We did baby-led weaning for DS1 a couple of years’ ago, and the whole experience was an absolute joy. Still at 2 and a half he is built like a rugby player and will eat absolutely anything. I remember sitting in Carluccios with my antenatal girlfriends when the babies were just 6 months; most of them were having puree shoved down them, while DS1 was sitting on my lap helping himself to penne giardiniera.
We’re now 48 hours into BLW for DS2 (who hit six months yesterday) and the practicalities of it are now coming back to me. I think I had wiped them from my mind!
- It is EXTREMELY messy. I am pretty militant about making sure the baby does everything himself, but when one well-placed sweep of the arm lands all his food on the floor this can get quite frustrating. I end up spraying Dettox on the floor just before the meal though, and by that I can justify picking all his food back up again and putting it in front of him. And again. And again…
- All this bending down must be good for you, including the 10 minutes under the table at the end of each meal cleaning up.
- Ensure that you clean up AS SOON AS the meal is finished. It is amazing how hard food can set if you leave it to dry in situ; and then you then spend twice as long scrubbing away at the table with industrial cleaner and a Brillo pad in a panic just before your mother-in-law comes through the door. If you do this too often you end up actually wearing down the table where the baby sits. This can be a handy way of ‘retiring’ a piece of furniture you never really liked, but this time around we have a new table, so I think I’m going to invest in a laminated table cloth instead.
- TASTE is good. This evening, for example, DS2 met pasta with ambivalence, tuna and mayonnaise with a bit more excitement, while a Fruits of the Forest Activia yoghurt made his eyes pop out of his head*. This to me is one of the key aspects of BLW; it engenders a real interest in food and a delight in complex flavours. Have you ever actually tasted baby rice? It’s like wallpaper paste. I cannot imagine anything less likely to excite a baby about eating than that.
- GAGGING is, to some extent, what’s meant to happen at the start as the baby gets used to having food in his mouth and moving it around with his tongue. It can be a bit of a fright the first time, and I’d forgotten how dramatic it can look when a child is heaving and wincing (see pic). However, even over the six ‘meals’ we’ve had over the last couple of days this has improved. A good thing actually as yesterday a piece of carrot was finally cleared by DS2 accompanied by a projectile vomit of milk right into the middle of the table. Apple is probably the worst culprit for getting stuck. It’s worth ensuring you feel comfortable with what to do in the event of proper choking, just for peace of mind.
- Meals become a real activity in the day. I was looking through my diary of a typical day for DS1, and I’d set aside 2 hours for lunch. This would be somewhat suboptimal if you actually had something else worthwhile to do, but on days where you’re maybe at a bit of a loose end as to what possibly-just-slightly-mind-numbing activities to get up to, Lunch can be a real benefit. I also noted that it was a real incentive to eat out, as that would entail both a journey to and fro, plus the possibility of a wider range of cuisine than you might be bothered to knock up at home.
So, so far in his little life, DS2 has had banana, carrot and apple flavoured rice cakes, carrot sticks (raw and steamed), an old Farley’s rusk left over from when DS1 had hand, foot and mouth disease and couldn’t eat anything else, a stick of Jarlsberg, a finger of Vogel toast, a bit of potato, a tomato-flavoured breadstick, and the afore-mentioned pasta, tuna and mayonnaise, and a fruits of the forest yoghurt. I say ‘has had’ but obviously in most cases they ended up in his mouth by accident rather than design, and left quickly afterwards.
Nevertheless, if he ends up eating even as remotely well as his brother, we’ll be just delighted.
* This, admittedly, will hopefully be a bit of an exception – for DS1 we used plain greek yoghurt flavoured with sugar-free jam as I was a bit anal about ensuring he didn’t have anything sweet. His father and I both have HUGE sweet-teeth (?) so I’m sure the boys will become chocoholics at some point in the future; there just didn’t seem any point in expediting this…