Baby Led Weaning With Roma: Feeding Update

We’re officially one month into Roma’s solids journey and this girl can eat! Just like we did with Luca, we’re doing baby led weaning. For those that don’t know what baby led weaning (BLW) is, it’s a method of feeding your babies that is baby-led (they self-feed!) – there is no spoon feeding and no purees, you start with finger foods! You can read more about BLW and how we approached it here. Before I get into it, here are some posts that may be helpful:

Also, we took the Feeding Littles infant course (and toddler course!) with Luca, so we were prepared for Roma. I wouldn’t recommend doing BLW without taking the course! Use code INSPIRALIZED for $10 off! 

Quick disclaimer

I am simply sharing what works for my family and my children. What I do may not work for you. I’m not trying to shame or judge any other mothers who do things differently, I’m just sharing my experience. Please speak to your pediatrician or infant feeding therapists before making any changes to your baby’s diets. I am not a doctor of any sort, just another mom figuring it all out!

Roma’s First Foods

At 6 months, we decided to start feeding Roma solids, because she showed all of the readiness signs. She could sit up unassisted for at least a minute, she showed interest in food, and she no longer had the tongue thrust reflex. For her first food, we gave her a banana. Honestly, we were in a rush that morning, her high chair hadn’t even arrived yet, and I gave her a banana. She was very confused by it, managed to bring it to her mouth and then it broke and fell onto the floor. The next day, we were going to Florida for the Christmas holiday, so we decided we’d really get into feeding her there. We shipped an inexpensive high chair down there (the IKEA Antilop with a foot rest by Bapron baby.)

We started her on one meal a day for about a week. We started with breakfast, because that meal has great soft, easy, quick foods to prepare. She started with whatever Luca was eating for breakfast, and then I started just giving her leftovers from meals before, so she would get some variety. I didn’t want to just give her blender muffins, toast, eggs, oatmeal, and waffles. I gave her roasted carrots, sweet potatoes, avocado, and to my happy surprise, SHE LOVES EVERYTHING. Literally, there has not been a food she hasn’t tried and hasn’t liked. Well, she wasn’t thrilled about string beans, but she still ate some!

She took very quickly to solids. By this, I mean that she immediately knew what to do with a spoon and a fork (we love the EZPZ spoon or Grabease spoon/fork combo) and she ate the food without much waste! When Luca first started out, I remember him not being able to get the spoon to his mouth very well and food would go everywhere. Roma got it right away! When babies start eating more solids, their poop changes – it’s no longer liquid poop (because they’re only consuming milk), it’s thicker. And with Luca, I don’t think his poop really changed until 2-3 months in, but by the end of the first week, Roma was having solid poops, meaning she was actually eating solids!

What We’re Doing Differently With Roma vs. Luca

First off, with Luca, we used the 4moms high chair and with Roma, I knew I wanted something better. Luca is a very restless child, but he is especially restless when in a high chair. I wanted a supportive high chair from the start to make Roma’s solids experience the best it could be and so we decided on the Stokke Tripp Trapp high chair, which fits newborns to adults! It grows with the family, and I love the idea of having it as a family heirloom! Also, as a bonus, Luca has been better at mealtimes – he isn’t nearly as fidgety and he sits longer, doesn’t ask to leave the table like he used to, and he loves climbing into his chair he always says, “No help, I do!” So, there’s that.

In general, I’m more relaxed, less strict with food options, and Roma truly is eating what we eat, which is the intended beauty of baby led weaning. With Luca, I didn’t always eat the same meals as he did – I probably did this 30% of the time. Now, I meal plan and we all eat the same breakfast and dinner and sometimes lunch (well, Lu works outside of the home, but I eat the same lunch.) On that same note, I eat with them at mealtimes. With Luca, I’d serve him his lunch and not eat mine until later in the day. Now, I make a concerted effort to have my lunch ready at the same time as the kids (if it’s something different) and we eat together. This is great because you model the motor skills necessary to learn how to eat. Plus, how can you expect them to eat if you’re not eating?

And as I said, I’m not nearly as “strict.” For example, I didn’t give Luca jarred marinara sauce for at least 6 months into his solids journey because of the sodium content. With Roma, she got it in the third week! Everything in moderation and it’s hard when you have two kids to monitor all of that. If we’re making a pizza with jarred marinara sauce, I’ll make a piece of the pizza with a light spread of marinara sauce for Roma – that’s my compromise! And perhaps my more laid back attitude is what makes her such a great eater (so far.)

As for being more relaxed, I used to stress about portioned out meals in my EZPZ Mat – proteins/fats/grains/etc. Now, whatever Luca’s getting, Roma gets and that’s not always perfectly balanced. She may get all vegetables and fat and no protein. However, she’s getting such a greater variety of flavors and foods than Luca got, because she’s eating what we all eat! And I always make sure at the next meal to get whatever nutrient she was lacking back on her plate.

The last main difference is that we’re giving Roma more meals than we started Luca on. This is because it’s hard to keep her away from food! The only time Roma cries is when she sees food and she’s not being offered any! No joke, she gets fussy and kind of hysterical when she sees food! The moment you give her some, she cheers up and starts gnawing! It’s crazy. Luca never had that interest, but Roma, she’s all mama, haha! Right now, she’s getting 2 meals a day, sometimes 3, depending on the day and her last nap. I don’t want all of her calories coming from solid foods, they should still be from milk (that’s the most nutritionally crucial for her right now) and so I try to only offer 2 meals a day right now.

Roma’s Solids and Nursing Schedule

I had so much anxiety about the ‘schedule’ with Luca that it just stressed me out. This time around, I’m fitting in meals at least not 1 hour before a nursing session so that she doesn’t fill up and then not want milk! Roughly, it goes like this:

  • 7am: Nursing/milk
  • 7:30am: Breakfast (sometimes, this is a very skipped meal because it’s easy to distract her, since Lu is around and he can feed Luca while I play with Roma)
  • 11am: Nursing/milk
  • 12:30pm: Lunch (she always has lunch)
  • 3pm: Nursing/milk
  • 5:30pm: Dinner (sometimes she sleeps through this, sometimes she’s awake)
  • 7pm: Nursing/milk

Favorite Products For Feeding Roma

Feeding Roma Q&A

Here are answers to many of your burning questions that I haven’t already answered in this blog post so far:

What are your tips for doing BLW with daycare/nanny/caretaker who’s not familiar with it?

I’m lucky that right now, I am able to be with the nanny at mealtimes, so I can show her the principles of BLW. However, I did send her an online resource about BLW and printed out a sheet with basic safety guidelines so that she was prepared before we started BLW with Luca. For nannies, I’d recommend sitting down with with yours for at least one meal. Perhaps you can ask the nanny to come early and watch breakfast one morning or you can take a personal day and be home for lunch. Whatever it is, it’s worth it to put you more at ease. I would say that a daycare teacher should be familiar with BLW and if they’re not, I would send your baby to school/daycare with a lunch that’s easy for BLW. For example, don’t send them with something that’s easy to spoon feed (like yogurt.) I recommend sending simpler meals, like blender muffins, soft bread, and roasted sweet potatoes – foods that are easy for your baby to manage so the daycare teacher won’t be tempted to spoonfeed and gagging won’t be too much of an issue (no hard, dry foods.)

I am so afraid of choking! How do I get over this?

First off, if BLW makes you anxious, nervous, or stressed – it isn’t right for you! Feeding your baby should be joyful and if the thought of letting your baby eat finger foods instead of purees gives you anxiety, I wouldn’t recommend it as a method. Remember, not every feeding method is right for every family. For us, we got CPR certified, we watched all the videos on differences between gagging and choking, and we followed all the safety precautions when preparing our babies’ foods, so there were no choking hazards. Thus, I went into each meal with confidence. I wasn’t nervous at all, I was prepared. Plus, after taking the Feeding Littles course (use code INSPIRALIZED for $10 off!), I knew that purees are just as much of a choking risk as finger foods, so I wasn’t worried. I recommend educating yourself and that may put you at ease. After a few gagging episodes with Luca, we felt calmer – the first couple are scary, but then you quickly realize that our babies are just learning how to chew and swallow, it’s not choking. Oddly, Roma hasn’t gagged at all – maybe once or twice, but not a big gag like Luca used to do! She’s a daintier eater, ha!

How do you know the difference between choking and gagging?

This is another reason to take the Feeding Littles course, they have videos showing the exact difference between gagging and choking. But, basically, gagging is when they are turning red but making noises (they are just trying to move the food off the gag spot on their tongue, like adults do.) Choking is when they turn blue and they aren’t making any noise, because their airway is blocked.

How many times did you have to step in with choking?

Neither of my babies have ever choked on a food. Choking is much different than gagging. I’ve never had to intervene during gagging, the baby always gets the food out – it usually takes 3-10 seconds for the baby to work the food out, but they always do! You need to be patient and of course, don’t offer choking hazards!

How quick did Luca and Roma start really eating?

It took Luca a few months to truly start eating food, I’d say between 9 and 10 months he started truly eating meals. With Roma, she’s taking to it very well and already eating well. She doesn’t get everything in her belly, but she probably eats 30-40% of her plate! With Luca, it was 10% for a long time, haha – all kids are truly different. Also it’s important to note that “food before 1 is just for fun” and if your baby isn’t getting much in her belly, it’s okay – for the first year, milk is the most important food nutritionally for them!

I worry about iron intake. How do you make sure they’re getting enough?

Well, there’s vitamins with iron supplements! I love the Zarbee’s one. Otherwise, I try my best to offer foods that are high in iron, like strawberries, lentils, spinach, quinoa, whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes, cereal with iron, broccoli (Luca eats a ton of broccoli!) and eggs. Also, meat, but Luca isn’t a huge meat eater, so I look for iron in other sources, like the ones named here.

Do you do water with meals?

Yes! Since day 1, I offered water with meals. Just a sip or two. Feeding Littles has a great water technique for babies! We use an open cup, never a sippy cup (bad for speech and dental development.) The older they get, I allow them to drink more and more water, but I don’t want them to fill up on water at first when their tummy space is so precious! Luca is obsessed with water and Roma loves it too!

Do you give Roma any liquids other than breastmilk?

Besides water at mealtimes, no!

Are you nervous about allergies?

My family has no history of allergies, so I didn’t worry, no. Many allergies are developed because babies aren’t exposed to those foods! Roma has had every single allergen already, and I keep offering them: soy, dairy, eggs, wheat, nuts, shellfish.

What does Roma eat in a day?

Every day is different, we offer new foods all the time! You can see her (and Luca’s!) meals on my @inspiralizedkids Instagram account, I try to take photos of all of their meals and share what they ate and what they didn’t eat.

How long did it take for Luca and Roma to be taking food primarily?

For Luca, at 1 year old, I started offering 3 square meals a day and 1 snack. Around 15 months, when I weaned him from breastmilk, I added in another snack. We’ll see what happens with Roma!

How critical is the right high chair?

EXTREMELY! I’ve learned my lesson after Luca being a restless eater – he’s a changed man now that he has his Tripp Trapp! You can read more on why in this post.

Don’t they get distracted and want to play?

Not really, but maybe that’s because I am always consistent with mealtimes and mealtime behavior. When it’s time to eat, I sit with them and eat. I let them know that we can play when we’re done eating. Sometimes we sing songs at the dinner table, sometimes I bring little toys to the table if Luca is really resisting mealtime. I make the mealtime experience fun – we chat, we laugh, we’re silly. It’s a stress-free zone. I want them to be safe, but have fun so they look forward to mealtimes!

I’m struggling with my 6 month old – it’s a fight to get her to take the spoon. Any suggestions?

Don’t spoon feed her – try baby led weaning!

Feeding toothless babies solids – do they just gum it enough to soften/swallow?

Yes! So, a few things. Firstly, never offer a baby a food that doesn’t pass the pinch test – the food she be soft enough so that when you pinch it, your fingers can touch if you pinch hard enough. Second, babies don’t need teeth to eat solids! We don’t chew with our front teeth, so if we waited for babies to have molars (what we chew with), then we’d be feeding our kids purees until they were toddlers! If you’ve ever put your finger in your baby’s mouth and felt her clamp down, you’ll know that those gums are strong enough to pulverize food! Roma has no teeth!

How do you contain the mess?

Baby led weaning is not for the mess averse or the faint of heart, haha! I don’t mind mess, it’s annoying to clean up, but I have a great splash mat underneath the high chair (this one by Gathre) that wipes easily and the Stokke Tripp Trapp high chair is very easy to clean. Embrace the mess! Here’s a great article on why you should let babies get messy while eating.

How do you handle refusal? Do you offer something different?

Nope! I wrote this post on our philosophy of feeding – it’s how we’ll approach it with Roma, too.

Did your kids eat and nurse less when they were teething?

They definitely ate less, but I don’t remember nursing less. Roma isn’t full blown teething, so I don’t know with her yet! In those instances, I make sure to keep the babies hydrated and offer foods that won’t hurt their gems – like cold foods, clementines, breastmilk popsicles, smoothies, etc.

How do you balance eating an early dinner with your babies and dinner with your partner?

Great question! I always have dinner with my kids, and what I do is just serve myself a small portion of food and then when my husband gets home, I make us dinner and I eat the rest of my portion. Sometimes, if it’s something hard to “divide up,” I’ll simply just serve myself a certain part of the meal and eat the rest later after the kids are down. For example, if I’m making salmon with sweet potatoes and broccoli, I’ll put some sweet potatoes and broccoli on my plate, and eat the rest of the veggies later with the salmon.

Do you mute the flavors and seasonings of foods for your baby?

I wrote a post all about how I season my babies’ foods – you can read that here. The only seasoning I hold back on is spice, because if something is too spicy, it’s off-putting, at least for my kids! There are a lot of ways you can add spice to your dish and not your baby’s, such as sprinkling red pepper flakes on top!

What’s the secret to the picky toddler phase?

They won’t be picky forever! I just know it’s a phase, so I keep offering foods and do my best not to stress. Also, I like to look at the whole week of foods he ate, not a singular day, it brings me more peace. Kids will eat if they’re truly hungry. There are many nights when Luca goes to bed without touching his dinner, but he wakes up and will eat a massive breakfast. Kids eat like kings for breakfast, princes at lunch, and paupers at dinner, and that’s how we’re all supposed to eat!

Talk to me about salt

Too much salt can be bad for babies because they have immature kidneys, the organ we use to process salt. Thus, I just try to limit sodium as best as I can, without driving myself crazy. In the first 2-3 months of feeding my baby, I’m very careful with salt. However, I don’t measure milligrams of sodium. Simply, I don’t add salt while I’m cooking, and I don’t offer packaged, processed foods to Roma. For the first year, I am careful with sodium. For example, Luca loves Spinach Littles from Dr. Praeger’s and he didn’t get those until he was about 11 months old, when I knew he could handle the sodium. Also, potassium is a nutrient that helps block the effects of sodium, so if you’re worried about sodium at a certain meal (perhaps when you’re dining out), so offer baby a banana, cucumbers, potatoes, spinach, broccoli, etc. But really, as long as you’re not feeding your baby salty foods, you’re fine. It’s just one of those things, like you approach sugar – just limit it!

Has Roma lost interest in nursing now that she’s on solids?

So with Luca, this wasn’t an issue, because he didn’t really start eating until 9-10 months, but Roma has taken to it very quickly, and I have noticed she nurses less if the meal prior she ate a lot. So what do I do? Until she’s 9 months+, I don’t want her nursing less, so I make sure to make that previous meal her only meal of the day or at the next meal, I don’t offer her a lot of food, maybe just a banana or an avocado slice.

Do you toast bread when you offer it?

Yes, but only a little bit! I like toasting bread because it firms the bread up so that the baby can grab it and bring it to her mouth. If it’s a floppy soft piece of bread, it will wilt down and be hard for the baby to manage. I don’t toast it until it’s dark brown and dry, but I give it a little firmness. We use Dave’s Killer Bread or The Vermont Bread Company whole wheat bread.

How do you respond to others (family/friends) unfamiliar with BLW who question you on safety?

If you really want them to understand, give them some resources! Print out an article, send them a link, give them a book (my mom read a book, I think!) Otherwise, I don’t really give much thought to judgmental family members/friends (and my sister/brother in law were definitely judgmental at first!) I just tell them, “Well, with all due respect, this is my baby and this is how I’m feeding her, and you don’t need to be part of mealtimes if they make you nervous. I’m doing this safely, I know CPR, and I’m not worried at all.” Within a couple of months, their nerves were calmed and they were so impressed with Luca’s skills!

Is there anything Roma doesn’t like so far?

She doesn’t LOVE eggs, but she’ll eat them a little bit. Other than that, literally no! She’s a dream eater. I know it won’t last, because toddlerhood is a reality, but I’m enjoying every single moment and taking lots of photos and videos.

How will you know when Roma is ready to be done with breastfeeding?

I’m going to follow her lead and usually the signs are that they don’t nurse for very long at a certain nursing session, so you drop that nursing session. Rinse and repeat. In the end of our nursing relationship, Luca was nursing for maybe 5 minutes at nighttime before bed and then one night, I sat him on my lap with a straw cup filled with water and read him books instead of nursing him and he didn’t notice. I was 3.5 months pregnant at that point and I think my milk supply was probably dropping, too, so that may have had something to do with it.

Top 3 tips for feeding your babies?

1 – EDUCATE – take all the proper safety measures, take the Feeding Littles course, and be prepared so that you go into feeding your baby with confidence, instead of anxiety and worry.
2 – RELAX – it’s just food! It’s supposed to be fun and if you’re anxious, you’ll project that onto your baby and your baby won’t eat well!
3 – OFFER VARIETY & KEEP OFFERING – the more and more you offer a food, the more and more the baby sees it and becomes comfortable with it. The baby may not pick it up until month 20, but on that month 20, you’ll be elated and so happy you kept offering! Don’t get discouraged if your baby doesn’t like a certain food – they will eventually! For example, Luca still hates avocado, he’s never liked it. I give him avocado at least once a week! I’m going to have a literal party the day he starts eating avocado.

And that’s it! Hope you enjoyed this post – let me know if you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer them!

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Leave a Comment

6 comments

Shelby says:
So helpful! Thanks, Ali!
Ali Maffucci says:
So happy to hear that!
Anonymous says:
I really enjoyed reading this re Roma. I followed you when you did same with Luca and it was new to me. I am so happy for you that it is going so well with Roma!
Meaghan says:
Thank you so much! We're happy you're enjoying these posts!
Ohioren says:
Wow. I am inspired already. Thanks for sharing your story.
Meaghan says:
You're so welcome! Thank you for finding us!

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