Breast milk is the perfect food that sustains our babies for months, even years.
From the very beginning, breast milk colonizes the infant gut with probiotics, seals the gut lining so particles can’t leak through, and so much more.
Yet, babies don’t stay babies forever! Eventually, they too must transition from milk… to “meat”!
It's not a sad truth… it's actually quite exciting!
You see it over and over again. As baby sees everyone else eating, he or she begins to want to eat “big people” food, too.
Yet… What's The Best Way To Introduce Solid Foods?
Is there a way to introduce solid foods that maintains breast milk’s protective effects and where children learn to LOVE all kinds of real, nourishing foods?
You see, until around the time of their first birthday, babies have incredibly open palates. They want to explore, play, and experience with all of their senses.
Your baby will, at the very least, give foods like liver and broth a taste or two. Most likely, he or she will develop a liking for them while eating them regularly will make him or her stronger and healthier!
*GNOWFGLINS are the foods we eat! This acronym means “God's Natural, Organic, Whole Foods, Grown Locally, In Season”!
Our GNOWFGLINS Baby Had A First Birthday!
Our daughter Haniya and her husband are raising a GNOWFGLINS baby (who eats like I just described above) through and through.
Their baby boy turned one not too long ago. He loves all kinds of foods — liver and caviar, cheese and cultured dairy, all kinds of meats, veggies, avocado, and fruits. The only thing he's not eating yet (on purpose) is grains.
Haniya has been doing what's called baby-led weaning: introducing solid food to baby and encouraging him to self-feed those solid foods rather than being spoon-fed purees by mom or dad.
Babies tend to have more open palates when introduced to food this way. Our grandson is proving this to be true; he eats everything!
I didn't even know it was possible to introduce food as she has done. So, I've been surprised over and over again about what I've seen on their journey. Surprised in a good way!
I'll tell you the five things that surprised me about baby-led weaning in a bit…
First, though, please watch this video of her son eating his first birthday “cake”, a homemade fruit-sweetened carob custard. It will give you an idea of how it's going for them. 🙂 Plus, he's just sooo cute!!!! <3
5 Things That Surprised Me About Baby-Led Weaning
Part of me wishes I could go back and re-do the childbearing years. I did soooo many things wrong. But God is good and our children are mostly healthy and doing well. Also, we learned so much from our journey that when it comes down to it, I guess I really don't want to redo it after all.
And now I feel especially proud that our oldest daughter, Haniya, along with her husband, are carrying on the torch and outdoing us (including a home water birth). Which is really the point, right? That our children do better than we did — because they have the benefit of all we've learned as well as what God is teaching them.
I've been watching her implement baby-led weaning since their son was about eight months old and boy, have I been shocked over and over again! Here are 5 (good) surprises from watching them introduce solid foods to their son.
#1 — Baby-Led Weaning Doesn't Mean What I Thought It Meant…
When I heard the phrase “baby-led weaning” prior to this experience with our grandson, I thought it meant letting the child wean off nursing on their own time-table.
Yet, it means something subtly different, I've learned.
Opposite to what the name suggests (this really trips me up!), baby-led weaning is actually not about weaning off milk. It's more about weaning toward solid food, with baby's own hunger and thirst leading the way. Baby keeps nursing throughout this time, usually without any definitive end of nursing in mind, although as he eats more and more solid foods he does start to slowly wean off milk.
Now that I know what it really means, it makes a lot of sense!
#2 — Babies Are Capable Of So Much More!
Yes, I was the Mama who thought my babies weren't capable of feeding themselves until they were much older. Get food in their mouths successfully when they're still a baby? No way.
Yet, as I've seen now, if you let your baby learn from the beginning how to eat by bringing food to the mouth using their hands and fingers, they will get quite good at it. Like, shockingly good. In fact, if you think about it, babies have been self-feeding themselves since birth! Popping off the breast (or bottle) when they're full. 🙂
Our little grandson has amazing motor skills. He will dig food out of his silicone bib's pocket (pictured). He can sense when food isn't quite getting in the mouth and will adjust his hand/fingers' position to help it hit the mark.
I've been amazed over and over and over again at what he can do… because he is allowed and encouraged to develop that skill.
#3 — It's Not As Messy As I Thought It Would Be.
You watched that video above, right? And you saw that there was custard on the tray and on our grandson's face? Kind of a mess, right?
Actually, it wasn't as much of a mess as it could have been!
Because baby is capable of learning to eat very well with his hands and fingers, when he is hungry, he just wants to eat! He does the best he can to get food from tray to mouth. It's amazing how good he gets at it, given time to learn!
Sure, there's a little mess while he's eating. Yet, because of his skill, it's not as much as it would be if baby wasn't given the opportunity to develop the self-feeding skills.
Now… when he's done eating, it's a whole ‘nother story!
That's when he starts playing with his food and throwing his food over the side of the tray and banging things. Which is a sign it's time to wrap up… see #5. 🙂
#4 — Baby Probably Won't Choke.
Now, I'm not going to say baby won't ever choke, and there are certainly guidelines to follow (which we share in our Healthy Baby eCourse).
However, many of the foods I used to think were choking hazards? They aren't.
In fact, it's sometimes much better to give baby a big piece of a fruit or vegetable than a tiny square of it, simply so they can grab onto it securely and better control their eating.
Our research shows that there's no greater risk of choking from baby-led weaning than from spoon feeding!
Again, there are a few exceptions, which you should know for safety (and we share those in our Healthy Baby eCourse).
#5 — Baby Knows How Much To Eat… All On His Own!
Mama, don't be like me and decide how much your baby needs to eat and feed just that amount with a spoon.
You know what spoon feeding does? Babies naturally want to please so they start ignoring their own body's impulses and hunger cues and just eat what they are fed.
On the other hand, because he eats to his fill all on his own, our grandson knows when he is satisfied. At this point, he will start acting less interested in food and start playing with it instead. This is our signal that it's time to clean up to avoid the big mess that will surely follow if meal time goes too long. (You saw that in the video above, didn't you?)
Is Spoon-Feeding That Bad?
No, it isn't that bad. You can still feed your baby GNOWFGLINS with a spoon. The most important thing is that your baby is getting nutrient-dense foods, not that you followed baby-led weaning exactly. Do what works for you. 🙂
You'll notice in the video above that Haniya uses a spoon a bit. Spoons are not taboo! She scoops the food he's missed together so he can grab it more easily (it's totally ok to help!). And at the end, she puts what's left of the pudding on the spoon and allows him to come forward to take “dips” and eat more if he wants.
What If You Can't… Or Didn't?
If you, like me, didn't know about or didn't do baby-led weaning with your children… it's ok. We shouldn't beat ourselves up for the past. What's done is done. God is good.
Instead, I pray that we can encourage and help the young women who are having babies. Not that we force our opinions on them, but that we take every opportunity to love and support them through whatever doors the Lord opens.
Want To Learn More About How To Transition Your Baby From Milk To “Meat”?
Join us for our Healthy Baby eCourse! It's included with all premium memberships in our Traditional Cooking School. With your premium membership, you'll also get 24/7 access to our other courses (currently 13 others).
Here's what you'll learn in the Healthy Baby eCourse (even if you feed with a spoon, you'll get lots of great info!):
- The principles of introducing solid foods to babies — get this right and your baby will learn to feed himself what his body really needs! No spoons and no pureed baby foods! (Though spoons aren't totally taboo — feel free to use occasionally if your baby needs a little help! We aren't legalistic here!)
- What foods baby should eat and when — so you can know without a doubt what foods are best for baby's development
- How to find and work around possible food allergies.
- What gear you need to feed your baby — you don't need much, so it won't break the bank, yet we'll show you what's essential and even some ideas that are optional for your wish list
- How to introduce solid foods — the actual step by step method that will teach baby how to taste, then swallow all on his own
- A handy list of great first foods for baby — they're all whole and nutrient dense, and form the foundation of a healthy, balanced diet
- Another handy list of what foods baby shouldn't eat — it's important to know and avoid these
- Answers to common questions about whether or not baby should be eating salt, grains, and even if babies need anything to drink or need to brush their teeth — some of these answers may surprise you!
- What to do if baby gets constipated — it happens more often than not, but you can help her through it and on to the other side as her digestive system adjusts to all the new foods
- How to help baby “eat the rainbow” — to love gobbling up all the beautifully colored fruits and vegetables God created!
- How and when to transition baby from eating his or her own whole foods to eating what the family's eating… whole foods, of course (and we'll give you plenty of recipes)
- Tips and tricks for planning ahead… batch-prepping nourishing superfoods like liver or salmon roe so they're on hand for baby to eat frequently without a whole lot of work on your part
- Lots of recipes — snacks, main dishes, superfood popsicles, and even a no-sugar, no-flour “first birthday cake” that will make your baby pound the table with joy and anticipation!
- And much more… all captured on video with helpful printable tutorials you can keep handy as you raise your own healthy GNOWFGLINS baby who loves real food!
We hope you'll join us. There's more info here.
Psst… Want A “GNOWFGLINS baby” Bib For Your Little Munchkin, Too?
We printed a small quantity of the non-toxic, easy-to-clean, always ready “GNOWFGLINS baby” bibs. They are 25% OFF while supplies last!
Here's a little bit about the bib:
- It cleans easily by wiping down with soapy water! Just wash with soapy water and rinse off. Because it doesn’t absorb water, you’re basically just wiping it off after each use.
- It’s always ready to use! No more cloth bibs going into the washing machine. This also cuts down on laundry and saves water and energy.
- It’s non-toxic! The bib is made from 100% non-toxic food-grade silicon that resists stains and will look as good as new for years.
- It cuts down on the mess! The big, wide pocket stays open to catch dropped food… and the food doesn’t spill out either.
- It’s easy to get on and off… and it stays on! The silicone “buttons” open and close easily.. and once it’s on, it stays on!
- It saves money! You won’t need to buy any other bibs, nor replace ruined clothing from excess dropping food! (Ok, babies will still manage to spill food elsewhere, but trust us — this cuts down on it a lot!)
- It will open the door to sharing GNOWFGLINS with your baby, older children, and other friends and family! This bib is bound to bring on the questions… 😉 When your loved ones ask, “What’s GNOWFGLINS?” you can share they’re the yummy foods your family eats… for God’s glory: “God’s Natural, Organic, Whole Foods, Grown Locally, In Season”. What a blessing to share with an open door!
- FREE shipping anywhere — yes, even international!
- 30-day money back guarantee — if you’re unhappy for any reason, we’ll refund your purchase
Get more info or order here. Hurry, before they sell out!
Did you follow baby-led weaning or anything similar with your babies? What surprised you?
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