With bub now past 6 months of age, the prevailing question from friends, family & opinionated strangers for the past 2 months has been "have you started solids yet?", to which our reply has been that we wanted to follow the recommendations of the WHO and other experts and wait till bub was over 6 months old (i kind of think they know what they're talking about).
Surprisingly this placed us in a minority of our acquaintance, with most people we know having started at 4 months.
Once that was politely explained we then had to move into the area of "what food?", where we had to explain our food philosophy. For a number of reasons hubby and I have decided to follow a baby led weaning (BLW) approach to the introduction of solid foods (try explaining that to most people and you get used to blank faces). The BLW approach appealed to us for a number of reasons which I will briefly outline for the uninitiated.
There is an emphasis on shared food from the very beginning.
Baby never eats alone, which means they are always able to watch an example as they learn how to eat, how to use cutlery, bowls, cups etc. and table manners are introduced organically through the very act of eating properly together from the beginning.
You don't have to prepare separate meals for bub, from the very beginning you are all eating the same food.
Because you are all eating the same food, this is normal rather than something you try and force when the child is older (and more resistant to change).
Everyone gets to share in an unhurried way, the experience of watching someone experience food for the first time- so fun!
Other reasons BLW appealed to us, were the realisation that feeding purees as a food stage only evolved historically when we were feeding babies under 6 months of age who were really incapable of other feeding. Since everyone got used to the whole puree thing it just became the norm even when people wait till their babies are over 6 months of age to start solids!
Since we weren't starting solids before 6 months of age we thought we'd give it a try.
BLW says a few milestones should be present before you start: the child should be 6 months, tongue thrust reflex should be gone, baby should be able to sit comfortably in the high chair (never feed unless sitting straight due to choking risk) and baby should initiate the experience by showing an interest in and reaching for your food.
Once these are met you are good to go, with bub guiding the way in terms of how many meals they want to eat.
So, when Addison passed the marks we sat her in her highchair for each meal we ate when she was awake. She took to it pretty much immediately and has been happily munching away for a month now. She has the same thing as us for dinner every night (with things cut into finger sized pieces so she can hold them) and has not refused anything so far!
Some things have worked better than others (quesadillas dipped in salsa and guacamole being a huge hit), everything has had the same spiciness we normally have (thai red curry and spicy Mexican tomato soup successful) and we have had a blast.
In the last few days we have seen a huge change on her gag reflex which is much less sensitive now (yay) and in her ability to hold things for herself. She is eating a larger quantity every day (i have the nappies to prove it) though a fair bit still falls out of her mouth.
She's had raw and cooked veg sticks with dips (highly recommended), pasta, toast with peanut butter and devoured wedges of watermelon, mango, strawberry and raspberry. Along with a myriad of other delicious things.
People who have witnessed it have been amazed.
At this point we are feeling fantastic about our decision and really want to encourage anyone out there to look into it if they are keen- Addison has never eaten puree, eats the same thing as us for dinner and breakfast every day and is going great! You can do it too! It is so easy!!