We have chosen to totally skip baby food all together with Elliotte. She got some oatmeal when we started and she loved it, but that was the extent of her being spoon fed. We chose to do baby led weaning rather than traditional purees. I did a lot of researching before I decided to take this route, but it has been so great! Basically, Elli is in complete control of her own eating. I don't feed her therefore, she decides what she wants and how much. She gets to explore food in its real texture and taste. Whatever we eat, she gets also.
It took Elli a while to figure out how to pick things up and what to do with it. There was no rush. She literally just played with her food for the first week or so. She would maybe get a taste and then make a horrible face. She is now over a month into it and we are so impressed with her eating. She loves picking up her food and munching away. She only has two teeth, but they are not necessary. Babies have incredible gumming powers.
I've also been asked, "Won't she choke?" We have had LOTS of gagging, but no choking. This is one of the reasons I decided to go for it. Babies actually have a gag reflex very close to the front of their mouth. Therefore, they don't let big pieces get very far back before they are gagging. Once they get closer to a year when traditional feeding starts to introduce bigger pieces that gag reflex has moved much farther back, increasing choking risk. Even if Elli starts gagging I do not rush in and swipe food from her mouth as I did with Addy. I just sit and watch, but allow her to spit it out herself.
spaghetti squash with meatballs
Baby led weaning experts claim that it will help make children less picky when it comes to food. They won't have textures issues because they have been introduced to real textures from the beginning. I don't know that it would really work for every kid, but I must say that Elli is a great eater and will try anything. Some of her current favorites are chicken, avocado, banana, strawberry, mushrooms, peanut butter toast.
Baby led weaning also supports new research that shows that holding off on certain foods definitely does not decrease the risk of allergy, and may increase that risk if withheld. We have given Elli all the typical no-no foods: Strawberries, eggs, peanut butter, etc. Nothing is off limits except honey until 1. (Of course, if a family history of allergies were an issue I would have different feelings)
Not every night is a success. I was so excited about buying and making corn on the cob because I just knew she would love it. She liked it maybe twice and much preferred chewing on the handles on either end. That's the part that is hard as adults is feeling like they aren't getting enough food. However, food is for fun before one. They don't need the calories. She is getting plenty enough nutrients from breastmilk, so I don't worry at all if its a night she doesn't want to eat.
I would be happy to answer any other questions about doing baby led weaning. I am by no means an expert, but I have loved exploring it! It's all about allowing the baby to take control of their food and enjoy the same textures and tastes of foods we eat. It's important to stay mindful of salt and sugar amounts, but other seasonings are perfectly fine. Elli prefers her chicken with a little Cajun seasoning!