Oliver is almost six and a half months old now, and we’ve been at the baby-led weaning game for about six weeks. Slowly but steadily, we are making progress.
Here is a list of foods he has tried: Beef Steaks • Chicken Thighs • Lamb Kebabs • Ground Bison • Elk Steak • Bacon • Sausage • Whole Egg (fried and scrambled) • Broccoli • Broccolini • Cauliflower • Asparagus • Bell Peppers • Tomatoes • Carrot • Salad Greens • Avocado • Apple • Pear • Strawberry • Watermelon • Cantaloupe
He has tried drinking: Broth • Coconut Milk • Mint Tea • Water
He loves (and I mean loves) sucking on pieces of medium-rare meat! He’s also particularly fond of bacon (shocking, I know), broccoli, bell peppers and cantaloupe. Thus far, he seems to have enjoyed everything except the broth, and in retrospect I am certain that his refusal to drink broth was a refusal of the bottle itself, not its contents. From the standpoint of successfully exposing Oliver to a variety of tastes and textures, baby-led weaning has been a resounding success.
At six months old, Oliver sits quietly and patiently at the table for the entire meal, as long as he, too, has food. Unless he is particularly tired or cranky, we can eat at a leisurely pace and even enjoy adult conversation. When we go to restaurants, we bring our portable high chair and Oliver is able to sit independently, just like he does at home.
His fine motor coordination (manual dexterity) has improved significantly since the start of baby-led weaning. He is able to grasp many different shaped, sized and textured pieces of food with ease. He no longer brings his head down to the table to put food in his mouth; rather, he sits up straight and lifts the food from the table to his mouth. He can pass his food from one hand to another, and put down one piece of food in order to pick up another. He definitely has far fewer incidences of accidentally dropping food than he used to.
We have been working on getting Oliver to take water and expressed milk from his Doidy Cup instead of a bottle, and he is actually getting liquid into him now (in addition to onto him :))! We are still very much assisting the process. Oliver puts his hands on the cup and pulls it towards his lips, but he doesn’t yet possess the motor skills to tilt the cup without spilling on himself, nor to put the cup back on the table.
Some things are not progressing as quickly as we’d have liked. Although Oliver is very competently sitting up without assistance, he does not yet seem to have lost his gag reflex (in terms of infant development, one usually correlates with the other). Either that or he has a particularly sensitive one. In other words, he is really not swallowing much, except for very small bits of soft fruits or vegetables (I will admit to having seen evidence of broccolini being swallowed ;)). Sometimes he gags hard, which can be difficult — even scary — to watch. Although I know intellectually that he is not choking, I still have to override that instinctive maternal response to jump in and assist him. We deal with gagging by remaining very calm and speaking softly to encourage him to spit out whatever is in his mouth. It always comes out eventually, and Oliver never seems any worse for the wear.
Every meal we share, I keep hoping it will be the one where Oliver can swallow food without gagging, but I guess he’s just not there yet. I know that it will happen when he is ready, just like any other developmental milestone. In the meantime, for all intents and purposes, Oliver remains 100 percent breastfed.
Have you tried baby-led weaning? When did your child truly start to take in (rather than just taste) solids?