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Adventures in Baby Led Weaning (Part 1)

Adventures in Baby Led Weaning

My little guy is a Baby Wise baby. He has slept through the night since he was 6 weeks old. Even after our move across the country, he was faithful to sleep between 11-12 hours a night. A few weeks ago my husband headed out west with his friend Robert to finish packing up our house then driving across the country. That’s when everything changed.

My son started getting up once in the night, usually between 4 and 5am. Not a big deal. After a few nights of this I began nursing him, and putting him back down. I figured daddy being gone was causing some stress and he needed extra comfort. It continued like this, even after my husband came back. But instead of waking up once per night, he was waking 2x a night. What gives? We hadn’t been doing anything different when it came to feedings or naps. One thing I noticed was that when S did wake up he was ravenous… so hungry!

Quickly, I began losing sleep, losing my patience and gaining even more stress than I had taken on before. Something had to change. S was 5.5 months old, and I figured that he may be ready for solids, so I picked up the Baby Led Weaning book. I was familiar with the philosophy because my sister did BLW with all her kids, and loved it – not to mention, she always posted the most adorable pics of her kids making a mess in their high chairs.

Adventures in Baby Led Weaning

For those unfamiliar, this is basically what Baby Led Weaning is. No baby cereal, no purees, no mush! The baby plays with, tastes and eventually eats what you eat. You give your baby whole foods, starting with larger pieces that he/she can hold on to and gnaw, then graduating to smaller pieces for chewing and digesting. You don’t feed the baby. He feeds himself, so you don’t have to worry about over-feeding. This is supposed to result in a baby who likes a wide variety of foods and textures and who has an easier time cutting teeth as well as a developed gag reflex (something that’s hard to develop when mush is being spooned down your throat). The benefits for parents include less cost (no purchasing pre-made baby food), less prep (the baby eats what you eat) and lots of entertainment as you watch your child discover new flavors and textures.

I read up on signs of readiness for a baby to take on solids, and this is what I found:

  1. Ability to sit up on his own. Uh, pretty much? We can leave S in the saucer for a good long while and his neck no longer feels fatigue. Also, he is capable of sitting in a high chair on his own; however, he can’t just sit up free-style.
  2. 6 months old. Almost, right?
  3. Some teeth have come in. No, not at all. He’s been teething, no doubt, but no little toofers yet.
  4. Shows interest in food. Heh, not in the slightest. He would watch us eat and try to mimic the movement of our mouths, but never reached for our food. Also, we’ve given him tastes of different foods, and have always been met with the reaction of complete disgust on his face.

So perhaps we didn’t pass the litmus test, but he was so hungry, I was desperate! The time was now, and we were going to try avocado. I was determined.

Adventures in Baby Led Weaning

We started with avocado. He liked playing with it with his hands, but it wasn’t making it to his mouth. I held it up for him to suck on a little, and after a few grimaces, he liked it! We did the same with banana and scrambled eggs on later dates. I think he liked the eggs the most, probably because they weren’t cold and I imagine they taste the most like milk. But in the end he must have ingested too many eggs, because he quickly threw them up. This what I’ve learned so far:

  1. Prepare for a mess. Take that kid’s clothes off and put a drop cloth on the floor. Also, a bath may be in order. We got a $20 high chair from Ikea, which is great, because it’s all plastic and easy to wipe off.
  2. Resist the temptation to put food in your kid’s mouth. When I would hold up an avocado or banana spear, S began sucking on it like a nipple. Eventually he would suck too hard and a piece would break off and end up in the back of his throat. He never choked, but it was a good lesson to learn that he needs to bring the food to his mouth himself. I would break of teeny tiny pieces for him to roll around in his mouth, which he would eventually swallow.
  3. It takes time. Someone somewhere wrote it takes up to 5x of introducing a food before a baby eats it, so in the beginning it’s just play. My goal was that once S was introduced to solids, he wouldn’t be so hungry for milk. Well, that dream’s a while off yet.
  4. Once a baby is interested, nothing can stop him. Now S knows that food exists and he’s supposed to put it in his mouth, he now reaches for our food.

So all in all, we’re at the very beginning and learning more as we go. Regarding the sleep issue, I’ve been giving him formula for his last feeding. The stress has been depleting my milk supply, and the extra gulps before bed are just what he’s needed. He’s been sleeping through the night ever since.

Adventures in Baby Led Weaning

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