Baby Led Weaning: Day One

Today Evie officially started solid food!

Her first meal was watermelon, scrambled eggs, black beans, and a little bit of water. She seemed more interested in her bib than the food in front of her, but once she got a handle on her weaning glass she really enjoyed it! I can’t help but think of how adorable she is, even when she is swiping watermelon slices to the floor…

The Philosophy

We are doing a combination of Baby Led Weaning and Montessori. Since I am a stay-at-home mom, I have a bit more time to devote to the process of weaning, and after researching a bunch of different methods, I identified with these the most. They seem to fit into the lifestyle and morals Tyler and I want to encourage in Genevieve, and seem safe and fairly simple to do. I encourage anyone to research both concepts to learn more about them!

Baby Led Weaning is simply giving the child the same table food you eat. You accommodate it based on their skill level and age. For instance, since Evie is only 6 months she gets stick shaped foods that are easy to gum around in her mouth. So things like steamed vegetables, whole fruits with skin on for easy gripping, and meat in strips. The stick shape helps her grab the food, since at this age she grasps objects with her whole palm.

Montessori goes with the pureed method, but also includes using tableware in the weaning process. A true Montessori weaning involves the use of a weaning table and chair, but also flatware, glasses, and placemats. It encourages the child to learn manners and table etiquette but also practical skills like drinking from a glass, being careful with plates, and using silverware.

We are adapting the things we like from both methods. So, for us that means having Evie at the table with us (BLW), feeding herself independently the same foods we eat, prepared age appropriately (BLW), learning to use an open up (BLW & Mont.), and using tableware when age appropriate (Mont.). When out and about, I have reusable snack bags that have fold-over tops (no ziplock seal) so Evie can reach in and grab her own snacks. As far as cups on the go, we have Munchkin 360 cup. It sports the open-end we like about the Montessori weaning, but the parent-friendly anti-spill top. This way the drinking concept is the same as at home, but less mess!

I don’t see anything wrong with the traditional pureed weaning method, I think it is a great option for busier parents and mainstream babies. Particularly those who have to go to daycare or be watched for a decent part of the week. It is more common therefore child care providers are more comfortable with what they already know! Plus, it doesn’t take as much time (you could argue the other way here, since it involves spoon feeding and possibly preparing baby specific food), and is cleaner in the sense that the parent has control of the food, and liquids are bound to a closed cup.

However, in our case I am home with Genevieve virtually all day, every day. I have ample time to devote to giving her an open-ended chunk on time to play with her food and safely explore and eat, clean up spilled water and liquids, and bathe her afterwards. Its truly a blessing! Being a stay-at-home mom gives me the opportunity to use extended time and energy on weaning, something not very many people can. Since I have the time, I want to use it towards a weaning philosophy I believe will help in the long run, so we are giving it a try!

The Set Up

For her set up, we have the Stokke Tripp Trapp and coordinating baby set, EZPZ Happy Mat Bowl, some towel bibs I purchased on Easy (I plan to make my own since they are fairly simple, but since my sewing machine is buried in the downstairs renovation its a bit impossible right now), and this First Glass Set.

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I liked the high chair because I wanted one that could pull up to the table, a concept that is important in both Baby Led Weaning and Montessori style weaning. Having the baby at the table gives them confidence in their ego (Montessori), and includes them in mealtime by allowing them to observe and copy their family while eating (BLW). I went with the placemats since she would be at the table, and although Montessori encourages giving bowls and what not right away, since she wasn’t at a lower weaning table I decided the placemats would be more user and mommy friendly. We have the bowl, regular “plate”, and snack size happy mats. For now I just used to bowl since she isn’t eating all that much.

The weaning glasses are a concept I am very excited about! both BLW and Montessori encourage the use of open glasses, i.e. no sippy cup for a few reasons. 1) The open glass is better for their developing teeth 2) it is more friendly for breastfed babies because the way they suck in a sippy is different, so many of them have a tough time at first 3) by using glass, the child learns control of error in their environment- meaning they will soon learn that glass breaks & breaking is IMG_5049undesirable, and will learn to be careful. It does take a change in mindset to get used to giving your baby glassware, because yes- there will be a few broken dishes! But I think in the long run it is worth it. I read a few different articles about the concept, and a great one is At Home With Montessori. She goes into detail on all the full-fledged Montessori weaning items and philosophy.

Eating Time

For her first meal, as I already mentioned, I chose watermelon sliced in stick shapes, scrambled eggs, black beans, and water. Most people probably will flip out since I gave her eggs, since eggs are an allergen item. However, BLW encourages introducing common allergens, and not doing the traditional “one new item at a time”. Unless there is a family history of an allergy, they advise just watching baby and treating allergens as normal food items. The watermelon was what we had in the kitchen as far as fruit, and since it was juicy I figured she would like it. I wanted to give her a protein option, and since we didn’t really have any meat, but black beans were leftover from quesadilla night, I decided why not! They are smaller, so an older baby with a pincer grasp would do better with them (8 months+), but since they are soft and mushy I figured it would be a good item to practice that motor skill with.

During the age 6-7 months we are going to do one meal a day, and for right now that is breakfast. I have the most time early in the morning since I am not rushed to run errands or cook dinner for the rest of the family. Since eating with baby and having an open-end of time is critical to BLW, I didn’t want to worry about rushing her, the chaos of having to cook and clean up a big family meal, and inconsistent meal times of dinner. Plus, Evie is always in a good mood when she wakes up, and is already full from her morning nursing. Since all her nutrients come from breastmilk, BLW emphasizes giving the baby a bottle or nursing prior to their solid food meal. That way they don’t fill up on hard-to-digest food and miss out on the nutrients from their milk. Each family is different! I am sure lunch or dinner might work better for some people, but for us breakfast works great.

Around 8 months I plan to add lunch into her schedule, and then around 10 months start her at dinner. But, like I said, some families might do dinner first since that is when they are home, then breakfast, and lunch last since it is with a child care provider. Or maybe mid-day is when they have the most time, so they will do lunch first. Who cares! Whatever works, works!

That’s all for today!

More to come on Evie’s BLW/Mont. weaning journey 🙂

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