Feeding Baby Naturally: What, When & How

IMG_2366Karis enjoying real food

Beginning a little one on solids can be overwhelming for some, especially when as a mother you really want to give your child the best start in the world. There are many different methods, plans and recommendations out there, but I am going to keep it real simple for you. Give your baby REAL food and let them have at it!

When to start solids?

For the first six months, breast milk is the only food required by most infants. It provides the essential antibodies that protect their immune function and nutrients that optimize growth. Until six months of age, a baby’s digestive tract is not able to adequately digest most foods. The introduction of foods too early may induce food allergies or food sensitives. Honestly, there have been no conclusive studies done to show that a baby should wait till after 6 months though. You can breast feed exclusively for a year if you want. Breastfeeding gives your baby a steady supply of complete nutrition during the messy but fun transition to real food. Overall, the six month recommendation seems reasonable to me.

Beyond the six months recommendation, you may want to wait until your baby can sit up by themselves. That is really the only other important thing. According to Nina Planck in Real Food for Mother and Baby, “When is your baby ready? She is ready when she can sit up on her own. This indicates a certain control of her trunk. Her mouth and throat are stronger and more coordinated. When you put food on her tongue, she does not immediately eject it.”

She may have teeth, she may not. Either way works just fine. Karis didn’t, Titus did. She may grab for your food, she may not. Karis didn’t, Titus did. Maybe it’s a girl/boy thing. ;) Nurse exclusively as long as you are able – it’s frugal, it’s healthy, and it’s simple! When you baby can sit up and starts really actively desiring food, then let them begin exploring with food. If they are not interested until 9 or 10 months (or later), don’t worry about it. Rushing it will not be fun for you or your baby. With my first daughter, Karis, we were able to hold off until 8 months of age before beginning solids. Titus started just a bit earlier around 7 months.

I knew she was ready for them when she began eagerly consuming little samples I gave her of my own food. Secondly,  if they start getting grumpy quicker after breastfeeding, or have a hard time going to sleep, I have found that adding solids normally has helped my babies sleep better and be more happy and satisfied throughout the day. Use your judgment! You are the mom and you know better than any one else. You really don’t need to get on any rigid schedule of eating either. We started with a little pear slice in a mesh feeder, and then forget about it for a few days, and then give him some carrots at dinner, etc. I have never gotten real consistent with three meals a day until they are around 1 year old. Overall, we continued to nurse regularly as long as the baby desires or as my supply allows. With Karis this was 15 months of age. We have yet to see with Titus.

How to Eat?

With my first daughter, we introduced solids through the traditional approach of spoon-feeding pureed baby foods. We used the blender to make large batches of baby food as detailed in Super Baby Food. We made all our own homemade purees and super baby food porridge. We steamed, blended, and froze in ice cube trays. Honestly, it’s a lot of work! This is one way, but I often wondered if she got a little picky growing up because she had to adapt from eating purees to the real whole form. It’s quite a contrast if you think about it. What might happen if I gave a whole carrot or broccoli head from the beginning? Might they grow up enjoying the real thing better?

When Titus was born, I came across the idea of Baby-led Weaning, otherwise known as – skip the pureeing and give them the real thing! I have learned that you really don’t need the whole process of spoon-feed eating…it’s just not necessary! This may be a shocker to some as it was to me at first. But I encourage you to take a look at two helpful books. Basically, the idea is that you let your baby feed themselves without all the hassle of cooking, steaming, pureeing and freezing. You give them finger foods and let them explore on their own. They eat what you eat and are included in the family dinner table. They make the connection with their appetite. They stop when they are full. They eat food with flavor and variety as you eat it. Who wants bland baby food anyway? Prepare a healthy meal for your family and give some to your baby. That’s it!

Gil Rapley’s Baby-led Weaning and Nina Planck’s Real Food for Mother and Baby are two excellent reads on tearing down the traditional methods that we have adopted for so long and just getting to the good stuff. Read a thorough overview of the Baby-led weaning concept over at Eco Child’s Play. Read these books! You will be fascinated too.

So two choices…to puree or not to puree!

What to Eat? Real Food!

Nina Planck & Weston A Price Foundation recommend, if you start before six months, begin with a lightly cooked egg yolk with a pinch of salt, a little cod liver oil, and banana. Nina shares, “These brain foods are easy for the baby stomach to handle. Tasty and soft, the banana contains its own amylase. It’s an unusually fine plant source of vitamin B6, which helps create neurotransmitters, including serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine. After six months, just about any REAL food is good. Babies can start with meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, any fruits and vegetables, and traditional fats – namely, butter, olive oil, and coconut oil. Whole milk, buttermilk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, and sour cream are great foods. So are fresh coconut and coconut milk, which (like your milk) contain immune-boosting lauric acid. Avacado chunks with olive oil and salt make a wonderful baby dish, soft to gum and rich in vitamin E.”

Nina proceeds to offer no recipes or schedules in her book. She simply states what real food is (what we have been eating for thousands of years), and gives a few basic recommendations. Just give your baby whole stemmed vegetables and fruits, cut into smaller pieces if necessary. Keep it yummy. Bland food is not fun for anyone. Give your baby what you are eating. Stemmed vegetables with butter and salt is great! She keeps raw sweet potato slices in the freezer to have on hand to steam up quickly if the is no leftovers from the night before. Having avacados and bananas on hand are also easy, quick, and very nutritious meals for your baby.

The only thing that is not recommended before one year of age is grain. The one food that all the pediatricians recommend as a first food because it can be watered down and added to a baby bottle. Funny! Grain is not digestible, especially if it has not been soaked. Grain is a poor source of protein, iron and zinc. The starch-digesting enzymes in a child’s body do not kick in for one or two years.

According to nutritionist Jen Allbritton, “Babies do not produce the needed enzymes to handle cereals, especially gluten-containing grains like wheat, before the age of one year. Even then, it is common traditional practice to soak grains in water and a little yogurt or buttermilk for up to 24 hours. This process jump-starts the enzymatic activity in the food and begins breaking down some of the harder-to-digest components.”

What About Choking?

It’s actually really just gagging, a natural function of the body.  According to this article, “Humans have an innate gag reflex, whereby anything that gets to the back of the mouth unexpectedly (or is too large to swallow) will be regurgitated with a retching action.  In babies, this reflex is further forward in the mouth, and so gagging is fairly common while they are learning to handle food.  Although this is commonly confused with choking, it is actually the normal protective mechanism, preventing choking while a baby learns to manipulate food in his mouth with his tongue, to chew and swallow.  Spoonfeeding denies a baby the chance to practice this manipulation while the gag reflex is still extra-active.”

Of course, it is always recommended never to leave a child unattended, but enjoy the food together, in case there is any problems. But is is helpful to note that spoonfeeding does not guarantee any less a problem with gagging.

What does this look like for us?

All that being said, we have chosen to adapt these two ideas to meet our needs. We may help feed Titus (by hand, rather than by spoon). Karis loves participating in this, so it has become a fun family affair. So it is not all independent. We lead and guide as needed. If he drops a food item, we might put it back in his hand to assist him. We do follow a basic schedule (more in mind than in consistent practice) as follows:

6-9 months -We start with introducing simple vegetables and fruits, served in their whole form. We serve one meal a day for about a month, and then increase to two meals a day, until 1 year of age, we begin three meals. Again, this is all based upon his needs and may change. I serve them as much as they desire and no more. I don’t empty the bowl or empty the plate unless they want it. I just give them as much as they need. Water or goat’s milk to drink if needed. He eats everything in his Bumbo Seat with tray.

Lunch/snack – Sliced pears, peaches, or steamed apples - served in the mesh feeder most of the time, lightly cooked egg yolk (watered down a bit as needed)
Dinner – Sweet potatoes, yams, squash, carrots, broccoli or avacados – we slice raw sweet potato and freeze it (as Nina suggested). To serve, we lightly steam it in a pan of water and then serve. For squash, we bake it in the oven and then serve with butter or coconut oil and salt. Avocados are served raw in small chunks. Carrots and broccoli are served in sticks that have been lightly steamed in order for the baby to grasp on their own. These vegetables are always what we are already eating as a family. I don’t make anything special beyond the sweet potatoes or avocados if we are not eating anything suitable. We adopt Nina Planck’s encouragement to season and butter it as we have it.

We add cod liver oil daily to his bottle of goat’s milk for the omega 3 and vitamin A & D content. Nordic Natural’s liquid DHA junior is made from all natural vitamin A & D and nothing synthetic.

9-12 months – At this point, they are usually eating two meals consistently each day. Lunch is based around yogurt, dinner becomes based around meat and vegetables. Continue water and goat’s milk to drink, as needed.

Lunch – homemade yogurt (sweetened with stevia and mashed banana or other fruit). Karis loved yogurt and applesauce and had it almost every day! I usually would combine a little yogurt and kefir together for a great probiotics meal.
Dinner – meat and vegetables (whatever we are eating!)

12 months + – Begin three meals a day, as needed. I add raw cow’s milk as a beverage at this point. At 1 year, we add honey as a sweetening option.

Breakfast – Soaked brown rice porridge
Lunch – Yogurt and fruit (as described above)
Dinner – Meat and vegetables (whatever we are eating!)

After 1 year, we gradually add in all the possible allergenic foods, such as nuts and other grains. There is no rush…we just enjoy food!

In conclusion, whatever route you choice, whether it be pureeing or baby-led weaning, I would encourage you to stick with the real food. Canned baby food is not only expensive, but it has been cooked to death (therefore, lacking most nutrition), and is very bland. Let your baby enjoy the real thing! BLW is a messy process to be sure but it is a ton of fun! You don’t need to get rapped around an exact feeding schedule or method. Just go with which route works for your family!

Here are some last thoughts from Gil Rapley’s book, Baby-Led Weaning:

Baby-led weaning can help to prevent the sorts of battles over food that are an all-too-common story amongst the parents of toddlers and young children and it can contribute to making family mealtimes fun for everyone.  In a nutshell, it makes eating the pleasure it should be.

… There is a growing amount of evidence that the way children are fed when they are very young establishes the way they will feel about food throughout their childhood, and maybe even into adulthood.  Obesity and eating disorders are in the news almost every week … Many of these problems have their roots in one (or both) of two key issues: appetite recognition and control.  The healthy development of both of these things is at the heart of BLW.

So much of the advice parents are given about infant feeding is still based on the abilities of three- or four-month-old babies and the assumption that babies need to be spoon-fed.  It rarely takes into account the natural abilities of six-month-old babies to take the lead with solids and feed themselves.  Baby-led weaning brings together what we not know about when a baby should start solids with what we can see babies are able to do at this age.

UPDATE (March 1, 2010): As we approach Titus’ first birthday I wanted to update to inform you that we took a less drastic approach to the baby-led weaning. We found Titus would consistently choke on his food when given in the whole form although he didn’t have a problem when I first started this approach and when this article was written. I am not sure if we were doing something wrong or if he just had a strong gag reflux. He did seem to try to consume everything at once, which also seemed to part of the problem. He would gag to the point of throwing up regularly. We decided to adapt our approach by using our baby food grinder but sticking with real foods. From six months on he has only eaten what we were eating at the table. I never made pureed veggies or fruits like with my first, but we did find it necessary to grind up some of our meals so Titus wouldn’t choke and throw up. He continued to eat many things on his own in whole form, including avacados, squashes, pear & apple slices, bananas, stemmed carrots, etc. But we had to avoid broccoli and a few other items. This has been a more peaceable approach for us, but I know others have done it with great success.

Further Reading:

Baby Essentials that Aren’t: Baby Food – discussing BLW in detail
Baby Led Weaning: Starting Baby on Solids with Finger Foods – article by Suite 101
Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby’s First Foods by Nina Planck
Baby-led Weaning - YouTube video

Have you tried baby-led weaning? What has been your experience?

This post is part of Fight Back Friday’s.

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

62 Responses to Feeding Baby Naturally: What, When & How

  1. Jennifer April 6, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    Hi Lindsay,

    I realize that this is an older post but I’ve really enjoyed reading it (and have a question!). My daughter is 9.5 months old and is sensitive to dairy. We buy Kerrygold cheese and though she loves it and can digest it just fine, she breaks out in eczema when she eats it. So for now, we’re sticking with fruit, veggies and the occasional meat. Our problem is that since she doesn’t eat much meat (the price makes it so that we only eat it about twice a week), I’m a little afraid that she isn’t getting enough protein. I’m still nursing, but is there anything else I can do? She can’t handle beans yet, as the one time we gave them to her she had horrid diarrhea (my guess is because of the fiber content). Do you think that nursing 3 times a day plus once at night is enough if she’s only eating fruits and veggies? I’m a little nervous to try the egg yolk thing because I’ve heard that babies shouldn’t have eggs…

    Thanks so much!

    • Lindsay April 7, 2012 at 7:15 am #

      Have you tried yogurt? It very well might be a different result. If she is still nursing full time, there is really no need to worry about her lacking protein. I understand that your milk is perfectly sufficient to supply all her needs up to about 1 year old if not longer. Eggs would certainly be my next choice.

    • Lisa April 9, 2012 at 5:39 am #

      If you are still nursing I wouldn’t worry too much about how much protein they are getting. My son also has eczema so I would stay away from the cheese all together and try again after 1 year. What type of beans did you give your daughter? Did you soak the beans at least overnight? Try giving her lentils that were soaked overnight and slow cooked, then pureed or mashed however she is eating her food now. Try mixing the beans with a food that is a known constipator such as bananas. That should help tighten the stool. Before you mix the foods make sure she has had them before and there is no known allergy. Hope this helps. Good Luck.

    • Carly May 17, 2012 at 6:31 am #

      When they say that babies shouldn’t have eggs, they are talking about the egg whites! Soft boil an egg & peel off all the white. I have a 9.5 month old baby & he has been eating egg yolk since 6 months with no problems! Course if your baby has a reaction then you probably shouldn’t but all the reading I’ve done says its the egg whites they can’t have.

  2. Shannon August 24, 2011 at 7:30 am #

    Thank you so much for this article about baby led weaning. This is our first child, and she loves trying all kinds of new solid foods. We started introducing her to solids the way described in baby led weaning at 6 months old. She is now 8 months old, and she loves the freedom of grasping her food and eating it! I also like the added time of not having to puree her food, and this is working out well for our family! I have a question about nursings. Do you take out a nursing when you introduce a new solid meal? Currently, I am nursing her 4 times a day, and with breakfast (yogurt & fruit) and dinner (meat and vegetables) as her solid meals.

  3. Morgan November 2, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    I just got home from the Dr.’s with Ephraim, where we had been discussing how best to feed him. He has been eating some purees but they’ve made him constipated. His gag reflex is incredibly sensitive, as it sounds like Titus’ is as well, so we’re going to just allow him to continue exploring with his mesh feeder and maybe add some more pear and avocado (to grease the track, so to speak). His Doctor is a self-proclaimed “Breastfeeding Nazi” so she isn’t in any rush to introduce food. I just don’t think he’s ready yet. And considering he’s 21 lbs, he’s definitely not in any danger of starving (Breastmilk does the body good!).
    I’m saving this post so I can be sure to reference it often. Thank you so much!

  4. Lael Gielow October 23, 2010 at 11:54 pm #

    Hey lady, thanks for the informative post! My husband and I have been researching best practices of solid food introduction for the past few months. Our first just turned 6 months a few days ago and let’s see sits up great, tries to snatch my plate when eating, and BF LITERALLY every hour except at night, waking no more than 2x to eat. I’ve read the benefits abt delaying solids and it makes sense to me BUT our little boy is a tank at 6 mo and 20lbs and my hubby wants to wait to introduce solids until 7 months because I’ve had to quit all dairy, spices, tomato/citrus and soy because of his horrible colic. Only recently have I been aboe to eat cheese, some spices and tomatoes like pizza or pastsa. So my question/concern is bc our little boy is showing signs of definitely wanting food now along with needing to BF every hour, would delying solids really benefit him or by 7 months should his system be strong enough for things like yogurt and garlic and broccoli?? Thanks so much!

  5. Simone August 12, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    I realize this is an old post, but I am just new to finding your site, and am just starting to research this kinda thing as I am expecting my first this fall.
    I hope this isn’t a silly question-but when you talk about grains being difficult to digest, does that include rice cereal? Also wondering if oats would be under the grain umbrella.
    Thanks for the advice!-Simone

    • Lindsay August 13, 2010 at 6:28 am #

      Yes, that is why I also soak rice to make my own rice cereal. Oats are the highest in phytates and thus the most difficult to digest.

  6. kelly July 21, 2010 at 6:36 am #

    just a random thought – although this is an old post.
    my daughter has a deadly egg allergy. we foudn out thru testing because she had a reaction to something else.
    mothers may want to consider that as they decide what to feed their babies. many friends encouraged me to give her egg (before we found out about her allergy) & i am glad i did not.
    just a thought.

  7. Debra Worth June 27, 2010 at 6:54 am #

    I’ve often wondered if bland looking completely smooth baby food is one of the reason toddlers don’t like food touching are anything with more then one color. (ex. steamed carrots with dill on it.) I just have an eleven month old, so it’s just a theory, but we do try and feed him ‘real food’.
    I didn’t know about not doing grains, but I really did think it was silly for it to be a first food since it was the hardest to digest. We started with fruit, moved to veggies, and then grains.
    Christopher eats best sitting in his highchair feeding himself whatever we’re having.
    He still nurses every three hours or so. (except at night)

  8. Amy March 1, 2010 at 11:28 am #

    Any thoughts on helping an eight-month-old with constipation? He easily gets plugged up and has painful, pebbly BMs. I am only giving him fresh pears, peaches (frozen, unsweetened), avocado, lettuce, prunes, kefir, and yogurt. I’ve backed away from squash, yams, apple, banana, etc., because of his trouble. I am trying to get him to drink plenty of water, but he isn’t crazy about it. So I give him a bit of juice in the water, but he still isn’t into it. I’m doing well to get about three ounces of water down him in a day (he is 17#). I’m nursing him too, of course. I’ve started taking a laxative tea myself to help him, which seems to help but is giving me abdominal discomfort. I haven’t been able to find much information about the safety of giving herbal laxatives directly to the baby.

    • Lindsay March 1, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

      I have experienced this problem off and on with my little ones as well. Time will take it away. Their little bodies are learning how to digest food properly and sometimes it just takes time. You could try prune juice, which is a recommended laxative. Try smoothies as a way of getting more liquids into his body as well. That always worked for us. Otherwise you are doing all the right things! Don’t stress over it too much…it will work itself out.

    • Nancy June 17, 2010 at 7:32 pm #

      My daughter doesn’t like prune juice, so we use pear juice, which works like a charm. Also, some foods are constipating in one form but the opposite in another form. Bananas, for example– a ripe banana is fine, but an overripe one can be constipating.

      Also, Morning Blend by Knudsen is great! http://www.rwknudsenfamily.com/products/simply_nutritious/morning_blend

    • Lisa February 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

      Try giving him a small amount of pureed prunes with each solid food meal, but only with foods he has already had to check for any allergies.

  9. Cara February 10, 2010 at 8:35 pm #

    I enjoyed reading this post. Our first daughter refused baby food and would not eat solids until we allowed her to feed herself (about 8 months). Our second daughter loved to eat, but we introduced self-feeding early on. We also set baby forks or spoons in front of them at each self-feeding meal. Eventually they picked up the utensils on their own. Our youngest is 15 months and she regularly (with little mess) feeds herself yogurt, cereal with milk, soup, applesauce, etc. with a spoon. Our first daughter was the same, though I didn’t realize it was anything out of the ordinary until our friends (who had a child the same age) commented several times on how well she fed herself at 18 months:)

  10. Krista February 8, 2010 at 10:40 pm #

    Do you recommend soaking the grains in apple cider vinegar or lemon juice if the baby is allergic to dairy? My husband and I both have dairy allergies and have avoided it for our kids since it seems likely they would, too. In Nourishing Traditions those are the non-dairy alternatives for soaking. Which one would you recommend for Baby? Thanks so much! I sure am enjoying your site! I also wanted to let you know that I found a great place to sample cloth diapers. I was going to do Nick’s as you recommended, then a friend told me about Jillian’s Drawers. You can try a combination of diapers for 21 days and send them back, even if they are stained. I was really impressed with their customer service. They even let me swap out a couple that I knew I wouldn’t want so I could try Happy Heiny’s as per your recommendation. One question on the diapers: do you worry about formaldehyde in polyester in diapers? Thanks so much for taking the time to respond!!!

    • Lindsay February 9, 2010 at 9:55 am #

      I would personally use coconut kefir, but apple cider vinegar or lemon juice would be perfectly suitable for an infant. Nourishing Traditions does not recommend the consumption of grains until the baby is a year old though, because of the difficulty to digest in their developing digestive system.

      • Krista February 12, 2010 at 7:33 am #

        I found this link for making cocunut kefir. Does it look like a good one to you? It looks like I’d need to buy a starter. Does that sound right? http://www.bodyecology.com/mcoconutkefir.php

        Thank you!!!

        • Lindsay February 12, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

          I have been experimenting myself with coconut kefir and that is definitely one method that you can use, but to me it is so much more complicated than is necessary. You can do the same thing by purchasing coconut water, or just use coconut milk. I am doing the coconut milk method because it gives you a yummy thick creamy kefir that is delightful. I am going to be sharing how to make it soon, but you really don’t need a powdered starter. They are more expensive and you have to keep re-purchasing them. Try buying kefir grains from Cultures for Health. They can be reused again and again. They also have a few recipes on their site for making coconut kefir.

  11. Sherrin November 7, 2009 at 1:52 am #

    This post is very encouraging. My baby is six months and we’ve just started giving him real food. I read about baby led weaning on the internet, and was excited about avoiding all the hassle of pureeing. However, when my baby gagged badly in the banana we gave him I wondered if I’d made the wrong choice! We’ve continued, though, mainly giving him pieces of steamed vegetables and also some stewed apple and yoghurt. I’ve found that he also wants to spit out the pureed carrot I made, so I don’t think the giving of whole pieces of vegetable is the problem. I’m encouraged to read that we could even be a bit more adventurous, as we’ve been sticking to plain veggies. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences!

  12. Katie November 6, 2009 at 12:10 am #

    I used baby led weaning with my daughter very successfully. I am a little concerned about the recommendation for using added salt for baby’s food-few experts would advocate adding additional sodium as it simply is not necessary and can be dangerous. Otherwise we had a lot of success trying different foods-and at twelve months she has started to use a spoon to feed herself yogurt, porridge etc.

    • Lindsay November 6, 2009 at 6:46 am #

      Real sea salt is a different story! It adds beneficial flavor and minerals that are highly nutritious in small quantities.

      • Katie November 9, 2009 at 8:17 pm #

        If you are using any processed food (including cheese or bread, which can be very high in salt) then the infant is very likely to get the 0.8g of sodium that s/he needs. Sea salt has exactly the same amount of sodium as normal table salt, which is the issue in over-salting. Plus babies don’t need a salty taste in their food-every taste is new to them. So for me, it’s a question of is it needed (no), and has it the potential to cause harm (yes) with minimal theoretical benefit (from the micronutrients) which she’ll get in larger amounts from other foods if she has a varied diet.

        • Lindsay November 10, 2009 at 9:54 am #

          I can definitely see your reasoning, but we don’t feed those foods to our kids until they are a year old, so a little dash of salt to flavor their veggies is good for them. They are really just eating fruits, veggies, and various meats before 1 year, so they don’t get the normal salt in other things.

  13. Jenn November 2, 2009 at 3:04 pm #

    Great post! My firstborn wouldn’t eat anything until she was over a year old and my second (9 months) is a total solid food piggy due to my low milk supply so it feels like I’m doing this for the first time. I did some spoon feeding with food I’d cooked and pureed for her at first, but quickly decided that method seemed more difficult than it really needed to be. Since then I’ve mostly just given her whatever we’re having and kept a few things on hand just in case she can’t have what’s on the meal plan. This has been a much more natural and easy way to feed my baby. I was accused of doing it “wrong” by several people (who have freezers full of homemade baby food), so it’s nice to know that there are actually people out there recommending this method of feeding and feeding their kiddos this way too!

    I love the Sassy brand feeders for when we’ll be out and about. You can refrigerate the handle to keep the stuff in the feeder cool longer and it has a cover for the mesh part.


  14. Jenn November 2, 2009 at 11:03 am #

    Glad you posted this. I literally just started my daughter on solids last night (almost 6 months). She has been wanting to eat anything she can and she can sit up on her own. Truthfully, I didn’t want to go through all the effort to puree the food. I think my husband is really going to enjoy this method of feeding! Thanks for posting!

  15. Rachel November 1, 2009 at 3:52 pm #

    My son also was interested in solids way before 6 months. He would look at the food I was eating and look at me (or/and my husband and his food) and scream. He would try to grab food off our plates at around 3 months old. He was sitting up at 4 months. Shortly before 5 months I would give him hard foods to chew on (he loved peaches and nectarines) and little after he turned 5 months he started “solids”. He eats both off my plate and “babyfood” but he eats Earths Best brand which is hardly bland and Organic, in fact I will finish off the jars for him…

    Does anyone know if I can give him butter or raw butter? I always want to add some to his food…

    • Lindsay November 2, 2009 at 1:49 pm #

      By all means, give him raw butter! That is wonderfully nutritious for him. Nina Planck talks about that frequently in her book.

  16. Kim November 1, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

    I want to remind everyone that, while this is a terrific way to introduce solids to some babies, some other babies may have legitimate problems with this method.

    My son has had trouble sucking/swallowing since birth and once we transitioned him to solids, he began legitimately choking. We had to take him to a dysphasia specialist, who said that some babies are in danger of loosing their gag reflex and swallowing food whole if the introduction of solids does not follow the proper progression.

    Please follow this method with caution!

  17. Sheila November 1, 2009 at 2:09 pm #

    We never read any books about this feeding method, but when we (I say we because I had a large role in parenting my younger siblings) tried to give baby food to my first little brother, he wouldn’t eat it. He’d grab the spoon and fling whatever was on it. Finally we found a way to get it into him — baby food sandwiches! We soon discovered he would eat anything in the world, provided he got to put it in his mouth himself. And he’d be happy as a clam scraping away with his two teeth at a raw carrot, while carrot puree was just something to spit out.

    So all of my younger siblings followed this method and had great success. Now they eat almost anything and are not picky eaters at all. The idea of parents having to push their kids to eat what’s on their plate is foreign to me … I’ve just never seen it happen.

  18. Julia November 1, 2009 at 1:18 pm #

    Hello! I have loved reading your blog and have used it as research for baby topics (I am 4 mos. along with first baby!) I am seriously considering using cloth, but am scared of the amount of work it is. I recently wrote a blog post about cloth citing your site as research…I wonder if you might have an opinion about my dilemma. Because I am quite scared of the amount of laundry, the smells, etc. even though the more I read about it, the better I feel.

    • Lindsay November 2, 2009 at 1:57 pm #

      It really isn’t bad at all. It’s all just your mindset. You usually have two loads of diapers a week…that’s it. Once you get started, you will find that it is actually quite fun! I love cloth diapering now and all my friends who were a little skeptical at first and have now converted love it too! When you use disposables, you still have to deal with poopies…but with cloth, you just dump the whole thing into your diaper pail and then dump it into the wash. You rarely have to touch the diapers at all, and before they begin solids, the diapers don’t stick at all. There really is no reason to be afraid of it all.

      • Shannon November 9, 2009 at 11:23 am #

        I also love cloth diapering. I was probably the least likely person to try it.(Just like I’m reading this blog for the first time and equally as skeptical of all this new information. :-) ) We use FuziBuns, but I’ve heard others are just as easy. Snaps instead of pins and only an extra 2-3 loads of laundry a week. The smells are something you deal with even with disposables. Check out http://www.cutietooties.com. It’s the local store’s site where I bought my diapers. She’s really informative.

  19. jessica November 1, 2009 at 12:47 pm #

    yes, yes, and yes! I never read these books but have totally done things this way with all 3 of my kids so far…and it works just fine. To me it was just logical that they would eat off of my plate according to what we were having and if there wasn’t much they could manage I would look for a few leftovers, a banana or just let them nurse. I don’t know about the grain part… mine always liked bread early on (from teething onward..we eat hard, crusty bread in france that feels good on their gums) and i have no qualms about giving babies honey either…vegetables always came in later b/c babies just like sweet stuff (fruit) better and unless you want to cook the life (hence the vitamins) out of your veggies, they are too tough. Avocados and bananas really are great allies for transitioning…one frustration: I NEVER seemed to notice any difference in nursing from when they ate food or if they didn’t…mine ALWAYS want to nurse (every 2-3hrs) weather they are 2months or 2 years!)

  20. Jill November 1, 2009 at 12:46 pm #

    Thank you for all this information!!! I will definitely be looking at those books you recommended!

    What do you do for easy, on-the-go snacks for a beginning eater? In the past I’ve used Cheerios, and those puffs things for babies. But since grains shouldn’t be introduced until 1 yr. of age, what would you recommend for a quick snack when we’re out and about?

    • Lindsay November 3, 2009 at 5:36 am #

      We use the mesh feeder and some soft fruit. Just make sure to cover with a good bib. ;) When they get bigger, we use raisins, apple slices, cheese slices, etc.

  21. katie October 30, 2009 at 3:11 pm #

    my daughter is 5 months and really interested in foods. we tried some pureed foods and she just doesn’t seem interested in the pureed stuff. after reading this post, i went grocery shopping & stumbled across these mesh feeders in the baby aisle. i had to buy them and give them a try! i steamed an apple and put it in the feeder. my daughter sucked on it for half an hour straight! i hope she really ends up liking it, and not just this one time. i can’t wait to try other foods! thanks so much for such a great suggestion!

  22. Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home October 30, 2009 at 2:59 pm #

    Good, thorough post, Lindsay!

    I read Real Food for Mother and Baby about 4 months ago and was really intrigued by how she suggests feeding a baby. I’m pretty sure that I’m going to lean more in that direction this time around, with less purees and more offering what the rest of the family is eating and allowing her to just eat what she’s interested in. I think it just seems so natural, and I’m sure that most mothers around the world have done it this way, without access to blenders and food processors like us in North America! Especially if they’re still being breastfed, you know that their nutritional needs will still be met.

    I’m a bit confused by the term Baby-Led Weaning in that book, as to me that title has nothing to do with this method of eating. Baby-led weaning (in my mind, anyways) has more to do with allowing a child to wean themselves from the breast when they’re ready, rather than when Mom is ready. Is the eating foods aspect only a part of what this book is about?

    I definitely like to wait until after 6 months to start feeding my babies solids. I prefer more like 8 or 9 months, actually. And it’s great to hear other moms promoting things like meats and eggs as first foods. They will definitely be among Johanna’s first foods! (And grains most certainly will not!)

    • Sara B October 30, 2009 at 8:38 pm #

      It is my understanding that “Baby-led Weaning” is a European (maybe British?) term – and they use the word “weaning” to indicate adding solids to the diet, not weaning from the breast as we tend to use the word here. HTH!

  23. amy October 30, 2009 at 1:31 pm #

    amen and amen! we loosely followed BLW with my son, who didn’t really start eating solids much at all (because he wasn’t interested) until he turned one. after watching my BIL/SIL do the whole puree thing with my niece, my husband and I were firmly convinced that we’d much prefer our way. what an unnecessary, messy pain in the neck! BFing exclusively for longer is easier, more convenient, less messy and FREE…I will never understand why parents are in a hurry to introduce solids. glad to see this informative, thorough post.

  24. KGR's Mom October 30, 2009 at 1:11 pm #

    I just wanted to add a tip that I discovered. I too froze baby food in plastic ice cube trays for my first 2 kiddos, but by my 3rd I couldn’t stand to freeze in plastic anymore. I now freeze almost everything in canning jars so I decided to try glass baby food jars to freeze in. They are just the right size and I could grab a frozen meal when we were going to be out. They aren’t water tight, but I was careful not to let them tip when defrosting, so I never had a problem with them leaking. My only advice is to make sure the jars aren’t touching when they are freezing. (This seems to cause them to break.) Once they are frozen solid you can move them so they are touching.

    • Gabrielle November 1, 2009 at 9:09 pm #

      KGR, I had a hard time with the idea of freezing in plastic too, and just try finding BPA-free ice cube trays! They’re out there, but you may as well do what I did, which is much more convenient. One Step Ahead has these great little 2 oz. containers that are BPA free. They’ve got screw-on lids and are so handy. They make homemade babyfood almost as convenient as store-bought. But the most convenient is definitely feeding your baby table food. My daughter is crazy for cheese, which is really easy to take to a restaurant, and the baby doesn’t get messy with it either.

      Thanks for this fabulous post. We waited until after 6 months, but I think next time I may wait even longer. I make baby food but I also give my daughter other items at the table, and she’d definitely prefer to feed herself. When she was 7 months (and looked 5 months!), other moms would be amazed that I could hand her “real” food and she’d just eat it. Most people think a baby has to have plenty of teeth to eat solids, but they just love gumming food. We were really surprised one night when we gave our daughter gumbo and she absolutely loved it, even with the garlic, onions, and bell peppers. I think she’s used to spices from the womb, from my milk, and now from her food. Many moms have a rough time getting their kids to eat anything that’s not pureed, but I really think this is a great way to avoid that issue.

  25. Jessica October 30, 2009 at 12:33 pm #

    Just to clarify, she didn’t start using the expensive prevacid yet, she started eating better on her own.

  26. Jessica October 30, 2009 at 12:31 pm #

    Really interesting post. My 4th baby girls is approaching 3 months, and have had some big feeding issues with her. I really wanted to feed this one ‘Nourishing Traditions’ style- unable to breastfeed, but feeding her a raw milk formula, then egg yolk, fruit, meat etc.

    Well, she got breastmilk for a week then started rejecting it. Then she got the raw cow’s milk formula and did just beautifully! Then around 6 weeks she started spitting a lot, fussing, refluxing it, and ultimately refusing to eat at all! We’ve been through several different commercial formulas, all different bottles, even medication. It got to the point where I finally just tried spoon feeding her the dreaded rice cereal and she ate it! She would start off drinking her bottle great, then stop after 1-2 oz, so I would mix the rest up in the cereal and she would eat it off the spoon.

    She wasn’t fussing or acting like anything was wrong. Just didn’t want to drink the bottle. So we finally decided to try a stronger medication ($80!) and she’s eating better suddenly. (well, we were standing in faith that she was healed) So now she’s eating very well and still eating cereal too.

    My plan is to continue until 4 months, then introduce the egg yolk and go back to the raw milk formula by 6 months. I actually enjoy making babyfood and feeding them, so that’s not a big deal to me. Last week I made MANY cubes of butternut squash and sweet potatoes for the future. My plan is to have her eating the way you described between 6-9 months. Thank for posting info about that book, I had been considering getting it.

  27. Flo October 30, 2009 at 12:27 pm #

    Thank you so much for posting this. Even though we are on our 3rd blessing, we seem to forget about introducing solids. Since we’ve also began a nourishing diet in the last year, I wasn’t sure what to introduce first. This has given me some good basics again.

  28. Brittany October 30, 2009 at 12:11 pm #

    With my first son I did the purees. During his naps I would steam, puree, and freeze countless fruit and veggie “options” for him. With my second, I tried to do this and was barely able to stay on top of it. Currently I’m pregnant with number three and was wondering if I would have to resort to the overpriced jarred food. This sounds like a practical and manageable method to try instead!! :)

  29. Marianne Campbell October 30, 2009 at 11:32 am #

    Do you still nurse him? I was wondering why you would give him goat’s milk if he’s still getting plenty of breastmilk. My son Liam is 11 months old and has been almost exclusively breastfed. I plan to start giving him more and more solids, but I hope he doesn’t wean for a couple more years!

  30. Jen Hill October 30, 2009 at 11:16 am #

    I always feel weird that I hardly ever spoon feed my youngest – he is now over a year and just now eating solids. It is like a switch went off the last few weeks and he is all over it. I never pushed it. Breastfeeding is so much easier and I just don’t feel the need to rush it. Both of my boys really took off with solids AFTER a year…it works for us!

  31. alexis October 30, 2009 at 9:13 am #

    This is pretty much what we do with our children. I did spoon feed my oldest, but he soon grew bored and started to eat table food. My youngest is 10 mos., and he’s been eating avacado chunks since he was 5 mos! I agree that nobody wants to eat bland food! My baby eats butter, garlic, onion and all sorts of spices. I think many people are just afraid to give these things to their children due to bad information from “by the book” pediatricians! My oldest was even eating jalapeno (in fresh salsa) and spicy buffalo wings when he was 2! I say, if your child likes it, let them have it! Spices/seasonings are not going to hurt them.

  32. Christy October 30, 2009 at 7:24 am #

    Thank you for this post! You must have read my mind…this is what we are trying to figure out for our almost 9 month old. He’s not too interested in pureed foods. I need to find one of those mesh feeders and see what he does with it.

  33. Becks October 30, 2009 at 7:19 am #

    Oh my goodness, my baby is so different from yours! James got interested in eating REALLY early, and he is a voracious eater. He is also just gigantic – he just turned 6 months old, and he weighs 20lbs. I wanted to nurse exclusively for longer, but I just couldn’t keep up with his appetite.

    James started getting interested in our food at about 4 months old, and wanted to taste whatever it was we were eating. We held off until he was 5 months old, and I don’t think we could have waited any longer: He was nursing every 2 hours around the clock, and I just couldn’t keep up with the demand.

    James is 6 months old now, and he is a big eater. He eats 3-4 meals a day on top of nursing (thank goodness it’s about every 3-4 hours now, so mom gets a break!), and he tends to eat 1-2 cups of food per meal. I have mostly been doing purees of real food because up until now, he lacked the coordination for finger foods.

    • Christina October 30, 2009 at 10:00 am #

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s babes like to start early. my dd is 9mo and we still bf every 2-3 hrs! She too is a BIG eater, but she is still not chubby. She loves her food. lol

  34. Christina October 30, 2009 at 7:08 am #

    This is a very good informative piece. Thanks. All three of my children started eating at 4-5mo. They were just ready. They tracked my food and ate voraciously. I think part of it is I don’t have a huge milk supply, my kids are always on the lean side. I started with whole foods too and everyone thought I was crazy to give my 4-5mo old a piece of banana! lol

    I start my kids on homemade organic full fat yogurt, as the cultures in yogurt digest the lactose making it easy for baby to digest. I also discovered avocados with my last baby ( currently 9 mo) We all love them now! I use Coconut oil myself to help boost the fats in my breast milk, but I was a little wary to use it for baby as it speeds up the metabolism, and they are already hard to keep weight on. What do you all think?

    Anyway, great info, love your blog!

  35. Liz T. October 30, 2009 at 6:59 am #

    Just curious, but what is Karis eating in this photo?

    • Lindsay October 30, 2009 at 7:30 am #

      We were at an African restaurant and she is eating some sort of flatbread that they make. No sure exactly what it was! ;) I believe it is made out of teff.

      • Christina October 30, 2009 at 1:16 pm #

        The bread is injera bread. It is made out of teff. It is the basis of most Ethiopian food. I love injera. I was so excited when I saw her eating it. I drive over an hour when I am craving Ethiopian food! If you have never tried Ethiopian food you must try it once! YUM!!!

      • Sarah October 30, 2009 at 3:28 pm #

        It was probably enjera, it’s an Ethiopian flatbread traditionally made with teff that has been soaked overnight. It’s delicious and as easy to make as a crepe! The ultimate finger food, this is what they use as a utensil to eat their other food with.

  36. Rachel October 30, 2009 at 6:51 am #

    Yes! This is how I have fed all three of my children. They share our food when they are ready. Oh, it has driven my grandmother nuts. She ended up giving up on baby food with my third here because “he just wants to feed himself all the time”. It made me laugh! Great validation for trusting my instincts :)

  37. Laura October 30, 2009 at 6:45 am #

    I noticed that you mentioned cod liver in goat’s milk. When did you start your babies on this? And how much at one time? I am looking to supplement my baby’s feedings with this, but have had a hard time coming up with just how to go about doing it.

    • Lindsay October 30, 2009 at 7:29 am #

      That’s coming in my next post! ;)

  38. Lori October 30, 2009 at 6:37 am #

    Thank you! My baby is 11 months. We started with spoon feeding but I soon realized she wanted whatever was on my plate and so began cutting pieces up and putting them on her tray (waiting with grains, thanks to the info from the book “Nourishing Traditions”). My baby is such a terrific eater! Loves things like broccoli, even. I am looking forward to checking out the books you mention.