It’s late at night. The entire household is asleep- minus you and your thoughts, of course. You have a pen and paper and you’re jotting down every little thing you’ve ever been told about weaning, attempting to make some sort of sense of it all.
“Start feeding rice cereal at 4 months.”
“Wait to introduce solids until at least 6 months.”
“Don’t feed them that mush- it’s all about baby led weaning.”
“Baby led weaning? Don’t even think about it! They could choke! So not safe.”
“Stop breastfeeding? You should do it exclusively for at least, like, two years.”
“You need to give him food why aren’t you giving him food poor baby is starving!” (your baby is 3 months old)
So. Much. Information.
So. Much. More. CONFUSING.
To simplify it for you, I’m going to break it down into essentially two parts: traditional weaning and baby led weaning.
Once you’ve got a clear idea of the two, you can make your own informed decision and not bother with what everyone is telling you!
Chances are that you started out your solid food journey with rice cereal somewhere between 4 and 6 months. That’s just the norm and pretty much everyone ever thinks you have to start baby on rice cereal before anything else. But you know what they don’t tell you? Rice cereal has little to no nutritional value. Another fun fact about rice cereal? It contains higher levels of inorganic arsenic as opposed to other things that commonly contain arsenic because rice plants absorb arsenic more readily than other plants. Wow, nothing like introducing a (not) healthy dose of arsenic to your babies diet! It’s much much better to start your baby out with pureed veggies, fruits, and meats! If you’re still set on starting your baby with cereal, you have other options to provide iron to their diet such as oat, barley, or mixed grain infant cereals!
My two cents about traditional weaning? Ditch the rice cereal all together.
My baby girl is six months old and we started out with sweet potatoes. She’s not liking it too much and is definitely more happy with the good ol’ boobie! Because of that I’ve decided to give the food a break and try again in a week or two. Another thing to please remember: there is NO rush! Seriously though! If you have a happy and healthy breastfed or formula fed baby, there is no need to feel pressured to get them on solids right away! You’re actually doing them a favor if you wait a bit.
Baby Led Weaning
Jumping into the scene of 2017, baby led weaning has steadily been gaining ground especially over in the UK and really all over Europe. I think it’s popularity is growing because the basis of it is so simple and truly makes perfect sense.
In essence, baby led weaning is putting the ball in your babies court from the get go. Instead of force feeding them mush, you start them out with finger foods. When giving them the option of finger foods, you are giving them the control and they get to choose what they want and how much they want. Not to mention, it also teaches them how to chew before swallowing.
Important Things to Consider Before Baby Led Weaning
Please note that the AAP guidelines recommend to introduce weaning (traditional and baby led) at no earlier than six months of age. Please also note that it is only safe to do if your baby is already sitting up on their ow and can grab objects on their own. Every baby develops differently so please always consult your babies pediatrician before trying anything!
My two cents on baby led weaning? I’m going to try it out with my little one in the next couple weeks because she’s really not showing any interest in the mush! I think it is a great thing and definitely makes more sense. I look forward to trying it and will definitely let you all know how it turns out!
An Inside Look: What Introducing Solid Food Does to Your Baby
Look at it this way, from the moment your baby entered this world, he/she has known only breastmilk. They know boobie = milk = happy baby + full tummy. They’re used to the taste and consistency of your breastmilk (or formula). Now, one day out of the blue, you try to put this foreign object (spoon) covered in this weird bright mushy stuff in their mouth. They have no idea what’s going on! Now imagine what all that change is going to do to their digestive system. Did you know that for the first six months of their lives, their digestive system is still developing and changing so that they can produce the very enzymes needed to digest food as well as the antibodies needed for protection? Knowing that bit of information, can you now see why starting your baby on food early could be damaging for them in the long run?
The Bottom Line
There is an abundance of resources and information regarding feeding your baby. It’s important for you as a parent to put in the time to get informed and make your own decisions. Don’t pay any mind to what your parents or grandparents did, or what Sally said in your mom group. Inform yourself, consult your babies pediatrician, and make your own choices. Don’t be in a hurry and don’t let anyone make you feel like what you’re doing is wrong. Every baby is different!