Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Baby led weaning part 2

Fast forward a couple of years. Baby number 2 is on her way. Miss K is still not eating consistently well, most dinners in particular are time consuming and laborious. We have some few and far between 'a-ha' moments; eating a whole junior pizza, loving popping edamame at home, consuming bucketloads of carrots and humous, huge excitement at a sushi train experience. All very positive.

But I knew that second time around I had to approach food differently. You know, that  quote by Albert Einstein kept popping into my head 'the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result'. I had long time been a reader of Homemade Heart. Talia is an inspirational yummy mummy. But what really caught me the most was her calm & positive attitude to food. And the many very detailed posts on how she started to feed her little girl Tabitha. I decided to spend more time looking into it. But truly, I was already convinced that giving a baby the freedom to explore food was the right way to go. Here are a few of Talia's posts to read a bit more on BLW:
Baby Led Weaning part 1
Baby Led Weaning tips part 2
Fast food for toddlers
I ordered the Baby Led Weaning book and read the first half of the book. I found the book reassuring, but also highly repetitive. It did make me feel that I wasn't completely insane to be going this way, it is a tried and tested method of weaning a baby, but just not particularly a mainstream one.

Avocado sandwiches

I started weaning Miss L a little earlier than recommended. Probably just after five months. She has always been a very physically strong bub, she was sitting in her highchair well at around four months. So I decided to give her baby rusks to get her used to holding things in her hand. At this point, hand-eye coordination was not the best, but that's all part of the process. After a couple of weeks or so she was getting a decent suck on these things!

Following on from that I started preparing broccoli and carrots for her, and cooking them reasonably well. Broccoli was highly successful right from the start. They have a solid-ish stalk to hold onto, and the buds at the top are soft on the gums. Carrots took a little longer, but she was shredding a third of the carrot baton quite quickly too.

Peas and tinned tuna

At six months the range of foods that she would eat had multiplied massively. Rice (we used sushi rice mainly, it's chunkier and a bit sticky), salmon, burgers cut into strips, chunks of potato, batons of roast pumpkin, skinned cucumber, shards of roast chicken, slices of pear, nectarine, banana, watermelon.  Humous sandwiches, cheese slices, tomato...

I really can't remember everything, but I really wasn't making extra or different food for her at this time. It was just about adapting what was being served for her needs. I just had a simple rule in my head - needs to be grab-able and not a choke risk. Anything that is too small to start with is a big no no at this age. So peas, grapes and blueberries were definitely off the list. When I was cutting things up for her I tried to make them as long as possible. Roughly a third of the length of the food sits in the baby's palm, so two thirds for actually eating. In theory at least. Obviously it can be more than a little messy at times.

Miss L is fab with her pincer grip at 10 months

So that really leads to the two things that seem to shock or turn people off the very idea of baby led weaning. Mess & choking risk. I really saw it this way - Mess happens anyway. Babies always want to be able to hold their own spoon, and flick it and throw it on the ground. They always get their sleeves and collars grimy, even when wearing a bib. Things always end up on the floor.

Garden picnics. A great anti-mess option!

Choking is a whole different matter, and potentially a lot scarier. The section on this in the Baby Led Weaning book was excellent and very informative. Babies are much more likely to choke/react badly to something that hasn't been put into their mouths by them. Which makes total sense. And they have to learn to deal with lumps and learn when to break them down by masticating at some point. Never be far from your bub when they are learning to eat. Sitting next to them is best. I've never had more than a couple of coughs from either baby, but certainly miss L is dealing with food much better.

Now at ten months Miss L is a wonderful eater. She tries and enjoys everything. She is focused on the meal. She is motivated by food enough to cross a room for a slice of fruit or a sandwich. I've only seem her grimace at the taste of food a couple of times, but that hasn't stopped her from going back for another bite. I put that down to being surprised by the taste of something, rather than not liking it.  This morning I sat with her at playgroup and she consumed a full bowl of mixed morning tea. It contained sliced banana, mandarin segments, rice crackers, rice cakes, hot cross buns and a sweet biscuit. All in very small quantities, but she ate the lot.  Other mothers are constantly amazed by how well she eats for such a little one.

Homemade tuna sushi - now a favourite in our house

Our only difficult moment with BLW has been starting at daycare. I explained on day one that she doesn't like being spoon fed (bar yogurt and the odd weetbix, which are always fed by me). This message wasn't really getting through as in the first few weeks I was having daily feedback that she was eating well at morning and afternoon tea (fruit, veggies and sandwiches) but not eating much lunch, which was generally food that had been pureed for the babies, such as chicken & vegetable noodles. I talked to the Director about my concern, and ever since her carers have let her get on with it and embraced the mess. They too tell me that she eats very well and is very entertaining to watch!

Newspapers are a must! That's her bowl at the back of the pic too.