As parents, I feel like we have so much to worry about. How to get a kid to sleep, or nurse, or eat, or learn, or talk, or potty trained. And there are so many techniques, so much advice out there. But in the moment, it’s hard to know which version will be best for your kid, which is why I thought I’d do this baby led weaning follow up and share what my two-year-old eats.
I’ve written on the topic a bunch, and if you want to go back and read my rant about people pushing me to give her solid foods before it was time, you can do that over here. I also wrote about a force-feeding incident, why baby-led weaning is good for development, and even that awesome moment when Harley finally seemed to find her appetite. You are welcome to read those words, but don’t worry, we’ll start from the beginning and then get to the update part.
Why I chose baby-led weaning
There are a few reasons why I opted for baby-led weaning. First of all, baby food kinda creeped me out. It’s expensive and smooshy and not something that I’d be willing to eat, so why would I impose it on my kid?
But I also just really liked the idea behind baby-led weaning. I liked that Harley would join us at the table from a young age, sharing in whatever we ate. I wanted her to be included in meal times, to have access to real food.
It’s also so good for her development. Babies are such blank slates, it’s important for them to experience as much of the world as possible. That includes the unique tastes of different food, along with their specific textures. Bacon is delicious, but I only really love it when it’s crispy. Ice cream is divine, but it has to be creamy and cool. Plus it works well as a developmental tool, letting your baby grasp the food, maneuver it into her mouth, and deal with that whole chew and swallow thing.
Finally, there’s the preemie element. It’s not something I think about much these days, but back when she was super new and young, I read a lot about how preemies tended to suffer from tactile defensiveness and other texture issues. Baby-led weaning was actually recommended for that as well, because they would get exposed to different textures and get a chance to play with their food before they ever started eating it.
My family is a dream come true. It’s exhausting sometimes, and lots of hard work, but so worth it. A #latergram from last week when it was still cold in Arizona (has since gotten up to the 80s Fahrenheit, 20s Celsius) and Dean and Har chilled playing Monster Hunter World with snacks. This is pretty much everything I wanted when I imagined spawning a person, and makes my heart grow bigger than I ever thought was possible.
How I did it
Honestly, I didn’t stress too much about the how of it. I read up on choking stuff so that I knew to pretty much smack her on the back if anything seemed to get stuck or she had difficulty breathing, but otherwise I decided to jump in. If I was eating something, I’d give her a version that she could easily grab or chew. So, for example, she loved pork bangers, so I’d cut my usual round of the sausage, and then cut it in half again so that it was a half moon, peel off the outside skin and let her play with the meat. It was big enough that she could hold onto it, but also workable for her to gum/chew it and enjoy.
Pasta I also cut up into pieces after the first time she tried to swallow spaghetti before biting it and she started gagging as the strand was down her throat and still sticking out of her mouth. She ate a lot of meat, as well as veggies, bread and even some strawberries and bananas. I didn’t let her have any sugary foods until she was a year old, and even then she’d occasionally have cookies or some chocolates but had a strong preference for salty foods like fries and chips as compared to the sugary stuff.
What my two-year-old eats now
Now, Harley eats just about everything, except when she eats nothing. She’s still a toddler after all, and sometimes she just isn’t hungry and doesn’t seem to need to eat. Other times, she’s absolutely ravenous and seems prepared to eat every single thing in the fridge. She loves chicken. I started buying whole roasted chickens from the store and then shredding the whole thing so that I’d have quick and easy protein in the fridge, and she LOVES it. She will often ask for chicken, and will easily eat a whole cup of the stuff.
She also loves cheese, crackers, chips, pretzels, cookies (and she even knows about Palmiers and will specifically request them). She likes mashed potatoes, but she doesn’t like butter on anything, so it can be a bit tricky for her with that one. She enjoys sweet potato and butternut squash as well as carrot sticks and cashews. She enjoys pineapple and strawberries, although they do seem to get stuck in her teeth sometimes. When she started school back in South Africa, they gave her porridge every morning for breakfast, and it’s something she continues to love every day. So every morning, she starts her day with a bowl of oatmeal, although I’ve started adding honey now to try and help with any local allergies, and milk to add some protein and fat to the experience.
In essence, she is an adventurous eater. She’ll eat pretty much anything if she’s in the mood. Food is a non-issue for her, thankfully. That’s not to say that she always eats everything. Sometimes she just wants popcorn or string cheese. Sometimes she isn’t hungry and won’t even touch her usual favorites. But I try to keep that stress-free approach to it all and assume that if she’s hungry she will eat, and if not, she won’t. Sometimes she finishes dinner and asks for a banana, which she devours. Other times, she’ll be too busy running around to eat anything. Either way is fine, because thanks to baby led weaning, I’ve got a toddler who doesn’t see food as a big deal.