Grub’s up!

I’ve been holding out for the ideal opportunity to sit down and compose a long and polished post on my Baby Led Weaning thoughts.  Seems that time might never come, so perhaps I should just get on with it.  I often think about the BLW approach in terms of pros and cons, so that seems like a good structure to try out. These are just my personal thoughts and observations about why I feel it’s working for us, mind.

PROS:

  • It suits my “lazy” approach to parenting. (I’m not sure I should tar jay with the same brush!) No special effort to cook specially for BB; no pureeing; no freezing; no introducing things one by one.  For the first few weeks we gave him bits of fruit or vegetables and now he pretty much gets at least some of whatever we’re having. This means we have more time to do fun things with him.
  • It’s cheap. No need to fork out on jars of expensive baby food because I’m too lazy/busy to cook/puree/freeze.
  • It makes for pleasant mealtimes. BB sits at the table with us and eats with us.  We both have the chance to eat together, without one of us having to wield a spoon.  We get to chat and catch up on our day.
  • It’s not competitive. I find myself completely removed from all those mummy-conversations about how many cubes of this or that BB is taking at each feed, or whether he’s managed to cut down his milk or sleeps through the night yet.  We may as well be on a different planet!
  • It removes the stress. We don’t need to plan our day to ensure BB is getting a set number of meals and snacks – if he’s awake when we eat, he gets some. If not, he doesn’t.  If we’re out, we don’t need to dash home, or remember to bring food and paraphernalia with us.
  • In milk we trust. Milk is his main nutrition, and will remain so until he’s around one. There is no food we can offer him that will be as nutritious or as well suited to his needs.
  • We save on dog food. Seriously, that dog is getting a rich and varied diet!
  • We eat more healthily ourselves. Sharing our food with BB makes us more conscious of what we’re putting into ourselves. We’re making better choices. Once he figures out what that brown stuff that we never offer him is, we’ll make even better ones (or just scoff the chocolate when he’s asleep!)
  • It’s good for fine motor skill development. It’s been amazing to watch BB’s co-ordination and motor control develop.  There’s nothing he can’t get into his mouth now, using one tactic or another. He had a bowl of chilli tonight.
  • It’s good for vocal development. The practise with chewing and moving food around the mouth helps develop some of the same muscles used to articulate sounds. He’s certainly a very chatty little boy.
  • It *should* help us avoid common problems associated with conventional weaning. Having food presented in it’s usual form, rather than pureed, should help BB recognise and discriminate between foods, meaning he’ll reject only those foods he’s identified as things he doesn’t like, rather than rejecting all purees, because he can’t tell if there’s something in it he doesn’t like or not. He’s less likely to be picky or balk at trying new things if there’s no expectation for him to eat them if he doesn’t want to. In theory. We haven’t really got to the stage of testing that hypothesis yet.
  • It *should*engender a healthy attitude to food and eating.  Meal times are social occasions. Food is to be enjoyed. No pressure to finish what’s in front of him or try anything if he doesn’t want to.  These were not messages I associated with food as I grew up and it’s taken some time for me to change attitudes.

CONS

  • It’s messy. Holy hell, it’s messy. Even with a dog to clean up the worst of it.
  • It’s wasteful. Well, it would be if we didn’t have a dog. A lot ends up being left, or dropped on the floor, especially in the beginning.
  • It’s slow. It often seems to take BB forever to be done with whatever’s in front of him. I could certainly shovel it in faster with a spoon.
  • It’s success relies on a freely available milk supply. We’re lucky – we have one (me). But I can imagine attempting BLW with a formula fed baby, or whilst trying to juggle a demanding full time job would be tricky to say the least.
  • Your kid has to be developmentally ready. They have to be able to sit unassisted (plus there are a number of other indicators). For some people, waiting for this might not be practical.
  • Your kid could choke to death at any minute!!!! Actually, incredibly unlikely, but it’s the one thing that looms large in people’s minds and they contemplate BLW. Ironically, babies weaned this way are less likely to choke, as they swiftly become adept at moving food round their mouths. They don’t face the problem that puree-fed babies face when moving on from smooth puree to lumpy puree, when they discover that the slurp from the spoon method they’ve employed thus far (think smooth soup) sends chunks of stuff flying to the back of their throats (you wouldn’t slurp minestrone, right?).  Also, the spoon places food much further back in the mouth than fingers do, so is certainly not without its choking risk. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, but hey, kids can choke on anything. Every parent should be well versed in the basic first aid advice on knowing how to recognise choking and what to do about it.
  • Your kid could gag to death then. Nah – gagging is not going to kill anyone. Well, unless it gives you a heart attack. Gagging is the body’s way of protecting the airway, as is puking, which can also happen. It sounds horrific and can look spectacularly awful when viewed through adult eyes, but it really doesn’t seem to bother the kids. The gag reflex is quite far forward in the mouths of young babies. Whereas an adult has to stick fingers a long way back in the mouth to trigger it, young babies will gag very easily. This protects their airway, should they accidentally get something in their mouths. As they get older and get more practise with moving food around their mouths and their muscles develop, the reflex moves further back. BB actually only gagged at all for the first couple of weeks, and then only occasionally.  I can’t remeber the last time he did it. Yes, it was scary, but he was fine and seemed totally unbothered.  We, on the other hand, sat their, hearts pounding, fake smiles plastered to our faces. It was fine. Honestly.

I’ve totally loved BLW so far. Watching our little boy expore the delights of food and become an independent feeder has been, and continues to be, amazing. The scary moments have been far outweighed by seeing his mucky, grinning little face.  As with any parenting choice, it’s not for everyone, for a variety of reasons and we’re certainly not judgemental puritans on the question. Whatever works for you.  But if you fancy giving it a go, or introducing some of the principles alongside spoon feeding, we’re more than happy to be grilled on the matter.

Perhaps next time, I’ll post a typical day’s menu. It’d certainly be a lot shorter than this epic!

vee xxx

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7 responses to this post.

  1. We love BLW too and this is a great list of pros and cons. We formula feed too (not by choice but hey) and it’s not really much more complicated and I would definitely call our experience a success! It’s also fantastic when there are older kids around (our 13 month old sometimes eats more than our 9.5 year old!) – family meals are so important.

    Reply

  2. Yes Yes Yes!!!

    I 100000% agree with all this!

    (Except that we still eat like crap at our house, but try to give Peeper healthier stuff that what we’re having. That said, she does get a lot of Cheerios and raisins on some days.)

    Reply

  3. Also lol about the dog.

    Peeper now feeds BigGaloot directly, in addition to him cleaning up everything that she drops.

    When we’re away from home, I’m always surprised what a mess she makes, because I never have to clean it up myself here!

    Reply

  4. We are moving closer to BLW now that Miles is getting better at picking stuff up. Our big test will be Thanksgiving on Thursday when he gets more variety than we’ve ever given him before. BTW, we formula feed and I agree with Clark…it’s not really any more complicated. We bottle feed him first and then give him solids. If we plan to give him a lot of solids, we might give him an ounce less of formula so he’s not too full. Or just wait an hour after his bottle for solids. Glad you and BB are having fun!

    Reply

  5. Posted by mingomama on November 24, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this. I am totally printing it out and handing it to my sister-in-law who won’t feed her child ANYTHING. Wait, I take that back. She gave him a piece of crustless bread soaked in water. He spit it out. I don’t blame him.

    Reply

  6. Posted by scarredbellybutton on November 29, 2009 at 10:09 am

    You know we love BLW!

    BTW I prefer the term energy efficient parenting 😉

    Reply

  7. love reading this — we’re at 4.5 months and I’m hoping headed for BLW…

    Reply

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