Purees vs Baby Led Weaning

There are seemingly endless choices to make as a parent. Breast or bottle? co sleep? Baby wear? Then when it comes to weaning,  traditional purée or baby-led weaning? As I wrote recently I think there is far too much judgement which ever way you choose so I am not here to say one way is better than another. Different things work for different babies, and indeed parents.

WP_001227With Monkey I didn’t know much about BLW other than that you had to start at 6 mths. Monkey was a big baby and I will be honest, by 4 ½ mths milk just wasn’t cutting it anymore so we started down the road of purées. I spent ages making purées during his naps and he scoffed almost everything we gave him (though he never did like banana!). We then extended out to finger foods and he ate everything we gave him until around 13 mths when the fussy eating began.

It is something we still struggle with at times now. He will eat most things but he says he doesn’t like things we know he does like and often refuses to eat his dinner. We have tried various tactics with this and most of the time once we have convinced him or he has decided to take a bite then he will eat quite happily. Other times he sits with the food in his mouth and refuses to swallow it. It’s like a psychological barrier and seems to be the most random of foods that he decides he doesn’t like.

I have heard it said that baby-led weaned babies are less likely to be fussy than their purée fed counterparts. Something to do with the fact they learn to chew early on (as opposed to a purée which just requires swallowing) and that they get to experience different textures early on as well as different tastes. Texture has been one of Monkey’ sticking points so the idea that you can prevent fussiness does intrigue me.

I will admit that I have been put off baby-led weaning in the past by some of the attitudes I have encountered from its advocates. Not all of course and I guess I understand that if you feel passionate about something that you will want everyone to try it, but a few such parents have gone a bit OTT and made other parents feel bad for their choice not to do it. That is not the fault of the technique but it is easily tarred with the same brush as the over preachers so I have judged baby-led weaning harshly in the past, which was wrong of me.

WP_20150425_10_15_26_ProNow, enter LM. At 5 ½ mths she too seemed to just not be as satisfied with milk anymore, so we headed down the same purée route as with Monkey. Though there are some differences this time. One being our experience with Monkey and knowing that we tried so hard to introduce tastes and textures to him but he still is a fussy eater. Two is that actually LM is already much fussier about which purées she will and won’t eat than Monkey was. The combination of these led me to fret a bit as I want to do as much as I can to try and prevent having two fussy children in the family!

But where to start? How to approach it when she is already eating purée? How do I even do it? Regular readers will know I got a bit het up about it and was over-thinking it a lot. But that’s what I do I’m afraid!

As mentioned, I believe that the same approach isn’t necessarily right for all babies, or all parents, and I think that is my biggest sticking point with BLW. I’m not sure that I am that well suited to the approach. The mess is part of it, though I can cope with that. But I am not the most patient person and I can definitely be a bit of a control freak, yep I know my flaws! So the idea of basically leaving baby to it to eat or not eat is really hard for me. As mentioned, LM isn’t satisfied by milk alone anymore, and the thought that milk should be her main nutrition for many months to come is confusing for me. Isn’t that why we start weaning? Because they need more nutrition than they can get from their milk at this point?

LM also gets massively annoyed when she is hungry if she doesn’t get food inside her pretty quickly. This leads to her getting frantic and screaming her head off. I have read that as part of BLW you should let them get annoyed as they are frustrated at their lack of skills rather than with hunger. But what if they are frustrated because they are hungry and can’t get the food in quick enough? I have quite a low tolerance for the sound of baby cries, especially when Monkey is chattering away at me too, so if I can help keep her calm by feeding her then I am going to. For my sanity as much as anything else!

With her reflux I do think it is important for her to have solids in her tummy too so that is another reason I won’t let her get frantic, or rely largely on milk, because I do believe she needs solids to help keep the reflux at bay.

WP_20150524_17_39_26_ProSo I have accepted that we won’t be doing the full baby led approach. We are using a combination of purée and finger foods with a variety of tastes and textures. I have read staunch baby-led supporters who say that BLW is all or nothing and that saying you are combining the two approaches is like saying you are a vegetarian who also eats meat. You either BLW or you don’t. And that’s fine, I understand why they say that.

So I am not sure what to call it but we are using a combination approach. For example earlier today she had some beef, sweet potato and carrot puree alongside some steamed vegetables. The puree filled her tummy a little while she explored, picked up and munched on the veg. She also had a go with the spoon and fed herself some of the puree on mummy-loaded spoons.

WP_20150428_11_10_00_ProThe ideal will be that this will only be temporary and that as she learns the skills needed to solely self feed I will feed her less and less. but in the meantime, to prevent her getting frantic and to keep me sane, we will do it our way. I have to admit that I love seeing her munch on a whole chunk of pasta or bit of cooked chicken. I love seeing her work out how to pick things up and get them to her mouth. I really really hope that by introducing all of these textures we may prevent some of the fussy eating issues that we have with Monkey… but only time will tell I suppose!

How did you wean? Purees? BLW? Or a combination like us? Do you have a fussy eater?

MaternityMondaysAnd then the fun began...Weaning Wednesdays Linky

18 thoughts on “Purees vs Baby Led Weaning

  1. We were going to try baby led weaning. One choking incident from Evie & I was done with that straight away.
    We’ve done purees since day 1 & tried so hard to vary the flavours. Sometimes she likes them, sometimes she doesn’t. The ones she didn’t like we’d mix with something new & she’d usually like that new version for a few days. We re-started combination feeding when she cut her first few teeth & it’s been great, finger foods for lunch, purees for dinner which have got lumpier since time has gone on.
    I think there is so much pressure on mums & dads with weaning & feeding. Bottle or breast. BLW or purees. I found weaning so stressful at first, but when I stopped listening to what all my friends & health visitors suggested, I really started to enjoy experimenting with Evie. I must admit I did get a bit addicted to pinterest & some apps to get new puree suggestions! Now we batch freeze Evie’s blitzed up dinners so we only have to cook them for her once a month. But she still gets finger foods at lunch time & breakfast. x

  2. We did a combination of both with Tin Box Tot and she loves her food. Sure, some meals she eats more than others, but she definitely eats enough. I didn’t read much about weaning because it kind of crept up on me. Sometimes just going with your instincts is the best way. If Evie and you are enjoying it keep going! X

  3. I did a combo with Alfie and it worked well for us, I cannot stand the mess of full on BLW like you it’s stressful so the combination suited us well and I think that’s what I’ll be doing with Elarna. Each to their own and I think it’s trial and error and doing what suits you.

    Helen – #MaternityMondays

  4. We are doing a similar approach with combination of puree and finger foods. I did find that she was having a big problem with small lumps until we introduced finger foods. BLW sounds great, but it is also way too scary for a first time mom! And like you when the baby is hungry we need to get food in quick. Fingers crossed she won’t be too fussy, things are going well so far except when she is teething and then she refuses all food!

  5. With the toddler we did a mix approach, finger foods and purees. I suspect it will be the same again this time but I don’t even want to think about the yet! Oh and staunch BLW say you shouldn’t even pre-load the spoon! I say to each their own :)

    Thanks for hosting #MaternityMonday

  6. You’re so right in tailoring your approach to your baby – one size doesn’t fit all :) we did BLW with Miss M from 6 months and luckily she took to it immediately. She loves her food, like her parents! We’ll do the same with Mini M when he’s 6 months old and I hope he takes to it too but we’ll definitely follow his lead :) great post! Mim x #maternitymonday

  7. This is such a controversial one but once again I really do think it depends on the kids. None of mine would let me spoon feed them for the first three or four months, and from that point with all three they had a combination. Good luck with weaning, it’s not my favourite task xx

  8. I would say we did a combination, started with purees, but very quickly introduced finger foods, with the second two anyway. I think we were a bit more nervous with our oldest! Every child is different, and you know best, do what you’re comfortable with x

  9. Such an interesting post. Thank you for sharing it. I was really all for BLW BEFORE I started weaning my boy. When I started though I realised that it wasn’t 100% for us…for lots of reasons…my worry about him choking, the mess tbh, the fact he doesn’t like to touch things!!! So we very swiftly (day two!!) moved on to spoon feeding then with both. I realised it was the baby led part of it that really appealed and I totally believe that you can be baby led while spoon feeding. We were very responsive to him and never forced him to eat anything. He seems alright for it! #maternitymondays

  10. What you’re doing is pretty much what I did with EJ Caroline and I’m so happy that I did this – it puts your mind at rest about the food going in whilst also giving your child the chance to experiment with textures as you say. EJ is so much better and less fussy than JJ now (although he has his moments!). Just today I made these brownies with sweet potato and neither of them knew what the ingredients were but they both wanted to try one. JJ said ‘delicious’ when I told him it was a chocolate brownie, then took one bite and handed it back saying he didn’t like it, whereas EJ just went off and ate the whole thing! I think there is a bunch of people who like to think of themselves as purists, but in reality, the best way for us to discover what works best for us and our babies.
    Thanks so much for linking up with #thetruthabout hon Xx

  11. I was terrified the first time and everything was puree. I am hoping I’ll be a bit more gutsy this time and try a bit of BLW too with finger foods. Love her little happy face!! :)

  12. We’ve done baby led weaning and it’s worked really well for us. It isn’t quite the BLW that I had in mind when we started – we do spoon feed things like porridge and yogurt because my little girl can’t manage the spoon herself yet and gets frustrated when she’s hungry. But I’ve never had to purée anything and I’m going on the principle of letting her explore food for herself, trying different tastes and textures and deciding for herself when she’s full or doesn’t want to eat something. We haven’t found anything yet that she doesn’t like (4 months in) although she sometimes has days where she just doesn’t seem to eat much. I guess that’s where it’s important to remember that most of their nutrition is coming from their milk, so you don’t get too worried about the quantities they’re eating to start with. Also everyone says that the mess puts them off but it is slowly getting cleaner now she can pick things up with a finger and thumb rather than her whole fist. To be honest, I don’t think we need to label how we’re weaning, it’s all about experimenting and seeing what works for our individual babies. #thetruthabout

  13. I think you are doing the right thing. I too was put off of BLW but I think this is also because my children didn’t want to use their hands. Ethan didn’t put anything in is mouth, a trait, until I taught him after his first birthday. BLW wouldn’t have worked for him. Little E was also late with using her hands, she started at 7 months and then just stopped it has only been the past month or so that she has cracked it. She is also gagging on purees so we have had to embrace BLW. She gags on puree but can eat a whole bowl of pasta with no problems!

  14. You are doing a great job hunny and combination puree and baby led is nothing wrong with it or going whole hog either way. Just go with what you think is right for your child and try not to compare or think how it went with your first. Each child is different. For me, B would only do puree and MM would only do solids and neither wants to mix it up at all. So I let them lead me. A fussy eater never grows up without or any different than a non fussy eater. I used to be the world’s pickiest eater ever and I eat everything now. Don’t make it hard for yourself thinking about it darling you are doing amazing. I know I put a lot of pressure with my first and it was stressful time. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

  15. Thanks for linking this up, my T & D had a combo of purée and BLW and I agree, every child is different and if one method isn’t working, go with your instincts and try something else.
    Thinking about it, I childminded two brothers, 3 years apart. The older one was mostly spoon fed and the younger (because his mum took more maternity leave) went down to BLW route. The younger one will eat anything and everything.
    But it’s very much done to individuals and no one should feel rail-roaded into something just because everyone else is. Breast v bottle for instance.
    Anyway… I’m rambling, thanks for linking up with #SSAmazingAchievements

  16. Pingback: Little Miss at 8 months - Becoming a Stay at Home Mum

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