Baby led Weaning: How to avoid a picky eater!
One of the questions I get asked about Little Em (turning 2 soon) is how I get her to eat everything from raw mushrooms (her current favourite) to olives and gherkins (a previous favourite). And with so many new babies being born and so many babies becoming toddlers, I decided to share my little secret. Okay so it isn't really a secret. I incorporated two "rules" at home from 6 months onward. They weren't strict rules but I did try to follow them at least 80% of the time and I now see the great results.
Firstly, I did start my Little One on purees. She also went to a play school from 3 months and they only provided purees for lunch so I did what I could over weekends and at night for dinner. It didn't always work well - as you'll see below, it gets messy! But I did realise that if you expose them to new things while they are still young, they are more willing to try it.
So here they are:
- Allow him/her to feed themselves in other words "Baby-led Weaning"; and
- Try 1 new flavour or food a week - for the whole week.
I am a great believer in baby-led weaning and the earlier you start the better! Apparently a baby's gag reflex is relatively close to the middle of the tongue while young and 'moves' backwards as they get older. Meaning that gagging is earlier and so avoids chocking. Secondly it also allows them to get the had-eye co-ordination quicker and the get used to textures and whole food.
At first not much gets in (most end up either on the floor or her hair!) and that is why I loved a combination of baby-led weaning and purees because I knew she was still getting some foods in. But even with purees I would give her a spoon and I will have a second spoon to help a bit.
The type of food was as follows: above I made scrambled egg, a banana with the skin on (it helped with the grip) and cucumber slices (which also helped with the teething!).
I later added halved grapes and halved tomatoes to omelette's, french toast fingers and pancakes. Tomatoes became a firm favourite and as you would have noted it is included very often into her lunchboxes later.
She surprised me by loving de-stoned olives and gherkins. The salami was very rich and I avoided that after she got a bit nauseous from them above. Gagging is scary but natural, and I was fortunate enough that she never chocked. Some vomitting was also normal at the beginning especially as she was a real reflux baby but also because she regulated any chocking incidents herself. I also gave soft cheese and tried to provide one fruit and one veg at every meal.
I also didn't worry so much where she ate or how much she did eat. I did however ensure that she didn't drink milk before mealtimes to ensure she is hungry but not starving - that can lead to frustration. Sometimes she wouldn't eat anything but yoghurt for dinner.
These little plastic bibs came in handy and I still use them today. Above she is eating hot smoked salmon, blueberries and apricots. I don't like fish much and am allergic to shellfish but I didn't want her growing up with issues so she started eating calamari very young sometimes only sucking on them. She also eat liver and shrimp
At teething times she enjoyed homemade 'suckers' usually made with fruit juice and water. Always a winner. Just be warned - it gets messy! But it is part of the learning so endure it and teach her to help clean up like I did. At the beginning it was easier to place the food directly on the table or big tray as she would sometimes drop the food on the floor while playing with her plate but getting little sucktion cups to secure the plate (and the tray) helped a lot!
Now she is pedantic and has her own opinions on food but things like broccoli and other veggies are a non-issue. She has become aware what sweets and chocolate are which is a bit of a pain but nothing is off limits. I just add good things as well and try to limit sugar in other ways.
I hope this helps and that it works for you. It is never too late to start babe-led weaning but it works better form 6 months.