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).