When I make my son’s food (almost 8 months) I usually mash it with a fork or throw it in the blender. If it’s a vegetable, I steam it first and then blend it. This takes time (and makes my kitchen dirty) but I’m okay with it because I like him eating fresh fruits and vegetables.
Something occurred to me a while ago and I had an aha! moment. It was a why didn’t I think of this sooner?! sort of thing. We were on a walk and my husband was eating a pear. After he was finished he gave the core to Lucas.
Enter light bulb above the head aha! moment here.
Lucas loved it. I’m fairly certain he thought it was the best thing since baked lays potato chips. He sucked on the pear for our entire walk, which was about 30 minutes. He wasn’t actually eating the pear, but you can bet he was getting the juice off of it! I think he also loved it rubbing against his gums. Either way, he was a happy camper.
Since then, I have been giving Lucas a banana without pureeing it and the core of an apple or pear to suck and chew on. Some might call this baby led weaning. I’m not sure if what I’m doing is technically that, but basically it’s about giving your child real food to eat and chew that isn’t mashed. In my opinion, there are a few advantages to feeding this way.
It Encourages Independence.
Here is Lucas eating a chunk of apple. He is learning how to hold an apple, how to get it in his mouth and how to eventually bite and suck in such a way that works for him. I’m not telling how to eat it or how to hold it. I’m not putting a spoon in his mouth. I’m letting him figure it out.
If you are eating an apple yourself, you can give the core to your baby. There is not much worry of them chocking on it, because it’s most likely just sucking and nibbling. Of course (disclaimer!) all babies are different and some may be better or worse at sucking/eating/nibbling on foods so please watch yours carefully.
It promotes healthy eating.
At a young age, I’m introducing Lucas to fruits and vegetables. He is holding a real piece of banana in his hand and feeling the texture and taste of it. It’s fun to him, and that’s how I want eating healthy to be. I actually don’t think healthy eating is really that fun, but I have to pretend like I think that way in front of Lucas. He doesn’t know that I have ice cream with cookie dough after he goes to bed. Don’t tell him!!
It keeps him occupied
I can give him the core of an apple or pear and he will chew on it for a good 20-30 minutes. If I’m cooking or cleaning the kitchen, I can put him in his high chair and let him have a snack. This can be a lifesaver and it makes us both happy!
Babies love feeding themselves.
Give this kid a banana and he will devour it in less than 7 1/2 minutes. He just shows it in his mouth like its sugar coated candy. I know he loves being able to hold his own food and decide how much he wants to eat and how much he wants to go in his mouth. He also loves to make a mess! And bananas are squishy!
I always have a banana or another type of fruit in our diaper bag or in the car “just in case.” I don’t have to worry about blending it first or bringing something that is mashed and in tupperware. I just bring fruit as is!
I don’t know why in our society we’re so accustomed to buying jars of baby food on the shelves of grocery stores. Buying a banana and peeling the skin back is just as easy as buying a jar of baby food. It’s cheaper too! Letting him suck the core of my apple that I was going to throw away anyways is free and easy! Making extra potatoes at dinner when I’m already making potatoes is easy and convenient!
It just makes sense.
It can be scary to give you child big chunks of food when you’re used to everything being mashed up, but you might be surprised at how good they are with it. If you give them the opportunity, babies are pretty smart and they will usually only put in their mouth what they can handle. Of course always keep a close eye, but don’t let your uneasiness about it prevent them from having the chance to eat the juices of fresh fruit!
I haven’t nor will I (probably) do so any time soon, gave him vegetables without pureeing them. I still blend/puree 95% of his food. Whole bananas are pretty much the only thing that I give to him as is and that he actually takes bites of and swallows. But as he gets older its fun to experiment with what he likes and what he can eat.
I know there are moms that are totally baby led weaning with food. I would love to hear about it! What do you give your child that isn’t mashed up? What age were they? For those of you who have never done this before- what are your thoughts? I used to think giving a baby actual chunks and pieces of real food was so crazy, but now that I’ve tried it and see how great it is, I pretty much love it!