We’d really been hoping to hold off on introducing solids until Squirm was six months old, but it seems that he had his own opinions on that. There’s a number of signs which indicate that babies are ready for solids, including sitting with little or no support, effectively reaching out and grabbing things, taking objects to their mouth quickly and accurately and making gnawing and chewing motions. Squirm had been doing all of these, plus trying to grab for things from our plates and gnawing on the dining table . . . and he’d started to get really, really upset when he saw people eating and he wasn’t joining in.
So we offered him a piece of cucumber, which went straight in his mouth and was gnawed on – and we were all systems go with baby led weaning.
It’s been nearly a week now, and Squirm has been joining us for most breakfasts, lunches and dinners. He pretty much shares what we’re eating, though there’s some food we don’t yet give him for safety reasons. Of course he has much smaller versions of our food! So far he’s tasted a bit of – well almost everything! He’s had bread, yoghurt, cream cheese, weet bix and fruit for breakfast, savoury pancakes, tomato, cucumber and chicken at lunch, vegetables, salad food, rissoles, lamb, salmon and pesto at dinner. Most of the time he doesn’t swallow much, if anything at all – but he has an awful lot of fun picking the food up, squeezing it, putting it near his mouth and moving it around the tray!
What have we discovered so far?
1. Ikea High Chairs are the BEST
Squirm loves his cheap high chair from Ikea. We’ve bought the tray that goes with it, which is perfect for putting his food on (we’ll move him to a plate later) and the whole thing is light to move around (we place it on a plastic mat at meal times) and really quick and easy to clean. If you’re buying a high chair and anywhere near an Ikea, I highly recommend it!
2. The Mess is Big, But Could Be Much Worse
Because Squirm was really ready for solids, we’re finding most of the food is going from the tray to his mouth, so he’s not getting nearly as much on his face as I thought it would. He often drops it back on the tray, or on the floor (thus the mat), but since we’re mostly doing chunked pieces, it’s easy to pick up off his mat (which we clean each time) and pop it back on his tray. His hands get the dirtiest because he likes hitting the food on his tray, and of course he’s using them to eat. The couple of times we’ve been away from home, I’ve made sure to offer less messy food.
3. We Don’t Really Need to Help Him
We put a small range of food on Squirm’s tray and he usually chooses what he wants to eat and puts it up to his mouth to taste – sometimes he grabs two different things in different hands! A couple of times we’ve held food up to him to show him, especially if his attention has wandered, and sometimes he figures out how to do things from watching us. The big surprise was that he can actually handle a spoon pretty well if we put food on it. It started when he kept lunging for my yoghurt, so I popped a bit on a spoon for him, which he then popped straight in his mouth! Most of the time the right end of the spoon goes in the mouth, but part of the time the food goes elsewhere, or he bites on the wrong end – adds to the hilarity.
4. He Likes Food that I’m Still Learning to Like
I’ve moved to natural yoghurt to try and avoid some of the sugars and additives of flavoured yoghurt, but even with fruit in it, I’m still getting used to the taste. Because it’s the only yoghurt Squirm’s ever known he seems to love it. He also enjoys some surprising food like mushrooms, rissoles with cumin and pesto.
5. I’m Cooking Better and Eating Better
Because I want Squirm to have a big range of good food, I’m needing to cook a bigger range of food, from scratch. Too many prepared meals and bases are high in salt, which is probably the number one thing to avoid with baby-led weaning, so that forces me to cook from scratch. Then there’s foods, like salmon, that I’ve never thought about cooking before, but which I was able to cook the other night (with help from the Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook)
Because I eat most of my meals with Squirm, I’m also eating better. I’m not eating on the run, but sitting down and enjoying food with him. He copies Mr Pilot and I when we eat, so we’re really enjoying the family time together.
6. It Takes Time
Although Squirm’s pretty quick at picking up the food and putting it near his mouth, he really takes his time with it. He nibbles, sucks, gnaws, moves the food around his tray and takes his time to finish eating – but that’s ok – he’s constantly learning about food! It does mean I need to organise our time a little bit better though, or I feel like we get nothing done during the day!
What was the first week like when you introduced your child to solids?