Monday, October 10, 2011

They don't HAVE to eat it!


Does that site look familiar? Trying to get your baby to eat baby cereal but they're crying or spitting it out or turning their heads away? I cannot even tell you the number of times I have seen people ask "How do I get my baby to eat baby cereal (or other purees)?"

The answer? You don't.

In the first year, food is just for fun. Breastmilk is all your baby needs for their first year. It fulfill all their nutritional needs. They do not need rice cereal or any other solids. In fact, there are some sources that say you shouldn't even FEED your baby those infant cereals. They are worthless calories and offer no nutritional value to their diet. Regardless, it's just not necessary. So if your baby isn't digging the cereal, don't ask "How can I get my baby to eat it"...just stop giving it to them! The day WILL come when they eat solids, I promise.

Since we're on the topic, I really feel that the best way to feed your baby is with baby-led weaning or baby-led solids. And I'm not the only one. There are multiple organizations out there who are behind BLW. Wholesome Baby Foods says BLW is:

Baby Led Weaning means offering your baby (age appropriate) foods that are soft-cooked and cut or mashed into small easily manageable pieces. You may choose to offer your baby a large hunk of apple that she can easily hold and gnaw on or a bowl full of soft cooked mashed apples; the choice is yours. The foods are then given to your baby to eat without being pureed and without being spoonfed. You do the cooking, the dicing or mashing and the offering of the foods and your baby does the rest.  It is important to note that your baby should be in control of what he is eating and you should never actually feed him by putting the foods into his mouth!

Why BLW? Well, for one, it's completely letting your baby control what they eat and how much they eat. For two, it's easier! When Olivia was a baby, I made all her baby food. And omg, what a total pain it was! I steamed all the food, mixed it, separated it, froze it into ice cube trays....etc etc. It took a lot of time. With Ella? I cut up some food off my plate, put it on her tray and let her dig in!! If we have Black Bean and Quinoa Tacos she'll have black beans, quinoa, cheese and avocado (all the stuff that goes into our tacos). BLW also gives them the opportunity to experience real textures and practice chewing. The general idea of BLW is that if they aren't able to handle the pieces of food, they aren't ready for food.

A lot of people are concerned that their baby isn't getting enough with BLW. Well, like I said (and like the experts say!) "food before one is just for fun!". Don't worry about their nutrients from their solids. During the first year, solid food shouldn't make up more then 25% of their diet. Breastmilk is all they need and solids are just a way for them to experience food.

Lastly, I tell you...baby led weaning...well, it's fun! It's cute! I LOVE watching Ella eat! it cracks me up! Today, she was eating steamed carrots and she was nomming them pretty hardcore. All of a sudden she bit her finger. She pulled her hand out of her mouth and looked at her finger (not crying) and I swear to God I could see the thought, " What the BLEEEEEEEEEEEP?? You're not a carrot!!" just fly through her head. She looked down, grabbed more carrot, and continued nomming on them. You wouldn't get that with purrees! :-)

For more information on baby-led weaning (solids) see:

Wholesome Baby Food
Tribal Baby
Kellymom article on offering solids


13 comments:

  1. Thank you for this information. I am a new mother and have been told to add cereal to my milk as advice. My preemie hasn't even reached his due date yet.

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  2. The only time cereal should be added into milk is in the case of EXTREME reflux and under the supervision of an experienced Lactation Consultant and pediatrician. Adding rice cereal can not only seriously mess with their gut flora but also set them up for allergies and is a choking hazard (among other things). Definitely don't give your baby rice cereal...especially your preemie. :)

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  3. may i ask how old was your baby when you offered her foods for the first time?

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  4. We all waited until 6 months (give or take a week). It's at this point that your baby's gut is closed off... any solids before that point and the food could possibly do more harm than good.

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  5. I had to fight my toddler's ped over this issue when he was still an infant. I really didn't want to offer any food until after 6 mos but she kept harassing me about it. As a FTM I was worried about going against what she said. This time, however, I'm going to stick to my guns. I'm going to offer my DS2 foods when he starts showing interest. The worst part about baby foods I think (other than the health factor before 6 mos. of age) is that it took me FOREVER to get my toddler to want to feed himself. I do not want to have to go through that again.

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  6. I tried the cereal thing like my ped. told me to. Thankfully, she wouldn't eat it, so I just kept nursing her. Then, at 8 months we tried real food and she loved it. I never did the cereal thing with my other daughters...always just fed them the same thing we were eating, just in tiny pieces and they fed themselves from the beginning. So nice! I could eat while they were eating and it helps with their hand/eye coordination as well. When they are finished, they are finished. I didn't try to get them to finish up the last of a jar of food so it wouldn't be wasted either. We have a mechanism in our brains that lets us know we are full. Bottle-fed, and baby food fed babies are often encouraged to finish the bottle or jar so they learn as infants to overeat. I may not have been a perfect mother, but I think they had a perfect start with the best milk and foods anyway.

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  7. One more thing...my mom said my brother had a terrible time changing from baby food to real food. He was 2 years old before she got him eating regular food. Eating regular food from the start avoids this problem completely, and they learn to like the food you normally prepare without having to make a transition later...not to mention the money you save not buying all of that "baby food" stuff.

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  8. I'm very glad that I introduced my daughter to solid foods by using Baby-led Weaning. The book Baby-led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett is also a wonderful resource.

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  9. My son is 10.5 months and is still mostly breastfed. I give him solids whenever he is interested. Usually when we eat dinner or he has little finger snacks on car rides, when I am not able to nurse him. I wasn't sure about BLW, but following my son, I see it is right for us.

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  10. same here. EBF both mine and BLW both. we did food for fun, if they ate they ate, if they didnt they nursed. i hate to hear dr's say babies aren't gaining enough weight. too much weight gain in infancy slows their system down, they cant keep up with the food given, eccentially slowing their immune system down also. thank u for the great post! i agree 100%

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  11. My baby is 15 months now, and still doesn't eat solids. We started offering cereals and purees at 6 months, and when he wasn't into it I didn't worry, just started offering him a bit of whatever we were eating and waited for him to "get it". Well, he's still not eating - honestly, at all; a good day is one where he has 1-4 bites of anything we offer. I was fine with the "food before 1 is just for fun" thing, but now he is 1 and I feel like he needs more than I can give him! I have tried every possible combination of tastes, textures, shapes, temperatures, etc. He's obviously not suffering on a diet of breastmilk only, but he is falling quite dramatically off the growth curve and I'm feeling the pressure of being his only real source of nutrition! Any tips, commiserations, or reassurance would be helpful!

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  12. Question... My hubby cooks with lots of spices (including salt). I have yet to give my youngest (10 months) any spices, but she wants to eat what I eat. I have been doing BLW but have been making all her food separate from ours. She still mainly nurses and some days doesn't have anything but mommy milk. Thoughts? Thanks!

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