Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Baby-Led Weaning: Just a Taste

About five days before Turtle turned 6 months, I was eating a chunk of cheese and Turtle was on my hip. All of a sudden she grabbed my hand, took a bite out of the cheese, and promptly swallowed it. I may have had a minor panic attack for a few seconds, but she swallowed it without any problems. I was breathing again normally in no time. After that the hubs and I decided to give her the occasional taste of our food. So far she has had sticks of steak, watermelon, waffle, green beans, eggplant, pancake, sweet potato, banana, stew, toast with jam, green pepper, mushroom, cheese, pork, and carrot. So, we sort of waded our way into the baby-led weaning waters a week early. But, Turtle has taken to it with gusto. She is a little eating machine, but I think her favourites have been the steak, pork, banana, and watermelon.

The baby-led weaning book I read, this one by Rapley, is quite good at answering questions, giving reasoning, and providing incentive for giving BLW a try. But, I think it could use a little more of the exact ins and outs of actually doing BLW. Things like: is this carrot too hard? is it better to give her a banana that is more firm or more soft? Or, even something that lists 'week 1 - give your baby this and this and this food, prepared this way', and so on and so forth. Baby-Led Weaning For Dummies perhaps? It doesn't exist, I checked. I've just been winging it so far, with some hits and misses.

After trying BLW for a few days now, I would say the softer the better to start. Turtle is gagging left and right, but as long as the food is soft I can let her figure it out on her own. She coughs and sticks her tongue out, but either ends up spitting it out or actually swallows it. Her new poo-diapers can attest to that. No actual choking at all - praise the Lord. When the food is chunkier I tend to get worried and panic-y and grabby. The hubs is mellow and hands off, but I'm watching her like a hawk on the edge of my seat ready to spring into action. So, my advice is to stay in soft waters at least in the beginning. Things like banana, roasted sweet potato, watermelon, cheese, pork, waffle, and steak. All those things she has handled very well. The eggplant was the worst, and it tastes like crap to boot.

We officially started BLW yesterday, Tuesday. The original plan was to start Monday, but time slipped away a little bit. Turtle had three full meals on top of her normal breastfeeding routine. I thought she would take longer playing with the foods than she does. However, she loses interest before I'm done eating - but I am the world's slowest eater and I take a lot of breaks to snap pictures and I get distracted by the cuteness and worry of her eating. But, there is no exaggeration about how messy BLW is. The dogs are absolutely thrilled though. I've found food stuck to the bottom of her diaper, while she was wearing a onesie, and even tucked into the front of her diaper, again while wearing a onesie. Food gets everywhere - all over her, all over the floor, all over the high chair.

It is so much fun though. There is worry, more than I thought there would be. But, I plan on sticking to softer things and far away from eggplant until she is more confident and I am more confident. It is nice not having to do a lot of extra prep work to make purees, but I've mushed up a couple pieces of her food and let her use a spoon (while I hold it as well - she guides it, I keep her from deep-throating it) just for fun. I am definitely looking forward to the end of gagging and the firm grasp of gumming and swallowing, however. Next up this week we are trying zucchini, squash, cantaloupe, and chicken.

So, that is how it has been going so far and what I would tweak, basically just not try eggplant and go with softer foods. Don't forget to check out BLW: An Introduction. And, there will be a follow-up post after we've gotten a bit more practice under our belts - look for that in a month or two.

Now I will leave you with some pictures of Turtle enjoying her new foods. So, if that is not your thing, please feel free to not look. I'm actually not normally a fan myself, but these aren't messy enough to be unpleasant - promise.

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