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What we don't like about baby-led weaning

Mar 31, 2016

Last week I told you all the beautiful things we love about baby-led weaning, and I can’t stress it enough: it’s an amazing alternative to the usual way of introducing solid foods into your baby’s diet and I would choose it over and over again.

But. There’s always a but, right? There are a few things that I don’t like much and just hace to accept. Here they are:

It can be frightening!

Especially the first days, expect gagging, red faces and big freights! According to the experts (and if you want to start this method, I recommend you read a good book or take a course), you have to let the baby learn on his own (very Montessori-like, isn’t it?). It might look like he’s choking, but he’s not: babies’ reflux reflex is much more to the front of the tongue, so while we adults understand food is going the wrong way only when it’s almost in the throat, babies start gagging as soon as the food touches a bit further back than the tip of the tongue.

The first instinct is to help him, but you have to wait: the best we parents can do is to be alert, smile (always!) and let them solve the problem (without helping them, sit on your hands if you need to). That’s what we did and Oliver learnt in just a few days.

It’s slooooow!

It’s extremely slow! For the first three or four months, Oliver wouldn’t eat much, wouldn’t try almost anything and would play with food and explore it (which is exactly what he’s supposed to do). Some days, I actually thought it wasn’t working for us and started worrying Oliver wasn’t getting enough nutrients.

But then I took a deep breath and remembered what I had learnt in the book: breast (or formula) milk is the base of the baby’s nutrition, and it doesn’t really matter if he doesn’t eat solid foods at the beginning. He’ll eat when he’s ready. Which is exactly what he did.

“I’m not sure I like it, so I don’t eat it!”

In those first few months, Oliver wasn’t very adventurous. Anything that wasn’t familiar, he wouldn’t even try. Sometimes it was frustrating, especially those few times when I actually cooked something special for him to eat—he would just poke it with his tiny finger and push it to the edge of his highchair’s tray to see it fall. What fun!

One day, I noticed that sometimes he refused food not because he didn’t like it, but because he didn’t know it. So I’d put a piece of new food on his lips to give him a little taste: often he would just refuse it, but sometimes he would eat it and ask for more.

I think our success was to never stop presenting food that he refused: little by little, tasking here and there, he’d eventually learn to appreciate it (he still does today).

Not very sustainable

Unfortunately, there’s quite a bit of wasted food! When a baby doesn’t like something, he will most likely throws it out! We’re lucky as we don’t waste anything: Colbie, our vacuum cleaner dog, cleans it all! But I realise how difficult it is for “pet-less” families every time we go to a restaurant and I’m having to ask for broom and mop along with the bill.

The situation has improved since I taught Oliver to “give it to mummy”: now when I notice he’s about to throw something, I ask to give it to me, which he does most of the times.

Too baby-led, sometimes

Baby-led weaning is all about baby’s autonomy, freedom and independence at the dinner table, which you should respect even when it gets harder. A few weeks ago, Oliver went a week refusing any food. I respected it, of course, trying to give him what he liked the most back then (mandarines), but I was worried.

The only thing I could do was to repeat to myself that Oliver knows better and when he’s hungry he’ll ask for food or breast milk. I also reminded myself that it’s the same for us: when we’re feeling under the weather—sore throat, stomachache, toothache—we don’t feel like eating either. It’s no different for Oliver. So follow the child, always.

If you liked it, don’t miss how to start baby-led weaning, or in other words our first day of solid food when Oliver was six months old.

Tell me what you think

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The blog

I write mainly about Montessori, parenthood, and multilingualism. Here are some recent posts.

Montessori
One day a few years ago my husband came home and said, "Why don't we put a mattress on the floor in the baby room? It'd be much more natural". "Never" was my reply. That's how our Montessori journey started. Since then we've been living, breathing and applying the philosophy at home day in and day out, starting from ourselves. Because educating children starts from the parents.
An example of how I practice empathy with my kids
How I show empathy to my children
Happy 4th birthday, Emily
Montessori New Year's tradition
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Audiobooks of real-life stories for kids
10k on Instagram!
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The organs of the body: workshop for kids
Kids understand if you give them honesty
Living sustainably
Living sustainably for me doesn’t only mean to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It means to make decisions that are sustainable for our planet, the people on it, but also for our life, our lifestyle, and our happiness. It means to take any daily chance to evolve and be happier, healthier, kinder, more responsible and more caring human beings—the only sustainable way for a meaningful future.
Face yoga is an act of self love
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The power of creating habits (and why you should do it, even if you then break them!)
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New to La Tela?
I’ve prepared collections on various topics that I’ve written over the years. Perhaps you’ll find one that interests you.

Travel

We sold everything to travel the world for two years. We're currently in New Zealand.

Books

In 2020 I wrote 4 books for the Italian collection “Gioca and Impara con il metodo Montessori” curated by Grazia Honegger Fresco. The collection is a project by Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

We also implemented the workshops of the last 15 volumes of the collection with Oliver and Emily.

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On my podcast, “Educare con calma”, I talk about various topics, from Montessori to sustainability. Only in Italian!

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Why La Tela di Carlotta?
I dreamed of the name La Tela di Carlotta. One morning I woke up and in my dreams I had created a blog named just like the American novel (Charlotte's Web). Many years and endless ups and downs later, this web of thoughts and stories is my work. It took me a long time to understand what kind of online presence I wanted and today I know: I'm transparent, I show real life, I don't advertise, I only recommend sustainable brands (and not only because they pay me) and I believe in the value of my blog and my courses—because if we don't believe in the value of our work, no one will believe in it for us.
Carlotta
Carlotta dreaming of La Tela
I know! I don't want it to be over yet either.