Today I am featuring a lovely guest post from Nicola who blogs over at Mummy To Dex, Nicola and Dex are sharing their Baby Led Weaning journey with us- Thank you Nicola for your lovely post!
We’ve been baby led weaning for three months now and during this time we have learnt so much. There have been a few low moments and so many worries, but I’ve never once regretted this journey that we are on.
Baby led weaning is the process of letting your baby decide what he wants to eat by offering a range of finger foods and meals that the family are already eating, therefore eliminating the need for purees, jars and pouches. We didn’t completely skip the puree stage; I offered single veg purees from 24 weeks to 26 weeks and then dove in with finger foods, without looking back. Despite enjoying the experience for the majority of the time, there have been some moments where I’ve panicked and thought, oh God, is this the right path? Did we make the right decision?
The mess can get unbelievably overwhelming at times. There’s the food that inadvertently drops on the floor that needs to be swept up after every meal time and then that area of floor needs to be mopped as well. The highchair needs a good scrub after every meal and to be thrown in the dishwasher at least once a day. I have also ruined so many items of clothing during this process.
We now have a system in place which limits the mess made and of course Dex is becoming better at getting the food IN his mouth as opposed to on the floor, but for a while there, I was at my wits end with the amount of cleaning I was having to do. Our system involves using a BIBaDO, a plastic scoop bib and a Nuby SureGrip tray. The combination of these three products severely limits the mess and helps me to keep my sanity!
The fear of choking
This is a biggie for so many Mums. I have never *touch wood* had a choking incident with Dex although he has gagged plenty. Babies’ gag reflexes are situated a lot further forward in their mouths which protects them from choking. I have avoided hazardous foods like raw apple, grapes and whole nuts and I have never interfered with what is in his mouth. At the beginning of our journey he would stuff things in his mouth, to the point of bursting and I would have to sit on my hands and wait for him to work it out. There have been times (one of which occurred only last week) where he has looked at me with big wide eyes, not making a sound. I have got up ready to start first aid and it turns out he was actually doing a poo. I cannot explain to you how my heart hammers and the panic I feel, but knowing I am aware of what I would need to do IF he started choking helps me immensely. The fear never completely goes away, but it does subside as the months go on.
Eating on the go
I do wish at times that I could just throw a pouch in the changing bag and be on our way, instead of having to think, right, what’s in the freezer that I can defrost the night before and have I done enough batch cooking to see us through. I try to avoid making sandwiches because bread has got so much hidden salt in it, but he does love a brie sandwich from time to time. Having to think about salt content all the time can be overwhelming as well. If he were eating pouches, it wouldn’t be an issue. It’s scary how much salt is hidden in simple foods. We bought some crumpets the other day and each one had his daily salt recommendation in it. I hadn’t even thought to check before giving it to him. The rest of the day, I was then on edge about how much salt he could have in the rest of his foods.
Meal planning massively helps to overcome this obstacle. Not only does meal planning help with saving money and avoiding waste, it means that I will always have something ready for Dex to eat and not have to resort to crumpets bought from a shop in a hurry that have huge amounts of salt in them.
How long meal times take
Sometimes each meal can take an hour or more. With spoon feeding, you as the parent are in control of what is going in, but with BLW, the baby takes control of picking up his own food and putting it in his mouth. Dex often likes to play with the food for a while first, and then he will eat some, drink some water, have a look around, want to eat some fruit, go back to his original meal, drink some more water and so on. Then, I have to do the big clean up job which can take some time. So that’s pretty much three hours of my day gone, sitting at the kitchen table, eating food together.
I try to get a few jobs done while Dexter is taking his time eating; I empty the dishwasher or wipe down the kitchen table. I read him a book while he chews on his banana and sing him some nursery rhymes. In the end, you get used to the hours spent at the table and teatime is always my favourite, because Daddy gets to join us too.
Of course it’s not all bad. There are so many high points to this journey that make it all so worth it. Watching Dex demolish a smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich without batting an eyelid then going on to eat a whole plum (stone removed) sucking out the flesh and spitting out the skin, is something I will never get bored of. It’s pretty awesome that such a young baby is so confident and clever at eating ‘grown up foods’.