As you probably know, we followed a Baby Led Weaning route with dude, so he has never had mashed or pureed food and has fed himself solid food from the get go, mostly with his hands. (If you introduce baby rice/porridge, purees or mashed food first, or spoon feed your child first then you are traditionally weaning, you cannot do a bit of both and you cannot ‘move on’ to baby led weaning that isn’t how it works. If your interested in baby led weaning please go check out this site or pick up the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook to understand how it works and what the benefits are) He ate exactly what we ate 90% of the time, the other 10% was usually only if we were having things like steak, were at a restaurant or because we were eating something higher in salt, then he would have a pile of veggies or our sides and maybe fish fingers or some pasta.
I honestly think taking the baby led weaning route is why dude has such good appetite and why he will eat pretty much everything at the moment, he isn’t a fussy eater in the slightest. I just have my fingers crossed that this doesn’t change as we move into the toddler phase.
Baby Led Weaning is mega messy though! I won’t lie to you, food gets everywhere and meal times often last double the time as he eats so slowly and the clean up is extensive, but I wouldn’t do it any other way now. We have a great stash of bibs to help at least minimise the mess as best we can. We use full sleeved bibs when we are out so I don’t have to change his whole outfit, but at home we are loving our new Bibetta Ultrabib with it’s little catch-all pocket. You’ll often see dude fishing out the bits he’s dropped into he pocket so as not to waste anything, hehe! This one is made of neoprene, its flexible and soft so its comfortable for dude to wear, super absorbent on top but waterproof underneath and long lasting as it gets washed daily!!
Now although there isn’t a specific stage 1 and stage 2 to baby led weaning (or weaning in general) I think introducing cutlery is the next progression from just introducing food, so I have termed it ‘Stage 2’. We started this second stage at around 10-11 months by allowing Elian to have a plastic spoon when eating things like yogurt pots, rice pudding, soup, pasta or anything with mashed potato or squash. Most of the time he wouldn’t actually use the spoon he would just hold it in one hand whilst eating with the other. But slowly he started to put it in the food and then put the spoon in his mouth. I would often give him the yogurt pot with the spoon already in it, so he started to learn to eat with it. Its still super messy as food is usually flicked everywhere but its progressing slowly. The main issue is he isn’t sure hoe to hold the utensils properly and usually stuff falls off etc spoon before he has the chance to get it to his mouth, which frustrates him and he resorts to his fingers again.
Now he is 14 months old we have introduced some metal cutlery in the form of Doddl Cutlery. This nifty little cutlery set is purposefully designed for little hands and to help teach toddlers and children to eat properly with cutlery. They aren’t just a miniature set of adult cutlery but are scientifically designed to allow children to naturally progress from Baby Led Weaning to eating with cutlery. The handles are shaped to encourage an intuitive grip which is more natural to toddlers. It makes it easier for them to develop their dexterity and hand eye coordination.
Elian took to them pretty quickly. Granted he still likes to eat 50% of his food by hand at the moment, but he has only had the cutler for the last 2 weeks. He very quickly understood he could easily spear food with his fork and get it too his mouth, and now will start off eating pretty much all his meals like this. The spoon is a little more difficult for him as he still tips stuff off it, but he is getting better at scooping since having his Doddl set. I haven’t introduced the knife quite yet as I think he is still too young to understand how to use it, but I know when I do he will have no issues grasping the knife and will quickly work out how to make it work for him.
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*We were sent the Doddl Cutlery set and Bibetta Ultrabib to review but all thoughts are my own*