WHAT DOES BABY-LED WEANING LOOK LIKE AT 11 MONTHS?

Baby-led weaning looks messy…

Very.

Very.

Messy!

But it’s also A LOT of fun!

Messes aside, we are now six months into our baby-led weaning endeavour, and it has gone every bit as well as we hoped it would. Oliver is a competent, confident and enthusiastic eater (for his age), and family mealtimes are an enjoyable experience for all of us.

Oliver currently eats two meals each day — brunch and supper — plus a recently-introduced afternoon snack.

He sits at the table for the duration of the family meal, which is usually 30 to 45 minutes. He babbles, gestures and laughs throughout, as if participating in adult conversation.

Oliver has begun to show preference towards specific foods. In particular, he loves bananas, strawberries, tomatoes, eggs and chicken. Although he likes and will eat just about anything we serve, he has recently become very specific about wanting to control the order in which he eats his food. In the past, we would simply place a few pieces of food (of our choosing) on the table in front of him, and he would eat them. Now, he will fuss, wave his hand back and forth, gesture at his plate (or cup), and push our hands away until we give him the specific food (or water) he wants. He is getting much better at indicating what he does want as opposed to what he doesn’t want.

Oliver is able to eat all the same foods we eat, providing they are served in age-appropriate shapes and sizes, or steamed to make them softer (as in the case of carrots). He no longer gags… unless of course he has shoved way too much food into his mouth at once :).

Oliver has good manual dexterity, and can pick up even the smallest and most slippery bits of food and get them into his mouth. We have begun to spoon and fork feed some soft foods (scrambled eggs, avocado mashed with pieces of meat/fish, mashed yams, soups) in order to develop his skill with utensils. If we pre-load a fork or spoon, he can usually get the food into his mouth without difficulty. He is quite adept at taking water from a cup, though we still need to hold the cup for him. Now that we are spending lots of time outdoors in the hot, sunny weather, I am trying to provide him with opportunities to practice drinking from a cup independently.

Oliver has a huge appetite, and has been known to eat portions of food that would rival those of an average adult! Two jumbo eggs and fruit for breakfast, an entire chicken leg (thigh plus drumstick) for supper…

We have been fortunate that Oliver has thus far shown no signs of allergy or sensitivity to any of the more than 60 foods he has tried, including eggs, nightshades (peppers, potatoes, tomatoes), shellfish, tree nuts (almond and pecan) and dairy (butter, heavy cream, and sheep/goat feta). We are still avoiding milk, grains, legumes and sugar, as per the Paleo diet, though we may start to offer some organic Greek yoghurt as a snack from time to time. I feel that the benefits (nutritionally, as well as from a convenience and food variety standpoint) outweigh the drawbacks, providing that Oliver does not start to exhibit digestive or skin problems as a result.

The only food he repeatedly rejected outright was blueberries (I know — blueberries?!), but we continued to offer them a couple of times each week, with no pressure or expectations. Several weeks later, he was eating a few pieces here and there. Now, he absolutely loves them, which just goes to show that it is supremely worthwhile to persist, as sometimes children just take more time to accept new foods.

On the weaning front, Oliver is still breastfeeding four times per day: first thing in the morning, two times during the afternoon, and at bedtime. His total feeding time is about half of what it was prior to the introduction of solids. The two mid-afternoon feeds are usually quite short — under 10 minutes each — and I suspect that he will drop one of them in the very near future, now that we have added an afternoon snack to his schedule.

I guess at this point, it’s no longer “baby-led weaning” as much as it is simply “family mealtime.” He eats what we eat, when we eat it, and mostly without assistance. As for the mess, Oliver’s eating is getting tidier every week, and when I’m down on my hands and knees wiping up the detritus of a meal, I just keep reminding myself to be thankful that our dining room isn’t carpeted. 🙂

13 responses to “WHAT DOES BABY-LED WEANING LOOK LIKE AT 11 MONTHS?

  1. Totally cute. My son is 9 1/2 months. Looks like we have some catching up to do. Thanks for all the great info. I’ve followed your posts for over a year now! Keep up the great work.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Janine 🙂

      Remember, there’s no catching up when it comes to babies. Just offer a variety of soft and easy-to-handle pieces of food at every meal, and your son will quickly figure out the rest of the process.

  2. Kaitlyn has been eating plain organic full-fat greek yogurt for quite a while, sweetened with a dash of cinnamon, for a few months and she loves it. No skin or digestive problems so far. As for blueberries, at first she would only eat the insides and spit out the peel, but now also gobbles them up as quickly as she can. It looks like Oliver is having a great time enjoying family meals!

    • Yoghurt is technically not Paleo, which is why we’ve avoided it until now. But then again, neither is feta cheese nor whipping cream… ;). I am personally a big fan of full-fat Greek yoghurt, and it’s something I’ve continued to eat as an occasional treat, even after switching to the Paleo diet. It’s an easy source of protein, fat and beneficial bacteria. I suspect that Oliver will have no issues with it, as long as it’s only served on occasion and not as a mainstay of his diet.

  3. Justine had her last morning breastfeed a couple weeks ago, at 16months. It was a sad milestone for momma, but quite honestly, I don’t think she could’ve cared less…
    And in our house blueberries are pronounced, “boobeees!!” 😀

    • It’s such a bittersweet milestone, isn’t it? On one hand, I’m stoked that Oliver is weaning himself (that’s what we all want, isn’t it?), but on the other hand, I’m kind of sad thinking that soon he won’t need me like that anymore.

      You guys must die laughing whenever Justine sees blueberries at the grocery store! 😀

  4. Hi Carli,

    Your Baby Led Weaning story inspired me to skip the pureed food everyone is recommending and start my 5-month old on real food. I gave him his first “meal” today, which was a few chunks of steamed organic carrots. The gagging freaked us out! After he took a bite and appeared to be choking we were afraid to give him any more.
    How did you deal with the gagging? I feel like it’s not safe for him to chew on anything now!

    G

    • Five months is actually quite early for a baby to be able to swallow any chunks. That doesn’t usually happen until seven or eight months, generally when they can get themselves from lying down to sitting up without assistance. When Oliver was five to seven months old, we gave him food only to suck on, gum or taste, so mostly things like strips of steak, pieces of steamed broccoli (which breaks up into teeny tiny bits that they won’t gag on), raw sticks of carrot, apple, cucumber and pepper, etc. Even though he was sitting at the table with us for meals, he wasn’t really *eating* per se; he was still getting all of his nutrition from breast milk. Around seven months we started to introduce small pieces of soft foods that he could actually swallow: scrambled eggs, very well-steamed carrots, steamed broccoli, dark meat chicken. It was also around this time that Oliver began to be able to bite off chunks of the hard foods we had been giving him, and so they became unsafe for him.

      The gagging can be very unnerving at times. As Oliver learned to deal with pieces of food, he gagged quite hard sometimes, and even vomited once or twice. But it’s a protective mechanism, and most babies are quite adept at dealing with it. As long as they are still coughing and breathing, they are okay. You can help by putting your hand on their back to help them into an upright and slightly forward leaning position, so that the food comes out of their mouth when they cough. Also, sometimes we’d just “fish-hook” the food out of his mouth with a finger if it was easy to reach. My best recommendation is to make sure you’re up to date on your infant CPR/choking — not because it’s likely for the baby to choke, but because you will feel a lot more confident with the feeding process when you know what to do in the very unlikely event the baby actually chokes.

      And definitely be patient with the baby. It took a lot longer than we had expected for Oliver to actually be able to swallow pieces of food. 🙂

      • Thank you! This is really helpful. I will stick to bigger/tougher pieces of food for now that he can’t bite into chunks of any size. I don’t expect him to actually eat food for a few more months, but he’s so interested in eating and chewing on things I wanted to slowly introduce him to it. Thanks again!

        • An update: it sounds like he did swallow something because he was screaming and pooping orange bits all day while at Grandma’s house 😦

          • Oh dear, poor little guy! It can be very hard on their digestive system at first. We found that giving probiotics helped a lot with the transition to solids.

        • That was the same reason we decided to start at five months too — he was just so interested in what we were eating, that I wanted to take advantage of the natural curiosity and the propensity to put everything in his mouth. I think it was a good move, because even though he didn’t really eat much, he got exposed to a lot of different flavours and textures. Plus there is a huge social benefit to having the baby at the family dinner 🙂

  5. Hi Carli,
    I was checking around for your thoughts on butter–and found this article. I keep reading about the benefits of liver (and other organ meats), butter, and bone broth for babies and can’t quite bring myself to try them out on her! Z is one already and she has a bit of eczema on her chin and one of her fingers that comes and goes. I am a bit perplexed and was contemplating adding grass-fed butter and yogurt for healthy fats. She hasn’t had any dairy yet. She is very intolerant of eggs (she broke out in hives the first time I gave her a bit of egg yolk!). We did an allergy test because I can’t tell which other foods may be bothering her. She is taking a probiotic, fish oil and Vit. D. Hmm. It’s always something! I am trying to feed her foods only from our farmers’ markets (we live in sunny Santa Cruz, so it’s a reasonable thing to strive for year round…), but I wonder if I am missing something in preparation (more fat…less raw..something along those lines)?

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