This week, I wanted to add in a few of my favorite baby-led weaning foods. We've used this method - or a modified version of it -for both of our kids. I like it because it's no-muss, no-fuss - and because I know I'm feeding my growing baby whole food with loads of healthy nutrition. Plus, introducing a variety of foods early and often helps expand your baby's palette. Or so they say, right? Luckily both of my kids seem to enjoy nearly everything I put in front of them. Notable exceptions are cauliflower (Shep) and sandwiches (Shep, again). Methinks the concept of eating the components of a sandwich altogether in a big bite is a bit confusing for him?
Notice a pattern - Shep is my pickier eater. It's not just because he's older! I thought that he was a good eater when he started on solid foods. As he got more mobile, food became far less interesting than exploring. I had to find new foods and seasonings that would keep his attention long enough to get some calories into his little body. Rory, on the other hand, is a bottomless pit. She is a voracious eater - so much so that I am consistently shocked by how much she loves to eat.
Baby-led weaning is really pretty straightforward with four easy steps:1) Give your baby food.2) Don't freak out.3) Don't freak out.4) Don't freak out.
Babies have really impressive built-in gag reflexes, so they're quite good at clearing their own airway. Unless a baby seems to be struggling to breathe, let them work the food out on their own. If you can't watch them struggle, scoop the food out with a finger. Don't whack your baby on their back unless they are NOT breathing. If a baby is breathing and you whack them on the back, you're more likely to lodge the food in their windpipe. Scary, I know! But again: I've used this method for two babies and I've personally never had to clear an airway.
I rely on a few great early-food options for baby-led weaning that incorporate easily into our family meal plan.
Melon, peaches, pears, plums, berries, and bananas. These fruits are easy to mash in a toothless mouth and offer great nutrition! They're also an enticing way to encourage a hesitant eater to try new things.
Really, any vegetable that can be steamed or roasted. My kids do really well with vegetables in soups or stews because they're so soft and flavorful. I find that leafy greens are a challenge for kiddos with few teeth. I'll sometimes make kale chips or blend spinach into a cup of yogurt.
Neither of my kids has issues with dairy intolerance or allergies, so we introduce dairy into their diets along with solids. Cheese, yogurts, and butter are all go-tos in our house. Our pediatrician encouraged us to "put a little extra butter" on Shep's food to help him gain weight.
We're omnivores, so we include meat in our solid foods. Bite-size shreds of chicken, pork, or beef get gobbled up quickly. Same with pieces of lunch meat, ham, or bacon - although we tend to have these less frequently because they're more processed. Rory even gobbled up a slice of summer sausage today!
And now for our meal plan! While these are mostly entrees, I like to plan for vegetable sides that everyone can enjoy. Grilled or roasted veggies are fairly easy - I just make sure to grab things that will be mash-able (or steam Rory's veggies softer than all of ours).
Monday: Italian Chicken Thighs with Zucchini and Red PotatoesTuesday: Slow Cooker Garlic Parmesan Chicken and PotatoesWednesday: Sausage Dinner Salad with Avocado Pepperoncini DressingThursday: Jalapeno Popper ChiliFriday: Tuna Lettuce WrapsSaturday: Chicken Fried RiceSunday: Leftovers!
I save by buying a huge family-pack of bone-in chicken thighs! That, plus a few cans of tuna and a package of Italian sausage is all the protein we need to fuel or family fun.What are you eating this week? Are you finding any good deals I should hit up? Tell me your meal plans on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3.