If you’ve already started baby-led weaning, you know about the mess.
My Instagram may show the fun finished product, but my husband will attest that the kitchen is in shambles 90% of the time.
I have two set-ups in our kitchen/family room, depending on what and when she’s eating and how messy I know it’s going to get. There are so many options for baby bowls out there, and I highly recommend using one rather than putting food on the tray. Since babies don’t develop their pincer grasp until month 9-10, they need something to push their food up against.
Maya eats the majority of her meals in this setup, sitting on top of the kitchen island. I love this chair because it’s almost impossible for her to move around in (though I always stand very close by) and the whole thing comes apart and can go straight into the sink to be hosed down. We took this chair on vacation and it was perfect. The Goobie Baby bowls are miraculously strong enough that she can’t break the suction from the tray. I portion the food out in the bowl but she always mixes it up anyway and doesn’t seem to mind things comingling. The bibs are great at catching the 65% of food that doesn’t make into her mouth. They’re very easy to clean. I recommend having two bowls and two bibs, at least.
Maya rarely sits over here unless we are all eating breakfast together or she’s having a relatively “clean” snack, like puffs. This chair is great in theory but much harder to clean and dry out. In order for her to have a footrest, we’ve sacrificed a dining chair to the cause so she can stand on it, rather than have her legs dangling. The mat sticks some of the time, but recently she’s been able to peel it off and throw it like a frisbee, food ‘n all, to the patiently waiting dog. As she gets older and (hopefully) less acrobatic at meals, this will probably be a great option.
A note on spoons: While spoon-feeding your baby directly is not the goal of BLW, pre-loading a spoon and handing it to her or setting it down in the bowl for her to grasp is a great way to help her learn how to serve herself.
Sitting at my dimly lit table, facing the tidy kitchen so I can ignore the toy-strewn family room behind me, I revel in this moment because it feels like I’ve come full circle. When I think back to my very first job, ALL the way back when I was 12, I was a mother’s helper for the family two doors down. My younger sister always came with me, and together we would bring arts and crafts, invent new games, spend days at the park, help run their lemonade stand. We practically lived there each summer, and I loved every second of it. As I got older, if I wasn’t at their house I was playing with my younger cousins, shuttling around my step-brothers, working in the gym day care, caring for senior citizens at their homes.
No matter what my job morphed into, I was always “mothering” on some level.
Tiny Morsels is the culmination of decades of wandering down new career paths, some that were SO CLEARLY not for me…I’ll get to that in a minute, and some that helped me grow. During college, in my search for a career path that spoke to me, I took a job as a Production Assistant at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.
Hold on, I should back up.
I went to college, originally, pursuing a degree in Music Therapy. After several summers volunteering alongside trained Music, Speech, Occupational and Physical therapists at a summer camp for special needs children, it felt like the perfect fit: I played piano, loved working with children…undergrad major declared! One semester’s worth of non-stop practicing and 8:00am sight-singing lessons later, a professor sat me down and said,
“Look. You know all the techniques and can write all the action plans, but your singing…
It’s just not therapeutic…for anyone.”
Cool cool cool. I will just show myself out then.
Enter the 2006 Olympics: AKA a serendipitous excuse to delay declaring a new major. I turned 19 my first day on the job and spent three months getting Olympic venues ready, keeping them running 24/7 , and tearing them down at the end. It was thrilling and exhausting, and it opened my eyes to the world of broadcast journalism.
Ultimately I graduated with a degree in secondary English Education and tried to find a teaching job in a district that was laying off many of its first-year teachers. Luckily an old friend and fellow educator-in-need-of-employment was up for a bit of a detour. We got jobs as ski instructors at Breckenridge mountain, following in the footsteps of both of our ski-pro fathers, and spent two winters teaching 3-6 year olds how to stand on their skis, drink copious amounts of hot chocolate, and sometimes get on a chairlift.
I wasn’t as die-hard as my friends and fellow instructors; I only taught part time, and the majority of my days I spent tutoring one-on-one at a private learning center down the road. I helped students who thrived in non-traditional settings for various reasons, and it is one of the happiest times of my life. Living alone and being single in a mountain town had its challenges, and eventually I needed more consistency and moved back to the city, but I will always miss the afternoon rain storms cooling off our little tree house of an office and the families I helped while there.
Back at a lower altitude, I took my first public school teaching job and taught high school English and Journalism for three years.
Ok. Here is where I want to fast forward and move the story along. My mom infamously uses “long story short” at the end of the LONGEST stories ever told. So.
Long story short: Loved my students, got burnt out, met my future husband, switched careers, became a banker, started investing in real estate, got married, moved to Washington, got my real estate license, had the world’s cutest baby.
Oh and somewhere in there we got the world’s best dog. She’d be pissed if I didn’t include that detail.
Since having Maya and trying to figure out when my “maternity leave” ends, I feel like I’ve been fighting the most obvious and natural path for me to walk right now. I am a new mom in every sense of the word. We are almost a year in and every day is full of unmarked obstacles and hazardous terrain. I’m still up at night googling “is it normal if…?” and I’ve yet to figure out how to consistently get myself showered and dressed before starting Maya’s day. I’ve been many places and had many titles, but as I look back at this resume of life experience, I’ve always been caring for and educating others.
Maybe you’re here because you, too, have a baby born in quarantine whose friends are mainly plants and pets, or you want to learn more about baby-led-weaning (the non-judgey, purely for fun kind). Maybe you need help budgeting for the cascading waterfall of expenses that you now face.
Maybe you also curse like a sailor when you’re fired up and love a rye whiskey. I don’t know.
I have a confession: I stocked up on piles of purees before I started learning about baby-led weaning. It freaked me out until I learned from the very best, the BabyLedWeanTeam, and I armed myself with all of the knowledge I’d need to feel confident.
Here are some of the biggest things to know before you start:
Gagging is GOOD, choking is not. Google “baby gagging videos” and watch a lot of them. If your baby is making sounds, they are learning to clear their airways. No sound=no breathing. Brush up on your baby CPR just in case.
On that note, never leave baby unattended while eating. Sit with them and watch them closely. Try to avoid reaching for them if they are gagging. It could cause them to inhale and then start choking.
Pay attention to sodium! Try to stay under 100mg per serving and don’t add any additional salt to the food you are serving. Aromatics are great: cinnamon, pepper, garlic powder, etc. Rinsing canned food such as beans helps remove an additional 30% of sodium.
This may be a no-brainer, but serve food at room temperature or cool.
If possible, put baby in a chair that has a footrest. If their feet dangle, they have little to no core stability. Read more about it here. We solved this problem with our Inglesina table chair by sliding a dining chair underneath it. Maya’s feet are flat so can focus her energy on swallowing safely.
So…where to start? These 10 foods are also some of my favorite BLW staples that I always have on hand.
Sweet Potato: Peel, slice into wedges about the size of your pinky, toss in olive oil and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.
Avocado: These can be hard to pick up, so offer as wedges and smash a few up with a fork.
Chicken: Boneless skinless thighs are less of a choking hazard than chicken breasts. Put the thighs in a small saucepan and add water or low sodium chicken broth until they are just covered. Bring to a boil and then simmer until meal shreds easily with a fork, about 10 minutes (internal temp of 165 degrees.) Serve in strips.
Pineapple: Canned is just fine! I like Dole pineapple slices in 100% pineapple juice. Cut into strips and serve.
Yogurt: Look for full-fat, low sodium options. And be ready for a BIG mess!
Carrots: Peel and cut into matchsticks. Drizzle olive oil over the top and season with pepper and garlic or ginger. Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes, until very soft.
Oatmeal: For the first time introducing this, I pulverized the oats in a blender to make them a little smaller. In a small saucepan, combine 1c water, 1/2c oats, and 1/2t of cinnamon. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed. -Toppings to add to the boiling water after week 1: Diced apples, hemp hearts, chia seeds.
Cantaloupe: This one can also be hard to pick up. If baby is struggling, try rolling one end in flax seeds.
Cauliflower: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut one large head of cauliflower into florets. Leave a little bit of them the stem as a handle. Toss in olive oil and season with your favorite savory (low-to no sodium) spices: garlic powder, basil, turmeric, curry. Pick 1-2 flavors to start. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes until fork tender.
Applesauce: Look for no-sugar-added options. **not sugar-free.**