Introducing Solids [OMG I'm Freaking OUT!]

When my daughter was drawing nearer to the six month mark, I was really excited to start solids. I mean, hello, cooking is sooooo on my top five list and I couldn't wait to get my daughter's palette developing. I had read up on baby lead weaning (BLW) and was really excited to try it out. To briefly explain, baby lead weaning is essentially baby lead feeding, and has much more to do with introducing whole foods than getting baby off the boob.

So, I ordered the guide to baby lead weaning book off of Amazon and read it FAST, eager to start giving it a try. And then something didn't work for me. This was a difficult thing because a) I was so freaking jazzed about it and b) I'm stubborn as a mule. I wanted it to work so badly. But between the gag reflex and my nerves, mealtimes became anxiety inducing. Let me explain a bit.... 
Per the reading, the gag reflex is located about the center of the baby's mouth. This is a safety mechanism as they learn to eat. Pieces of food that are too big are basically gagged out. It can be a little alarming, but with my kid? Well, it was just crazy. She was basically throwing up at every meal. I've read that some children's gag reflexes are worse than others. It's totally possible that hers is, but I have nothing to compare it to. 

I felt completely conflicted about the whole thing. I was trying so hard to follow through with the system and trust what I had read, but something in my intuition just wasn't allowing me. I kept trying, but there was no improvement over a few weeks. Even though she had no teeth, the book said that was okay, that she could still "chew". Her interest in food is very high, and she remains extremely eager, so I kept just thinking I was the problem. 
So, I put it out there on Facebook to see what my friends were doing. One friend (who has five children) said that she always waited until they had at least two teeth to begin with BLW. Another friend chimed in with what is now my mantra, "Food before one is just for fun." It was then it occurred to me that perhaps my daughter, as enthusiastic as she was, just wasn't developmentally ready for larger foods, contrary to what the book said. The babe may not need teeth to chew, but is it possible that for some children, the teeth are a developmental indicator?? 

For weeks, I had been anticipating returning the Baby Bullet food system I had been gifted back to the store, but suddenly I was rethinking things. All this freaking out wasn't helping anyone. I was nervous as hell at mealtimes, and I know that my child was picking up on my vibes. Maybe it was time to come up with my own system of feeding that worked for me. I was resistant, mainly because I had been (and still really am) in love with the BLW system of feeding and REALLY wanted it to work. 

Once I let go of the expectation I had on myself about using the BLW completely and initiated my own system, I was happier, and so was my daughter and I'm happy to report, she's now enjoying a large variety of foods. I bet by this point, you're curious what I did. Well, I took the concepts of BLW and translated them into a hybrid system that works for us. Here are some of my tricks!!! But, seriously, don't let me do all the talking here--I wanna hear what's worked for you in the comments section below!! 

Back to Bringing Up Bebe
I loved this book, so much! And in the "express" version of the book, the author included a sample menu of what the babies in the daycares eat. This helped me overcome my anxiety and put things into perspective for me. French babies are notoriously good eaters, and that is my number one concern. So if you, like me, need a little boost in morale, check out the menus in the book (or google it because I know they are out there). These kids eat things like fish with dill sauce. Yes. I know.

We don't have any "food restrictions" 
There are obviously things we don't give her, like peanuts because that would be dumb as hell. But she's had eggs, hummus, meats, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. She eats a healthy diet of whole foods. 

I let her feed herself
I noticed right off the bat that this kid was never gonna let me feed her. And I'm not much for power struggles. But, get this, she can use a spoon just fine. So, she feeds herself, just as BLW lays out. 

I puree and use a mesh feeder
This was the part that was hardest to swallow for me, but you know what, it's not that bad. It's not even that much work, either. When I can, I make a nice puree of the food (and I never combine anything strange together.) Basically, I taste her food and if I wouldn't eat it, I don't feed it to her. I try to keep the integrity of the food as much as possible. The mesh bag feeder is for things like meats or mushrooms (which she loves) or other dishes that may not taste as great pureed. I want her to get the flavors. Also, having both purees and the mesh feeder allows her to have several options in one meal. 

Offering a variety of tastes
I like to offer a variety of foods, just like BLW encourages during a meal. So a dinner for her might be a puree of spinach, a piece of meat in the mesh bag, and applesauce. It gives her choice and the experience of the meal, which is fun for us too. 

It's fun and messy 
It's supposed to be fun. I don't want to fight with her to eat (she doesn't necessarily need the food, she gets plenty of breastmilk for nutrients), so we let her get messy, throw the spoon, and cover her face in whatever she's eating. If she's enjoying a particular food and doesn't show interest in another--that's fine! It's all about making food an enjoyable experience.

We don't worry about the amount 
She's getting all of her nutrition from breastmilk and will until she's about a year old. Hence, my friend's saying (which is now my mantra) "Food before one is just for fun!" We don't need to worry that she's eaten enough; in fact, babies her age (she's eight months old right now) don't even know that food is filling! So we let it be the learning fun that it should be at this age. And, this helps us avoid stress! 

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