A special post for all my new readers and followers!
Lil’ T is 15 weeks old. It’s time I put on my hypothetical glasses (thank you LASEK surgery) and get studying because in just a couple of months I’ll be offering my happy little guy a bit of solid food. I’ve made lots of friends, in my virtual and real life during Theo’s short time on the planet, and I’m bowled over by how many are interested in Baby Led Weaning, whether fully or in combination with some purées. I didn’t know anyone at all that had done it just 2.5 short years ago. In fact I can’t actually remember exactly how I came across it. I think that I somehow found the My Daddy Cooks blog and took it from there. The Daddy in question, Nick Coffer became a bit of a media mogul since that time whereas I have gotten one mention in the Irish Independent *blush*
So, I have a few tips for those that are starting out on the BLW journey for the first time.
1. Know why you’re doing what you’re doing
You will question yourself. Other people will question you. You will wonder why you don’t just freeze cubes and cubes of puréed food and defrost them one by one and mix them with ridiculously small pasta shapes and pop them in your changing bag and offer them up at regular intervals. That way, you know what your kid is getting nutrition wise, and you know you’ll always have something appropriate for them when they need to eat. Then you will remember the mantra: Food under one is just for fun. I wrote about this a month into our journey here.
It’s important to remember why you’re doing it. In fact it’s important to know why in the first place. BLW is slightly trendier now for want of a better word. Plenty of people’s mums did it with them before it had a name, when parenting was more about community and instinct than internet and books. But there is a big following now, and lots of information out there to explain why it’s a good idea and no, your child isn’t going to choke.
(Incidentally even the slow moving behemoth that is the HSE says “See how your baby responds to the different flavours and textures. Offer your baby finger foods such as small pieces of fruit and vegetables or toast. How much your baby takes is less important than getting used to the idea of food other than milk.”)
With that in mind, I can’t recommend the official BLW book highly enough. It’s an easy read and if you’re of a similar mind to me you’ll be “aha!-ing” along with eureka moments at every turn and will be like “this is awesome and totally for me and my family”. The book covers 7 topics in depth but I found it easy to dip in and out of as a reference (though I did read it cover to cover and plan to again)
- What is Baby Led Weaning
- How does Baby Led Weaning work
- Getting Started
- First foods
- After the Early Days
- Baby Led Weaning and Family Life
- A Healthy Diet for Everyone
There is also a cookbook that has 130 recipes and a succinct explanation of the theory and practise of Baby Led Weaning. This will do as a stand-alone guide, but I like to have the ‘full’ book as a reference.
2. You may hit stumbling blocks
If you’re a stay at home mum, you might not come across this particular problem. Dominic combined BLW with spoonfeeding when he went to creche (not at home). From my point of view our biggest stumbling block was that he started creche at 9 months old. I didn’t feel his eating was well enough established when he realised he could sit back and open his baby bird mouth for a spoon to be popped in – and he quite liked that thank you very much. Lazy like his mammy… So we had tempt him with even more delicious foods at home. After a couple of months, the 2 went alongside nicely. And as a full time work outside the home mum, I was always confident he’d had a good meal no matter what I was able to provide that evening. Happy mammy = happy baby. It fits in so many spheres, that phrase!
But you know what? Whatever method of feeding you choose, it’s not all going to go swimmingly all of the time. This applies to breast or bottle, purées or finger food. Parenting, it ain’t easy. With this in mind, you may like to…
3. …Connect with like minded people.
The Baby Led Weaning forum. The original and the best. There’s oodles opportunities for discussion out there, including lots of Facebook groups, Irish based and otherwise. However that forum is practical and well organised, covering everyone from newbies to experienced blw’ers, and providing lots of recipes and tips.
4. The Gear.
You don’t really need any special gear, but who doesn’t love new baby stuff?
- My 2 favourite pull-up-to-the-table highchairs are at the complete opposite end of the budget spectrum – the Stokke Tripp Trapp & the Ikea Antilop. The former for our small kitchen, where design and a small footprint were both important to me. The latter for grandparents houses, a little bigger, no nonense, easy to store and frankly, brilliant.
- Because you can pull these right up to the table, you may want to protect your slick new fancy modern table, or your heirloom solid hardwood table. Get an oil cloth tablecoth. Ours is still going strong over 2 years later, cleaned about 3 times a day, with barely any stains (Warning: oil cloth will stain so if you go for a pale colour watch tomatoey/curry things and give them a speedy enough clean – after the meal like not immediately as the kids spills you don’t need to be that highly strung!)
- Long sleeved bibs. Good ol’ Ikea. More recently Dominic’s favourite is a Pixar Cars one from Tesco, but the sleeves are slim fitting stretchy cotton, well that’s no good over your dressing gown of a lazy saturday morning now is it? And yes, my nearly 3 year old still wears bibs. He requests them, and anything that suggests his clothes may possibly get a second outing when I’m dealing with the laundry load of him and an infant is A-OK with me. Neoprene bibs are great too, very absorbent.
- In fact, the above and more are mentioned here when I wrote about the gear we had early on. What would I add to that? Yep, the ‘I’ word again – all of this Ikea childrens tablewear.
5. Trust your instincts & they don’t have to clear their plate!
They might gag. (They might not also) You’ll have to sit on your hands a couple of times to not to intervene. If you’ve read your BLW book you’ll know there’s no big issue here (ok, that’s not instinct, that’s science.)
They won’t starve. If they stop eating, they’re done with it. I’m a committed plate clearer due to an eighties childhood filled with children starving in Africa, their sorry fate dangled over my head during every stew and potato-based battle of wills.
There’ll be a bit of a mess for a while. Relax, you can deal with it later.
Now, any questions?