My Baby is a Foodie. How I Raised a Toddler with an Appetite

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When baby is hungry and want a bite to eat. Wanna know what I give her?

Banana, broccoli, watermelon, and avocado. She also likes tinola, sinigang, salmon, and prawns. Fried chicken, macaroni soup, cream dory, mung beans, and bread. Yogurt, pasta, dimsum, arrozcaldo, and rice balls.

There are a lot more to include in this list of nyum-yums and it would probably fill an entire page if I write them all.

You see my friends, my baby has a very healthy appetite.

She couldn't wait till we got to the check out counter. She just had to eat some bread.

She couldn’t wait till we reach the check out counter. She just had to eat some bread.

When Sophia was around 3 months old, I started to get nervous about introducing solid food.  As a first time mom, I was worried about the kind of food that I would feed her and if she would become a picky eater.  I was terrified at the prospect of chasing a toddler with a spoon and plate full of food. Judy Ann Santos’ Lactum commercial gave me nightmares for days. (shiver!) The search string, “How-to-avoid-picky-eating” was always on Google as part of my preparation for her introduction to solid food. (No, I don’t have any plans on giving her follow-on milk.)

lactum

I came along Baby Led Weaning Philippines and was so impressed with how well the babies were eating.  They were independent eaters too.  You can find videos and photos of little ones as young as 18 months old eating  on their own with a spoon. I was intrigued. So I trawled the internet for more information on this new weaning approach.

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Baby Led Weaning (BLW) simply means letting your baby eat on her own. You offer food cut in strips or sticks.  No purees. No mashed veggies or fruits. No food processors. No airplane or choo-choo train spoonfuls. No Gerber and no Cerelac.  It’s easy, healthy, and has been around for a very long time.

If you have more than one child, you may already be doing BLW but just don’t realize that what you are doing has a name.

Sophia eating her first solid food - avocado!

Sophia eating her first solid food – avocado!

What convinced me to give BLW a go? Here are some of the benefits we can now see with Sophia after 8 months of baby led weaning:

1. BLW babies have adventurous palates.

Have you seen the list above? Those are just some of the foods that she like to eat.  With BLW, your baby gets to explore taste, texture, color, and smell. Ampalaya and okra? No problem. Baby will eat ’em all.

Guess what she's eating? It's slimy okra!

Guess what she’s eating? It’s slimy okra!

2. BLW babies are independent and confident.

She prefers to eat on her own but I must confess that I would sometimes spoon feed her. However, after 2 (3 at most) spoonfuls, she would get fussy and refuse to open her mouth. I would then hand her the spoon and she would smile triumphantly and promptly resume eating on her own. She does take a long time to finish her meal though but once she’s done, she would hand me her plate and cutlery. Since she is independent at eating, mommy can eat along with her 🙂 No more cold porridge for momma bear!

Sophia eating pancit at her granny's birthday party.

Sophia eating pancit at her granny’s birthday party.

3. BLW helps to develop baby’s  hand-eye coordination and chewing skills.

Picking up food on her tray also helped Sophia develop her pincer  grasp. Her grasp is so good, she can quickly open zippers.

She opened daddy's bag and tried to hide inside.

She opened daddy’s bag and tried to hide inside.

4. BLW babies are not picky eaters.

There’s no begging or bribing and there’s no Juday Lactum drama at the Fluffinay household during meal times because Sophia loves to eat.

All healthy babies can begin to feed themselves from about six months. They just need to be given the opportunity.

But it’s not always lala land with BLW,  there are some serious setbacks too most especially if you’re a neat freak like me.

1.  It is very messy.

Think food on the wall, on the floor, inside her clothes,  in her nappy,  on mommy’s clothes,  on her hair,  behind her ears, food on the dog.  You get the picture?

But once the little ones get a bit older,  they do help mommy and the dogs with the clean up.

She's doing her own clean up. :-)

She’s doing her own clean up. 🙂

2. Food is wasted.

Please see item no. 1. It’s very messy.  Some people are put off BLW because of the wasted food.  In our home,  we have an effective and efficient solution to BLW food wastes.

Meet the dobermonster clean up crew.

The Dobermonster Furies. Top photo: Alecto Bottom: Tisiphone

The Dobermonster Furies.
Top photo: Alecto
Bottom: Tisiphone

To start our BLW journey, we had to stifle all excitement and eagerness to watch her eat for the first time. We waited till she was 6 months old and was able to sit unassisted on her own.  Practical that we are, we borrowed a high chair from her cousin so she can join us at the dining table for meals.

Sophia sits on the highchair for the first time.

Sophia sits on the highchair for the first time.

Her first solid food was creamy avocado. I cut it in strips and placed it on her tray. She played with the food first but eventually started putting it in her mouth.

After avocado, we experimented with other foods that are easy to pick up like broccoli, carrots, camote, and okra. I would steam the veggies and put it on her tray. We have long stopped using bowls and plates. They all ended up shattered in a hundred pieces on the floor. (Sorry, Ninang Charley.  Sophia used the plate and bowls you gave her as UFOs.)

We always make sure to have mealtimes together. If we eat, she eats too. We tried to feed her the same food that we were eating. If we were having sinigang, I would give her sitaw, kangkong, gabi and some bits of meat. I just made sure that her food was unsalted. No salt for babies below 1 year old, please.

Before she turned 1, I nursed her before we had lunch or dinner to make sure that she wasn’t hungry. If hungry Sophia had solid food first, she sometimes would get frustrated and impatient in trying to grab the food from her tray.

Food before 1 is for fun that was my mantra. When Sophia was younger, she played more with her food than eat it.  I didn’t stress myself out though because breastmilk was still her main source of nutrition. Now that she’s 14 months, it’s the other way around. She’ll have solid food first then nurse if she wants to. Our milk-milk sessions are usually to help her sleep or for comfort nursing.

We also never left her eating alone. I watched her like a hawk for signs of gagging or choking. Luckily, we never had any scary gagging or choking episodes. I must admit that watching her eat sometimes make me nervous.  But I learned to trust my baby’s ability to regulate and control the amount of food that she puts in her mouth. However, to make sure I don’t panic like a chicken who lost its head; I made sure that I knew the difference between gagging and choking.

When a choking, a child’s airways are blocked so they will be silent, may change colour and will look wide eyed and very scared. They may flail their arms and legs to alert you but will not be able to make a sound. If your child is making noises, making retching gestures or coughing and spluttering they are more likely gagging and should be left to deal with the food themselves. Choking on the other hand requires immediate medical attention.

You can read more on choking vs gagging in BLW by clicking on this link.

We still have a long way to go in our BLW journey and Sophia is getting better in using a spoon. She’s still learning to scoop food with the spoon and put it in her mouth. Half of the time the contents spill out before it reaches its destination but we’re getting there.

She's still learning how to use the spoon.

She’s still learning how to use the spoon.

This is how much she loves mommy’s cooking.

I’ll be posting more information and recipes for Baby Led Weaning.  In the mean time, here are some resources you can check on BLW:

You can save and download this leaflet and guidelines by Gill Rapley, she’s the health visitor and midwife who coined the term.

You can click on the links below for a youtube first aid videos:

Baby CPR

What to do if your baby is gagging

More good reads on BLW:

http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a1007100/baby-led-weaning

http://www.babyledweaning.com/

When it comes to your child, it doesn’t really matter whether you choose to follow traditional weaning or baby led weaning. The bottom line is, we all want what’s best for our child.  So how about you mommies (and daddies!)? What weaning method have you used or are using with your little ones?  Tell me more about it. 😀

xoxo

Anne

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