In this blog post I discuss baby-led weaning and updates in feeding since my first blog post about introducing solids here.
Today Baby T turns 7 months old! I’ve been posting a fair amount about her eating on my IG stories and was asked to give an update of where we are now. A lot of changes have happened in her feeding since we first introduced solids here.
Disclosures: This post contains affiliate links. I am proudly an affiliate with Raised Real, and also an Amazon affiliate. I’ve only linked to products I personally use and your cost does not change.
Baby-Led Weaning & Six Month Feeding Update
Baby T practically became a teenager when she turned 6 months old 😂 and we made some major feeding changes throughout the month.
What Happened when Baby Turned 6 Months Old
Oddly, the weekend she turned 6 months old she was suddenly very interested in feeding herself. Prior to that point (we started solids at 5 months per her pediatrician), I fed her via spoon or my finger but let her play with chunks of food with her hands, usually at the end of the meal. But all of a sudden she really wanted to be in control and what’s more – she could actually, really get the food in her mouth.
I was really excited about her new interest and ability in feeding herself. I thought, alright time for full-on baby-led weaning! If you remember, in baby-led weaning you don’t modify textures (no mashing or pureeing) or feed baby; baby only feeds herself.
I dove right in at breakfast, giving her half a strawberry and some chunkier pieces of string cheese. The big chunks were great because she could pick them up, but then… she was sticking the string cheese pretty far down her mouth and started gagging. I sat really close by and pulled it out any time she got out of my comfort zone. At the end of the meal, I was a little shaken but still felt like it was successful.
I don’t remember what I fed her next, but I started noticing a few things over time:
- Because she was now able to actually put the food in her mouth, I became really uncomfortable with giving her solid food chunks that she’s not able to break apart. Before she could play with broccoli florets all day because she wasn’t going to get much “in”. She had graduated from “just sucking on it”.
- I’ve noticed that she consistently coughs any time I give her food unmashed.
Coughing & Gagging
Coughing and gagging are normal and a natural response in baby-led weaning, which should improve over time. However, I personally don’t feel comfortable with it. My mama gut doesn’t grapple well watching her cough, sitting on the edge of my seat with next-level intensity, staring at her mouth with every bite to follow baby-led weaning by the book because it’s trendy. So, again I find myself modifying textures but then letting her feed herself, mixing the traditional approach with baby-led weaning. Go figure.
I think the best feeding approach is the one that you feel comfortable with. I don’t discount mama’s intuition; you know your child best.
Hashtag Mash & Feeding Herself: What’s Working for Us
I give nearly every food a good mash with the fork at least once each direction like a hashtag. The hashtag mash (as I’m calling it) makes it still big enough to be grippable in her palm but easily falls apart in her hand or mouth.
Fruits and veggies: For plants with tougher peels, I just give the inside of the plant (e.g. the “meaty” part of a sautéed zucchini squash without the peel, unless it’s steamed and is soft enough) with the hashtag mash.
Meats: She does very well with ground meats without mashing (she LOVED my new easy beef taco meat!). She’s done great with salmon and flaky fish with the hashtag mash. For chicken or turkey I shred with the fork then do the hashtag mash.
Whole grains: She doesn’t tolerate bread super well, but she can do whole grain pastas and whole grain pancakes, mashed.
What I’m still using a spoon for:
- Yogurts (I do Fage 2% plain Greek yogurt or Silk soy dairy-free yogurt alternative as a way to introduce that allergen)
- Mashed avocado or guacamole
- Peanut butter
- ….also any time I just don’t feel like cleaning up after her or when my husband is feeding her, hah!
She cannot feed herself with the spoon yet and consistently throws it on the floor.
Nursing Before or After Meals
I generally try to nurse her before meals. Sometimes a meal falls in between nursing sessions or occasionally before her bedtime nursing session. I don’t stress too much if this happens, but I may back off on the quantity of table food if she still needs to nurse.
I’m using Poly-Vi-Sol with Iron a few times each week, since breastmilk doesn’t have adequate iron after about 4 months (my pedi recommended this particular supplement). Even if mom is taking iron, it doesn’t transfer in the milk. This supplement also has vitamin D. I hate how it can stain and is messy, so I give it to her in the bathtub before bed.
Sample Baby Meal Ideas
Here are some ideas of what I’m feeding her.
- Protein: Fage 2% Greek yogurt, Silk soy yogurt alternative or peanut butter (1 tsp peanut butter with 2 tsp warm water, mixed); eggs would be a good idea but she had a contact dermatitis reaction so we have to see an allergist
- with Fruit: mashed strawberry, banana, blackberries, blueberries; peach, plum or nectarine without skin; really any fruit other than grapes (choking hazard)
Lunch & Dinner:
- Whole meal: If we’re having salad or sandwiches, I will often give her a Raised Real meal (use STACEY25 for a $25 discount) and then supplement with any table foods that she can tolerate. Raised Real meals have veggies, protein, fat and sometimes fruit.
OR I choose two or three of these categories:
- Protein: in-house roasted deli turkey, salmon, chicken, ground beef, soft beans or lentils
- Veggies: sautéed or steamed zucchini, steamed or roasted broccoli or cauliflower, very soft-steamed carrots, sautéed mushrooms, canned veggies or frozen then steamed veggies; soft veggies cooked in chilis, stews, soups, stir-fries, mixed dishes or pot roast
- Starches & Whole grains: whole wheat pasta, sweet potato, mashed potatoes, peas, butternut squash
- Fat: avocado
Sample baby meal plan (typical day in our house):
7:30 AM – nurse
8 AM – 1 tsp 2% Fage Greek yogurt, 1 strawberry
11:30 AM – nurse
12 PM – part of Raised Real meal, 1 tsp turkey, 1 blackberry
3 PM – nurse
5:30 PM – 1-2 tsp shredded chicken, 1-2 tsp avocado
6:30 PM – nurse
…then usually one or two night nursing sessions, hah!
Anyway, I hope these baby food examples and sample baby meal plan are helpful to get some ideas on feeding baby!