Baby Led Weaning Musings

baby with the pots

As a sports dietitian you can bet I had a plan to fuel all the activities my little one would do. There is no age minimum to start a performance oriented diet.  In the case of my 6 month old baby, the performance she needs from her body is to fight infection, grow, have the energy to learn how to crawl and walk, and to make it through a night of sleep without waking mom (okay so this is more my performance goal than hers!).

When my baby turned 6 months old I was all set to start puréeing everything in my fridge. But, my little one had her own agenda. She refused to accept a spoonful of food from anyone.

Babies need to start solids around the age of 6 months old because their limited iron stores are going to run out. They will also start to get really interested in everything you are eating, and let’s face it, you are probably ready to start weaning your little one from 100% breastfeeding.

There are some excellent guides to the introduction of solid foods so I won’t re-write what you can find by going to the Tiny Tots to Toddlers website (http://www.inspq.qc.ca/tinytot/). The guide to the introduction of solid foods starts here:

http://www.inspq.qc.ca/tinytot/sections/TT2014_S4.pdf#page=154

But in my case the usual guide was not going to be enough. I needed a guide that told me what to do if baby wanted to feed herself. I found out quickly that there were a lot of people talking about Baby Led Weaning, the method of introduction to solids that allows baby to decide (from the food put in front of her) what she will eat, how much she will eat, and if she likes it.

While there is no one guide I have come across that I can recommend as “The Guide” on Baby Led Weaning (perhaps I will need to make one), I did come across some excellent resources. Here are two to get you started:

Blogger mom Jennifer has posted some of the tastiest baby led weaning recipes I have come across (and they happen to be vegetarian too!).  Go to www.paigelet.com to check them out. I particularly love the Blueberry Pancakes (and so did baby!).

BabyLedWeaning.com.  Yes, there is a dot com for baby led weaning and it is pretty decent. It does not have the professional RD’s touch but it does have a lot of good content to get you going on the baby led weaning path as well as some other ideas of why parents have adopted this method. I do really like and approve of the article about choking VS gagging: http://www.babyledweaning.com/features/gagging/the-gagging-thing-v-the-choking-thing/.

I started my baby on chunks of avocado, banana, and progressed to soft bread. I won’t lie and say my introduction to foods plan was clear cut. At first my baby would refuse pretty much every flavour of food and most foods would fall back out of her mouth. But little by little she showed interest in certain foods. Eggs was a huge hit. Actually egg whites was the hit. Pasta (softened with extra cooking) was a winner too. At about 7 months I started making date balls. This base recipe was a life saver whenever I had to go out (like when I went to studio vie’s mama baby fitness class).  And it is THE EASIEST RECIPE EVER!

RECIPE FOR BABY LED WEANING DATE & OAT BALLS

In a food processor blend:

1 cup of dates

1/3 cup of plain oats

pearleenergyballspearlebabyledweaning2

You can roll little date and oat balls and keep the extra in the refrigerator. I started getting creative and adding almond butter or peanut butter to the mixes once I knew my baby was not okay to eat these foods. Graham cracker crumbs can make this recipe into little cookie balls… your baby’s first dessert!  After time in the refrigerator the mixture will get dry and you will need to add water for to get the right consistency to make little balls.  If you add too much water use graham cracker crumbs or more quick cooking plain oats to soak up the excess fluid.

My parting words of wisdom (not a complete guide, but stuff you should know) :

Keep in mind you do not have to choose between baby led weaning and the traditional puréed style of introducing solids. You can do a combination. Ultimately do what is best for your family and your little one while still keeping in mind healthy nutrition for infants (a diet low in salt, and high in softened vegetables, including pieces of fruit, and including softened whole grains, and including healthy fats like avocados, oils, and nut butters, and including good protein sources like tofu, eggs, chicken, and fish). There are a few extra guidelines for under 12 month olds such as no honey, and no milk (so as not to replace breast-milk or formula). Try not to introduce too many new foods at once especially if they are a higher risk for being an allergen like peanut butter, pine nuts, eggs, soy, dairy, and wheat.

Most importantly enjoy this time, don’t stress if your baby does not eat a lot some days they are probably not starving. I often have to do a reality check when my baby does not eat a lot. My baby has big chunky cheeks and a bulging baby belly and is growing well… I am pretty sure she gets enough to eat!

By: Pearle Nerenberg, registered dietitian

About Pearle:

Sports Dietitian, Pearle Nerenberg – a Montreal based RD (registered dietitian), foodie, avid hockey player & coach, and super mom! She aims to inspire beginner and seasoned athletes alike to eat for a top performance while maintaining a balanced lifestyle.  Pearle recently published her first book titled : The Nutrition Edge for Hockey Performance.