We started weaning Ozzy just as he turned 6 months. We were fully set on baby led weaning and read up on everything. We assumed he would be as enthusiastic as us, because he is keen to explore anything put in front of him - but we actually ended up with a really slow start.
The idea behind BLW (Baby Led Weaning) is that you offer food to your baby rather than feed it to them, and you let them lead. There are books out there giving you all the details on the benefits, the drawbacks, how to do it safely and more. My lovely friend lent me one of these books and after finishing it I felt confident that BLW was the right decision for Ozzy, but that doesn't mean it's right for every baby so if you're unsure, do some research and please feel free to ask me any questions!.
BLW in a nutshell: From approximately 6 months you sit your baby up in a highchair and offer them small safe items of a variety of foods. You put it on the tray or table and leave it up to them to pick it up, explore the taste, sight, smell and texture. They might wipe it all over their face, throw it on the floor, ignore it, or in Ozzy's case put it all in and spit it all back out. At least the dog had a lot of scraps from the floor!
We persevered and introduced him to every taste and texture we could think of. They were all met with the same wrinkled up face. We kept going though. If we had been spoon feeding he may have become upset at the pace (we did try spoon feeding eventually - more on that later), but because we were only offering and he was happy to explore and try it all, we decided there was no harm in continuing. Every now and again we would offer something on the tray and he would happily put it in his mouth and spit it out. Somewhere around 8 months, we noticed he was slightly less disgusted by sweeter foods. He even kept a strawberry in his mouth for a full ten seconds before spitting it out in disgust. He wasn't a foodie, and that was fine. He was still having lots of breastmilk and if he didn't want food or water yet, it was fine. We kept reassuring ourselves that 'food before age 1 is just for fun' or so the saying goes, and that he didn't really need any nutrients from food yet anyway it was just practice.
I did worry though, as I saw all his friends tuck into different courses when we went out for lunch and all he wanted was milk. Then somewhere around 9 months we noticed the contents of his nappies were changing (I won't give you TMI here) and he was clearly getting some food. The weeks went on and he was happier and happier when we gave him strawberries and pineapples, to the point where anything sweet was immediately sucked on and gobbled up. So we started cycling through all the foods again.
Finally, he was responding to food. There were still many he turned his nose up at, but he was happily exploring them all and as his teeth came through and he learnt to nibble, more and more was being had. He loved bread in all forms, as well as parsnip and potato. Bland yes, but real food! He'd give up if something wasn't easy to immediately pick up or bite, but we were slowly getting there.
Then we went on holiday to Edinburgh. We were staying in a hotel and had no access to any cooking equipment. We took his Bumbo seat and decided that week would be a great opportunity to try snacks and pouches. Easier for us to give him when out and about or in the hotel room, and no need for a fridge. We had so much success! He used to push a spoon away if we offered anything on it, but now he was actually opening his mouth for it and finishing whole pouches. Or pushing the spoon away once he had enough, at which point we stopped.
We gave him snacks - mainly baby puffs or biscuits, which he would happily suck on and break bits off of. I realised after this week how much easier this was. It was readily prepared, made less mess and was a lot quicker. I was desperate to give him fruit and veg where I could, but if it was snacks or nothing then snacks it was!
Once we came home we switched him from breastmilk to bottles, for various other reasons, but to my surprise he was still having 4/5 full bottles a day even though he was eating more food. I had expected him to drop a milk feed but so far the food wasn't making a difference. I doubted whether he was actually eating as much as we thought, but as the weeks went on and we carried on, I realised he was definitely eating.
He is now nearly 11 months old. Suddenly I'm looking back and realising I was crazy to ever worry. He was such a slow starter but that's the beauty of BLW, you go at their pace. And if they aren't bothered then so be it - no need to force feed them. He now has 2 or 3 bottles a day which are half formula and half cows milk as we are transitioning to cows milk only from age 1, and 3 full meals. We do a mixture of spoon feeding and BLW and he is finally loving food. He will sit in his highchair for ages gobbling up whatever he put in front of him and it makes me so happy.
Generally his breakfast is porridge or a pouch of fruit puree. I'll be in a hurry and he will be hungry, there's no time for playing with food on his tray - he wants it shovelled in as fast as possible.
For lunch we're often out. He'll have some of my food, often a panini or toastie and some cucumber on the side. Then some baby snacks - something quick he can munch on while I finish my coffee. More on what snacks I give him in part 2 next week. If we're home for lunch we'll share some pasta made with a variety of sauces and vegetables, or some baby rice.
In the evening we try and eat together as a family. This is his favourite meal of the day and is always BLW. We'll put on his tray some of what we're having and leave him to it. We chat about the day and he occasionally joins in with his garbling, but usually he focuses on his food. He'll practice his pincer grip with small bits of rice, scoop up handfuls of spaghetti and chew on pieces of meat. If he's gone to bed before we eat for whatever reason, I'll give him a quick cheese sandwich first instead and save his portion of our dinner for tomorrow's lunch. Wouldn't want him to miss out. Of course we have to make some slight variations sometimes to the recipe, less chilli etc but generally we enjoy the same meals and it's everyone's favourite time of day.
I have been known to give him some brownie or chocolate biscuit here and there too but for anyone that knows Ozzy, you'll know he certainly doesn't need any extra energy from sugary snacks so I try not to make a habit of it.
Check back soon for part 2. I'll be talking about what snacks we have and showing you some of the foods Organix sent to us for Ozzy to try. I'll also share some recipes for Ozzy's favourite meals, and ones that are adult and baby friendly so you can all eat as a family without having to eat something bland (we have curry with Ozzy all the time).
If you have any questions about BLW please comment below!
See you next time, Ellie and Ozzy x