It’s funny how you realise things about one child when you experience differences with the second. Looking back now, I realise that Ben was really easy to wean. I started early at 5 months, mostly because I was desperate for him to sleep. He pretty much ate everything I gave him: purees, finger food, the lot. He’s a really good eater now, and rarely complains that he doesn’t like something.
Samuel, however, has been a different story.
Perhaps it started when he wouldn’t take a bottle. With a lot of persistence, and expressed milk at exactly the right temperature, he could occasionally be persuaded… but it was hard work. He was happy being breastfed, and, let’s be honest, I don’t go out much any more, so I went with it.
When he was nearly 6 months, we started on solids. At least, I tried. He was not keen at all.
The first mouthful of carrot puree wasn’t a hit. But that’s fairly typical – when you’ve only had milk, vegetable puree is bound to be a bit of a shock.
So I persisted, trying different vegetables and different fruits. I tried them at different temperatures. I tried them mixed with water, with breastmilk, with ordinary milk. I tried pouches and jars… and nothing worked. He kept his mouth fully closed and pushed the spoon away. I gave him his own spoon to play with. I encouraged him to help himself… But nothing went in.
So I started offering bits of finger food. Some of it was picked up and played around with. At least he showed a tiny bit of interest.
Fine, I thought. We’ll go down the baby-led weaning route.
I am more than happy with the theory of baby-led weaning and I like the idea of it. The problem for me was the mess, and the waste, and the painfully slow (or so it seemed to me) progress.
As I mentioned before, I think food intake does affect quality of sleep. Samuel has woken every 2-3 hours throughout the night for feeding since he was born, and I really wanted to get a bit more food into him in the hope that he would sleep better.
Anyway, that’s what we’ve been doing. When we have our meals, Samuel has something similar. He picks up pieces in his hands and feeds himself. Last week, he tolerated my mum feeding him about two spoonfuls of cereal… before shutting his mouth and refusing to eat any more.
It actually works quite well as we have family meals now. When Ben was Samuel’s age, Tim wouldn’t get home until 7pm, so Ben would eat early and we would eat later. Now we all eat together in the evenings. If Tim and I are having something more ‘grown-up,’ especially something spicy, I’m cooking for Ben anyway, so Samuel has the same.
But it’s still painfully slow. I still doubt after every meal, especially lunchtime, that anything has actually been consumed. I think he’s eaten some strips of chicken or ham and then find them thrown behind his high chair. It actually isn’t my preferred method of weaning, but it’s the way we have to go.
But he’s still growing, and his nappies prove that he’s consuming something… I guess it’s just a sign that my two boys, who look almost identical so far, will actually be quite different. Another part of the challenges of parenthood!
These are some of the resources that have helped me to understand baby-led weaning (and to cope with the mess):
This is a brilliant cookbook. Not only does it explain the rationale behind baby-led weaning, it also gives loads of recipes and ways of adapting family favourites to make them more baby-friendly.
This has been a really good book for ideas. I also love the fact that the recipes are divided into seasons.
I will be using these very soon to keep things all together – they stick down to the highchair tray.
Silicone bibs are brilliant and these are really comfortable for the baby and the pelican bit is really wide to catch as much dropped food as possible.
These bibs have microfibre fronts, so they can hold loads of liquid. They do need washing frequently (i.e. every day), but they dry quickly, can be tumble dried and last well.
We have laminate floors which are really good for BLW, but if you don’t, a cover is highly recommended.
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