We started offering Storm solid foods a few days before he turned six months old. We’ve decided to go the route of baby-led weaning, which just means that you let the baby guide the process of weaning onto solid food. You do this by offering finger foods, and by not actively trying to limit their nursing (we’re weaning onto solid food. That way, the initial introduction to food is about exploring tastes and textures and the baby getting to participate in the meal by doing things themselves), and you don’t have to worry about them getting enough to eat, since you’re still nursing them.
Storm’s first food was avocado. I don’t think he swallowed any of it, and hardly anything made it to his mouth. It was much too slippery to hold, and he was more interested in chewing on the plate than in exploring the food. More avocado for us.
Next, we tried some pieces of pear. Storm had an easier time getting a hold of this, and managed to suck on a bit on a piece or two. Then when I took up the rest of the pear to finish it myself, he made his little panting sound and did a lot of leaning, to get his mouth on the pear again. I guess it’s easier to have someone else hold the food. In any case, based on the output a day later, it seemed that some of the pear made it to his belly.
The next thing he tried was a bit of bagel, which he seemed to enjoy very much, and which he managed to hold by himself.
So that’s how we started.
Since then, Storm has had tastes of all kinds of things: broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, spinach, cucumber, lettuce, lime, orange, nectarine, watermelon, raspberries, currants, bread, pancake, pasta, scrambled egg, hotdog, meatball, chicken drumstick, lentil stew, yoghurt, porridge, and so much more.
A couple of weeks in, Storm is VERY into food and drinks. When we sees us eating or drinking something, he wants some, too. Initially, it was a little bit inconvenient, actually, because we didn’t have a high chair, and so someone had to have Storm on their lap when eating, plus plenty of clear table space so he wouldn’t knock over stuff in his eagerness to shove more in his mouth. With the high chair, Storm can entertain himself with finger foods while we eat, too.
Since with our approach ‘Food before one is just for fun’, and we are not actively weaning Storm off breastmilk, we’re not worried about how much solid food he eats and when. Although it is recommended that you nurse or offer a milk feed before offering solids, I’ll admit that this is something we’re still getting the hang of. But Storm doesn’t seem to mind so much either way. And so far, he has not been a picky eater, at all. Anything we have offered him, he has eaten.
Mormor likes to feed Storm things that go on a spoon, like yoghurt, øllebrød (rye bread porridge) and chopped spinach. This way, he actually manages to consume noticeable quantities of food. Giving him the spoon to feed himself has so far resulted in 1) absolutely no food making it to his mouth, and 2) a great deal of frustration from Storm. With finger foods, it all depends on the shape and texture of what he is offered. At this point, his pincer grip is still not sufficiently developed, so he grabs foods in his fist. This is a decent approach as long as the foods are cut long and thin enough, and are not too slippery, but are soft enough to gum, but not so soft that they get squashed in his tiny fist, that doesn’t yet know that the strength of the grip can be varied. That seems to be a very limited number of foods, but perhaps this is mostly due to how I cook.
One challenge with doing baby-lead weaning and finger foods especially is that part where the baby has to learn how to manage different textures, and how to maneuver food around in the mouth in order to chew and swallow. This can lead to a lot of gagging on bits of food, which can easily make you fear that they are choking. We’ve had a lot of gagging, and a few moments of worry, but Storm has been able to handle things by himself.
The biggest challenge is not one I anticipated. The idea with baby-led weaning is that the baby eats what you eat, so you don’t really have to cook baby food. Or that was the idea. But of course, Storm should not yet have as much salt and sugar as we adults are having, and as I said above, he does best with very specifically sized finger foods for feeding himself. So our challenge is to cook meals that involves such foods and to not use the amounts of salt that we usually do. But I do so love salt. So we’re working on all getting to eat the same meal, too.
And then there’s the weird stuff, like that day when some pear got stuck to the roof of his mouth, and we didn’t know. We just saw that he was unhappy, and he definitely didn’t want to nurse. Every time I tried to get him to latch on, he bit me. I guess he was just trying to get rid of the pear, but it caused us both some distress for about an hour until I spotted the offending piece of fruit.
Finally, Storm loves to drink water. He just loves it. He’s not very good at it, but he loves it. So we offer him some whenever he reaches out for it, which is every time he sees a glass, cup or bottle. And then we just change his clothes after that, since they will be soaked all the way down the front.
Welcome to a world of food, my son.