As a new parent, introducing solids to your baby can be quite daunting. The pediatrician asks you to start feeding your baby solids without a real game plan, no instructions. Just like when you received your baby for the first time! What should I feed them? Will they like veggies? What if they choke? Until when should I feed my baby purees? So many questions regarding this particular topic. This is why I decided to post about it and share what has worked for us as a family and what is my foundation for Bella's Kitchen. It is not meant to be medical advise or a frown on your current feeding approach. There are many ways and methods; this just happens to be what works for us.
You may have heard about baby-led weaning, a baby feeding method popularized in the UK that encourages skipping purees altogether when transitioning babies to solids. Babies are allowed to feed themselves, explore, get messy, eat what they can, and set their own pace. Advocates of baby-led weaning sometimes recommend a very strict approach in what I believe should be a very happy, fun, flexible time. They say that if you feed your baby purees you have failed at baby-led weaning, or that what you’re doing really isn’t baby-led weaning. To me, this seems too restrictive and stressful.
So what is baby-led feeding? This concept came from Jenna Helwig as a more flexible, practical approach. I came across her website and cookbooks after an endless research on baby feeding. What I like is that her theory doesn't restrict babies from eating baby purees or just finger foods. The key is baby-led. When you offer your child finger foods she decides how much she wants to eat. She picks up the food and puts it in her mouth. If you are spoon-feeding your child, you pay close attention to her cues. Is her mouth open, ready to receive the food? If so, great, feed away. But, if her mouth is closed or she’s distracted or upset, stop. Follow her lead. Even though she’s a baby she decides if and how much she eats. My research suggests that approach helps prevent overfeeding.
Our Experience with Baby-Led Feeding:
Initially we fed Bella purees made with one ingredient and then kept adding more to get her taste buds going. Once we had introduced quite a few veggies and fruits, we decided to try baby-led feeding. We started off by making 3-ingredient banana pancakes for her breakfast and added some halved blueberries. We would offer them up to her in little bites in a plate. Little by little, she learned to pick up her food with her fingers and feed herself. She's really good about telling us when she has had enough and when she wants más (more)! It also made it easier for us as we didn't have to spoon feed her anymore. However, we do pay close attention for any signs of choking and allergic reactions as you would with any feed method.
Just like we do for Bella's Kitchen, for our family we cook with the least possible amount of processed ingredients, sodium, high saturated fats and sugar. We believe the best ingredients are those you can pronounce and you know where they grow and are raised.