Baby-Led Weaning

29 Nov

I’d like to preface this post by saying that things aren’t the same for every baby. In fact, the reason Isobel took to the baby-led weaning approach so well is because she already had 8 teeth by her first birthday. Some babies only have two. This would really affect how long a baby might be interested in mushy foods.  There’s no way to predict how any future children will react, but we’re going to play it by ear and listen to our baby’s preferences when the time comes. I have no desire to prescribe directions as to how other parents should feed their children. Rather, this is a log of our experience with Isobel.


When I was pregnant and nesting I read all kinds of books and searched website after website on how to make your own baby food. I was inspired by the thought of making baby food. I was excited by books such as this one that had gorgeous photos of pureed goodness inside. I happily contemplated roasting lamb and cooking up barely and pureeing a compote of dried prunes every night. My daughter will eat like a queen, I thought.

I went so far as to ask my family for a Beaba Babycook as a combined birthday and Christmas present. And I got it.

It’s still in the box.

At six months I dutifully tried coaxing her into eating rice cereal. Isobel showed a marked dislike for it and often refused to even open her mouth. To say she was not interested was an understatement. Each night I’d get home from work and when she was hungry I mixed up a bit of cereal for her that she angrily rejected.

Originally my plan was to get her acclimated to rice cereal before we tried anything else. I thought it would keep her feeling full longer and help her learn to eat. But I never willingly got her to eat a bite. I did manage to give her an impressive beard, though.

A coworker gave me a ton of jarred baby food that her child grew out of, and since it was the special organic kind I thought I’d give it a try before making my own. You know, find out what flavors Isobel preferred. I got Isobel to eat jarred carrots a grand total of once but that was it. After that she refused to eat any of the jarred food we offered. I ended up donating rest of the food to a shelter.

Eventually I found out that grandma and great grandma had been secretly feeding her refried black beans, a Guatemalan favorite, for a few weeks and she had been eating them with gusto. She also showed a marked preference for avocado. And strawberries. And whatever it was you happened to be eating, could she try some of that, too please? She wanted nothing to do with food in jars but everything to do with whatever that was on your plate.

She loves it when I give her a cup of Greek yogurt. She calls it "Yo-yo."

So I let go of my dreams of becoming the Baby Food Making Queen of the Western Hemisphere. We started feeding her what was on our plate, as long as it was safe in size, texture and developmentally appropriate content. Basically, she would eat anything as long as it looked like you wanted it.

This became the way we had our meals, and I often roasted a sweet potato for my dinner in order to mush up a bunch to feed her. She loves broccoli, and carrots, but can’t abide the stickiness of rice. She’s fond of tofu in soup, and very early on adored raw onions.

Raw. Onions.

For awhile the height of haute cuisine for her was a Ritz cracker but she soon moved on to the more sophisticated flavors of Wheat Thins and Triscuits. Cheerios are as popular with her as they are with her Mama. She is crazy about her Grandpa Doug’s ribs and enjoys a fiercely spicy taco truck burrito with her Dad. (You know, the kind that is too hot for Mama? She loves them.) When grandma gave her a lime she scrunched her face up hilariously but then immediately requested more. She’s noshed on fried octopus, and coconut shrimp and happily digs into the chicken my Mom brings over for her lunch. She loves cheese and clam chowder and lettuce leaves and apples. She eats bread and otter pops and potatoes and hamburgers.

The girl eats anything but baby food.

Now I just have to figure out what I’m going to do with that Babycook.


14 Responses to “Baby-Led Weaning”

  1. the grumbles November 29, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    we asked for one of those little food grinders when i was pregnant and um… have never used it. we just give the kid table food. we’re eating rice? here, have some rice. he was the same was Isobel is. (and for the record, he only has 3 teeth at 15 months and he can chew most anything just fine, but we do have to watch the crackers a bit.)

    • the grumbles November 29, 2010 at 9:28 am #

      some of those words don’t make any sense. typing fail.

    • LittleBig November 29, 2010 at 9:39 am #

      Good for him for eating with his three litle teeth! What a trooper! Isobel has practically all of hers and at each meal we still have to remind her to chew at least once.

      And for the record, I didn’t notice the typing fail till you pointed it out. 😉

  2. Amanda November 29, 2010 at 9:23 am #

    We made baby food for a few months and she ate it with great cheer. She was wonderful with her spoon and we only ever had to show her to use it one time. once! Smarty. Now she’s 9 months and still has no teeth. She only wants to eat finger food. She is mostly fond of the darn puffs and Cheerios that I think are junk food, really, compared to what she’d eat before – all kinds of fresh fruits and veggies pureed to different textures. Now we’re kind of stuck because of the no-teeth thing and it’s really frustrating. We’ll microwave a sweet potato for her, etc, but it’s still limiting what she can eat.

    • LittleBig November 29, 2010 at 9:40 am #

      I really think kids have an ebb and flow in the variety of food they’ll eat. Right now Isobel prefers any kind of meat to anything else. That will change, though.

  3. Tristina November 29, 2010 at 10:41 am #

    We only just started Olivia on solids. She finds sweet potatoes mildly interesting and will only eat them off of my finger. She just wants to hold the spoon and occasionally teethe on it.

    She thinks water is the best thing nature ever made.

    • LittleBig November 29, 2010 at 10:58 am #

      Isobel has definitely encouraged anthony to drink more water, which is awesome.

      When she’s ready, she will chow down.

  4. Dan November 29, 2010 at 10:51 am #

    I’m still a bit of an asshat when it comes to what Neil eats, just because we aren’t always the healthiest eaters and so I’m sure there are all sorts of fun chemicals that I’m fine with my fat ass ingesting that I’d like to keep him away from for as long as possible. I do need to get a little better about it (NOBODY SHOW THIS TO MY WIFE) now that he’s almost one, though (sidenote: wtf mah baby is old)

    Luckily I know myself too well to think I ever would have had time to make food ourselves. I’ve tried to be A Good Person too many times and failed (see Hyperbole and a Half)

    Babies do seem to be jealous though, don’t they? Neil wouldn’t touch the scrambled egg yolk I made him, until I would distract him while Elizabeth put it on her fork and pretended it was part of her omelet.

    • LittleBig November 29, 2010 at 10:57 am #

      I have to say that Isobel eating what we eat has definitely changed our own eating habits for the better.

      • Dan November 29, 2010 at 11:55 am #

        I’m still half-sold on that concept. The problem is that it’s the extension of ‘when you’re pregnant we’ll eat better for the baby’ which ended abruptly and horribly when we discovered that anything even remotely healthy would cause vomiting* whereas tacos and pizza were fine.

        * Other things that would cause vomiting: Tuesdays, pasta, the hour being divisible by 3, a ride to work. It was three times a day for six months and never stopped completely until he was forcibly ripped from her womb, chemicals and nature not being enough. My son has always been a pain in the ass.

      • LittleBig November 29, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

        Your poor wife!

        We actually have been slouching in the direction of better eating for awhile. Isobel just nudged us over the edge.

  5. Windsor Grace November 29, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

    I hope if I ever have a baby she’s as cute as Isobel.

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