What baby led feeding taught me about food refusal

From the day Ruby started solids she has predominately been feeding herself. Baby led feeding (also called baby led weaning) is a method of introducing solid foods without purees or spoon feeding. In short you introduce foods that are easily picked up and soft enough for the age of the child.

IMG_4725We started around six months with things like avocado, banana, paw paw, papaya, cooked pumpkin, sweet potato and zucchini. As Ruby grew more accustomed to eating, and grew a few more teeth, we added different textures and varying crunchiness. The great majority of this food has been placed on her high chair tray then she has been left to explore the food in which ever way she likes (including shoving it into her mouth).

Throughout this time there has been instances when I would spoon feed her. Think yoghurt, soups, porridge. All that sloppy stuff that hands do not cope with well. But here is the thing, the majority of the time I spoon feed Ruby it becomes a headache. First I have to convince her to try it, then after a few happy mouthfuls she simple refuses to eat any more. Because we also have a 3 year old with special needs who requires help with meals I regularly gave up the fight and passed her the food, conceding I would clean the massive exploratory mess up later.

And she would proceed to finish the meal, in her own messy way.

IMG_6656It is behaviour I have observed from the very first weeks of feeding solids, and therefore not caused by baby led weaning. I am led to wonder what would have happened if I had been predominately spoon feeding. I may have decided she was a fussy eater and thought she didn’t like a whole range of foods. But the truth is she likes to feed herself, and I doubt she is unique in this instinct.

I believe it is her way of learning about the food and feeling comfortable with what she eats. It is also one way she has power over her diet. Sure I choose what is placed on the food tray, but she decides what to eat, how much to eat and how to eat it. I also believe this is pretty wonderful, a little tool/method/experience I want to share with you.





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