we ate. And he has such a fun time doing it! I broke the “rules” and allowed him to try ice cream while on this trip. Much to our surprise he wasn’t interested in it so after offering a bite or two he happily went back to his olives and fish haha.
One year old
Ahhh… the 12 months mark. When (theoretically) children should transition to whole milk and are allowed to have sugar. This was his first time having cake! And we had to physically mash his hands into it because he had no idea what to do with it. I made his “smash cake” myself with regular frosting however the cake was made from bananas, applesauce, and a few other indgredients. Check out our “Hole in One Par-tee” here. It was also around this time when he finally stopped flipping his plate at meals. During the “plate flipping” phase everyday and meal felt so long but looking back at it I realize how quickly this behavior stopped with gentle and consistent guidance.
13 months old
A bittersweet month for us, as Jax began attending “school”. He attends our church’s “Mother’s Day Out” program which is only 2 days a week from 8-2pm. During this month we began packing our #babylunchbox! At this point I also realize how thankful I am that my child can safely eat by himslef.
14 months old
Jax became more and more aware of the different foods. He started to prefer “red” foods and anything “crunchy”.
15 months old
October means Halloween… and Halloween means candy. Thankfully Jax wasn’t all that interested in candy. We did opt to bring the fruit tray for the Halloween party! Check out our recipe for healthy BLW fruit dip here.
16 months old
By Thanksgiving, I had Jaxon officially eating everything the adults did with very little modifications besides major choking hazards! What a perfect time to be able to eat off the “adult menu”. We enjoyed an amazing Thanksgiving snacking on lots of roasted veggies and cresant rolls.
17 months old
Call it a miracle, but up until this point our family had never been truly sick since Jaxon was born. But during this month we all fell ill with the stomach bug! Surprisingly, Jax never was fussy about it. He did have to spend a day eating the B.R.A.T. diet (aka bananas, rice, apples/apple sauce, & toast)
18 months old
After one full year of BLW, self-feeding is not an issue! He now has 12 teeth and can chew through most anything. However, he has gotten more creative about sneaking food to the dog if he doesn’t want to eat it.
Yes, it took a great deal of time.
Yes, it took a great deal of effort.
Would I recommend this method: ABSOLUTELY!!!
Having the peace of mind that my child will be able to safely eat (especially when I am not around) is incredibly important to me! But also, I love being also to share my love for food with my son. No time wasted making “special meals”- we just eat good, healthy food together!
It has been amazing to watch him grow and develop along this journey.
The author of this site encourages you to consult a doctor before making any health changes, especially any changes related to a specific diagnosis or condition. No information on this site should be relied upon to determine diet, make a medical diagnosis, or determine treatment for a medical condition. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. For more information please read our full disclaimer here.