I can’t believe I’m already six months in and weaning is even a thing yet, but here we are. I’m pretty open to all the ‘new age’ parenting that is around, we still bed-share and we don’t practise Crying It Out. When it came to weaning the Health Visitor had mentioned Baby Led Weaning and really pushed for me to try it.
I went online, did some research, was still unsure so bought the book. I loved the ethos and whole reasoning behind it. In a nut shell, you skip the purée phase of food, give your baby soft foods (like a roasted carrot stick) and allow them to discover and play with the food. Rather than force feeding your baby blended parsnips and carrots, you give them the whole foods – what you eat the baby eats, within reason. And the general rules of weaning apply – no salt. No sugar. No honey. No whole nuts.
Gill Rapley the founder of the book claims that babies have an innate instinct when it comes to food, she says during a baby’s first experience with food they will mostly ‘gum it to death’ and then leave it on the tray, not actually eating anything at first. It allows the baby to work out the muscles in their mouths, learning how to swallow more than liquid and how to gag and cough food bits that are too much for them to handle. Not only that but it’s a sensory activity too, anything to tire them out before bed eh?
Sounds pretty wonderful right? Well, yes. But unfortunately it didn’t go as swimmingly as that for us. Straight away Jellybean chomped off a huge piece of carrot, didn’t chew it properly at all and attempted to swallow. She then bent forwards, mouth wide open with very little noise and her face bright red. Terrified? You bloody bet we were.
I was on a Facebook group for BLW, and everyone on there claims it’s normal for the baby to gag and what may look like choking is actually gagging and they’ll be fine. See how easy that was for me to write? Not quite as easy to watch your six month old baby going red in the face and clearly struggling to breathe because she’s swallowed a huge chunk of carrot. No thank you, this was not for us.
The main element of BLW that I did love was the relationship the baby had with food which all stemmed from them feeding themselves. I give Jellybean porridge every morning on pre-loaded spoons and she happily feeds herself. If you attempt to put the spoon near her mouth she will just take it off you.
So we needed to revamp our weaning approach. Step 1, she needed to learn to chew! We found this incredible little fresh food mesh in mothercare, you put the food into it and she chomps on the net, breaking down the food, getting the nutrients and still feeding herself. We let her watch us load it up with food so she knows it’s a different thing coming each time. We only use one type of food in it at a time too, so if she doesn’t like anything it’s easy to know which one.
We’ve deterred from ‘the rules’ of BLW and altered it to suit us. I ended up leaving the Facebook group as they had little tolerance for any straying from ‘the rules’ which is a bit restrictive. Every baby is different, we can’t expect one way to fit all.
It’s like the breastfeeding argument all over again. Do what works for you and your family – and leniency is key!
This post isn’t in efforts to put anyone off trying Baby Led Weaning, I am quite sad we can’t do it fully but rather to give you some perspective. The Health Visitors may be pushing this new way of weaning as it does have many benefits. Just remember to listen to your child and do what works for you.
My List of Useful Weaning Items:
– Food (duh)
– Heat Detector Spoons (changes colour when food is too hot)
– Plastic sheet under highchair
– Baby bowls
– Baby apron
– Storage containers