We’re on our fourth week of weaning. We started a week shy of 6 months and we’re doing a mix of finger foods and spoon-feeding. I really liked the idea of baby-led weaning but with all the pressure I’ve had about LLC’s weight, I feel more confident knowing that she is ingesting a bit more than she’d do if left completely to her own accord. I do like the idea of hear learning to chew sooner rather than later though, as well as identifying a carrot versus a sweet potato so we're doing our own variation of the two methods.
This means avoiding really smooth purees and jumping straight into lumpy foods – veg & couscous; salmon, spinach and potato; stewed apple & pear after a week of just fruit, veg and baby rice. When spoon-feeding, she often takes control of the spoon and aims it at (sometimes in) her mouth, though I do all the spoon loading. From my reading on baby-led weaning I learned that the gag reflex on a young baby is fairly far forward in the mouth but it retreats with time; thus by letting her navigate some lumps and bumps and finger foods early, this reflex should kick in and help her gauge the size of food she can swallow, making choking less likely. I really hope so at least. But it’s going well so far and she hasn’t yet snubbed anything (let me live this dream before it’s shattered!).
In terms of finger foods, we’ve tried the likes of roasted vegetables (sweet potato, carrot, pepper, butternut squash), toast with unsalted butter, rice cakes, cheese, cucumber, cantaloupe, apple and pear. She definitely copes best with long, thin, baton-shaped foods that allow her to grab them with her fist and still have a bit poking out on top that she can suck on. She'll do this for a bit, before throwing the lot on the floor and banging on her highchair for more! Fruit in particular often slips out of her grasp and I'm not sure about the way around this yet.
Naive to each new twist and turn of the parenting journey, I didn’t realize how very very messy this adventure would be. I also didn’t realize how much time organizing and sitting down with LLC for food would take. We’d fallen into a nice rhythm with her milk feeds and now that’s all subject to the dreaded “c” word – change. We operate on a routine of organized chaos, and now that “routine” is starting to shift, leaving me pondering what time I’ll serve her meals, how this will affect the time of milk feeds, what I’ll serve when....ironically I know in my heart a rough routine of sorts will probably start to emerge once she starts to eat more but sometimes it’s hard to shut off the planning part of my head. But I'm trying.
So what's worked for us so far?
- Investing in an easy to clean highchair, ideally one that doesn't break the bank - We went for a wooden fold up one from John Lewis. It doesn’t recline or adjust in height but it’s small, functional and really easy to get food off of. Since LLC is now 6.5 months she is able to sit up in the chair unaided. My friend has the £12 plastic one from Ikea and thinks it’s fab, it just doesn’t fold up.
- Doubling up on bibs – we use a plastic washable bib with a shelf for catching food on top and a cloth bib underneath for absorbing anything that breeches the plastic bib.
- LLC likes to take charge – I’ve taken the view that eating right now is not just about eating but also about exploring and learning so I’m letting her get as involved as I can. She's happiest when in control.
- Wiping LLC’s face clean with a warm cloth – this may sound like common sense, but I kept wiping her face off with a baby wipe (got to love them!) and she hated it! My mom suggested a warm washcloth instead and in the spirit of mother’s knowing best, LLC took to that much better.
- Trying to give LLC a variation of what we eat – again in the spirit of baby-led weaning, I’m hoping to avoid making LLC many separate meals and instead am trying to craft her a slight variation of what’s on our plates (though I’m finding this easier said than done sometimes....)
(I'm on the wrong computer now, but I'll post some of our weaning wanders tomorrow.....)