I can specifically remember, when Asahi was about five months old, sitting at my table eating my usual peanut butter oatmeal and realizing that in a month I was going to need to make not only my breakfast but his! Five months postpartum was TOUGH. The four month sleep regression was still killing us and I was running on basically no sleep after being up every hour in the night for a month. At that time I couldn’t even fathom how I was going to cook for another human besides myself and occasionally my husband. I also knew absolutely nothing about what a baby should and shouldn’t eat. Luckily, soon after this moment of dread/realization, I went to a La Leche meeting here in Tokyo and the topic was weaning. La Leche League supports a baby led weaning approach and it was here that I began to learn more about it. It made sense to me and seemed like it would work for our family. Six months later I can say that it did! Here’s some reasons why baby led weaning worked for us:
- I was EXHAUSTED when Asahi was six months old. Between five and nine months was the worst time for his sleep and this is exactly when I was supposed to be starting solids. There was no way I had energy to steam and puree all this food for him as well as myself with no extra help. And honestly I didn’t want to spend my weekends cooking while my husband was home. Baby led weaning allowed me to prepare one meal for all of us and just make a few adjustments for Asahi to ensure the food was safe and healthy for him. This saved me not only time but also stress.
- I liked the philosophy behind BLW. BLW emphasizes the importance of a child’s right to choose what they eat instead of being force fed. The theory is that children will be able to more easily tell if they are full and will more willingly eat foods that they choose themselves. As a breastfeeding mom, it seemed in line with what I know about nursing. I can’t actually see how much milk he consumes so I have to trust that when he finishes, he is full vs with a bottle where you dictate how much milk is available. Baby led weaning is supposed to also allow children to experience many more textures and tastes in a shorter time frame than if you were to puree all their food. The jury is still out on if this makes a difference in toddlerhood but we shall see!
- I wasn’t afraid he would choke. A lot of parents are hesitant to do BLW because they are afraid their baby will choke but I didn’t have this fear. Asahi could sit up well unassisted when we started solids and he had fairly good control of his hands and mouth so I just trusted him. I also felt prepared to handle the situation if he did choke, so I didn’t feel nervous when he ate. I think this is really key because if you are constantly doing mouth sweeps or grabbing them out of their high chair at the first sign of gagging it may lead to some negative associations with food.
- He didn’t want to be spoon fed. After starting BLW and letting him feed himself, Asahi didn’t want to be spoon fed anymore. I wasn’t surprised since he’s Mr. Independent usually! However, after a few months he did allow me to occasionally feed him with a spoon and eventually we used pre-loaded spoons for the most part.
- I don’t really enjoy cooking, especially with a baby! This is probably the biggest reason! I’m not that big on cooking, especially when I have to look after a very active baby while I’m doing it. BLW allowed me to make one meal for the entire family and cut down on my time in the kitchen a lot. I used a lot of recipes from the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook and found them super yummy and easy to make! Some of Asahi’s favorites were the risottos, vegetable chili, and banana muffins. I would definitely recommend that book if you’re looking for some inspiration for your family meals.
I don’t think you can really go wrong with either purees or baby led weaning, it’s really more about what works for you and your family! On thing to note is that the baby led weaning method simply skips purees so your baby probably won’t eat very much in the first couple of months (especially if they still don’t have many teeth!) So try not to expect your baby to eat as much as someone’s baby who eats purees. Also, BLW is a fairly new method in Japan so you might be one of the only people you know who are doing it. If that’s the case, there’s tons of inspiration on social media. Here’s a couple of my favorites:
Are you doing baby led weaning? Why did you choose to do or not to do it? Let me know in the comments! If you want to see what Asahi is eating on the daily, make sure you follow me on Instagram @mymotherhoodtokyo