When Ava turned 6-months, we started slowly introducing her to solid foods. Aaron and I decided to make her own baby food instead of commercial baby food because we have a weekly organic produce bin and wanted to have her eat from the family table from the start. I've been making her purees and freezing them to have on-hand, but I haven't done too much. We have been following her lead on food. If she doesn't want to eat solids, not a big deal. Ava's daycare has had the most success with feeding Ava her solids. At around 8-months, she stopped gagging with solids so I started to pack her a small container for the caregivers to offer her at lunch when the other babies are eating. We've tried all sort of things from quinoa and banana to kiwi last week.
At Ava's 9-month well-baby doctor's visit, her pediatrician told me that many 9-month olds are eating table food so don't be shy about offering her what she's reaching for or what's on my plate. She gave me the confidence to offer Ava foods that I'm eating and not necessarily making sure it's pureed. I'm staying away from peanuts, honey, shellfish, and egg whites for now.
I've heard a lot about Baby Led Weaning from natural moms that I follow on Twitter and in the book that I read Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck. The concept of Baby Led Weaning is to follow your baby's cues and let them choose the foods that they will eat by parents offering them variety. Babies in this method are offered foods and encouraged to feed themselves. It has influenced the way that I think about Ava eating solids. If she doesn't want to eat, no big deal. I make very small quantities to offer her. Lots of days, I still thin out the food with expressed breastmilk. I know Ava is getting all she needs from mother's milk and food at this stage is for experimentation, rather than nutrition. There's no pressure even to give her iron-fortified foods because at her 9-month appointment, her iron levels were through the roof from nursing exclusively.
I've heard that babies are ready for solids at very different ages and that breastfed babies often delay solids. The latter is the case for us. At Thanksgiving, Aaron's mother gave Ava a tiny taste of mashed potatoes which made her gag and then throw up! For a few weeks in December, she refused solids every day. Ava is so satisfied by nursing and not a baby that puts things in her mouth. On Monday, Ava went back to daycare after we had 10 days at home together. She ate her homemade applesauce after going weeks without solids.
This week, Ava devoured mashed banana with plain organic yogurt, sweetened with a bit of maple syrup. The daycare caregiver told me that she was making sounds and opening her mouth really big, then when she ate it all, she was looking for more! Yogurt is so nutritious. I have been giving her sips of my morning smoothie, which she likes a lot. The smoothie that I made a lot is a mix of banana, pineapple, plain yogurt, and orange juice.
Ava is now much more interested in my plate. She was grabbing for my pizza on Friday night and loved the tomato sauce. Then we went to lunch with friends yesterday and I ordered an omelet with potatoes. I was holding Ava on my lap and she opened her mouth really wide for a bit of the soft egg. I gave her some potato and she bit off a tiny piece. The texture threw her off and she gagged herself and threw up a bit. It's all learning though.
This morning (check out the picture of my "Yogurt Face" babe) we experimented again. I made a berry smoothie with blueberries, strawberries, vanilla yogurt, and pomegranate juice. She didn't want to sip the smoothie alone. I scraped what was left of my favorite organic Brown Cow vanilla yogurt container and put a dab of my berry smoothie. She loved it! She opened her mouth really big and licked her lips! She made that puckered lips face that you do when you have something tart.
I just love my "Yogurt Face" girl!
If you want more information on Baby Led Weaning, I loved this post from a Twitter mom blogger, Kelly Naturally.