It sounds so complicated, and it’s so simple: baby-led weaning is a method of introducing solids where babies feed themselves the same foods adults eat. If you want to be strict about it (I’m not): no purees, no spoons, no pouches, no forays into the baby food aisle, period. “They” say it helps kids develop healthy and adventurous eating habits and quickly learn how to feed themselves.
The interwebs are full of great info on baby-led weaning, and I’ll let you Google yourself down that rabbit hole. But as a food-loving mom of a one-year-old, I’ll shout its praises from the rooftops and can’t imagine our mealtimes any other way. I also have some confessions:
Confession: I hate the term “baby-led weaning.” What does that even mean?! Talk about making something that’s totally normal sound as snooty as possible. (Apparently, it’s a British thing – while we think of “weaning” as subtracting breastfeeding or formula, across the pond, they consider it adding other foods.) Let’s just call it what it is: having babies feed themselves non-smushed food. It’s really not that snobby or that hippie-crunchy or that strict. Some variation of baby-led weaning can work for anyone who’s interested in trying it.
Confession: I do it because I’m lazy. Because my tiny human eats the same stuff I do, I don’t have to add anything to my grocery list. And I don’t have to panic if I forget or run out of something. I don’t have to mulch things up in the food processor and freeze them in ice cube trays and then wash the food processor’s gazillion pieces and, later, the ice cube trays. Massive extra credit goes to the fact that, while any kind of baby-feeding requires parental presence and attention, I don’t have to feed the baby before eating my own meal – we can truly eat together.
Confession: I do it because I’m cheap. A single pouch of baby sludge can be well over a dollar, and mama’s wallet just ain’t having that. The puffs, the little melty pellets, the crunchy sticks – that stuff adds up. (I know, because I’m a recovering Nibbly Fingers addict. When I learned to make them myself – game changer.) Granted, as our little one gets bigger, she puts a bigger and bigger dent into our weekly groceries, but we hardly notice the cost of an extra, kid-size portion of cobb salad.
Confession: I don’t do it all the time. Yes, I’ve fed my kid applesauce off a spoon. A pouch has touched her pouty little lips. And dang, do puffs buy me stroller-running time in emergencies. Hello, travel, sickness, should-have-grocery-shopped-two-days-ago. We appreciate the flexibility, and we appreciate having options for all situations. But 99 percent of the time, my daughter’s pulled up to the table, shoveling in whatever she can gets her hands on, from a spread that looks the same as mine. And that makes my food-loving heart – and her food-loving belly – happy.