The act of having a baby is, quite possibly, the most scrutinized thing most people will ever do. Every decision you make, and I mean EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. has a well-documented list of pros and cons. There are people who will literally stop being friends with someone if they happen to disagree with something as arbitrary sounding as the method you use to get your baby to sleep.
While there are some topics that are really controversial, like circumcision (we didn’t) and vaccination (we did), there are others that have just as many opinions. They just come with less decisiveness and anger attached.
One of these is the method (everything is a method nowadays) you choose for introducing your baby to real food. Thanks to mama and her milk factory, Popeye has had nothing but breast milk for his first six months. As I’ve documented here, there have been many ups and downs, but we both agree that it was the best choice for us and for him.
Now that he’s ready to begin the long process of being weaned off of breast milk and introduced to solid food, it’s time to make another decision. We’ve taken the natural approach when it’s made sense to us in the past, for instance, we used a midwife, had a natural birth and use cloth diapers. So it made perfect sense to me when mama said that we should try baby-led weaning.
Baby-led weaning (BLW) is when you introduce solid foods to your bundle of joy and let them figure out how to eat it over time. The goal is to promote age appropriate motor skills while making eating a positive experience. Babies aren’t the quickest learners, obviously, so you continue to breastfeed them while they deal with this new bomb that you thoughtlessly, and literally, dropped into their wee little laps.
It’s a test in patience, stamina and the ability to clean things that you did not know could get dirty.
I expected a pretty smooth transition because Popeye’s normal reaction when you hand him something, is to try to stick it into his mouth. We’re talking toys, wooden spoons and elbows – the boy is not discerning. Anything within a few inches of his mouth will be getting wet. Don’t take my word for it though, let’s take a quick tour:
Imagine my surprise when we sat him down for his first meal, sans-boob, and instead of trying to put some avocado into his mouth, he instead decided to smear it all over himself and the high chair. It basically went everywhere except his mouth. We had to bathe him, clean both sides of the food tray, soak his clothes, wash the cushion, steam clean the carpet and check our insurance policy to verify some coverage. I never knew that an ounce of avocado could do so much damage.
Since then we’ve tried steamed carrots and cauliflower, cucumber slices, and various other things with varying levels success. To date, the cucumber has come the closest to his mouth. Most things end up off the tray and in his lap. Basically, the baby eats everything except for food.
While I am confident that he will eventually figure it out, I can only imagine the collateral damage we will incur along the way. The one thing that I know for sure? It will be an adventure.