Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The beginning of Baby Led Weaning

So we are four months into baby led weaning and it's been super fun so far.
Baby D has eaten a massive range of foods only one of which she's not liked: extra mature smoked cheddar! She loves tomatoes, blueberries, spaghetti bolognese and chicken best...so far.

I'm an all or nothing kind of person and are doing Baby Led Weaning only. No spoon feeding at all. The whole point of baby led weaning is that baby has complete control of what goes on their mouth and to my mind spoon feeding undermines this ethic. We've tried giving her the spoon to put in her mouth herself with very limited success. Most ends up being flicked up the wall or on the ceiling. Nothing gets put in her mouth by anybody else, not even medicine or vitamin drops; I fill the syringe and offer it to her, she then puts it in her mouth herself and I push the plunger slowly. It works really well.

Before we embarked upon weaning I read the Baby Led Weaning book cover to cover. I thoroughly recommend it, it explains the ideas behind it really well along with techniques, food prep etc. I also did a baby first aid course at the local Surestart Centre. I was a bit concerned about the choking risk and wanted to be prepared in case the worst happened. It gave me the confidence to be able to deal with choking and to recognise when Baby D could be choking. Basically if they are coughing and spluttering they are getting rid of the blockage themselves. If they go quiet that's when you need to worry. Also I learned about the risk with whole cherry tomatoes, grapes etc. It's best to squash, halve or quarter them to prevent them from getting stuck in their throat or wind wipe. 
And something I learned in the book is that the gag reflex is right at the front of the tongue in a young baby and as they learn and grow the reflex moves gradually towards the back of the tongue. It's a clever safety feature of babies mouths. Spoon feeding can interfere with this reflex and make it harder for them to understand how to clear a blockage themselves.

I'm a subscriber to the view that food is for fun until age one. Baby D will get all of the nutrients she needs from my milk, so there is no pressure for her to eat any food at all. She can enjoy learning, taking her time and exploring for herself. Plus as she's feeding herself she's self regulating how much she eats which instils good habits of stopping once full, none of this 'just one more mouthful' or 'finish your food then you can have pudding'.

Her first food was broccoli and to my surprise she ate quite a lot straight away. I guess that because she'd seen us eat so often (we had a newborn seat on our Tripp Trapp to enable her to sit at the table with us as a newborn) she knew what to do. She even swallowed a fair bit - this became evident in the next day's nappy.
Over the next few days I introduced lightly steamed vegetables at each meal. Sometimes she'd just play with it, sometimes eat some and other times wasn't interested at all. And every time fed a load to the dogs! Our dogs know to sit patiently at the foot of the high chair and food will rain down for them.
She now eats whatever we are eating. We don't add salt or sugar to any of our cooking and always make everything from scratch. We actually find it makes us a bit healthier in our food choices. And the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook is great for ideas and inspiration. 
We always sit at the dining table for all meals and Baby D's high chair is a Tripp Trapp that comes right up to the table so she can use the table like us - not a tray attached. We also have a new rule which is no phones at the table. 

Baby led weaning is messy. There's no avoiding it. The other day just before bed I noticed that I had Weetabix on my ear...it had been there all day. Having the dogs around to eat everything that ends up on the floor is handy. But they are starting to get a bit chubby so we might have to put a stop to that. 
After spaghetti bolognese Baby D definitely needs a bath. If it's warm enough I generally strip her down to her vest and put a bib on her then we don't need to worry about her clothes getting stained. Mine on the other hand...!

Anyway, I could talk about weaning all day. And I’ll certainly be posting about different aspects of it in the near future like good snacks for when out and about, useful things to have/use and interesting recipes like breastmilk pancakes which we made on Shrove Tuesday.

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