Let's Talk Baby Weaning // Easy Ways to Prep Solids for Babies

On the day I'm writing this post Marcus has turned 8 months old.  He eats 3 meals a day and eats a lot during those meals.  We moved quickly (I think) from purees to solids and he's been having fun with all of it.  At about 5 months we started rice cereal, then we moved onto jarred purees at about 6 months.  At about 7 months we'd progressed to eating soft things like puffs and mashed fruit.  And now at 8 months we're fully on board with Chex, eggs, pancakes, chicken, fish, cut meat balls, cut strawberries, green beans, pasta...I mean he eats a lot of stuff.  Most of the time we just modify what we're eating for meals for him and he's loving it.
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I was super afraid to start solid foods because choking was awfully terrifying for me.  But I really did let Marcus lead the way and if he seemed interested we went for it.  If I could squish it between my tongue and the roof of my mouth I felt confident to give it to him.  Obviously you'll want to talk to your pediatrician about starting and continuing foods and food sizes, etc.  But there are a lot of resources online about traditional weaning, baby led weaning, and accelerated traditional weaning, books galore on the topic & other mommas out there that you trust can be a huge support system!  I think ultimately with Marcus's readiness, we went with accelerated traditional weaning.  Here are some definition breakdowns:

What are the Different Types of Weaning?

Traditional Weaning - this is when you start to offer purreed solids along side the baby's diet of breast milk or formula.  Most baby food manufacturers follow a system that involves different stages of foods based on age.  You'll start with stage 1 foods which are single ingredient, smooth pureed fruits or veggies for babies ages 4-6 months.  Then you'll move up to a stage 2 for babies 7-8 months which combine foods at a slightly thicker texture to introduce new tastes and textures.  Then to stage 3 for 9-12 month babies which are chunkier in texture and must be chewed.  Then you final out with table foods after 12 months old.
Baby Led Weaning - this is a method of introducing foods so that a baby starts to 'self-feed' as soon as they are introduced to solids.  You are also offering food to compliment their diet of breast milk or formula but instead of spooning food into the baby's mouth they are exploring food at their own pace.  While each method focuses on the idea of baby's readiness, BLW focuses on providing table foods in appropriate shapes so that a baby may reach, grab, pick up, and self feed.  This method also allows for spoon feeding of foods like oatmeal and yogurt so that a child can learn to self-feed with a spoon.

Accelerated Traditional Weaning - this method combines the two above when starting to complement a baby's diet of breast milk or formula.  Accelerated weaning takes into account babies readiness for foods and moves from purees to softer and then to solid foods more quickly.  This method offers purees and then softer solid foods to encourage the oral skills needed to eat more advanced foods.  The recommendations here are that a food should be squishable or dissolve so that the child can learn to move food around in their mouths and chew.  Offering purees and solids at the same meal, one at a time, can be helpful to develop these oral skills.

Like I mentioned above we totally followed Marcus's lead and when it seemed he was interested in food and interested in what mommy and daddy ate, we offered it to him.  Again, be sure to check with your pediatrician when it comes to offering solids.  I'm not offering any medical advice here, just sharing my experiences!

Three Ways to Prepare Solids Easier

I can hardly decide what I want to eat and now I've got to feed a baby an actual breakfast/lunch/dinner as well!?! This was overwhelming to me at first but as I slowly built the repertoire of foods Marcus would eat I found simple ways to offer them.  Here are 3 tips I have to prepare food for your little one.

Microwave Eggs

Something super simple to make for a baby is scrambled eggs.  But you may have to dirty a pan and a few utensils if you make them traditionally.  And sometimes in the morning I'm not eating a full on breakfast like I'm going to feed him!  Shallow salad bowls work best for this method of cooking eggs - simply crack and egg into the bowl, scramble, and microwave at 30 second intervals until cooked through.  You can an easier prepared egg and it's easier for them to grab with the second tip below.

Cut foods with a Pizza Cutter

Slicing up foods like the scrambled eggs above or pancakes or toast can be made much, much easier with a pizza cutter!  I spread some leftover puree on toast or a pancake and cut it into bite sized pieces with the pizza cutter.  No more knifing up the food and squishing it while dragging the knife through.  Less crumbs when it comes to cutting toast too!

Personal Blender for Meat

We've offered Marcus both chicken and shrimp after its been blended in our Nutribullet. Of course you can use a regular blender but a small blender like the Nutribullet (or any other personal blender) means you're not dirtying up extra parts and pieces.  You can store the leftover blended meat in the cup with a cap for a day or two and not have to empty it into another container and then clean your whole blender.  Plus I throw my blender blade thing into the dishwasher (not sure if you're supposed to) so it's way easier to clean.  (Honestly, if it can't survive the dishwasher, I don't want it in my house!)
Starting Marcus on solid foods has been and adventure.  I started off super scared he'd choke but gagging and what not is learning.  It is super important to listen to your baby as they start eating food.  I didn't think we'd go the accelerated route and BLW kinda freaked me out but as he developed skills I felt confident following him and also challenging him with textures.  We run into things that he has trouble with or doesn't like and we work through it.  Just the other day we tried something I can only liken to a thicker veggie soup and it was hard for him to navigate the smooth and chunky and chewy texture.  Which is fine, he'll develop skills like that as we progress.

I hope this post helped you navigate feeding your baby a little bit and inspired your to not dirty too many dishes when making up some food for them!  Hope you're feeding journey is fun & exciting!

Resources I consulted: Very Well Family, Wikipedia, Feeding Bytes

What was your feeding journey like?  What food are you most looking forward to sharing with your child?

xoxo, Moe
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