Baby
07 Nov

Weaning confusion

I made a conscious decision to wean Baby as close to 6 months as I possibly could, especially after one mother pinned me down with a haunted look in her eye and said, “Delay it! Delay it as long as you can. It’s hell.” She said it changed her baby’s schedule and sleep patterns and it was like starting all over again. Well, you don’t have to tell me twice.

But what is weaning exactly? To find out, I went along to the NHS weaning class that my health visitor suggested I attend. I excitedly told all my other NCT mates to sign up for it, as the classes were few and far between and I was sure it would be a goldmine of useful information.

When we got there, the lady explained that she was going to show us a DVD about weaning and we could ask questions after the show. And before she put the DVD on, she also told us that the government was now recommending something called Baby-Led Weaning at 6 months. She didn’t seem too keen on it, as, up to a few months ago, she had been recommending purees and baby rice. Another health visitor who was sitting in on the talk piped up that, in Fulham, they were recommending something else entirely different. Great. Glad to see the NHS has got its ducks in a row on this one.

The video started. It basically showed us lots of people who said how great Baby-Led Weaning was, but left me none the wiser on how to do it. One family happily sat around the dinner table, watching their baby gnaw on a chicken drumstick. Okay…

And then they used that phrase that I’ve come to absolutely abhor: Baby-Led Weaning will give your baby “the best start in life”. What?! Crap, so if I don’t let my kid gnaw on a drumstick, she won’t get into Harvard? On top of the fact that I didn’t play Mozart for her in the womb and I topped her up with formula, I must be going straight to the ninth circle of hell.

So I got my back up about the whole Baby-Led Weaning thing and learned absolutely nothing from the NHS class. In defiance, I went to Waitrose and bought some organic porridge and baby rice, as well as the Annabel Karmel and Gina Ford books on weaning.

Although she’s only just over 5 months, out of curiosity (and boredom, if I’m honest), I mixed up some porridge one day and fed it to Baby. She acted like I was trying to feed her horse manure. I waited a week and then made another attempt with baby rice. Same result. I waited a couple more days and then tried pureed apple. Blech.

And in the back of my head, I have that stupid phrase percolating: “for the best start in life…best start in life…in life…in life…in life…” Argh! Fine. I’ll give it a go. I found a blog site about BLW and read up on it.

Baby-led weaning is what it says on the tin: letting the baby lead her own weaning process. She eats the same foods as you (minus salt and sugar) and, more importantly, chooses what she wants to eat, sometimes grabbing the food straight off your plate. The biggest benefit that I could detect of this type of weaning is that it makes you think harder about what you put on your plate (could be good for reducing my amplified wasteline) and it’s supposed to make the baby less finicky about food.

Undecided as to whether BLW was a bunch of hippie nonsense or a really good thing to do, I chopped up some carrots into sticks, steamed them a bit, put them on a plate, stuck Baby in her Bumbo and sat down to business. I offered them to her. She took one and studied it carefully. She put it in her mouth and sucked on it a little. And then threw it on the floor. This process was repeated a few times. My goal at this time isn’t to get her eating solid foods yet, but just to get her used to foods, so it didn’t bother me that she didn’t take anything down.

Next day, I tried cucumber sticks and carrots. To illustrate how super yummy they are, I ate them, too, while making exaggerated “yum! yum!” noises. She seemed to like the cucumber sticks and sucked on them for slightly longer than the carrots.

Next day, it was mushed carrots, cucumber and apple sticks. It was on this day that I decided I was trying to do too much, too soon, as I ended up with a baby, table, floor and cat covered in carrot mush. I had to strip Baby down at the table because her onesie was saturated in orange slop.

As the 6-month mark looms on the horizon, I need to make my mind up about weaning. Perhaps I’ll do a mix of BLW and regular weaning, as that approach makes sense to me. Either way, I can already see what that mum meant when she told me to delay it as long as I can and not rush into it. This is not going to be easy.

So back to the question of what is weaning? It is not, as I thought, the process of getting your baby to eat solid foods. No. It is much more than that. It is obviously a Trial by Ordeal sent to confirm that I am not a witch. Or to test my patience to see if I’d make a good saint.

Regardless of what it is, I predict a lot of cucumbers and carrots in my future (maybe I am a witch).

9 Comments

  1. 07 Nov

    Donna Marshall

    Baby led weaning just sounds incredibly messy!

  2. 07 Nov

    Mrs B @ crankymonkeys in london

    Why has this been made so complicated for parents? :) Once the baby turns 6 months, puree simple veg and mash up bananas for about a month or so and then move on to combining flavours (I used to freeze purees in ice cube trays so I’d mix one cube of carrot with one cube of boiled meat mash, etc.) and then go onto roughter textured purees and then onto soft cubes of food they can grab and eat themselves. By the time they’re 1 they’ll eat roughly what you’re eating. This whole Baby-Led business makes no sense to me :)

  3. 07 Nov

    Eddie Judd

    Just over 3 years ago I have to say baby led weaning saved my sanity! It was very unheard of then and the 1st book on it had yet to be released. After 6 weeks of pureeing diligently and attempting to feed my youngest a variety of fruit and veg. She wasn’t having ANY of it!! We then went to France on holiday when she was 7 months old and I had started researching BLW. I decided to relax. Well she tucked right in then – cheese, ham and baguette – and then chopped up spag bol – she LOVED it! When home I did a mixture of regular and BLW but putting things inside big pasta shells that she could fed herself was a winner!!! It was messy but that was so much less stressful than worrying about her not eating! If only I’d heard about it 1st time around too! Definitely wait until 6 months – as soon as they are able to put things in their mouth to chew (ie toys etc!) then they have the gagging reflex. HTH!

  4. 07 Nov

    Julia from ICAWatermelon

    I forgot to mention that the reason I started dabbling with weaning is that she drank 15oz in one night and started having trouble making it four hours until her next feed during the day.

  5. 08 Nov

    Amy Georgina

    I have no idea what we did but it must have been a mix of both (this was 3 years ago!) We avoided baby rice as it looked like wall paper paste and Scarlett was having none of it. Mostly we gave her pureed apples and bananas to start with as well as pureed root veg (because parsnips and swede are quite sweet and that seemed to go down well!)

    Cheesy pasta was a fave in big handfulls and so was bolognese. I’m loving the idea of filling big pasta shells, very good idea!

    I found fannying around with anything Annabel Karmel related (all this pureeing and freezing) a bit of a pain and found the Ella’s Kitchen pouches a godsend when we were out and about as they would be warmed up in hot water and easily squeezed onto a spoon.

    Just get a cheap plastic shower curtain to put on the floor and experiment. Also, longstem broccoli was a total winner!

  6. 08 Nov

    Marie

    BLW is perfect for starting with weaning, in my experience.

    The point is that if they’re not ready developmentally (sitting and able to support head unaided, grip etc etc) you can save yourself all the time, mess and expense by waiting till they are.

    I started weaning both of mine by BLW – when they took to it I knew I could take steps onwards, and continued by offering both spoon (home, jar, or Ella’s Kitchen pouches – lifesavers) and finger foods with every meal.

    Weaning eitehr way is messy, the nappies are abhorrent, and as far as I know there are very few adults out there who only drink milk ;) – they all get it eventually so why rush?

    I do agree I hate all the preachy-preachy ‘best start’ and ‘anti-jar’ I hear sometimes. All I know is that waiting until my two actually expressed an interest in food (one was about 6m, the other closer to 7) worked for me. Neither suffered in terms of weight, development (that mythical ‘window’ for weaning, grr) or anything else.

    I have two confident eaters who know what food is, aren’t pressured by it and feed themselves beautifully (even the 18mo who is messy but fairly efficient with fork and spoon. From a very early age they were able to handle food just off our plates (subject to usual salt/ingredients caution of course) and what could be easier?

    Let baby lead, Julia if that’s what you are comfortable with. The Gill Rapley book is excellent by the way.

  7. 08 Nov

    Michelle

    Oh dear, I am booked on this NHS course next week…

  8. 08 Nov

    Julia from ICAWatermelon

    Thank you to everyone for the great advice!

    Michelle – it’ll be like deja vu for you after reading this post. ;o)

    Jx

  9. 04 Jan

    Nicola Wardle

    Julia, I too found the whole weaning dilemma stressful and the NHS course re weaning a waste of time (they don’t really support BLW).
    I’m going the anti allergy route just to make things harder and have had a real battle with family over BLW. (yes yes dear… finger food but it has to be pureed..?!)
    The reality is that my daughter took to finger food and can manage to feed herself and is willing to try anything. She knows when she is full and can get a loaded spoon in her mouth herself every time!
    The best bit is she can feed herself while we get on with our meal.
    The worst bit is she still wakes every 3 hours for a feed… but that’s a different story…

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