Why Baby-led Solids Worked For Us

There are many ways to feed babies and many beliefs about which is the “right” way. For us, letting our son choose what and when to eat just made sense.

Before I even heard the term “baby-led solids” (also known as baby-led weaning in many books and websites), I began to think about how I would feed my child. Before he was born, somehow I just knew I would not be giving him prepared baby food. While I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with prepared baby food, it just didn’t fit with our family and our lifestyle. Baby-led solids clicked with us for several reasons.

1. We try to avoid processed foods.

baby eating cucumber sticks

One of his first foods was cucumber sticks.

Admittedly, we are sort of foodies in our house. We don’t have the budget to allow for fancy, gourmet meals very often, nor can we always afford to eat organically, but we do try. We cook with fresh ingredients and make dinner (and breakfast and lunch), as in, create a meal by putting ingredients together, almost every day. My husband and I don’t eat prepackaged, instant meals, so why would we feed those to our son?

2. Our son had always eaten whenever he wanted.

Our son breastfed on cue (also known as “on demand”) his entire life. Baby-led solids allowed us to keep that lifestyle. When he was ready to eat, he’d eat. And when he was ready to stop, he stopped. We liked the respect that this afforded him and wanted to continue with that attitude when we introduced solid food. We’d put food on his tray and he’d eat it. Or not. But mostly he ate it. He was an eager eater from the beginning!

3. He was used to flavorful foods from my breastmilk.

There was no need to give our son bland, flavorless food because he was used to a varied palate thanks to getting tastes of whatever I ate when he nursed. We were excited to let him keep tasting the flavors he was used to trying, just in a more immediate form.

baby eating sweet potato fries

Another great first food is sweet potato fries.

4. It was cheap and easy.

Baby-led solids added no extra cost to our budget (at first). Whatever we were eating, we’d just slide onto his tray and he’d indulge himself. We didn’t have to buy anything extra, nor did we have to pack anything extra when we traveled. It was so incredibly easy. I also really appreciated being able to just eat my food at mealtime without having to worry about feeding him. He fed himself from the very beginning.

Baby-led solids was cheap, easy, and an effective way to continue on our journey of feeding our child with love and respect. It also afforded us a way to make sure we knew exactly what was going into our child’s body, since we were the ones to put the meals together, or the ones to hand him a fresh fruit or vegetable. And besides, it was a lot of fun watching him try new things and learn to feed himself!

If you’re interested in learning more about baby-led solids, check out Gill Rapley’s book called Baby-led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food. It has so many great ideas and is full of information! There are some great resources available here on Natural Parents Network as well!

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Adrienne is a first time mom to her mellow sweetie-pie, Burkley. Carrying her natural lifestyle over into her role of mother was a common-sense transition for this former elementary school teacher turned crunchy-mama. Research is her passion and her friends and family know that she is almost always ready with a stash of resources bookmarked to answer any of their natural parenting questions. While she admits to being on the computer more than she should be, she has been happily adjusting to her new life as a stay-at-home mom after moving back home to the Quad Cities (along the Mississippi River) from Chicago, by spending time with her family and newly found mom-friends. She is currently saving up money to become a certified postpartum doula. You can find Adrienne at Mommying My Way.

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6 Responses to Why Baby-led Solids Worked For Us

  1. Erin

    I followed baby led weaning with my daughter, now 10 months as well. And, for mostly the same reasons. Add to that my fears about the link between childhood and adult obesity. I wanted my daughter to try all kinds of foods and never have eating be a battle. We gave her what we ate and she ate as much as she wanted when she wanted starting at 6 months. By 9 months she had perfected the pincher grasp and was eating full meals and demanding more :)
    Feeding baby led isn’t an all or nothing thin. I have puches of organic baby food for when we are on the go and I spoon feed her yogurt in the mornings. Just because you choose this style pfnweaning doesn’t mean you can’t ever give a puree. Sometimes shed want to eat faster than she could feed herself and we would help, not a problem.
    Now, I have a foodie who will eat anything and loves pickled and fermented foods as much as fruits. I hope that this groundwork we are laying carries her into childhood as a healthy eater.

    • Adrienne

      Very good point about how it does not have to be all or nothing. In fact, now that my son is 20 months old and wants to do everything independently, I find myself stepping in and helping more than I ever did before at times when I don’t feel up to dealing with the mess. :)

  2. Jen Fischer  

    Such a great post. I think a lot of moms get afraid of giving babies solids. I was lucky in that we had a wonderful, seasoned pediatrician. When my first son was coming in as very underweight, he knew my commitment to breastfeeding and that we were feeding on demand. He also recognized that my son was developmentally on track (if not advanced), so he just suggested we start food (mashed banana and some boiled egg yolk). Many people couldn’t believe we were introducing food so early, but he absolutely loved the bananas and the experience of eating, continued to nurse well, and I was grateful to have not had to battle with the pediatrician since formula was not an option I was comfortable with. I wish more moms would see food as a suitable addition when needing to supplement their breastmilk.

    • Adrienne

      You are completely right about the fear factor. Many moms I am friends with have mentioned being nervous about feeding solids, whether it’s a fear of choking or issues with solids affecting milk supply, introducing solids can be an emotional time. But, keeping a positive attitude can keep it fun, both us moms, who are by nature worriers, and for our babies! :)

  3. Momma Jorje  

    Thank you for reminding me of cucumber sticks! I have really let my diet go downhill, so I’ve been kind of freaking out as Spencer approaches the 6 month mark. Thankfully, I’m making improvements now – that will make it easier to offer him healthy choices.

    Cucumber sticks were one of Sasha’s favorites!

  4. Adrienne

    Jorje- ah, yes. I remember when it was time for our son to start having food, we made some changes to our diet and grocery list so that he truly could eat almost anything we were eating. For us, it was more a matter of excluding certain items rather than being sure to include some. ;)

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