The XX Factor

Your Kale-Eating Baby Does Not Impress Me


Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images for Girl Behind the Camera

Yesterday there was a New York Times Motherlode column about “baby led weaning.” For those not up on the latest fads among the under 2 set, baby led weaning is giving your kid finger foods as their first solids instead of purees. Apparently it’s huge in England. The author of the New York Times post presents BLW, as the insiders call it, as if it’s a new dish soap in a 1950s commercial. At first she was skeptical: Wouldn’t her young daughter choke on a chicken wing or something? But then she took a class about BLW and was won over. “No runny rice cereal, no applesauce, no airplane spoon games,” she boasts. And then the smug coup de grâce:

Recently, a friend from New York with adult children visited us in London, and she seemed surprised but impressed as Emma shoved fistfuls of steamed kale and roasted pumpkin into her mouth while we were out to lunch.

Fistfuls of kale, people. Kale! The top of the Pollan pyramid! For the record, we fed our kid purees from about 6-8 months, then we gave her finger foods once she had teeth. Now she feeds herself pretty well, but I just call it “feeding the baby” and I am not giving it a fancy new name, justifying it with new World Health Organization guidelines, or making any money off workshops pushing it onto other parents.

Look, I’m sure the lady who wrote the Motherlode post is perfectly nice and well-intentioned, but she’s just adding more fuel to the fire of what she refers to as “breast versus bottle 2.0.” How the food gets into your child’s stomach should not be something up for major discussion among strangers, unless you’re shoving cheerios up his nose.

In fact, I’d like to call a moratorium on all “new” baby-rearing techniques for the foreseeable future. Babies have been pretty much the same for a really long time. There are many, many different ways to raise them and nourish them, most of which will work out. At this point, all these new baby fads are good for is making moms feel inadequate—or superior, if they feel like they’re on the right side of the issue—and put issues up for “debate” that should not actually be divisive.