I have a confession to make. I'm somewhat of a lazy person. If there's a short cut to be taken, I'm the first to be taking it (as long as someone isn't going to end up hurt).
I hated making up shed loads of mushed up food for Seagull when he was a baby, only to have him turn his nose up at most of it. When he was about 8 months old, our Maternal and Child Health nurse suggested giving Seagull strips of food to eat. He loved it.
A few months later, I found out about something called Baby-Led Weaning. Basically, it involves skipping the puree/mashed food stage and going straight to finger foods. The theory is that this is how the weaning process would have worked before we got all technicmalogical and invented food processors to whizz the crap out of food, turning it to a messy pulp. If you want it explained better than I can, read this and this.
It occurred to me that this is what I had ended up doing with Seagull and I decided that I was going to do it from the start of solids with my next baby. After all, it appealed to my inherent sense of laziness.
When Wombat was a few months old, I bought a book about Baby-Led Weaning and avidly read it. We were away from home when he reached six months, so we just waited until we got home before starting the process. Every night when we had dinner, Wombat would get a couple of sticks of steamed veggies on his high chair tray while we ate. He would pick them up and play with them, but they wouldn't go anywhere near his mouth.
After a few weeks, something seemed to click and Wombat started trying to shovel food down his mouth. If I forgot to give him something to eat at dinner time (I tended to just put a bit extra on my plate to hand him), he would watch my food like a hawk until I gave him something to eat. A lot of it ended up on the floor, but there was food making it into Wombat's mouth as evidenced by the colourful chunks appearing in his nappies a day or two later.
It gives me great satisfaction to see Wombat eating away at meal times. He is becoming more and more keen to eat food and has been cutting right back on his breastfeeds through the day, although he makes up for it through the night. Baby-Led Weaning makes a lot of sense to me. When breastfeeding, Wombat is totally in control of how much he eats. By letting him feed himself finger foods, Wombat is continuing to maintain control of how much food he takes in and is able to stop when he is full. What's not to like about that?