Monday, 7 November 2011

Keeping Your BLWer Happy and Healthy (And Yourself Sane)

Nobody said BLW wouldn't be messy, but it is fun!
One of the choices we made about bringing up our babies was to go down the route of baby led weaning. After doing our research, it just seemed like the most natural progression. We were really lucky in that the transition was smooth and fairly effortless, with no hitches or "emergency" style moments.

Both our kids loved the change to solid foods and they got to try a wide variety of foodstuffs - we were always amazed just how much they could manage to chew on with those hard little gums! Having said all of this, we did learn a few things along the way which might help others intending to do BLW with their own babies.

1. Try not to give your baby bread. We didn't learn about this until just before no. 2 popped out, but we had long suspected that boy Earthly was having problems digesting wheat and/or gluten. It is also addictive! Much like adults, we found our babies would far rather have bread/toast than any of the healthier options on their plate. 
2. If your babies are impatient, make life easier for yourself and get into the habit of preparing snacks or meals for them while they're asleep. I know it's easier said than done, but the number of times we've ended up shoving something in front of them that was less than perfect just to get a bit of peace for 5 mins whilst we tried to get something decent together, are too numerous to mention! If you also have some easy, healthy snacks in such as dried fruit that they can chew/suck on whilst they wait (rather than gulp down!), that will save your sanity somewhat. 
3. I know other BLWers who have also given purees alongside solids simply to keep up the nutrient levels, and I must say this is something I worried about a bit with BLW, because after the initial excitement of trying lots of new things, both our babies went through a really fussy stage where they refused lots of veg and would only eat very select fruit. We didn't go down the route of purees, but instead made pasta sauces, smoothies, yoghurts, home-made spreads, pestos and bean patés etc - all of which they LOVED. 
4. When they get to the toddler stage, start making their meals more fun! We agonised for ages with our 18 month old because he'd become so fussy and would pretty much only eat brown or beige food! Then one day we went out for lunch where he had a mezze platter (baby sized!) to himself. He adored it, because he had lots of little pots and trays of things to play with, bits that he could dip and dunk and mix altogether. It really is important at this stage that they are allowed to have fun when eating as this promotes a positive association with food. If they don't eat much of what's there, that really doesn't matter - as long as they're not still screaming for food afterwards of course! 
5. If your babies are anything like ours, there will come a time when their confidence with eating solids lets them get ahead of themselves, and they will start swallowing larger lumps rather than bothering to chew them properly. The worst culprits (we found) are things like grapes and sultanas - they slide down pretty easily in chunks, and the flesh is also harder to 'chew' with little gums. However, we also found boy Earthly was notorious for eating oats in the same way - and undigested oats are not nice in a nappy! It is just a stage that should pass, though you are likely to get a few sore tummies for a while. You could omit the most culpable foods, or simply chop or mince them up first.
Our kids absolutely thrived on BLW and of course it had enormous benefits for us as well - it meant we could all eat together without one of us having to stand and feed the baby whilst our own food went cold - unless of course they were getting something ultra messy (we had some boundaries!!).

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