Oliver is 14 months old now, and he eats like a champ! We are pretty lucky with him in general, but eating has always been a breeze. Oliver was exclusively breastfed until he was 6 months old, then I started introducing foods, while still breastfeeding. When Oliver was about 9 months old, my milk supply dropped substantially and we started using formula. I was fortunate and happy that I was able to breastfeed for the first 6 months, but I didn’t feel any shame with switching to formula, to be honest they only downside of it was the cost. Oliver continued eating more and more solids, to the point where he was only having one bottle in the morning and one in the evening before bed. Then he weaned himself off the nighttime bottle and when he turned one we stopped the morning bottle and he transitioned no problem. I wanted to share a bit about the way we introduced Oliver to solid foods and some of my favorite go to foods for him while he was learning to eat.
We decided to do baby led weaning (BLW) with Oliver, which isn’t exactly what it sounds like. When I first saw the name I thought it meant you would let your baby decide when they wanted to wean themselves from milk or formula and my reaction was nope, not for me. But something got me looking into it and that’s not what it is at all. It’s basically letting your baby eat what you’re eating from day one, no purees or mashed up food necessary. There are a few requirements to starting this method of introducing solids though. Baby needs to be 6 months old AND sitting unassisted. If they don’t have the muscles to hold themselves up, they aren’t going to have the muscles to swallow properly, it makes sense right? It’s also recommended that baby has an interest in real food, which Oliver definitely did. So basically the deal is, if you offer food in the correct way, baby can eat almost anything. One big exception is honey, always hold off on honey until baby is one. Also obvious choking hazards like peanuts are off limits.
I was really excited to start Oliver on solids, but I had already made a few purees before really deciding on baby led weaning, so I’m not as hardcore as some parents are. Oliver had a combination of purees and solids starting when he was 6 months old. I used some of the purees I had made initially, but pretty quickly moved on to using the purees as a spread on toast instead. The main things he ate on his own was fruit like peaches and pears. He did great with them with the exception of being a bit slippery and hard to hold on to. Once he was comfortable with the soft fruits I decided it was time to really embrace the BLW thing and start giving Oliver what we were having. We eat a lot of pasta, which is a great BLW food, all cooked pasta is totally safe for babies to eat.
Now, you may have had a head tilt moment earlier when I said that I used the purees I made on toast. You may have thought “wow, toast seems like a hard thing to chew without teeth”, but the thing is, it’s not. Our jaw actually does most of the breaking down part of chewing, the teeth are extra help, obviously, but it’s totally possible to chew without teeth. So Oliver had his toast and did great with it. This also meant he had pancakes and waffles when dad made breakfast on the weekends. It’s safe to say he was a big fan. Since I used the veggie purees as spreads it was a way to get those nutrients in without much effort too.
By far the scariest thing about BLW is gagging. Basically baby is going to gag on food sometimes while figuring out how to eat correctly. Think about it, until this point they’ve only had liquid to eat so learning how to chew and swallow is an actual thing that they have to do. It constantly amazes me watching Oliver learn how to do things we do as adults without even thinking about. Anyways, it takes some time and practice before they figure out how much food is too much to have in their mouth, so there are times when they gag which is kind of scary. But they good news is that gagging is good, it means they aren’t choking. If they are choking and their airway is actually blocked, they can’t make any sound, therefore the sound of gagging means they’re working it out on their own. And for Oliver 99.999% of the time he really did work it out on his own. I’ve had 2 cases ever where I really had to step in and make sure he wasn’t choking, but actually he mostly worked it out on his own and I was just backup.
So here are some of my favorite go-to foods for Oliver. For BLW it’s actually helpful to not offer as much squishy soft food. So while fruit is a fan favorite and really easy, bananas have been a daily snack since day 1, I wanted to make sure I was giving him a variety of textures as well. It was also important that I was giving him nutritious food, since he was eating less breast milk and transitioning to real food I figured it was best to start as healthy as possible so I didn’t fall into unhealthy trends for Oliver.
My #1 go to is oatmeal muffins. They are incredibly easy to make and are great for on the go. I can’t take credit for the recipe, but I can’t find the original anywhere…so here it is.
2 ½ C oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 C canned pumpkin
½ c unsweetened applesauce
1 smashed banana
1 smashed avocado
Mix all that together, put in in some greased mini muffin tins (or regular muffin tins) and bake at 350 for about 13 minutes give or take. Sometimes I’ve had them take 15 minutes, other times they’re done in 12 minutes. I don’t know why… But basically you just want them to be set and starting to brown on the tops. Oliver loves these things and they are packed with nutrients. We take 4 or 5 with us on hikes and it’s a great little snack/lunch for him.
Our #2 easy favorite is sweet potato, tuna and spinach patties. It sounds like a gross combination, but I have tried them and they are actually pretty good and again nutrient packed. They take about 5 minutes to prep and 12 minutes to cook. Super fast and easy, I try to always have the stuff for them. This is one that you can add more or less seasonings to. Some people don’t believe babies should experinece seasonings, I am not one of those people. I add oregano, parsley sometimes a little cumin or garlic salt (I do try and limit the salt in Oliver’s food) or whatever else seems good to these. I don’t do a whole lot, but I don’t believe that baby food has to be bland. Here’s the original link: Tuna Sweet Potato burgers
Another, more time consuming and arguably less attractive thing that I make Oliver is sweet potato and lentil croquettes. I’ve made these a few times and while I love how nutritious they are but mine don’t come out looking anywhere near as nice as the originals do, I don’t have a picture of them because I’ve never deemed them picture worthy but they are something we have I’d say once a month. This one I do have the original link for as well: Sweet potato lentil croquettes
Check out my pinterest for more BLW ideas, I’ve tried a lot of the recipes on there at least once. Some were more successful than others as pinterest things always are.
Some other things that Oliver has always liked and still eats a lot of are eggs, hard boiled or scrambled. He also enjoys most fruits, strawberries are a big hit right now and he absolutely loves cuties! The first time we tried them I was a bit nervous just handing him a whole slice, but he munched it up a bit and swallowed it just fine. We have had a few gagging instances with them but he eats at least one a day, if not more. The main thing with offering fruits and veggies is that they are cut into finger shaped strips, so that they aren’t a choking hazard.
Overall I’ve been really happy with the BLW method. Oliver is a great eater and I’m happy with how adventurous he is with food. He is starting to get a little picky, he has decided he doesn’t like tomatoes. But he will try most everything we give him before he rejects it. I hope that he stays that way forever and doesn’t follow in his dads footsteps of only eating eggs and bologna for 8 years straight.