For those of you who don’t know, baby led weaning is basically a fancy way to say feeding your kid real food. Baby led weaning is all the rage these days, and for good reason. Not only is it awesome for the baby because they get to decide how much and what to eat; but, it is awesome for the mom because it easier, healthier, and cheaper. You don’t have to make or buy any purees. No sitting feeding the baby spoonful by spoonful and having the kid spit the food back out at you. The kid figures out how to eat himself when they are ready (they will tell you!) And the baby decides how much they want to eat, so there isn’t any overeating. If you are at all interested in it, I would recommend reading what is considered the bible of baby led weaning. However, I wouldn’t rely completely on it. If you are up for it, read Real Food for Mom and Baby and French Kids Eat Everything. These are the three books I base my family’s eating on. Each have their own strengths and weaknesses, and the three have provided the foundation for our family’s food philosophy:
1.) No Purees:
Unlike with Bowe, where I supplemented with purees because our pediatrician scared me into believing she be iron deficient, we are 100% Puree Free! Not that there is anything wrong with them, but it is unnecessary work and cost. I don’t have a lot of time, and the free time I have is not going to be spent making purees when the baby can eat the same thing in its natural form.
2.) Only Real Food:
There are no animal crackers in our house, nor are there gold fish, puffs, num nums, or teething biscuits. The baby only eats what I consider real food (*and the toddler does too aside from when we are out and if friends are eating goldfish she can eat them as well.) Nothing is chemically processed or artificial. In the first 12 months, food is only meant to supplement the baby’s main food source–breastmilk or formula. Gradually, food begins to replace the breastmilk/ formula. So if anything is going to take the place of what I consider liquid gold (breastmilk) you can bet your buns it won’t be something that is empty calories. I want to teach my kids to eat healthy, tasty foods (basically the opposite of what my tastebuds really want!) I want what they eat to be as healthy as possible and I want it packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants!
3.) No Special Meals:
Yep, I am not cooking a special meal for the baby or the toddler. This goes hand-in-hand with our philosophy of educating our children’s taste palates. Like the French believe, we are in charge of teaching our kids to be good eaters. I am not a good eater and I am determined to make sure my kids don’t fall in the same traps as I did. My poor parents had to put up with me for way too long! There is one meal at dinner in our house and we all eat the same thing. Our kids have learned from an early age to like spices, seasoning, and fresh foods. Bowe’s favorite meal when she was a baby was, I kid you not, white bean soup with kale. Her second? Israeli couscous with swiss chard. Early on, when you are just introducing one food at a time, I would serve Jack our veggie side for his dinner (sweet potatoes/ peas/ cauliflower/ or broccoli.) Since we usually have a vegetable side with dinner that Jack can always eat, it has never been a problem. Sweet potatoes are his favorite, and since they are often our carb for a dinner, we usually have them a couple times a week. I almost always make 1.5 times the amount we will eat for dinner so we can have leftovers for lunch. He eats eggs, oatmeal, yogurt, or bananas for breakfast; fruit and leftover dinner for lunch; and whatever we are eating for dinner. He eats what we eat. Now, this past weekend, we had Bowe’s birthday and while I didn’t give him a piece of cake, he did get to eat the lasagna (and my dad may have slipped him some frosting!)
We have these three rules to make our lives easier and our kids better eaters. This is not to say our kids are perfect eaters or that these rules are for everyone. They work for us and I stand behind them, even though we are going through a picky phase with Bowe right now. What she used to love, she now won’t touch. But instead of making it a fight, I am just making sure she has good choices to choose from at each meal. If she eats, she eats. If she doesn’t, she doesn’t. While talking to another mom the other day, she quoted a book that is now on my reading list. She said that the author argues that as parents, it is our job to provide good choices and options for food for our children; but, it is not our job to decide how much or if they eat. By making it a fight, we give the kids power. So we are trying to keep her lack of eating a non-issue. Luckily, she still eats all fruit and meat, so she is just missing out on the vegetables. But, I know this is just a phase, and she will be back to normal soon. Thankfully, Jack still eats everything you put in front of him!
Please tell me, have you heard of baby led weaning before? Is it something you have done with your kids? And if you want to read more about our food philosophy and how I fed Bowe when she was a baby (some things have changed) read this post and this post! And if you want to see our current meal plans for the last four weeks.