Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Violet Goes Bananas

The other big event of the past weekend didn't take us beyond our dining room, but was an adventure nonetheless: Violet's first experience eating solid food. At six months, Violet is old enough to start experimenting with solid food if she's interested, and her lunges at our plates seemed like a pretty good indication that she was. We offered bananas for the occasion, and though it took some time for any to make its way to her mouth, she worked intently on picking up the pieces we'd cut for her (slippery suckers!) and once she'd had a taste she went back for more.

Although rice cereal or jarred baby food are more traditional introductions to solids, based on our research, we decided to take a different approach referred to as Baby-Led Weaning (BLW). The phrase 'baby-led weaning' might be misleading, as the term 'weaning' could imply a more immediate end to her nursing; of course every baby ultimately does wean from milk or formula to solid food, but it's a gradual process and no less so with BLW.

The underlying principle of BLW is as simple as it sounds: letting the baby take the lead on her solid food intake. Instead of feeding her baby food or other purees from a spoon, we offer Violet the real thing to pick up and feed herself, giving her the opportunity to explore everything about her food - taste, texture, color, smell - at her own pace, and eat as much or as little as she wants. The emphasis is on discovery and the experience of eating as a whole (including squishing your food between your fingers!). Because the bulk of a baby's calories and nutrition continue to come from breastmilk or formula until at least a year old, how much she actually eats at any given meal isn't terribly important. It's a messy business for sure, but we have so much fun watching her we don't mind the cleanup. And Atticus is happy to help with whatever ends up on the floor.

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