VEGAN BABY LED WEANING
Our baby led weaning experience: Fun for all the family, but also the cause of 94% of all food waste
We like to keep our own diet healthy, which means Baby can eat what we eat without us thinking it through much at all. Indeed, Baby would not accept any other arrangement. Baby is also keen to get involved in cooking and cleaning, having seen both parents participate in this. Nothing is just Mummy's food or Mummy's job.
Baby's eating journey began with an altercation over a strawberry at 5 months. Baby noticed they had been left out while the bigger children at playgroup tucked in. We let them hold a strawberry and squeeze it into a pulp on my leg. After this we always had to give them something like a carrot to hold while we ate something better. At 6 months baby officially started eating at a family gathering, which made the event an extra special occasion.
Baby's palette is wide, and we encourage them try everything (unless it's very spicy, salty or sugary). They love seaweed, olives and sauerkraut, for example. If they find a lemon they will squeeze it over their plate because this is fun.
Baby has long been aware that meal times are a social ritual. We all enjoy eating together as a family.
VEGAN BABY LED WEANING
Daddy sawed the table in half and we all sit around it on cushions. This is good because:
Baby feels included but not restrained
We do not need to lean off a chair onto the floor to pick up discarded baby cutlery.
Plates do not break so easily when dropped.
Baby can be asked to lay the table and offer to carry their plate afterwards.
Outside of meal times, I leave leftovers or snacks and a drink on the table for Baby to take when they want.
I place a little tub by the snacks and ask Baby to fill it in preparation for going out.
Sometimes Baby helps prepare vegetables for dinner. I bring them over to the table where we can both reach.
At other times, Baby also helps with cooking or washing up by standing on a chair (supported) in an apron, or swinging in their carrier.
The table is also used for art and to rest a xylophone on.
Baby started out in an 'Ingenuity Baby Booster Feeding Seat' on the floor (it also attaches to a chair). Once they learnt to climb out of this they moved onto standing, leaning on the table. Next, they learnt to walk and disappeared for a few months. We didn't let it worry us; they ate from a buggy table attachment when on their travels. Baby has now resurfaced, and can sit on a cushion or little stool. When out at a playgroup or restaurant, they sit in a more conventional, more still fashion.
Baby's eating life began by playing with spoons while we ate, and cups while they bathed. Baby mostly feeds themselves, but er help too. We've always given cutlery as an option besides hands for eating. Our Baby gets a sense of satisfaction and self worth whenever they have the opportunity to learn a skill. At 15 months they have recently grated some carrot and spread hummus on a rice cake. Genius knows no caution.
In our experience, a little fork made from moulded bamboo broke. Some baby spoons are too flat and don't scoop up food so well as adult ones. Cutlery made from lumps of bamboo are chunky, which might be easier to hold, but not necessarily to pick up food with.
Cup and crockery
Many cups have broken. The Munchkin cup is good for both the table and travel. Baby also has a little adult cup with a small amount of water in, so that it doesn't matter if it spills. I can now safely have my own cup of tea on the table and am allowed to finish it.
Baby began using a combination of little moulded bamboo crockery which we were given, and things directly off the high chair. They now use the same things we do.
Home lay out
I find it very helpful that our kitchen, living room and dining room are effectively all the same room. Baby's toys and books are all kept there too. This enables us to keep check of one another when working on different things. Since we live in a flat, I am never far away if I need to get things done while Baby sleeps. Baby can easily help me lay the table or carry plates back to the sink after eating.
To eat, baby wore an apron with sleeves for some time. One tied with string, which was a faff but has lasted. The easier one had velcro, but this wore out.
Over the apron, Baby wore (and usually still wears) a bib with a pouch to catch food in. It is wipe clean silicon and fastens easily.
On the floor there is an attractive cork mat which is of some effect.
Beside the mat is a handheld vacuum cleaner and steam cleaner in the cupboard. These double as toys for Baby, and I might reintroduce the dustpan and brush for added fun.
Baby likes to help wipe the table and floor.
Some dry things which can be left in a bag:
Sheets of nori seaweed are light to carry. Little torn of strips dissolve in Baby's mouth and provide a source of iodine
Dried fruit such as dates and apricots can entertain baby for a while and provide some iron
Peanut buttered rice cakes with no added salt (peanut is not advised before 1 but we ignored this) a nice thing to crunch new teeth on
Plain adult rice cakes are fine. If you want them to be smaller just break them in half.
Dried green vegetables- broccoli, okra, kale
Nut and fruit bars (Baby has been known to try and shoplift these)