This week I would like to talk about several things that helps your child being more independent at an early age but I have to pick a topic so I can focus and tell you how it has been working for us in our household.
When our baby daughter was about 5 months, she was obviously very interested in the food on our plate or in our hands so, after a little research (Montessori related) and talking to other parents around me I figured we should try solid food, she was also hungry and we were raising the amount of milk she was getting.
Starting with mashed banana, it was all good, she loved it. We moved on to homemade apple sauce and then slowly did sweet potato and carrot. She was eating really well, seemed happy but I had a feeling we could do better for her independence. We want to raise a great eater, who can discover how much food is good and fun and that it is also a social family time where she can be her own person and not depend on us to decide for her when she should it.
I had heard about baby-led weaning before and decided to buy Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett book: Baby-Led Weaning, The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Food and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater.
I have not been disappointed since then. At 6 months, Alexis is discovering food textures, food colours (I also love the book Eating the Rainbow from Babies Everywhere) and food taste, real food taste.
I was worried (well, I am a mom so it’s like a second nature!) about her ability to handle food once in her mouth, but as the book describes it, babies have excellent gag reflexes and they do not seem to mind the learning process, SHE LOVES IT! When she is sitting at the table with us, eating, playing with her pieces of banana, bread, apple or tomato, you realize it is worth it.
Most importantly, I think she is happy because this food is real, it leads her to develop skills at her own pace and she feels independent. She now wants to handle a spoon as well, so I gave it a try the other day, put some banana slightly mashed on her spoon and placed it in front of her, she grabbed it, looked at it and put it in her mouth like it was the most natural thing in the world… and she ate the banana from the spoon and loved it – her smile was priceless! I gave her THE INDEPENDENCE AND CONTROL she can handle and she loves meal time at the table.
I will not hide, it can be messy at times but with a good, appropriate bib and sleeves up, baby will just need a quick face and hand wash afterwards. It’s totally worth it and we, as parents, are respecting our child, her development and hopefully she will love food as much as we do.