We made it to six months of exclusively breastfeeding Miss E (hooray!) I remember all too keenly how in those first few weeks, I imagined it would be a relief to hit this mark and start solids. I’d received several books full of recipes on making my own baby food, had lovingly washed and stored lidded ice cube trays and weaning spoons. But when I started reading about the benefits of baby-led feeding, I was seduced by the notion of giving my daughter another opportunity to make her own choices.
Baby-led weaning, or feeding, “is the common-sense practice of giving your baby soft, palatable whole foods and letting her feed herself her first ‘bites,’ while continuing to breastfeed.” I loved absolutely everything I read about it, and loved watching Miss E smash broccoli, smush avocado, and even gnaw on a chicken leg bone. Starting solids seemed like it was going to be low stress and enjoyable for everyone.
But when she tried to jam a really big piece of toasted homemade bread into her mouth, I panicked. What would I do if she choked? Even my husband, who is infant CPR-certified, wasn’t sure he would be able to keep his cool and do what needed to be done. Miss E’s pediatrician scolded me something fierce when she found out we were doing baby-led feeding, and that was all it took. Attack of the first time parent jitters (again) led me to give it up.
So I spent the better part of a day washing and sautéing and roasting and blending bananas, apples, broccoli, pears, carrots and sweet potatoes. And it’s been scarier feeding Miss E with a spoon than it was letting her feed herself, because she makes faces and gags and has thrown up on two occasions. I don’t feel comfortable jamming a spoon into her mouth when it’s clear she doesn’t want me to, but I still can’t get back to a place where I trust she’ll be okay exploring food on her own. When I think about how merrily she smeared avocado all over her face, gnawing a ripe slice with gusto, I lament loading her little spoons with goopy oatmeal.
I’ve told myself I’ll give it two weeks. If she still hates spoon feeding as much as I do, I’m going to bite the bullet and let her bite into (the very softest) slice of pear.