On my first post about Baby-Led weaning, I added a link to a great website at the end of the post, Baby Led Weaning, and I did attempt to peruse it, but actually only read one post! Now, I am taking another look and IT IS AWESOME! A MUST read for those who are interested in starting, or who have started, Baby Led Solids!
As I’ve learned, by trial and error, fruit and vegetable pieces have an optimal size and shape for Paige. This shape has to be a perfect compromise between easy-to-hold and bring to mouth AND not easily bitten off into a choking-sized piece. We’ve figured it out, more or less, and now Paige is consuming solid food, at what to me seems like an alarmingly fast rate!
This weekend, she gnawed on mango, watermelon, many pieces of bread crust, spaghetti, and of course, her favourite, red pepper. I saw her gnaw off pieces using her gums, not her teeth (I think it’s because she gets more juice this way and smaller pieces), plus I am hearing her swallow! It’s exciting and terrifying! No more gagging, it seems, just pieces obviously taken from the stick of food, moved around in her mouth with her tongue; then some are spit out, others are audibly swallowed.
I think my excitement is self explanatory, but I use the word terrifying for two reasons: 1) it’s happening so fast, that she now gets the concept of food, flavor and texture, and wants to be a part of the meal, and 2) I can hardly believe how quickly she learned not to gag on food, but to move it in her mouth, and either spit or swallow.
The best quote from the “Getting Started” post is: “the key difference between BLW and traditional weaning, when you think about it, is in the order that children learn to eat. With a puree, they learn to swallow first and then chew, which works fine until they meet a lump. With BLW, the babies learn to chew first and swallowing might come some time later. ” This exactly explains Paige’s transition. She never knew how to swallow food.
Paige figured out the biting and chewing right away, which initially led to gagging, and one time, vomiting. But now, she also knows how to swallow and it’s been an amazing transition! I have not used a mesh feeder or safety feeder with Paige, as although it obviously helps prevent biting off a piece of food and choking on it, I have found in my practice as an OT, it can also prevent babies from learning how to manage food, particularly if they are not given the chance.
Now, I’m off to read more tips from this very informative and unfortunately under-valued (until now) site!