So you've been keeping your kiddo alive for the last 6-12 months on boob or bottle or both (fed is best so whichever way you managed it, you're awesome!) and now it's time to introduce solids. You want to help your kid enjoy healthy food. Is there away to avoid having kids who are picky eaters?
You've read all the books. You've asked your circle of mom friends for advice. You've gotten much unwarranted advice from loads of people you didn't ask and you're still unsure. Maybe you buy some baby food that's on sale. Maybe you slave for hours cooking and purée-ing your own homemade organic baby food (no judgment - I've done both). A few things might happen. Your baby takes food right off the bat and tries everything and seemingly has the most incredible pallet! Amazing! Or your baby says no way! Boycotts it all and demands only more boob or bottle until you're convinced their teeth won’t ever be utilized as they continue on their liquid diet. You’ve got a picky eater on your hands.
Toddler eating stresses out parents soooo much. What to feed them? How to feed them? Baby led weaning? Or soft foods only until they can chew their own food perfectly with no fear of choking?
I'd considered baby led weaning on my first but he was a soft food guy all the way. At least he wasn't a picky eater. At first. He seemed to eat all sorts of things. I was thrilled. Then trying to introduce anything with a touch of texture would cause him to actually gag. For a really long time.
He was almost 2 and just didn't want real food. It was all down hill from there. Veggies? Fruit? Apple sauce was the best I could do. Feed him "real chicken" and it's like I'm an ogre force feeding him eyeballs, but chicken nuggets/strips -he could eat them for days. I've done a lot of research on this because I felt like a total failure. How would he get the nutrients he needed? I seriously started researching scurvy.
What was I doing wrong? He always had options. I love salad. And veggies and fruit. None of these things were foreign to him. He would see me eat them but he wasn't having it. Should I make meals more fun? Should I cut his chicken into star shapes? Should I put my foot down and let him sit there until he eats. Meals became this kind of battle of wills. I'm not sure I ever came out the victor.
The overall consensus of my research is this: As parents, our job is to provide healthy options for them to eat and it's our child's job to choose how much to eat and when.
I focused on my kids favorite foods. Stuff I knew he'd eat and then I attempted to make those healthier. He loved spaghetti, so I made sure to pack as much veggies into the sauce. (Puréed of course 🙄) I'd mix avocado into mac and cheese. Buy whole wheat pasta. These small changes made me feel a bit better about what I was feeding my kid.
Que second child. Baby led weaning wasn't a conscious decision on our part. It just kind of happened. It scares some people. What if they choke?! But for our dude he was grabbing at our food and big brothers food anyway so we just went with it.
The important thing about BLW is that the foods are soft and easy to gum and swallow. Popular first foods if you’re going the BLW route is and banana, avocados, soft cooked apple, carrots, and zucchini and pumpkin all cut thin to avoid choking.
Another thing to remember about baby led weaning, is it can get messy! Typically as parents doing puree, you’re controlling the food, with BLW your child is, and they often wear as much as they eat.
So messy eater or not, baby led weaning went better than I expected. My dude will eat meat and fruit, and is overall a better eater at 18 months than my first, but that could change. Any day he could decide to only eat cold hotdogs and snack on the snails he finds in the backyard.
As my guy got older and easier to reason with we introduced the rule of "if you don't like it you don't have to eat it, but you have to try it". It's working for us.
What's working for you? What stage is your kiddo in? Is your child easy to feed or super picky?
About the Author
Heather is a STAHWM who lives in St. John’s NL. where she’s raising two humans, two dogs, a cat and a fish. In between chasing her hooligans and waiting for her Hogwarts letter, she enjoys knitting, crocheting and campy 80’s horror flicks.