Baby-led solids for a baby with teeth
We are planning to do baby-led solids with my LO beginning when he is 6mo in a few weeks. The book I read about it emphasizes how baby can "gum" sticks of veggies, etc, and get food from them. But my baby has teeth! He's had his two center bottom teeth since 3mo, and there are others visibly coming in right now. Does this pose any danger to BLS, or change the foods that we should offer him? Thanks for sharing your experiences!
Re: Baby-led solids for a baby with teeth
No. They are just telling you that because people often think it's not safe to give LOs food until they HAVE teeth to chew. But it makes no difference. The whole idea behind it is that before purees and jarred food existed, babies ate real food. And they survived. How is that? Because nature has safety mechinisms in place to help them survive. Their tongue thrust helps them push food out before they are ready to swallow, and their gag reflex does the same thing. And breast fed babies already understand how to self regulate. Teeth make no difference in the process. Which is really just for fun and exploration. But it does keep breastfed children on a fairly healthy track as it is usually whole solid foods they are being fed (which is the model we all should live by.) The most important thing is to LET THEM DO IT. If you set your baby up and he doesn't put any food in his mouth that means he is NOT READY. Don't force him. Don't help him. Just put it away and try again in a week or two. And once he DOES actually begin to bring stuff to his mouth it will still be MONTHS before he actually SWALLOWS anything. Because that IS the natural process. They practice. Getting food to their own mouth. Tasting it. Moving it around their own mouth. And in their mind it's the same as if you put finger paints in front of them. It's just a neat new experience. They don't actually associate eating solids with HUNGER until well after the year point. Because when they are HUNGRY they want YOU. Food comes from YOU. We started when my son could sit unassisted and could grasp things. Which was right around 6months. He also had two teeth. He didn't actually put anything in his mouth until July 4th which was 3weeks after we started trying. He didn't actually SWALLOW anything until he was almost 9months old. He didn't understand that he was TASTING THINGS with his Tongue until he was 10 months old. And by 10 months I was feeding him solids 3 times a day. It was a ritual. And one that he enjoyed and was excited to be a part of, as he was sitting down with us, but he didn't nurse any less. By a year I was feeding him 3 solid meals a day plus two snacks. The process to let that just progress took real diligence. It meant going through the process of trying only one new thing a day but still building so that there was variety. By the time he was 10 months old I was making sure that he had at least 5 solid different things on his plate at all meals so that even if he rejected MORE than half of it, he was still eating two healthy things at every meal. To this day I make sure that my child IS eating 3-4 different fruits a day and 1-2 veggies. Every day. By providing a TON of choices.
It is a process. But don't stress too much about moving it along or helping with it. There is a ton of projection around babies and solids and it's all false. A child who is watching you eat is NOT EVER wishing they could eat what you are eating. They don't miss what they have never had. They are curious. In the same way they are about shiny coke cans and keys. Being INTERESTED doesn't mean they are ready for soda or ready to drive. They just want to KNOW what the people around them are doing. Even a child who grabs at stuff is just curious. Those babies are usually just as happy to play with utensils as they are your food. So let your child navigate for themselves. Use French Fry shaped pieces that are easy to pick up and get into their own mouths but don't be surprised if it's weeks or months after you start trying before you see anything that actually looks like eating going on.