As the title suggests, we decided to go for baby led weaning (BLW) with Bea. I had so much to share about this particular topic that I’ve split it into 2 posts. Today is mainly our experience, and on Thursday I’ll be back with Part 2, sharing our essentials for BLW and tips. (And we have Erin’s fashion fix tomorrow if you’re not interested in weaning!)
My main concern with BLW was the emphasis that ‘food is fun before they’re one’ and reliance on continued milk feeds, while they (very) slowly increase their solid intake. At the time of weaning, I was going back to work in less than 2 months and was still feeding 5-6 or more times per day plus a dream feed. I decided I’d give it a month and if she still wasn’t taking much in, reconsider our options then.
Why did I go for BLW in the end? It just made sense to me. I read the book, and developmentally, it all made sense; why feed a baby purees when they can feed themselves? I felt I was relaxed enough to accept if she didn’t eat much because I was used to trusting her intake whilst breast feeding and I knew she was able to feed herself as EVERYTHING was already going straight into her mouth. She wasn’t quite sitting up when we started – as in, sitting unsupported in the middle of the floor, but was perfectly upright in her baby snug. It also appealed to my style of parenting. Within sensible limits of her having some structure, I prefer her fitting in with us. We eat out a lot (still) and it appealed to the lazy part of me, that I could just fed her the kinds of things we eat, ad hoc.
We started weaning 5 days before she was 6 months old. I had been determined to wait until 6 months exactly, despite the grandparents regular chimes of ‘she’s so ready for food!’ but when I did a bit of reading prior to starting, there is conflicting evidence about the benefits of postponing solids until 6 months (increased gut maturity, reduced risk of allergies…) against possible risks (one recent study found a 4 fold increased risk of diabetes if children were weaned before 4 months or after 6 months.) In the end it was simply convenient to start at the weekend so Pete could participate too.
In the very beginning my focus was on exposing her to as many tastes as possible. I didn’t restrict her to popular first tastes to babies (like sweet vegetables) and simply chose things that were convenient for her to eat – things that were naturally or could be made, stick shaped. One of the key ideas behind BLW is that babies feed themselves, which I found very limiting (babies of 6 months usually can only grasp stick shaped things and it takes weeks and months for them to develop the motor skills to pick things up with their fingers or grasp handfuls and release them into their mouth,) so we quickly introduced a weaning spoon which we preloaded and held out for her to take and put into her mouth herself. She was successful right from the beginning (as I knew she would be because of her tendency to put anything and everything straight into her mouth,) and that made things like weetabix, porridge and yogurt easy enough and moderately less messy.
Ah yes, the mess. I was warned BLW would be messy, so I was prepared for it and to be honest, I don’t think it has been that bad. We bought sleeved bibs (see below) and a piece of oilcloth tablecloth to cover our marble worktops. Apart from on herself, the majority of the mess is from dropping her spoon at the side of her seat or onto the floor and whatever is on it splashing off. I tend to eat with her (at least sitting with her,) so regularly spoon catch and keep a cloth handy to wipe up these spills as we go (because dried on weetabix is like cement, be warned!)
If you don’t have a baby or want to hear about nappies, you might want to skip this paragraph. Because I wanted to give Bea every opportunity to progress with weaning, we very quickly worked up to 3 meals a day, even if they were small. It took about a week before we started to see bits of food in Bea’s nappy (undigested) then after 2 weeks her nappies changed completely, confirming that she was taking a decent amount of food in. We are a month on now and she has dropped down to 4 milk feeds; One on waking, one around lunch after her morning nap, one after her afternoon nap, and one before bed.
So readers, I’d love to hear if you have anything to add here or if you have any questions for me. I’ll do my best to answer them. In the mean time, can anyone suggest a worktop height high chair that isn’t ridiculously expensive?