This post is sponsored by Raised Real. All thoughts and opinions are my own as we navigate baby led weaning.
While we chose to introduce solids through baby led weaning, there are many ways to introduce solids to babies. We started introducing solids to Camryn around the 6 month mark. The pediatrician gave us the “ok” when she was around 5 months, but I preferred to wait until 6 months. I wanted to wait until all signs of readiness were met (I was very nervous), and I wanted to make sure I re-took a CPR class before doing so….just in case.
What Are the Signs of Readiness for Introducing Solids?
The typical signs of readiness for introducing solids to babies are:
- Baby can sit up well and hold head up without support
- They have lost the tongue reflect (so baby doesn’t automatically push everything out)
- Around 6 months old (The World Health Organization recommends exclusively breastfeeding or formula feeding until 6 months of age, and then adding complementary foods in addition to breastmilk/formula).
- They have a pincer grasp, meaning they can grasp objects and bring them to their mouth
Camryn started sitting up right before 6 months, and once she learns something, she becomes obsessed. So, sitting up was her favorite things for WEEKS. And she had been showing an interest in our food for a few months and grabbing things. I had let her lick some foods and take sips of drinks, but wanted to wait on the formal process. And at her 6 month checkup, I made sure everything else looked good and it was safe to start solids, and we got the go ahead. I definitely recommend checking with your pediatrician as well!
What is Baby Led Weaning?
I knew going into this that I had wanted to try babyled weaning (BLW), which essentially means letting your baby feed themselves, rather than spoon feeding them. They also pretty much eat what you eat, as long as it’s cut and shaped in a safe way. Also, honey is off-limits for all babies under age 1.
From the reading and research I’ve done, it just felt natural for me. It also seemed to be what Camryn prefers. She has been grabbing at my food since she was about 4 months. If I try to give her something, she wants to hold it and bring it to her own mouth anyway. So, I felt that baby led weaning would be the best option for all of us!
Having a baby self-feed can help develop their fine motor skills, including hand-eye coordination, dexterity, and chewing skills. It also offers the opportunity to try a variety of textures, tastes, aromas and colors. A huge part that speaks to me is letting baby decide if they want to eat. For example, self-feeding allows and teaches a baby to self-regulate food, rather than forcing a spoon of food into a baby’s mouth. As I mentioned earlier, there’s no right or wrong way for feeding and I’m a huge proponent of doing what works for your family. I just knew this would work best for us.
What About Choking?
I was so scared about choking initially. I joined many BLW facebook groups before starting to visually see what it looked like. What kind of foods babies were eating, the proper cuts and shapes, and the difference between choking and gagging. Even gagging scared me so much. While we took an infant CPR class during pregnancy, I knew I definitely needed a refresher so I could do what I needed to do if/when Camryn choked. So, I took an online course and would highly recommend it. I have unlimited access to it forever so if I want to brush up, I can just rewatch it again. Also, this book helped give me a lot of confidence as I researched baby led weaning and how to start.
Despite what you may think, there is no higher risk of choking in letting babies feed themselves. I felt like BLW would help introduce Camryn to more foods and flavors, and I really think it has. I have read somewhere that it can help reduce picky eating, but I know each child is different and I don’t think there is a cut and dry for that. The bottom line is to choose a feeding method that will work for you and your family! I am home with Camryn 2 days a week, and the other 3, she is in good hands with a nanny. I feel confident with the nanny feeding her as well, so I knew this plan could work for us.
Once I became more comfortable with gagging (around 7 months), I became so much more relaxed about baby led weaning and the eating experience. Gagging is completely normal. It’s your baby’s way of preventing choking, and it helps them learn tongue control and what sizes/textures of foods they can handle. I will just say that it can be scary in the beginning but just have faith in your baby. They are so smart and know what they are doing.
What’s in Raised Real
Essentially, the great thing about baby led weaning is they eat what you eat! Keeping a variety of nutrient dense foods prepared and on hand has been a challenge. For me, I don’t mind eating scrambled eggs and toast for a few dinners if I’ve had a busy day with no time to cook. But, I really want to expose Camryn to newer foods and produce options too! That’s where Raised Real has come into play. They are similar to meal subscription kits for babies. All of the meals are individually packed and labeled. You can put them right in the freezer, so you don’t have to worry about things going bad.
All the meals arrive as whole ingredients, giving the option to mash or blend foods, or serve them as is for meals. And they’re not just bland mixes either, they are creative ways to introduce your baby to new flavors. For example, peas + zucchini with hemp hearts, basil, and avocado oil, or chickpeas + tahini with cauliflower and turmeric. I appreciate how the meals have a source of fat, to help baby absorb those important fat-soluble vitamins. The meals are free of the big 8 allergens, so if you have a family history of allergies, you don’t have to worry about them through these options.
I also love that each pack comes labeled with the only ingredients in each pouch. So, it’s clear for you or another caregiver what’s in it. They are also a great way to introduce new spices to babies and children, to help expand their palates.
It’s also great when you have nothing prepared for dinner, and you can just pull out a package for the baby! A typical “rule” with baby led weaning is that you want the baby to eat what you eat so they can watch you and imitate it. So, I’ve tried a bunch of these combinations too and enjoy the variety in flavors. I often add some protein or something else to go with the pouch to make it a more complete meal. The photo below is cauliflower + quinoa + coconut milk and I’ve added some tomatoes and ground beef as well.
I would say that serving them as finger foods is probably best for older babies because the pieces are small and definitely require advanced pincer grasp techniques. Camryn can’t quite handle all of them yet (the smaller pieces at least), so we’re introducing these slowly, and saving more for when she’s a little more proficient!
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Interested in trying Raised Real? You can use the code SARAHS25 for $25 off your first shipment!
What were some of your baby’s favorite “first” foods?