I was definitely an eager beaver when it came to introducing solid food. I was so keen to see Bowie eat real food and watch how she reacted to all the delicious flavours, and despite all the reading I had done, there was really only one philosophy I wanted to follow. My real food idol Nina Planck. I had immersed myself in her book “Real Food for Mother and Baby” well before my pregnancy started and had many preconceptions of how I wanted my baby to be fed. Strongly based on the philosophy of Weston A. Price, Nina is an advocate for eating real food and avoiding industrial foods. I too became a converted advocate.
I first came across Nina while I was studying. I had been dabbling here and there in various diets trying to work out what made my body feel at its best. I wasn’t really eating processed foods at this point but I still didn’t feel like I was bursting with energy every day. A few tweaks and I felt on top of the world.
Of course, I want my daughter to have these same feelings about food. I want her to know when she is full so she doesn’t overeat. I want her to enjoy a variety of fresh foods and flavour combinations. And most importantly I want her to know that the foods she eats will have an effect on how her body and mind works and feels. These are some of the reasons we decided that baby-led weaning was the right approach for us.
It didn’t take too much to convince Anu that it was the right choice. We watched videos to see how babies gagged and discussed in great lengths the process around getting started. Once Bowie ticked all the “I am ready” boxes at 5 1/2 months we let her try some real food.
We started with egg yolk mushed with cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, avocado, parmesan cheese, sticks of baked sweet potato and pumpkin, banana, berries and strips of beef and chicken. That was the first week and she loved every flavour. She was able to take the food to her mouth straight away and suck the flavour out but didn’t really digest any actual bites of food. She often gagged and boy was it scary. Especially the time when she coughed up mucous, but even then she barely blinked before eating some more. She developed a taste for strong flavours enjoying olives, feta cheese and raw spring onion. Nothing was left untouched!
At about 6 1/2 months old we discovered bowie was having a mild reaction to egg white. It contains a protein called avidin which is a common allergen, and in her case caused her skin to become red and blotchy around her mouth. The reaction occurred around 5 times before we pinpointed the exact cause. We held off giving her any more till she was 11 months and at this point, she did not react. With foods that show a mild reaction, it is best to avoid until 10 months. if there is still a reaction put off again until 12 months. If your little one still reacts it may be a long-term allergy and it is best to see a doctor for an immunologist referral.
I had wrongly assumed that by 10 months Bowie would probably be eating quite a lot of solid food. Her diaper consistency had certainly changed but she still wasn’t eating a great deal, breast milk remained her main source of nutrition. At 11 months she started consuming slightly more but again breast milk was her first choice. Bowie is almost 13 months now and I would put her food ratio at 20% solid food and 80% breast milk. We allow her to eat at her own pace, choose what she wants to eat and how much. At this stage she is not a fussy child, she loves fruit, vegetables, meat and healthy fats and she loves her mama's milk. We are not concerned as she is reaching all her milestones, has exceptional health and is a high spirited and loving little girl. We follow our instincts and trust that she knows what she needs.