I used to be a dancer. I danced for about 20 years. I lived to dance. I went to a high school that had an amazing arts program and I danced in the company in school, as well as with an amazing dance company (my teachers were from Paris and Israel) outside of school. Now, I knew I would never be a professional dancer. I am not lithe or slender or willowy – words I associate with professional dancers. I’m curvy. Those are just my genetics.
I spent a lot of time as a teenager concerned with my weight. I struggled hard with food and weight, and never had a healthy relationship. I loved (and still do love) food. In college I dabbled with not eating and diet pills, still dancing. After college, I became a chef, stopped dancing, and still struggled with food and weight – sometimes working so much I didn’t have much time to eat and lost weight, or eating way too much and calling it work.
About 8 years ago, I started to make changes in my life. I exercised more and changed my eating. I cut out pop (sorry, I’m from northwestern PA, it’s pop, not soda) and started to focus on organic whole foods. I worked my way through different restaurant concepts, started writing about food, got married, and had a baby. My perspective about food changed from restrictive to moderation.
An article just came out with a study conducted in New Zealand that potentially found that doing baby-led weaning doesn’t necessarily keep kids from developing childhood obesity. For me, starting my daughter with baby-led weaning, is about teaching her to have a healthy relationship with food from day one, plain and simple.
- I want my kids to grow up with a healthy relationship to food. Moderation. Learning that eating a cookie is fine, just as is eating a salad.
- I want them to eat everything, and I don’t want to deal with picky eaters. We keep offering everything, even if our daughter never touches it. She always surprises me. On time 28 of offering something, she tries it, likes it and eats all of it. Baby-led weaning isn’t a guarantee they won’t become picky at some point, but I love Megan and Judy’s approach (from Feeding Littles – linked below) in their BLW course and their toddler course of continuing to offer foods even if a child rejects them (this is for exposure only, not force feeding a child to try the food). Plus, I don’t believe in the kid’s menu. Our kids don’t need to eat the carb fest of nastiness that are most kids’ menus. Let them eat what we eat!
- I want them to keep that natural intuition that says “Hey, I’m full” and then they stop eating. We were urged to clean our plates as kids. Our parents were urged to clean their plates as kids, and their parents went through the Great Depression, where food was scarce. I get it. My grandpa used to tell my mom, “It’s better to throw it up than throw it out.” But my husband and I eat until we are stuffed, and while I try to teach my body to stop when full, I want this to be natural for my kids. With adult-led spoon feeding, we tend to over feed babies. Just …“One more bite.”
- I want eating and feeding to be easier, as in one meal for everyone, but in different ways. For kids just starting on BLW food is recommended to be in strips and be super soft. I would just cook my daughters veggies a little longer, so they were soft enough, and we would make sure it was something she could grab. We also did pre-loaded spoons (typically NumNum GOOtensils).
This isn’t for everyone, and I did get push back from some of my family members about doing this. I don’t care. My goal is a healthy, happy kid who has a healthy relationship with food, and this is the method that feels right to me and my husband. There are so many problems and struggles in life; I don’t want the simple act of nourishing your body to be included in that.
Please, if you are thinking about this method, I highly recommend Feeding Littles and their BLW class. They also have a great Toddler Course, that focuses on keeping or helping get your toddler away from picky eating. Bottom line, do what works for you. All of our journeys as parents are different.