A Blended Approach

Yes, two blog posts in one day after a month off. For once, the dishes are mostly done and I'm not braindead, so I'm taking advantage. It's more baby stuff, though--sorry, fibre-y folks who aren't into the kid stuff! I haven't been doing very much exciting in the fibre arts world lately, although I've just started spinning for a Very Big Project, so one day there will be posts about that.

I think most of us are familiar with the "traditional" approach to introducing baby food--rice cereals, some single ingredient fruit/vegetable purees, then some blended purees. Really, this is a pretty modern approach to feeding babies, but it's the way most people do it today. And Evan started his food journey mostly along this path--although the first thing he ate was the banana he grabbed from my hand and shoved into his mouth. He was about 5.5 months and quite pleased with this discovery!

Shortly after that I tried introducing him to some purees (including some containing bananas, since he obviously liked that!). His reactions were mixed, as I think most babies' are. But he didn't have the same excitement he had about that first banana, and there was a lot of wrangling for control of the spoon. So once again, I did some more reading about a concept I'd been hearing tossed around but didn't know a lot about--Baby-Led Weaning.

The idea behind BLW is that babies don't need to be spoonfed, and in fact can be introduced to foods just as we eat them. There are a few caveats, of course (choking hazards are much more rare than you would assume, but there are some!), and some foods are easier to start with than others, but on the whole babies can eat almost anything the rest of us can. Strict Baby Led Weaning means that the baby doesn't eat anything he can't feed himself--so no spoonfeeding. There are lots of theories about why this approach may be better (encourages a broader palate, greater independence, reduces obesity, etc.), but they are just theories--I don't think there's extensive research into any of this.

This seemed more like Evan's approach to the banana, so we decided to try it out, starting with sharing a roast chicken dinner. As you can see, he was thrilled by the idea! He didn't actually consume much that night, or most of the nights that followed, but he had a lot of fun exploring food. And a few weeks later he started occasionally taking in a more significant amount.

Have we abandoned spoonfeeding? Well, not entirely. He LOVES pearsauce, and wants to eat lots of it very quickly--something that he can't do if he's in control of the spoon. My thinking is that if he clearly wants the food, but doesn't have the physical ability to control the spoon yet, it's OK to help him out a bit. He's very good at letting us know when he doesn't want any more, so I'm not too worried that he's being "forced" to eat things he doesn't want.

This approach seems to work fine for us--Evan is experiencing a wider variety of flavours and textures than most babies do, but he's probably eating less of it than a lot of babies his age. Some days he doesn't really eat any solids, other days he takes quite a bit. I've given up predicting what he might like, because he keeps surprising me with his adventurous spirit. A few weeks ago the big hit was dhal (Indian "curried" lentils). Today it was chili! He also loves most vegetables, especially if they're roasted. I'd love to think that this bodes well for a future of adventurous eating!