A half birthday calls for a celebration and what better gift can a parent give their half year old than the CONFIDENCE TO FEED INDEPENDENTLY? When a child is eating independently the WEANING PROCESS FROM BREASTFEEDING/ FORMULA FEEDING BECOMES EXPONENTIALLY EASIER. Though there are many good first foods for baby-led weaning however, their introduction and acceptance differ from baby to baby.
WHO recommends babies to be fed nothing except Mumma’s milk or Formula TILL YOUR BABY COMPLETES SIX MONTHS. From then onwards baby’s can be introduced with solids. However, for optimum nutrition intake, breastfeeding/formula feeding must continue until the first year.
Now, since it is clear that NUTRITION IS MET BY MAMMA’S MILK or FORMULA MILK till baby turns one. So, what’s the harm in giving INDEPENDENT EATING/ SELF FEEDING a try?
In the world of store-bought infant food and newborn formulas, SELF FEEDING HAS BEEN AROUND WAY WAY BEFORE ANY SUCH PRODUCT EVER CAME IN EXISTENCE. It is about going back to one’s roots. The purest and untouched from any external source. It is a concept from the time it was believed- When a mother prepares a meal for a child from scratch, the child gets maximum unadulterated nutrition.
- Just take a little sneak peek in how our self-feeding session progresses.
- It was captured when my baby girl was just TEN MONTHS!
- The last box is how much she rejects.
- Does it matter? No!
- She ate by herself is what matters.
But, before you enter your self-feeding journey, just collect our TOP 5 ESSENTIALS WHEN STARTING SOLIDS that will assist your baby in understanding food, and you are good to go!
Did You Know After Six Months, Babies Show Signs of READINESS TO EAT SOLIDS?
Checklist for Readiness to Solids –
- Your baby should have COMPLETED SIX MONTHS.
- Her WEIGHT SHOULD HAVE DOUBLED since birth.
- TONGUE THRUSTING must have GREATLY REDUCED.
- Baby will WATCH YOU super carefully as you eat and move the mouth the same way as yours.
- She will PUSH HERSELF TO SIT UP AND WOULD KNOW HOW TO BALANCE HER HEAD without any external support.
- Her EXCITEMENT will know no bounds and her MOUTH WILL INSTINCTIVELY OPEN seeing even a spoon of food near her.
- She should be able to SIT WITH SUPPORT.
Once you are sure that your baby is interested in eating solids it is recommended to ENCOURAGE SELF FEEDING rather than feeding them pureed or mashed food bits.
What’s The Purpose of Self-feeding?
The goal when encouraging self-feeding is to make your baby become used to CHEWING FOOD. This is a skill that will be most useful in life rather than gulping down what’s fed through bottles or food nibblers.
Below is my babe having Broccoli in her 10th month! Just watch how amazingly she does it!
So, WHAT ARE FINGER FOODS?
Cooked food items that encourage self-feeding in babies who are SIX MONTHS OLD are basically called as FINGER FOODS.
These are those food items that you can easily place in your baby’s hands or upon the feeding tray for baby to hold and chew onto.
- These are those food items that you can easily place in your baby’s hands or upon the feeding tray for baby to hold and chew onto.
- They are excellent for mastering the PINCER GRIP which is the tactile strength babies build when learning to pick food USING THEIR INDEX FINGER AND THUMB.
- They allow your baby to run all their fingers around as they learn how to pick and begin chewing.
The Process of Cooking Good First Foods For Baby Led Weaning
List of popular Vegetables and Fruits that are simply terrific when offered as Good First Foods For Baby Led Weaning
|Carrots/ Baby carrots (cooked tender)|
Brocolli (semi sauteed with spices)
Cauliflower (sauteed till tender)
Bell peppers – Yellow, Red and Green (cooked tender)
Potatoes/ Sweet Potatoes (boiled, cooked or fried)
Cucumbers (thin, vertical slices)
|Watermelon/ Muskmelon- with rinds|
Orange- De seeded
Bananas – Slit vertically
Chikoo – Sliced and deseeded
Strawberry – Sliced roughly
Kiwi – Slit vertically
Herbs and Spices that can compliment Good First Foods For Baby Led Weaning
|Coriander or Cilantro|
Other miscellaneous herbs
Ajwain or Carrom seeds
Hing or asafetida powder
Jeera or Cumin seeds
Pinch of red chilly powder
Home ground Mango Powder (Store-bought contains salt)
Saunf or Fennel seeds
Dal Chini or Cinnamon
Elaichi or Cardamom
Rai or mustard seeds
Other miscellaneous spices like star anise, laung or clove, etc.
How to Offer Finger Foods?
Most finger foods should be served VERTICALLY SLICED so that the baby has something to hold and nibble on. Also, a vertically sliced vegetable or fruit GREATLY REDUCES THE CHANCES OF BABY TO CHOKE WHILE EATING.
Though the fruits can be offered uncooked, the vegetables should always be served cooked thoroughly, the more towards the tender side. So that the baby (who presumably does not have any teeth as yet) can easily chew into them.
How to cook these Good First Foods For Baby Led Weaning?
You may steam the veggies till they become tender and just top them up with spices and herbs once done.
Boil for few minutes and then run them under cold water. You can then saute them in a pan with choicest herbs or spices of choice. A dash of lemon will make the meal more appetizing.
Bake them or saute them in a pan by sprinkling oil topped with herbs and spice mixture.
Can babies chew without teeth?
Absolutely! Just give them a chance! Their gums are super strong and need exercise to grow teeth. Selffeeding hence makes teething also easier for a baby.
Babies are super-intelligent beings and they show what they want through cues and signs. All that we as parents have to do is FOLLOW THEM. Parenting is really simple. What makes it hard is the CONFLICT OF INTEREST, when we make them FOLLOW OUR SET OF RULES.
Handy tips for when introducing Some Good First Foods For Baby Led Weaning:
- A self-fed baby is a blessing for the mother. A blessing which she earns after much rejection and refusals. Its a testimony to the mommy’s NEVER GIVE UP ATTITUDE. Its perseverance and dedication put daily to test.
- However, since babies below one rely on mother’s milk/ formula milk for optimum nutrition, THEY MUST BE FED HALF AN HOUR BEFORE MEAL TIMES
- One must be EXTRA CAUTIOUS ALWAYS WHEN INTRODUCING ANYTHING NEW.
- ANY NEW FOOD SHOULD BE INTRODUCED IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE DAY so that allergies can be tested and treated timely.
- ADD AN EFFECTIVE COMBINATION OF SPICES and TOP IT WITH HERBS of choice and add a dash of lime for zing. Babies don’t eat bland food. Serve what you can eat.
- Every baby is different. INDEPENDENT EATING IS A MILESTONE that takes time to perfect.
- Some first foods and following finger foods for the following months MAY TAKE MULTIPLE ATTEMPTS UNTIL THE BABY ACCEPTS THEM AND GOES FOR THEM.
- Practice EATING TOGETHER so that your baby can watch you and learn from you. Remember babies are typical monkeys!
- Offer the meal in parts, rather than all together in one go. If your child is disinterested then try again after say an hour or so. But never force feed or distract feed them.
- Nonetheless, for the mamma’s or caregiver’s peace of mind, ALL FIRST FOODS MUST BE OFFERED WITH ZERO EXPECTATIONS but lots of hope.
- Once your baby has become friendly with finger foods, encourage her to eat family meals minus Salt and Sugar.
A parent should only offer the correct tools and leave control in their baby’s hands. Once your baby starts to accept first foods then gradually ENCOURAGE TO EAT FAMILY MEALS without adding any salt or sugar till they complete 1 year. From then onwards babies can be fed all family foods as they are with spice level as much as baby accepts. However, one must be forever watchful of their baby’s intake of salt and sugar.
So, HOW MANY MEALS SHOULD ONE OFFER TO THEIR BABY?
6 to 8 Months
1 family meal + Snack
8 Months and Beyond
2 family meals + Snacks (keeping adding a snack or meal as and when baby asks)
Above 1 Year
3 family meals + Snacks (as and when requested)
A little note of encouragement for all mommies here :
The easiest way to get your baby to EAT INDEPENDENTLY is to give chances again and again. Just find some good first foods for baby-led weaning which suit your baby and you are good to go. Play with spices and textures. Be daring by offering them all kinds of first foods and before you know it, the world will be a platter for your little one.
If you still believe it is love to feed your child by yourself rather than letting your child do it ownself? Know this – IT IS LOVE, THE MOST ABSOLUTE FORM OF LOVE WHEN YOU TEACH YOUR BABY TO BE INDEPENDENT. Encourage self-feeding.– aabhie
Thank you for reading and if you found the article useful then please do drop in a word of encouragement. 🙂