Mess, mess and more mess….The Food Adventures of Baby I Love Greens
4th June 2014
So, anyone who knows me well will understand that this is my worst nightmare…
That’s right, my darling 6 month old LOVES banana! Yes it’s true, banana is probably the only food I really really dislike (although in recent years my tolerance to it has increased as I’ve persevered with trying it on occasions), but the joy on Baby I Love Greens’ face at her first taste more than made up for me having to peel it and sniff it for the rest of evening!
Now since my last post we’ve been diligently offering up random pieces of fruit and vegetables whenever one or both of us has had a snack or meal and seeing where it takes us. As you’ve probably guessed we’ve gone more down the Baby Led Weaning (BLW) route as opposed to traditional weaning using purées.
For the uninitiated BLW involves offering baby whole pieces of food, ideally from the family meal and letting them feed themselves. Technically speaking there are no mashed or pureed foods and you don’t spoon fed.
I read a couple of good books on the subject of weaning to help me make up my mind and then decided that I’d start with the BLW whilst keeping an open mind about also introducing some purées/mashed bits. I think they call it the balanced approach. I’d like to say we both made the decision but Mr I Love Greens admittedly bows to my superior knowledge on this subject (Hmmm!) and as feeding is pretty much my domain I guess he figures whatever makes me happy is best!
One particularly good book, which I really do recommend is ‘Weaning Made Easy’ by Dr Rana Conway. Here is what she has to say about both schools of thought:
|You can feed a baby who doesn’t have the skills to feed herself||Preparing and freezing food takes time|
|You can plan a balanced diet more easily||Some babies refuse to eat lumps|
|You know what and how much has been eaten||You get stressed when they don’t eat the healthy food you’ve prepared|
|You can hide unpopular foods||Babies are overfed|
|You can use jars of baby food if it’s more convenient||Moving to family meals can be difficult|
|The baby is in control at meal times||Adult food can be too salty for babies|
|No cooking special baby meals, puréeing or freezing||Babies can only eat food if they can feed it to themselves|
|Problems moving from purées to lumps are avoided||Babies may miss out on certain foods and therefore nutrients|
|Overfeeding is unlikely||It’s messy|
|It encourages more adventurous eating and less fussiness||It’s not suitable for all babies|
|The focus on family meals encourages healthier eating habits||Parents feel guilty if they ‘break the rules’, e.g. by using spoon feeding|
Now I don’t agree with all of the above but it does raise some good points. I’m particularly drawn to BLW because I think food should be fun as well as social and I’m really keen that Baby I Love Greens can really start to understand textures, colours and flavours right from the off. Also, scientists have recently found that the messier a child eats the faster they learn because it teaches them the difference between solids, liquids and everything in between (thanks to ITV and The Secret Life of Babies for that little snippet)! However, there are certain foods that I will certainly attempt to spoon feed for fear of having to repaint my dining room!
It was the week before she turned 6 months when I started the offering of a stick of cucumber. Now I’d love to say that she elegantly placed it in her mouth, smiled at me and finished the whole thing – the reality was a little bit different. The cucumber was clearly a new toy to be flung about and stared at, but certainly not put anywhere near the mouth. Thinking about it, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Firstly she’s not really one for shoving a toy in her mouth. It took Sophie the Giraffe a good deal of patience before she was accepted into the fold as a chew toy. It was on day 5 that she actually put anything near her mouth. I don’t think it was coincidence that I was actually eating cucumber at the same time, I wonder if she felt reassured seeing me eat it, or just wanted to be like Mummy. I also think the fact this piece of cucumber was room temperature may have helped. She’s always been a fussy one with the temperature of expressed milk. The look of utter concentration on her face as she navigated this stick was priceless and I felt ridiculously proud of her!
But even after this break through the progress has been slow, but I’m trying my best to go at her pace and sit on my hands. I also have to remember that even though some of Baby I Love Greens’ friends are food monsters (you know who you are!), they’re not all identical, and as with anything baby related they all go at their own speed and this is perfectly normal. Although Mr I Love Greens has adopted some interesting tactics to encourage her to eat…..
We have mashed a few bits of carrot and steamed apple into very lumpy ‘mash’ and given her some on a spoon, but to me this is still baby led as she’s happy to open her mouth for it and even grabs the spoon to take over the feeding herself (she’s got a strong grip when she doesn’t want to let go!).
I’m pleased to say that there seems little chance of Baby I Love Greens choking; she seems to have a very efficient gag reflex which promptly ejects from her mouth anything unwanted, including the most recent milk feed (urgh). But in all seriousness I’m feeling quite relaxed about the choking (although we’re doing a paediatric first aid course next week too). She’s in control of what she is putting in and she’s certainly not inhaling it as I think is the temptation with very runny purées. Hopefully I won’t have my confidence tested!
Here are a couple of things I’ve picked up on over the last two weeks:
- Putting too much in front distracts. In fact everything distracts her which suggests to me she’s not that bothered by food quite yet;
- watching us eating the same food encourages her to eat;
- she seems even more interested if she’s on my lap and can take something from my plate (evidenced when she quickly swiped a piece of tomato off my plate at lunch the other day!);
- if you accept the inevitable mess it becomes a lot more fun;
- tiredness and hunger all impact on how interested she is; and
- everything sticks to a clear pvc floor mat and it’s really hard to wipe clean – I’m going to switch it for a cotton table cloth that I can shake out and put in the machine!
And my highlight of the week so far –CARROT in her POO! Hurrah she’s actually swallowed something!
How quickly did your baby take to food? Did you start of on with BLW and switch or vice versa? And what would you do differently next time? If you have any comments or questions let me know on Facebook or Twitter!