Have you heard of baby-led weaning? Not to be confused with weaning babies from the breast, baby-led weaning is a feeding method that introduces food to babies without pureeing or mushing the food first. My experience with this feeding method has been bitter-sweet.
I love giving my son a hunk of cucumber or beef and watching as he grabs, licks and gums the food. He is learning hand-to-mouth coordination as well as self-feeding. He decides when to put the food in his mouth. He is discovering so much, including texture and taste.
The bitter part of the story is the chocking hazard. While he can’t exactly bite off a chunk, he can (and has) broken off a piece large enough to gag. While there is a big distinction between gagging and choking, I still feel my maternal alarm bells go off and panic rising at my son coughing and gagging on a piece of food. It’s happened with beef. While he happily squished a hunk of roast in his tiny fists, jamming it into his mouth (and nose) I could tell he was absorbed in the experience. At the first sign of gagging we took away the beef and my husband fished out two pieces of dime-sized beef from his mouth. Could they have gotten stuck and blogged his air passage? Don’t know, but it’s a risk I’m not willing to take.
The next scare we had was with cucumber. Again, he was happily munching away (I suspect the cool cucumber is soothing for his teething gums) he started to gag so bad he actually threw-up. Not baby spit-up, but full-on barf. The baby-led weaning experts will say this is precisely what should happen. A baby’s gag reflex will work to prevent chocking. And I’m glad my son’s gag reflex is working. But the question remains. What if it doesn’t?
I continue to be weary of this feeding method. The jury is still out… Meanwhile, here’s the little tike with his beloved cucumber.