I know that weaning can be a stressful time for any parent, I’ve been there twice before and have made it through all the good and the bad bits. I wanted to create a series of blog posts on weaning. Of course, I am not medically trained and my way is certainly not the right or wrong way to do things. But I want to try and attempt to explore all things weaning. Please leave a comment below so that we can help others in their journeys too.
I’ve done a mixture of different ways of weaning. The majority of P1s weaning months were spent with her being spoon fed various different brands and occasionally having the odd bit of toast or a biscuit. With P2 I embarked on a mixture of spoon fed and baby led weaning and that’s the topic I want to explore here, baby led weaning, and to share my experiences.
Any type of weaning is going to be messy but I have found that baby led weaning is on a whole different scale. Baby led is exactly what it says on the tin, your baby is feeding themselves their own way. For a 6 month old that probably has little coordination it’s just a recipe for disaster. There’s also the task of navigating a piece of food in their mouths and learning to chew without choking. I personally think that baby led is actually a lot easier than adult led.
With P2 I would offer her some toast or a rusk to have in her hands and then I’d spoon feed her a fruit pot or other variant of jarred food for her age group. This meant I could keep an eye on her calorie intake each day as I could physically see what I was feeding her but also allowing her to feed herself and begin to learn to chew. P2 was a lover of food. Anything and everything was an option for her and there was very little, if anything, that she wouldn’t eat and actually swallow. We stuck to the recommended first tastes at first but soon enough she was having the same meals that we were only in a smaller quantity. Two years on, she is not a fussy eater and will consume anything from a spicy Indian to a simple pasta dish. She also learnt to use a spoon and fork quite young, most likely copying her big sister.
Now we are fully in the flow of weaning P3. Right from the beginning she point blank refused to be spoon fed. I panicked a little despite already knowing the baby led weaning way of life. With the troubles we had right at the start of her life just 6 months previous, I wanted to be able to keep an eye on the amount she was eating so I would know if there was an issue with weight just where we were going wrong. But like I’ve said before, baby led is well baby led and P3 wants to feed herself. She’s most likely watching her sisters and wanting to be just like them already so that’s the journey we’ve entered. At 7 months old she has already eaten curry, peanut butter sandwiches and turkey dinosaurs. I didn’t stick with the recommended first tastes like banana, vegetable sticks and things like that. I also didn’t stick to offering just one meal a day. Every meal, we’ve plated up a tiny portion, like literally one of each thing or a tiny piece of something, and given it to her. She’s mushed, thrown and eventually eaten it no matter what it’s been. No funny facial expressions and no choking thank goodness.
I’m really glad that P3 has pushed the baby led weaning. It has made mealtimes so much easier as a busy family of five and it means I don’t need to spend ages preparing each meal or blending it. I’ve put together my top tips for baby led weaning:
- Gagging and choking is a very different thing. Make sure you’ve read up on how to save your baby in the event of them choking on food (I went to a save a baby course at our local children’s centre which was very helpful). Hubby used to disappear at mealtimes with P2 as he would always panic every time she gagged, it’s not an overly pleasant experience to watch but it’s all about them learning. New textures bouncing off the back of their throat and it’s a good thing that they have that gag reflex. So try not to panic or alarm your baby, that gag is saving their lives.
- Invest in a simple, sturdy and wipe-able high chair. Like this Babymoov Light Wood High Chair that’s pictured. It’s adjustable, light weight and folds! I also love how the table part of it is flat allowing baby to be able to reach food really easily without going over a ridge. Obviously I know this means that food will fall on the floor easier, but for baby led weaning it’s all about them leading the way and they can’t with restrictions. I’ve had a few high chairs in my time and I think this is the best we’ve had.
- Get them naked or wearing something you don’t mind getting ruined, or even a bib although my children seem to love to pull it off and chew it. Whether it’s baby led or spoon fed weaning you’re doing, it is a messy business.
- Don’t interfere. By that I mean popping bits back in their mouths or physically putting any food in their mouths other than something on a spoon of course. Your baby needs to learn to chew and pick things up by themselves at some point right from the beginning. It’s very easy to go “ooops” and pick the pea back up and pop it in their slobbery mouths. Don’t!
- Your baby only ate one crumb, the rest is on the floor, on the ceiling and in your hair. Don’t worry. Milk should be your baby’s main meal up until they are a year old and therefore whatever they are eating before that is an extra. It’s all about learning. Learning to chew. Learning coordination and fine motor skills. Exploring textures. It’s certainly not about calories and I’ve realised that the third time round.
What tips would you offer a new mum contemplating the baby led approach?
Like this post? Consider nominating me for a MAD Blog Award. Nominations close 20th May 2015, just click on the badge below: