Am I too paranoid for BLW??!
I was alert but not too alarmed about the risk of choking. I feel comfortable with how to respond to a choking infant so I'm sure that helped. We also made sure she was always sitting up in her highchair or well supported on our lap and didn't give anything which was a high choking risk. Frankly I am more nervous now that she is 2.5yo and suddenly wants to eat almonds all the time.
Take an infant CPR class, so you know what to do if he's truly choking--which he can do whether it's chunks or purees now, or almonds later. Our little guy gagged several times with BLW, but we knew it was gagging vs choking. And if he ever does choke (hasn't happened yet), we knew what to do. Also, according to our CPR instructor, we would more than likely dislodge the obstruction with the first phase of infant choking assistance, the whack on the back. He noted that in his years as a paramedic, instructor, and parent, he'd known plenty of parents who'd had to do that (at all ages), and all had been successful in one or two whacks (and never needed step two of infant choking rescuer). As he pointed out, the force with which an object can get lodged in a little one's airway is nothing compared to the force of a frightened parent's whack between the shoulder blades.
With that info, plus the fact that we were sitting right next to our guy while he ate (as opposed to a toddler who could swipe food and run off to another room, or stick a found object in his mouth while out of sight), we relaxed a LOT. And the more we let him explore food, the more of a pro he became, and the less he gagged. At 15 months, he now feeds himself quite adeptly with a fork and spoon, and tries just about anything we put in front of him. But yes, those first few weeks were tough! I literally sat on my hands a few times. :)
We wanted to do by-the-book BLW, but we ended up feeling very uncomfortable starting out with large hunks of food - it felt too much like throwing a baby into deep water to force them to swim. That's just my opinion! However, I love the underlying philosophy: 1) That babies feed themselves and control their exploration of a wide variety of foods; and 2) That they are included in the social aspect of eating and shared meals.
We found a "happy medium" by giving our baby foods that she could easily handle, mostly tiny pieces and mushes at first, and now chunks of meat, beans, pretty much anything we're eating. Sometimes we give her something like a broccoli spear or a whole peach to let her nibble, but we didn't really push the large pieces that the books talk about. We did do some purees and cereals in the beginning, because she at first had terrible tummyaches in response to solids and we backed off to more bland foods. But we've always encouraged her to spoon-feed herself, or at least to signal when she wants another bite (and what she wants a bite of!). She took to self-feeding right away and now (at ten months) is 100% self-fed and eats almost everything we do.
She's learning excellent feeding skills. She uses a spoon, she picks up her own water and drinks when she's thirsty. She picks up too many chunks of toast and she gags on them and has to work that out - but I feel more comfortable knowing that the pieces are (hopefully) too small to block her airway. And I love watching her examine her tray full of bits and choose which bite she wants next - she takes that VERY seriously.
Just my two cents, but my point is, you don't have to view BLW as an "all or nothing" approach. If I've learned anything in these past ten months, it's that you can read and decide and get all geared up for any philosophy you like, but the only person who has the real answer is your own baby.
Thanks for the replies. Zirconia, I really liked your point about it not having to be an all or nothing approach; I did typical purees-lumpy-'people' food with my older son, and he is a great eater, so hopefully DS2 will follow suit. However, I have a new issue now. After I gave DS the broccoli, he had really awful mucousy, frequent poops, more than he normally would have for a couple of days. I thought maybe that the broccoli was a bit much for a first food, so a day later I gave him some mashed sweet potato that I'd roasted. He fed it to himself with a spoon (made horrible faces, but kept eating it!!) and now hasn't pooped at all in almost 2 days. I'm wondering if I should wait a week or so and then start him on something more bland, like (gag) baby cereal to warm up his belly a little bit before giving him veggies/meat/legumes. Has anyone else experienced this with their LO's? What did you start feeding them? Or, should I just skip solids altogether for the next few mths?
Bouncymummy, we didn't have the poop issues, but DD did have terrible tummyaches and gas, woke up crying every 30 minutes or so throughout the night. That's the main reason we backed off - it felt like our so-called "baby-led" approach was ending up hurting her. We decided that the point was for baby to be in the lead, which meant adapting the approach as much as was necessary to put her at ease. So, we started with -yes, I admit it!- organic baby cereals, some purees, and mild foods she could self-feed. Sweet potatoes, steamed carrots, green beans, apples, pears, peaches - lightly steamed and either mashed, pureed, or cut into tiny chunks she could manage. Once we slowed down, her little system quickly got back to normal.
One big hit was (and still is) grated fruit - take a juicy, sweet apple or pear and grate it with a cheese grater. They can grab it by the handful. I also occasionally took a really ripe peach, mashed it to a pulp, and mixed it with cereal to the consistency of peanut butter. She LOVED that, ate a mountain of it (and of course plastered her hair and chair as well!). I also introduced eggs really early - scrambled eggs are a self-feeding home run.
It really wasn't long until DD was able to self-feed most anything. I was so anxious when we first started solids, but once we got farther along I realized I had been way too uptight for a little 6-month-old! All in good time. By 10 months she's devouring meats, veggies, fruits, breads, pretty much anything I put in front of her.
We gave DS a lot of soft solids - a ton of steamed veggies and fruits in particular. DS was a once-a-week pooper before he started to really eat solids so we were hyper-aware of keeping him well hydrated and feeding lots of poop-friendly foods. Steamed pear slices were a particular favorite of his (and ours).
And don't underestimate how important it is for YOU to be comfortable with what you're doing! If you're stressing out about feeding your baby certain things, they're going to pick up on that. Stick to things that you feel comfortable with and as your babe gets better at eating solids, you'll relax and be able to expand your food choices. There's no rush!