Why We Chose Baby Led Weaning

How is your relationship with food? Do you get enough veggies? Do you stress eat? Are you a sugar addict?

This isn't to judge you - most of us struggle with food in some way or another. I'm not immune, either, I just have more tools than the average person.

After working with health coaching clients who still struggle after twenty or thirty years, when it came time to feed my son solids, I wanted to do it "right." Time for some research.

When most of us picture introducing solids, I'd imagine this is the image that comes to mind:

Eat What For Thanksgiving?

Most parents start their babies on solids waaaaaaaaaaay too early

Most pediatricians recommend introducing solids around 4 to 6 months. The American Association of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend exclusively formula or breastmilk until 6 months.

A 2013 study from the AAP showed that in a sample of over 1300 people, "40.4% of mothers introduced solid foods before age 4 months. The most commonly cited reasons for early introduction of solid food were as follows: “My baby was old enough,” “My baby seemed hungry,” “I wanted to feed my baby something in addition to breast milk or formula,” “My baby wanted the food I ate,” “A doctor or other health care professional said my baby should begin eating solid food,” and “It would help my baby sleep longer at night.”"

I started my son a little after 6 months (he had a cold so we waited until he wasn't congested). In retrospect I would have waited even longer. He was sitting up decently but didn't have a developed pincer grasp (ability to hold something between two fingertips). I was planning to offer a mix of purees and finger foods, but he threw up applesauce and I got tired of cleaning it up.

So we went with straight Baby Led Weaning (BLW). And I'm so glad we did.

Why Baby Led Weaning Was Best For Us

Stealing Mimi's apple at 8.5 months old
The "weaning" here is the British term. Americans tend to think of weaning for babies as "stopping breastmilk consumption" as opposed to "gradually reducing breastmilk consumption by introducing solids." So if you prefer the term "baby led solids," go for it.

Our decision came down to a few things:

  • I'm lazy. I was skeptical of commercial baby food but didn't really want to make my own. BLW meant we could offer the same (or very similar) foods to what we ate.
  • I have strong feelings about bodily autonomy for kids (and everyone), so giving my son control over how and what he ate held a lot of appeal.
  • In my coaching practice I've spent a lot of time helping clients re-learn how to listen to their own bodies, so it made sense to me to let my son tune into his own hunger signals instead of me trying to guess.
  • A major reason to start with purees is because babies push food out due to their tongue thrust reflex - their natural protection against choking. If you wait until their tongue thrust reflex is gone (a sign that they're developmentally ready to eat solid food), they can simply eat table food.
  • When you start with purees, babies learn to swallow first, then chew. With BLW they chew first, then learn to swallow. They'll eventually get chunky or finger foods, so why not just start there?
    • Now at 3 years old, my son eats a wide variety of foods. He loves fish, mushrooms, and seaweed just as much as macaroni and cheese. He eats chlorella tablets like they're candy. He also eats candy, but asks for a few pieces and then moves on.

      Is it because of his personality, or because of how we introduced and offered food from the start? I don't know for sure, but there isn't much I'll change this fall when it comes time to start our second baby on solid food.

      Want to know more?

      Baby Led Weaning Class on October 19
      If your baby is 3-9 months, I have Baby Led Weaning resource page and am offering a virtual class on Wednesday, October 19.

      If you're local to San Diego I am teaching three classes in November - two on introducing solids, the other on continuing this path for toddlers ages 1-3.

      I would love to see you there.

One Month of Meal Planning (Gluten-Free and Vegetarian)

When I ran my January meal planning challenge, it was as much for me as for everyone else. I loved seeing what everyone else was making, what their goals were, and what changes they saw during the month.

At our house, our goal was to save time, energy, and money - plus try to use up some languishing pantry items stuffed in the mysterious depths of the cupboards or freezer. And we did! Sure there were a few days that we had to switch around due to life happening, but it was a relief to avoid the last minute decision making of what to make for dinner.

Overwhelmed at the prospect? I have an online meal planning workshop coming up. Or for more tips, check out my meal planning Pinterest board!

I only plan 4 dinners each week since we usually have enough for leftovers at least once, plus we have dinner at a friend's house most Thursdays. My husband works weekends and we often have activities, so I keep those nights open.

We also get a CSA (community supported agriculture) box of local veggies each Thursday at the farmers market, so we incorporate those as much as possible. We eat a little seafood at home, otherwise I'm vegetarian, and I'm currently not eating gluten, either.

Week 1

Polenta with Peppers and Mushrooms
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Spinach and Artichoke Quinoa Casserole
Homemade Gluten-Free Pizza

Week 2

Chickpea and Mushroom Polenta (we didn't love this one)
Lentil and Hominy Chili
Gluten-Free Crispy Orange Cauliflower
BBQ Tempeh Tacos with Shredded Cabbage

Week 3

Black Bean Enchiladas
Wild Rice Soup
Cold Vietnamese Noodle Bowls
Grilled Veggies

Week 4

Homemade Gluten-Free Pizza
Black Bean Tacos
Vegetarian Chili with Gluten-Free Cornbread
Stir Fry

What are some of your go-to meals?

If your best meal planning intentions end up in a mess of recipes and guilty takeout, you're not alone. Join me from home (wear your PJs, I won't judge) and we'll cover strategies to finally get you started with my online meal planning workshop.

January Meal Planning Mama Challenge!

I took a little informal survey last month about what moms were struggling with, and so many of them listed meal prep and chores as a painful obstacle to happiness and fulfillment.

Healthy dinner prep. A familiar sight, or a relic of the past?

Add to that the resentment of time spent shopping, cooking, and cleaning up afterward, plus the guilt after relying on not-so-healthy meals because you're out of time and brain cells, and eating isn't exactly enjoyable.

That leads straight to the snack ledge at Trader Joe's where food intentions go to get fat and die. Cue guilt spiral.

Sound familiar?

I've totally been there, and I'm a freaking health coach here. My husband worked a zillion hours a week (Ok, fine, 75 plus commute) and I was a giant sleep-deprived ball of stress and carb cravings.

Then his schedule changed to be less intense and more regular (clouds part, angels sing), and we did something drastic: we started meal planning. This is particularly ironic since I create customized meal plans for clients that take hours of research. But I was winging it for us.

FAIL.

Now as soon as the kiddo goes to bed on Sunday night, we take a whopping 10 minutes to sit down and make a meal plan for the week. Then we do a quick kitchen inventory to add to the grocery list as needed. I slot each meal on our shared Google calendar, and we're set. So easy it's almost embarrassing that it took this long.

Want to give it a try? You should!

Starting Monday, January 4th, I'll post on Instagram using the hashtag #mealplanningmama with our plan for the week. Comment with your own, or post using the hashtag so we can find it. We all get accountability, plus more ideas for our own plans. Win-win!

No one is going to put you in meal planning jail if you make mistakes, mess up, or fall off the wagon.

I'll post my tips and resources along with my plans, too, so share what works for you and your family. We're in this together.

CLICK HERE to download a meal planning outline with grocery list that I've used for many clients to get you started.

Here's to a happy healthy 2016!

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Let's be honest - you'll forget to check back. Because mom brain is real.