Is Baby Led Weaning our wonderful little secret?
The inspiration for this week’s blog arose from a somewhat confusing telephone conversation I had this morning. I needed to check something with my children’s centre so gave my lovely health visitor a call, only to find out she had now departed for her eagerly awaited maternity leave. Oh, how I remember that time fondly. Every day consisted of nesting, writing an unrealistic birth plan, shopping for useless baby gadgets, cooking, eating, cooking, eating, cooking eating…
Anyway, I was transferred to another health visitor and she asked me how old Alban was and then said: “Oh good, have you introduced finger foods yet or are you still just pureeing?”
“Actually, I haven’t tried purees as we’re doing Baby Led Weaning,” I replied.
“Oh right, yes I’m aware of it of course but we do tend to advocate the more traditional approaches,” she said. “Have you been to one of our weaning talks at the children centre?”
“I haven’t no, because there wasn’t a talk on Baby Led Weaning and I really wanted to try that approach.”
“Oh, OK, well if you need anything do give us a call.” “We don’t have any information on Baby Led Weaning, but I can send you some stuff on general weaning?”
“Ermmm – ok, that would be great,” I said.
Out of all my friends there are two of us doing BLW. Of course one should respect every parent’s decision over their chosen weaning method and appreciate what will suit one family would not suit another. I’m also conscious of not provoking a BLW verses pureeing argument and am certainly not presuming parents should or would choose BLW over pureeing. However, I do feel if there was equal emphasis and awareness of both, then parents could make a more informed choice as to what suits their family.
I heard (or I should I admit copied) BLW from a dear friend who’s two babies are such confident eaters. It was purely by chance I came across it. I wasn’t even pregnant at the time and in those days very concerned about extremely trivial things such as fashion, drinking and holidays – not small people’s eating habits.
I met my friend for lunch and her two adorable babies, who were sitting happily in their highchairs. They then did the most amazing thing – picked up pizza and salad off their trays and shoved it in their mouths. “Where was all the baby mush and plastic spoon and pots?” I asked my friend.
“Oh, we don’t so that – they just eat with us,” she replied.
I was so excited (much to my friend’s amusement) I even had to take a picture of them gobbling their pizza and salad it was that impressive. I then decided if I was ever lucky enough to have a baby, BLW would be something I would love to try.
When Alban was ready to be weaned, all I kept hearing was baby rice, rusks and pureeing – in that order! At around four months, well meaning extended family (not my lovely mum) and friends advised: “It’s time to get him onto a bit of baby rice.” Why was it time? He didn’t need it and I didn’t want to give it to him for so many reasons. That was my choice and baby rice lovers may disagree, but I was not advising others not to give baby rice and wait until their baby was 6 months old, so they could start BLW. I can honestly say that I was not aware or offered BLW as a possible weaning option . I reckon that if it wasn’t for that lunch with my friend and her babies I would probably be going berserk with a blender and broccoli right now, not writing this blog!
If you type weaning and then baby weaning into Google, the top search and result (on my computer) is Annabel Karmel’s site. Proof that pureeing is (according to the internet) the most popular weaning choice. There’s also a thread on the BLW forum right now discussing how common BLW is in your area – many have similar experiences to mine.
I asked a couple of friends who aren’t doing BLW why they decided to go for the puree option. I explained I wanted to know for this blog and to get a clearer understanding of the attraction of purees. Most said they chose purees as it was what their health visitor or children’s centre recommended, and were put off BLW because of concerns over gagging and choking. A couple of mums said it was easier and cleaner to spoon fed purees as with BLW there would just be too much mess. The majority also said they felt happier and believed it was more safe for them to feed their babies, rather than letting the babies them feed themselves.
My decision was based on the fact I knew I wouldn’t have the time, energy or patience to steam, mash and puree. I then didn’t want to have to resort to jar dinners because I was too lazy to puree. I also love the fact that Alban can control his own portions so if he wants 3 weetabix for breakfast (happened yesterday) and is not fussed about lunch – that’s up to him. It makes me so happy to see him enjoying fresh, (mostly!) healthy food that we’re eating and for all of those reasons that’s why BLW is an absolute no-brainer for us.