I was first introduced to the idea of "Baby Led Solids" when I was a heavily pregnant. A foodie friend in the UK knew it was the kind of thing to interest me, and sent me a link to this article.
I was intrigued by the idea, and it also seemed to make a lot of sense. Already in my pregnancy I was starting to see that some modern ideas of baby rearing just didn't click with me.
I was determined to breastfeed and to have the baby in our room until she was at least 6 months old. Cots and Bottles and disposable nappies all seemed a bit modern and a bit far away from hundreds of thousands of years of evolution.
When Millie arrived she certainly did turn us on our head, and the journey we took from bassinet to co-sleeping, the struggle involved for her to be fully breastfed, the realisation that she didn't have to sleep on her own in her own room to be the perfect baby(or even what people call a "good" baby) - all those things shaped us as people and as parents, and I'm sure I will post about them in the future!
At around 5 months we started her on solids. The World Health Organisation recommendation is currently that babies are exclusively breastfed until 6 months old, then solids are introduced. As a baby I started eating Rice Cereal at 4 months, as I'm sure most people my age did. To me the balance was somewhere in the middle. She seemed ready, she could sit up comfortably in a high chair, was reaching for our plates and constantly watched us when we were eating.
We started by giving her a few rusks. Both to develop the hand-mouth co-ordination and also because she was teething at the time. She loved them - to eat, to rub in her hair, to poke at toys with. It was food, and it was fun.
We moved on to vegies that I had cooked at home - and I panicked. I blended them to a puree, convinced it was the only way she would eat them. For about a month, she ate pureed vegies, mashed fruit, the occasional jar of pureed baby food, yoghurt and mashed banana, mashed avocado. And solids were a success, every new flavour and texture was greeted with joy and very cute little "mmmmmm...... mmmmmm" sounds as she ate. She loved food, loved mealtime and would get grumpy if I was running late with her lunch.
A couple of weeks ago we were on holidays and stuck on a long car trip. In slight desperation I handed Millie a slice of bread. She had previously eaten some of my toast crusts in the morning, so I knew it would be ok.
She LOVED it.
She ate the whole thing.
She wanted more.
The next couple of days were a lot of fun as we gave her anything she had previously eaten mashed - but this time, in baby "nibble sticks". She ate steamed carrot, steamed zuchinni, broccoli, sweet potato, avocado sticks, banana sticks. One night she sat on a towel on the floor with a pile of spaghetti, nibbling and sucking and chasing it around the floor.
And now I can't rave enough about it! Yes, it's much messier. Yes, meal time takes a lot longer as she concentrates on picking up slippery bits of banana, or figures out how to suck on slices of pear to get the juice out. But what a joy to watch. How awesome to see her discovering the delights of food, to control how much and what she eats. She adores broccoli, and vegemite toast, and roast pumpkin, and I can only hope she continues to have a healthy and loving attitude to food.
Besides, who could resist that face?