As with all parenting, you are just getting into the swing of things, you seem to have found your groove and then something else happens! You’ve just got over the four month sleep regression (oh the sleep deprivation!!) and you’re back into some kind of rhythm and then it is time for weaning! Quite often this gets discussed early, generally at around 4 months. It is often assumed that babies are hungry at this point and that is why they are waking, you may hear people suggesting baby rice or porridge to help fill baby up so they sleep through. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but babies are not really designed to sleep through! The four month sleep regression is to do with their brain development, so whilst it may not feel like it at the time, it is in fact a good thing!! Just remember, you are doing a great job, there is no guide book to fit all babies – you know your baby better than anyone, go with your gut!
So we were rapidly approaching the 6 month mark and I was a bit worried I hadn’t done much reading on the next step!! Fortunately for me I have a good friend who’s daughter is a year older than my son, so she is great to turn to for advice! I knew she had done Baby Led Weaning with her daughter and it seemed simple enough and I knew that her little girl was a good eater and very independent. It was an approach I wanted to take and, fortunately again, so did my husband! Basically you have Traditional Weaning, which involves feeding purees with a spoon to a baby. Some people choose to start this early, and even some packaging in supermarkets says from 4 months. It is worth noting that this labelling is in the process of changing and the NHS recommends you start weaning from around 6 months. Baby Led Weaning, which often gets called a “new fad” is in fact a much older practice. It does what it says on the tin! The baby leads the way. There is just “normal” food, as in what you or I would eat. They get to explore new tastes and textures and learn about how food actually looks! There are not a lot of rules to remember, just no honey, whole nuts or cow’s milk before 1 year old. Although cow’s milk should be used when cooking (such as porridge) just use whole milk. The only other thing you should look out for is how you cut grapes (length ways, not width ways).
The idea of BLW is that the baby learns to chew before swallow. If you are concerned about choking then I would go on a First Aid course (they are often offered through children’s centres or NCT groups), but it is worth noting that research shows that children are more likely to choke on purees than whole foods. This is not to say that choking will happen! A babies gag reflex is much further forward than an adult and is how they move food forward in their mouths. If you would like to find out more about BLW I would recommend the Baby-Led Weaning book and Baby-Led Weaning cookbook by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett. This will give you a better understanding to make an informed choice! There are groups on Facebook which are dedicated to BLW where advice and recipes can be swapped. It is worth noting that these groups are not there to debate which method is “better” but to support those who have made the choice one way or the other. They are designed to be supportive and act as a guide for people looking for advice.
I am still in the early stages of BLW, so we are all about exploring new foods! Don’t be frightened if it takes your baby a while, remember they are getting the nutrition they need from your milk or formula (not a debating point) and they are just starting to learn about food. There will come a point where they start eating it, and this will increase and their need for milk will decrease. This is like rolling, crawling, walking, talking…..well everything they do! It takes time, it’s a learning process and you are there to support them along the journey. It is a developmental stage, and an exciting one. If you are able to I would highly recommend hearing Gill Rapley talk about it all! It was fascinating and informative and certainly helped clarify things in my mind!
I’ve started documenting our journey with BLW through Instagram! So pop on over and see what I’ve been making and baking! I will start to put some recipes on here for you to try! What is your favourite food to share with your baby? Any recipe wins you want to share?
Meatballs with pasta, eggy bread and porridge oat sticks with raspberries!