Baby Led Weaning – The Basics & Tips


I didn’t know too much about baby led weaning when my first was born. I was a new mom and ended up getting overly excited about solid foods. I hastily offered her puréed food from a jar shortly after she hit 4 months old.

But for my second, I was all on board the baby led weaning train. Especially since he was my first to be exclusively breastfed. I knew from the start that we wouldn’t be touching solids for him until 6+ months. And just until he was overall ready for it. I even had to remind myself that reaching/grabbing for my food was a natural reflex and did not mean he was ready.

Once he was 6.5 months old and sitting up completely unassisted, I decided it was time to give it a go. His first baby led weaning meal was long slices of avocado. Easy to grip, easy to chew for a toothless baby, and full of healthy fats/good stuff. Below is a picture of Jensen eating that first “real” meal!


I post a lot of Jensen’s meals on my Instagram/Facebook and I’ll be answering some of the main questions I receive with this blog post. Plus adding other tips along the way.

1. What are some good foods for a baby new to solids?

As I stated earlier, I started Jensen with avocado slices. Other things he had early on: scrambled eggs (once an allergy is ruled out), boiled and shredded chicken, over cooked noodles, flakey fish, ground beef (I add a bit of taco seasonings), steamed soft veggies (easily mushed with a fork or between your thumb and finger), blueberries, sliced grapes (never whole!), and basically anything else that doesn’t require teeth to properly chew and isn’t a choking hazard.

Tip: At first your baby may only appear to play with their food. Or may chew it up and spit it back out or even gag a bit. This is normal. It takes time for the swallowing part of solid food learning to happen. It was about 12 days before Jensen truly ate his first bit of a meal.


2. When do you think my baby will be ready for solids?

I like to answer this one with the signs I look for as being ready. I wanted Jensen to be sitting up fully unsupported, over 6 months old (adjusted age), and able to move food from the tray to his mouth on his own. Reaching out for your food while you’re eating is not a sign of being ready. It’s a natural reflex of curiosity. It’s also good to note that teeth are not a requirement to begin baby led weaning. Jensen didn’t even have a first tooth until 11 months old.

Tip: I’ve always stuck to the motto of “Food before one is just for fun“. This means that food is really a learning process while baby is under one. Breastmilk or formula still needs to be their #1 source of nutrients. Always offer the breast or bottle before meals. It’s also good to remember that you don’t have to be giving 3 meals a day plus snacks at this age. Some days your baby may not even eat any solids, others they may eat more than you expect. There’s no pressure on you to get them eating solids on an adult schedule.


3. Do I need to cook a special meal for my baby? 

Majority of the time, probably not. Unless maybe you’re having inferno firey hot chicken or super salted ribeye steaks solo for dinner. I usually gave Jensen a deconstructed version of my dinner. No added salt or seasonings, shredded or cut up into baby bite sized pieces, and soft enough for him to manage on his own. I also love quick meals for my kids and often use frozen veggies that I’ve steamed warm in the microwave. You don’t have to stress yourself to give your baby all organic/fresh foods, unless you just really prefer it that way.

Tip: You don’t have to fully skip puréed food, but I would avoid “baby cereal”. Baby led weaning is mostly about baby learning to self feed solid foods, but I think it’s still good for them to experiment with other textures. I still give Jensen purée food pouches when we go out and about, since it’s easy to keep them in my purse. You can make them yourself or there’s plenty of  brands to pick from  I personally love Happy Baby clear pouches (as does Jensen). I also give him apple sauce or other purées in his Replay Recycled plate and let him use the GOOtensil from NumNum to feed himself. Or he just dives straight in with his hands…


4. Is it always this messy?!

In the beginning, most likely yes. Actually, even my nearly 3 year old is pretty messy most days. I try to just embrace the mess as part of the learning experience. I usually begin BLW by just putting baby in the high chair in only a diaper. It saves me a bit of laundry and makes for easier cleanup. I’ve never seen much need for a bib unless baby can’t be nearly naked, like eating in public. Starting solids does make dining out a bit challenging and/or embarrassing though. I sometimes try to put a napkin down under the high chair and do my best to keep the mess contained. It’s totally normal for baby to treat their food like tiny missles or finger paints.

Tip: The meal for baby doesn’t have to be large. I prefer to give a few small pieces of 2-4 different meal items on the tray. It gives baby a choice on what they would like to try. There’s no pressure for them to eat all of it though, let it be a laid back learning process.


5. Yesterday my baby loved *insert food*, but now they won’t touch it. Why is that?

Both of my toddlers are masters of this. One day Leona will love mac-n-cheese, and then suddenly she acts like I’ve tried to poison her with it a week later.  Jensen used to love corn, but now he rarely touches it. Just like adults, babies have fluctuating moods for what type of food they want. That’s one reason I always offer several things so that they can chose what they want. It also may take upwards of 15-20x putting a certain food in front of your baby before they’ll try it. Patience and persistence goes a long way to establishing a balanced diet.

Tip: No two babies will be the same when it comes to the weaning process. Leona is super picky, hardly tries new foods, and doesn’t eat majority of what is put in front of her. Jensen is like a garage disposal and will eat everything in sight most days. Just do whatever works best for your current baby. And each meal doesn’t have to be a full variety of the food groups. I just try to make sure every group is used at least once in a full day, once baby is eating 2-3 meals a day.

If you have any other baby led weaning questions, feel free to comment here or PM me on Instagram (@mommasmithx2) and I’ll be happy to answer as best I can!

Products used in pictures: EZPZ fun mini mat, NumNum GOOtensil, Replay Recycled plate and utensils, all of which I love greatly!



Tips to make Traveling with Toddlers less Stressful


Traveling with a toddler is both super exciting and extremely stressful to even think about. Or just plain stressful! Especially if the travel isn’t for leisure. Necessity some times brings about spontaneous trips even more than planned ones.

When I travel, I usually do it with two toddlers! And no other adult help at all. My only companions being my nearly 15 month old son and almost 3 year old daughter. My husband works a lot, so most of our leisure travel sadly doesn’t include him. He knew when we started dating that I had a major wanderlust and that it wouldn’t stop even when kids came along. I didn’t really picture traveling with kids to be stressful, but as a challenge I looked forward to tackling head on.


For both of the kids, I went on the first road trips within 2 weeks of their births. 9 days old for Leona and 14 days old for Jensen! Leona’s first trip was down to Biloxi with my mom to visit family and Jensen’s was to East Tennessee on my own to see my father.

Thankfully, newborns usually sleep majority of the ride. Just stopping to nurse on demand, allow momma to pee, and load up on calories to support my regulating milk supply. The real challenge came when they became mobile!

So, here are some helpful tips to make things a bit less stressful, and help you prepare for your adventures with your growing family. Travel doesn’t have to be terrible for anyone involved! Making memories with my children is what I live for. These go beyond the basics of “what to pack”.

1. If you think you have enough wipes/diapers/clothes, pack even more

Seriously. Pack double the amount of wipes you normally would use in a day, per each day you’ll be traveling. Wipes aren’t just for diaper changes or potty learning accidents. They’re also great for wiping faces, cleaning hands, and quickly wiping off a foreign place your child will be touching. Pack ALL the wipes!

A second and third part to this one: pack 1-2 days extra worth of diapers than what you think you’ll need. You never know when plans will be extended or if a sudden need for more diapers will arise. And pack 1-2 extra changes of clothes too. My kids tend to be extra messy while eating on trips.

2. Make sure your plans include breaks

Remember the care free days of traveling alone or with your partner? How you could easily drive straight through a road trip without more than a quick bathroom break? Even having one child, it will slow you down some. Plan your road trip or flight connections so that you have plenty of time to move at a slower pace. Plenty of times for grabbing a quick snack, stretching legs, seeing local sites, and other miscellaneous things. Unless you’re driving at night while the little one(s) sleep, then they’ll likely need freedom from their car seat prisons at least every 2-3 hours. And there’s only so many times I can hear ‘wheels on the bus’ before I’ll go insane.

3. Three Words: “Portable DVD Player” (or other video playing devices)

Whether it’s a plug-in DVD player for the vehicle or a battery powered one for the flight with head phones, I promise these will make the trip much easier for your toddler. Especially when loaded up with their favorite DVD.

A good alternative would be downloaded videos on your phone/tablet and putting them in guided access mode (where a toddler clicking the home button won’t exit out). To enable guided access on an Apple product, rapidly click the home button 3x in a row. You’ll need a password to end guided access (again by triple clicking the home button).

Netflix also now has a wide variety of things you can download while on wifi and watch even when you’re not connected to the internet.

4. Mess-free snacks

My go-to item for this: freeze dried apples. Super easy to open, hand behind me to a backseat passenger, and not worry to much about the cleanup at our next stop. Also easy to store in your carry-on bag for flights. Since not all snacks on board will be toddler friendly… or free. I also do snacks like: goldfish, other freeze dried fruits, teething wafers/risk rusks (even my nearly 3 year old loves), crackers, and basically anything that’s dry and easy to eat for them. I also will do pouches for flights or in the car if I’m feeling REALLY trusting. The Flipping Holder is a great product to avoid pouch squeezing messes!

5. Travel at the right time of day

If you’re able to drive while your little(s) sleeps for the night, then by all means do it. For me, I usually road trip with just my kids. So, I don’t have a backup driver to help trade off sleeps turns. If I don’t drive during the day, I don’t get any sleep at night. My kids usually wake up about 9am. My youngest naps around 11-12pm. Usually I will plan to leave about 10:30am. That way he is awake for a little bit watching videos before he drifts off for his nap. As long as my oldest is quiet, he will sleep 2+ hours. Then we take a break within 30 minutes of him waking again. This can include lunch and maybe a bit of walking around somewhere. Try to stick to a schedule that works for you at home, even when driving. The same strategy will go for flying. I try to book flights that leave right around when he would be ready to nap.

6. Wear ALL the babies!… Or in this case toddlers

Baby-wearing is a life saver for me. Especially when my second was born right as my first turned 18 months old. It also saves my sanity when I travel alone with my kids. I’m able to hold the hand of my oldest and wear my youngest, still keeping a hand free to pull a rolling bag. And I even throw a backpack on my back too! We look bulky, but we actually make it work easily. There are carriers you can back carry with even past 60 lbs! Tandem wearing may be a bit hefty with that though… My ring sling has been a wonderful thing when traveling by plane too. My son easily sleeps in them and they’re easy to adjust for nursing or nap purposes. And I’ve never had a flight attendant ask me to remove it for take off/landing either.


7. Bring a bit of home for the hotel

Once you arrive at your destination, it helps to have something familiar for your toddler where ever you’re staying. For us, it’s usually always at a hotel.

I’ve tried the cribs that hotels provide and I’m not a fan of them. Plus, they’re not always available, so don’t count on them. I always bring a travel pack-n-play for my oldest to sleep in. She’s never slept in it at home but it’s something we’ve used on every road trip. You could check it for longer trips flying, but this is likely a road trip only type tip. My son co-sleeps at home so I make sure to get a queen sized bed or larger to ensure he can properly co-sleep on vacations as well.

My daughter also likes to bring 2-3 of her favorite stuffed animals and I have her pick out a blanket to bring. These little bits of home make settling into bed for the night much easier.

Also, bring a chip bag clip or two. I use these in the hotel to clip the curtains in the room together to avoid the early morning sunlight waking my toddlers up earlier than I’d like. We aren’t morning people…


This pic was from breakfast on a solo trip to Austin, TX in June 2017

I hope you enjoyed these little tips. Feel free to comment with any questions!

Happy travels! Enjoy the memories!

Follow me on IG – @mommasmithx2

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– Momma Smith ❤

Home VBAC of Jensen Matthew

The story of my home VBAC starts with the story of my csection.

I was due on October 10, 2014 with our baby girl. I was eager, impatient, and ready to meet her face to face. October 10th passed by without even a faint sign of labor. My labor for Leona began on October 14th, around 4am, waking me from a dead sleep. By 7am, we were heading to the hospital an hour away. When I arrived to the hospital room around 8:30am, the OB promptly checked my cervix and announced “7cm, 100%. -2 station, and I just broke your waters to speed this up”. Didn’t ask my permission, didn’t warn me, nothing. This was against my wishes, as clearly stated in the birth plan I brought with me. This was the beginning of the end of the birth I had dreamed of.
By the end of the day, my daughter was born at 8:55pm via csection. I had pushed 3 hours flat on my back (against my wishes and begging) and the OB deemed me unable to birth vaginally. She said things like “losing your baby” and “you’re just not strong enough”. Things that scared me into agreeing with whatever would bring my daughter to this world safely. She was perfect when she came out screaming. 7lbs 14 oz and 21″ of pure independence and stubbornness (just like momma…).

The full story of her birth is much more traumatic and I’ll leave it at that summary instead. I strive to remember all the happiness her birth brought to my life and focus on the positive aspects. She will never know her birth caused me trauma, because it also brought me motherhood. The most amazing gift I’ve ever been given.


Now, this leads us to 18 months down the road. My fully pregnant self chasing around a toddler and eagerly awaiting my chance for a home VBAC. And also eager to know if our second child was to be a son or a second daughter, since we chose to let it be surprise at birth (best decision ever, by the way).

It was the morning of April 18, 2016. I was exactly 37 weeks pregnant and fully expecting to be pregnant another 3-5 weeks. I had even made a Facebook post stating this around 7am that morning, while also asking for last minute guesses on the baby’s sex.

Around 8:02am, while playing BINGO on my iPod, I fell a sharp popping sensation in my groin area. At first, I just thought the baby had given me a super sharp kick. Then when I stood up, my waters went everywhere. I grabbed a blanket beside me and went to tell my mom in her office (she works from home). She gasped and practically yelled “CALL YOUR MIDWIFE!”. So I waddled back to the den, with a towel between my legs, and did just that. Missy was the midwife I always turned to, with her sweet and motherly voice and strong sense of nurturing. She sounded so chipper and yet so calm when I told her the news. I told her I would take a shower and then let her know how I felt after.

At that time, I called my husband who had only been at work a bit over an hour. He knew something was up when he answered the phone, since I’m rarely up at 8am. He didn’t drive at this point in time, so he had his manager bring him home. I remember her skidding into the bedroom 90 mph right as I exited the shower. It was about 8:45 and my contractions had started. They were coming hard and fast, right from the start. I decided to call the midwife, doula, and birth photographer just in case things were going to progress quickly.

My husband started filling up my birth pool in the den as my doula and photographer arrived around 10am. I had been watching Supernatural on TNT when my water broke and I was still listening to it in the background while laboring in the water. I had no idea at the time that I was going to birth a baby boy, who we planned to name after that show. Seems rather fitting now that I think back on it!


My midwives and birth team arrived around 10:30-11am. I agreed to a cervical check, since I was having such intense pain in my pubic bone area. I was only 4cm but I was fully effaced. I tried to labor in the pool more but the water need to be warm if I was to give birth in it. I run very hot during labor and being in the warm water only increased my nausea. I decided to move to the bathroom, laboring backwards on the toilet.


I think if I ever have another baby, 99% of my labor will be spent backwards on the toilet. Something about that position was very relaxing for me between contractions. It also helped me to not worry about the mess, which is a big bonus for laboring. My husband never left my side and someone from my birth team was constantly there to whisper encouragement every time I said “I can’t do this”. I really appreciated their unwavering support, because I said that 100s of times that day. I had this constant doubt in the back of my mind ever since the OB told me I would never get a baby out vaginally. But I pushed through with their support and reached my goal.

I had the urge to start pushing when I decided to leave the comfort of my porcelain throne and go to my bed. I probably started pushing long before I needed to just because it helped to ease the pain and made my efforts seem more productive. It was slow going for the crowning phase, but I thank that for my lack of needing stitches at the end of it all.

After 4 full hours of pushing, I heard the words “Reach down and catch your baby!”. I instinctively reached down and scooped up my squishy baby, pulling him close to my chest. The first words I said were “I DID IT! I’M NOT BROKEN!” and quickly followed by “IT’S A BOY!” because I felt his parts when I reached down to pull him up towards me.

Click here to see that moment! (it’s not graphic)

Jensen Matthew was born at 8:19pm on April 18th. He was 8 lbs 9 oz and 20.5″, even being exactly 3 weeks early.

The placenta came about 20-30 mins later with just a gentle push when I felt a small urge. We put it in a pot and let it sit beside me so we could do delayed cord clamping. I was able to get him to latch at 9:10pm. It was noticed right away that he had a bad tongue tie. We had it clipped by an ENT at 4 days old. Quick and easy procedure.

The midwives made sure Jensen and I were stable and then left my husband and I alone to enjoy our brand new son. We didn’t even decide on his middle name until that undisturbed hour. We decided to use my husband’s first name after our other choice (Alexander) didn’t seem to fit.

After our alone time, the midwife came back in and helped my husband to cut his cord. We left it untouched for 2 hours. Then the placenta was examined and one of the birth attendants went to prep a few small pieces for a smoothie. That’s right, a placenta smoothie! I decided against encapsulating but had read of benefits acquired just by consuming it raw. The smoothie was an orange juice base, blended with lots of frozen berries and a whole banana. It was blended so well that I NEVER would’ve guessed the unusual ingredient. And even if it was a placebo effect, I think it truly helped.

By 11:30pm, just over 3 hours after his birth, the birth team had gone home and we were left in peace and quiet. The laundry had been started by the team, they’d brought food and drink to my bed, and there weren’t any signs left that a birth had just occurred that night in our home. No machines beeping, no nurse checking on me every hour right as I nod off, and no one trying to take my baby boy off to a nursery. I curled up in bed with my new squishy baby and we slept off the exhaustion we both had from the long day. Even now at almost 15 months old, he is still breastfed and sleeping with me. Just like on our first night together. Being able to exclusively breastfeed is another amazing thing I believe my home VBAC gave to me. Since I was never able to EBF for Leona. She was supplemented from day 2 of her life and I was majority pumping by 6 weeks old. I ended up switching to all formula by 6 months. Jensen has been the opposite experience and has been only breast since birth.

I had the most amazing birth and postpartum experience for Jensen and it almost completely healed the birth trauma I experienced for my csection. I recommend home birth to anyone who is even slightly curious about it and I’m more than happy to answer any other questions you may have.


Thanks for reliving the two best days of my life with me.

-Momma Smith

Photo Credit – Cassie Fox of Atoka, TN

Midwifery – Full Circle Midwifery in Memphis, TN