Dr. Montessori spoke about it as “weaning” but this term could be mistaken for substituting the breast milk with solids so I prefer to call this blog “introducing solids”. I had no plans to introduce solids till Anika turned 6 months but here is what happened…
PRECURSOR- Anika has seen us eat for a while now. I often eat my meals, while she is doing tummy time and all her eyes are on how I hold the spoon, how my mouth chews and what I eat….Basically precursor to weaning is letting a baby observe how you eat since they learn through observation.
WHY- At 4 months something, Anika was in my lap cooing away while, I decided to eat a banana. She literally pounced on it, took a big bite and smiled. I let her eat a little more as a one-off thing but she had other plans. That night, she refused to feed and was crying and I knew why….she wanted to eat like us. As soon as I offered her something to eat she stopped crying and gave me her cheeky smile. So this was completely baby led but as pediatricians recommend its best to wait until 6 months.
SIGNS OF READINESS- Here are some signs to see for readiness, before introducing solids:
- Has doubled birth weight. Anika did at 3 months old.
- Has good head control.
- Can sit easily when helped in that position.
- Demonstrates the “chewing reflex” so baby is chewing on the food, instead of gulping and gagging.
MONTESSORI REMINDERS- Here are some reminders we follow while doing this the Montessori way:
- Starting right– so we start this journey by making sure there are no distractions (no screen, no birdies) while we eat/ feed. This sets the right foundation and gives child a message that food is eaten for joy and nourishment.
- Offer but never force- Dr. Montessori emphasized that food should be offered near the mouth but never forced, as it forms a bad relationship with food.Patience and trust that baby will eat when ready are important.
WHAT- Montessori way is mashed fruit and vegetable purees but if Dr. Montessori was here today, I am sure she would have supported Baby Led Weaning (BLW) that is offering whole ripe fruits and steamed/ boiled vegetable pieces. I let Anika try both the methods and she prefers BLW method so that’s what we mostly do. Here are the 2 most important reasons I advocate BLW:
- Helps in establishing the chewing reflex- cause large pieces of fruits and steamed vegetables cant be swallowed.
- Promotes independence- because babies can grasp the whole fruits/ vegetables and put it in their mouth much easier than feeding themselves with a spoon.
“During the weaning we should always remember to offer food that the child can take by himself, such as little pieces of bread, banana or vegetable, Of course, the child can also be given a fork and shown how to use it. Do not intervene if he uses his hands to help. The child watches carefully how we do things and, if we eat well, as soon as he is able to manage it, the child will be willing to copy us.” – Silvana Quattrocchi Montanaro in Understanding the Human Being.
FOOD- At present, Anika eats breakfast which is a mix of cucumbers + seasonal fruits. These days she eats all of the soft parts of the cucumber sticks + 1 quarter of kiwi fruit + 1 quarter of persimmon on average. She usually eats quarter of banana for afternoon tea. Dinner is big chunks of any 2 of the following vegetables- carrot, kumara, pumpkin, broccoli. I do sometimes make her mashed food with pumpkin + spinach.
“Cucumbers with skin on and cut in long thick strips are the SAFEST and our most favorite food for BLW.”
TODAY- Anika mainly nurses throughout the day and this food is not a replacement but an addition for her. We recently received our weaning chair + tables so I will set that up this weekend. Till then she has been feeding on my lap or on her high chair (triptrapp).