The Solids Saga – Part 4 – I Finally Understand

If you’ve been following my previous posts regarding food, you’ll know that I have been a little unsure of how exactly to introduce solids to Olivia.  I wanted to do baby-led-weaning, but at 7 months, Olivia was still gagging on everything she put within a foot of her mouth.  Even water.  I’m not sure why it took her so long to loose the gagging reflex, but it really didn’t happen until she was 8 months old.  And I’ll be honest, I was worried.  I was starting to think I was doing everything wrong.

She is NOT interested in this piece of toast with bannanas.

I did try giving Olivia some purees, even some pureed meat, but she didn’t take much of it, and mostly just made my life difficult by trying to grab the spoon and throw the food everywhere.  I really didn’t like the idea of force-feeding her, so I decided to just back off.  She seemed healthy enough… and at 10.5 kg she wasn’t exactly lacking in the weight department.  (That is around the 95th percentile for weight, in case you were wondering…)

In the mean-time, I ordered the “Baby Led Weaning Cookbook”, and when it finally arrived, I read it cover to cover.  Let me tell you I was shocked to see that they hardly talked about gagging at all.  Just a half page.  And they said that babies usually learn how to deal with the food and stop gagging after a few days or maybe weeks.  They talked about 6 month old babies who were chewing on pieces of chicken, and 7 month-olds who would eat an entire apple, and then spit out the seeds!  “What is wrong with my baby?”  I thought.

Peas and rice from a pork chop dish we had

The other thing which surprised me is that most of the recipes in the book are basically just regular “food”.  Things like Tomato Roasted Chicken, and Chili con Carne.  Pancakes.  Scrambled Eggs.  Thai Green Curry.  The main thing is not to add any salt or sugar, and avoid any heavily salted foods like ham.    They don’t even give any kind of “recommended” age range for any of the foods.  That’s when I finally understood the whole point.  Babies really CAN eat everything from the very beginning.  You really don’t have to be worried about them choking on a noodle or the banana sticking to the roof of their mouths.  There are no “steps” to follow, and there are no schedules.  I was so caught up in the idea of there being a “method” to follow that I was blinding myself to the simplicity of it all.

Pasta with tomato sauce and tuna fish – the first dish Olivia really enjoyed eating

So I started making meals out of the book for Oscar and I to eat, and giving Olivia a little bit on her own plate.  She mostly ignored the food, or if she did touch it she threw it on the floor without even tasting it.  Then I realized that she was usually too tired or too hungry at mealtimes, and so she wasn’t interested in playing with anything.  I tried harder to get meals ready early, then to feed her, give her a rest, and THEN bring her to the table for lunch.  That was when it finally started working.  The first meal she really “ate” was a pasta with tuna fish and tomato sauce.  I was really impressed that she liked it and kept bringing bits of it to her mouth!

Chickpea patties with cucumber & yohgurt sauce (and tortillas – not pictured)

So now I include her in every meal, and she sometimes takes very small bits of it, other times she just plays with it, and sometimes she just wants down from the high chair without even looking at the food.  I am letting her go at her own pace, and I am no longer worried.  And the best part – she’s finally learned how to deal with food… she’s only gagged on food a few times in three weeks!

So now I’ve pulled out all the stops.  She’s had chicken, pork and beef, all in large chunks or strips.  She’s also had eggs, dairy and gluten with no issues.  So basically she eats with us for every meal now.  She hardly swallows anything, so she really is filling her hunger with breast milk still, but that’s ok with me.  I figure it will go in it’s own time.  One of these days she will realize that food also can satisfy hunger, and then she will start to eat more and more.  That’s why it’s called baby-led-weaning after all.

So yes, my 9-month-old is still 99% breastfed.  But she is also very healthy and strong, so I am not worried.

Spaghetti with green cauliflower

Pasta with mushrooms and carbonara sauce


14 Responses to “The Solids Saga – Part 4 – I Finally Understand”

  1. 1 miiu November 14, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    i think the gagging theory is that as babies grow, the gag reflex moves further down the throat, which means they start gagging a lot sooner than they actually start choking. i guess why she gagged before was because -you- put the food there and she didn’t know how to deal with it but if she puts it there herself, she knows the way back out. 😀

    • 2 christiana83 November 16, 2012 at 12:31 am

      Right, that’s what I read about the gagging, too. Maybe I wasn’t very clear in my post… although I did try some spoon-feeding, most of the time I let her feed herself (I didn’t put the food in her mouth) but she still gagged on everything and it was really a bit scary. I know she wasn’t actually choking, since gagging is just the defense against that. But still it wasn’t fun to watch. The thing is, my book about BLW said that the gagging might happen for a few days or maybe weeks, but for us it lasted for more than 2 months. And anyways, most babies who are spoon-fed pureed foods don’t gag that much on them… but Olivia did… no idea why. I am glad it’s over though!

      • 3 miiu November 16, 2012 at 12:50 am

        Gagging isn’t fun at all, I know… every time Elli gags, she automatically throws up pretty much everything she’s had to eat during the day. Completely empties her stomach. It’s really sad and a tad scary, too…

      • 4 eliminationcommunication November 16, 2012 at 2:54 am

        I know it is weird, but I find the upchuck reflex reassuring. Weird huh? To me if a stubborn piece of food is stuck to the roof of the mouth or managed to slip a bit too far beyond the gag line, the next failsafe is to flood that sucker out. It’s protective. Yes, I still have a worry when I can see the big chunk stuck but…honestly…that is a reflex because of cultural upbringing and that is HARD to stop feeling. but when I see that upchuck…it is relief!

      • 5 christiana83 November 25, 2012 at 10:04 pm

        Yeah, it is hard to stop feeling worried about it! But I agree with you – it is actually a good thing and should be reassuring. Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. 6 Dad November 14, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I’m glad she likes mushrooms! I’ll cook her up something special when you arrive!

  3. 7 motherhoodisanart November 14, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Oh my goodness….she is just the cutest little thing! She reminds me so much of my daughter when she was that age with the big chubby cheeks. A lady once came up to me at a store and said in a sarcastic tone…”I can see you don’t feed her!” (referring to my daughter) I would like to say to you, “I can see you aren’t feeding Olivia.” But I guess you have proof you are!!! LOL!!

    • 8 christiana83 November 16, 2012 at 12:33 am

      LOL!! Yeah I get comments all the time about how well fed she is, and how I must be giving her “cream” instead of milk… haha. Your kids are super cute, too! They do have very similar cheeks, I think it’s the half-mexican thing 😉 Bi-racial kids are just awesome.

  4. 9 Allison November 16, 2012 at 4:31 am

    This is interesting, I really didn’t consider giving her anything that wasn’t blended to death….and frankly, I’m still a little scared! She’s really doing well so far with my purees and I don’t think I have the nerve to try it any other way. I am completely on board with not being selective about foods, I’m just planning to blend up some of whatever we’re eating on the nights we feel like bathing her after. I’m glad to hear that dairy and meats went over so well because I really wasn’t planning to go off some recommended schedule…not surprising since I don’t listen to anything else that is ‘recommended’ 🙂

    • 10 christiana83 November 25, 2012 at 10:07 pm

      If you’re interesting in learning more about it, the method is called “Baby-led-weaning”. But yeah if purees are working for you then no reason to switch now! I guess the main advantages of BLW are that it’s easier to prepare, since they are eating the same foods you are, and also it makes going to restaurants and people’s houses easier too (assuming you can find some food with no salt.) Also, they say that kids brought up this way tend to have less problems with weight later on, since they are used to deciding how much they should eat. But there are some drawbacks, too, mainly the mess, and also it really does take a LOOONG time for them to eat their meals! So you have to be patient 😛

      • 11 Allison November 26, 2012 at 1:17 am

        I’m not really even going out of my way with purees. I’m mostly mashing stuff up or blending it while I’m cooking or oversteaming until it’s soft. It’s essentially my no-effort-whatsoever approach. Since I don’t care if she actually gets any of it in her mouth, it’ll be up to her when she actually starts consuming anything. It’s there if she wants it, but so are my boobs and so far, she REALLY wants those 🙂

  1. 1 Orange Peels Taste Better than Oranges « Insert Cheesy Title Here Trackback on December 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm

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