I started baby-led weaning (BLW) with Emma about a month ago. She was a few weeks shy than 6 months. What a wonderful thing to see!
At first she just play with the food, feeling the textures. Putting it into her mouth, of course, but we knew she never actually ate it. Until a few days ago when she just turned 6 months. I started to notice her swallowing. Sometimes her face look funny as she experienced the swallowing process. But after a couple of seconds she went for more.
She also looked like she was gagging a few times. Then the food came out of her mouth safely. She was not choking, because choking means no air and so she won't make a sound. The gagging was actually a good reflex that sends the food out. Just like the book (above) says, that the gagging reflex on the baby's tongue is located near the front, not near the throat like adults. Nevertheless, I was holding my breath every time she seemed to be gagging. But tonight, she didn't gag anymore.
I say, what a find this book is!
My family are loving the results of me reading the book. Even the elder brother (10) read some parts to better assist me. We enjoy eating meals together. Three times a day during the holidays because big koko don't have to rush to school.
I get to eat my food instead of spoon-feeding her. In fact the less obvious attention we pay to her, the better for her to enjoy the meal.
In these early days, before she is one year old, meals will continue to be more play and less duty to eat.
I love steaming vegetables for her. Broccoli, snow peas and sweet potatoes are her favorite! As long as they're cut in a shape that will help her hold around that chubby little hand. Also fruits like bananas, apples, pears, whatever we have at the meal, we try to share with her. As long as it is not high in sugar and salt. I gave her slices of hamburger steak and chicken also, when I happen to cook or buy them. She tried a slice of char siew last night. I know I bought it from the food court, but I used my judgment. She loved it. She sucked on it almost the whole time.
Before she turned 6 months, we took her for holiday in a foreign country. We had lunch at the poolside because her brother was swimming. She sucked for 20 minutes on a piece of chicken wing (I took away the skin).
At the breakfast buffet she devoured pieces of cold turkey, salami, cheese and tomatoes. By devouring I mean trying them out, sucking them, gnawing at them, not necessarily swallowing them. Babies get a lot of goodness from sucking it only, anyway.
So it has been a great ride, and a very satisfying one. I knew the great idea of letting the baby feed herself would work and I couldn't wait to try it. But still I am pleasantly surprised that it really worked. It really works splendidly.
Of course the cleaning of the high chair and the surrounding area after every meal is more than usual. But with a 10 year old elder brother at hand, BLW is a lot more enjoyable (wink!). I just invest in a very nice, easy to clean Ikea high chair, and that's it.
Most importantly, Emma enjoys every meal time with us. I could tell she loves discovering the new tastes and textures, not only with her mouth but also with her hands. She's just loving it. She really bonds with the whole family over the meal. Perfect.