At the end of July R went into lGI to have his Tetralogy of Fallot (congenital heart defect) fixed. The hospital food was terrible but he impressed the other parents by eating jacket potato quarters. When he woke up in intensive care the nurse gave him some banana purée from a tin. Raphi grabbed the spoon and attempted to put his hand in the tin. He was back!
It is Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week, and Sue and her daughter Sophie have kindly offered to help us celebrate that cheeky extra chromosome by writing a personal account of how they made Baby-led Weaning suit their family.
It would be fantastic to build up a picture of how other parents and children with Down’s Syndrome have got on, so any comments would be much appreciated and so helpful to others. Each child is different, of course, so it’s a good idea to consult with health visitors and Speech and Language therapists or similar if you have them, but BLW is at heart a very positive and adaptable approach to weaning, and Sue and Sophie have clearly enjoyed the process.
And no, I have no idea what Liga is either… but now I want some on my toast.
“When my daughter was born, I had great belief that I was going to breastfeed and do BLW. I had read all the books and it seemed a very simple goal in my mind. My daughter was diagnosed with Mosaic Down Syndrome after birth. This is where only a percentage of her cells have the extra chromosome. My husband and I read quite a lot of literature that made it very clear she wouldn’t be able to breastfeed and that she would have difficulty feeding with solids.
Well she has mastered both (albeit in her own time). The breastfeeding improved her oral muscle tone and this in turn has improved her solid feeding. When she turned the magical age of 6 months and the solid journey was starting, I hesitated to fully go the BLW route as Sophie wasn’t able to sit unaided and didn’t have well developed fine motor skills. I didn’t want to deprive her of starting solids so we started with baby cereals and pureed vegetables/meat combinations. I was very adamant that she was only eating my own made food and used to puree up batches of food and put them in the freezer. Sophie loved her food – even starting to attempt feeding herself with the spoon. I didn’t want to deprive her of being able to feed herself so I would place soft cooked bits of carrot and other vegetables (like green beans) on her tray, However she didn’t seem interested in these at all and didn’t have the skills to pick up the food.
I was so excited when she managed to feed herself toast and Liga. However she suffered from Infantile Spasms from about 8 months onwards so her self-feeding and interest in BLW waned. Thankfully her seizures were stopped at a year and we had to re start the weaning process. This was when I really took a big interest in BLW – mainly because she started not liking my puree food (expressing a dislike of foods and a big interest in other foods). So fast forward to 15/16 months old and she started to finger feed in earnest. I found BLW great for improving fine motor skills – if they can pick up a pea / cheerio and put it in their mouth, they have mastered the art of fine motor skills.
If a mum out there is thinking of BLW when their baby has Down Syndrome, there is no reason they can’t do it. However due to poor oral and finer motor skills, a mixture of puree and BLW can work very well. It gives the Mum peace of mind and allows the baby to experiment (smushing mash potato all over the table can be a very good sensory exercise for example). BLW can be very handy when you are out and about. Sophie loves just picking at whatever bits of food I pass over to her now – bread, chicken, peas, slices of potato. The only thing to remember when it comes to a special needs kid is that they will do everything in their own time, but the important thing is to keep offering. Even if it’s just pieces of toast!
BLW – The Easiest Way to Introduce Solids to Your Twins
When the time came for starting solids with my twin girls I was almost overwhelmed with fear, not with joy for the new start. Everything had been so easy until that moment – I just gave the breast (breasts, to be exact) and I had two nicely fed, satisfied and happy babies. Now I found myself thinking about what, how, how much, when… I imagined our feeding times - juggling with the spoon between my daughters several times a day for the next months. And then almost by chance I came across a video of little Olivier eating alone his weaning food on a Dutch site about breastfeeding (at that time we were living in the Netherlands). I knew it right away – that will be our way of weaning too! I had never heard about BLW before, but it seemed so easy and natural, just what I was looking for.
I still remember how we started almost four years ago, when we gave for the first time a carrot to our girls – one just stared smiling at the camera with her new “toy”, her sister instead seemed to know everything right from the start – she just ate the whole carrot and asked for more! I’m telling this story because it describes one of the most important things for me about BLW and twins – it gives parents the possibility to respect the pace of development, taste and preferences of each child as an individual. And that is what we all try to do in raising more than one kid at a time.
Here are some more reasons that in my opinion make BLW the easiest way of introducing solids to your twins:
Why to choose BLW with twins?
1. It’s easy for the babies and for the parents and allows the family to eat together in a pleasant atmosphere.
2. Babies can discover the new foods themselves, they can try them and examine them on their own from the very beginning of the introduction of solids and make their own individual choices.
3. There is no need to cook separately for the babies – with a few simple considerations and a slight change in the normal menu the whole family can eat healthier and together and you will save time and effort.
4. No need to wait for years to have a warm dinner with your twins.
5. For two (or more) children of the same age diner time can be real pleasure and fun. They will also stimulate each other for the development of their feeding skills.
6. Two (or more) babies that sit at the table together are usually good eaters and are not picky. Many parents of singletons notice that their children would try to eat things that they normally refuse when they see another child eating them. With twins there is always “another” child at the table!
7. You will also save double the money by not having to buy special “baby” foods.
What can you expect?
You have surely noticed from the very first months of life of your twins that they have their own character and behave quite differently when they are fed – no matter if with breastmilk or formula. You will see differences also in the way they approach new foods. Maybe one baby will understand from the very beginning how to deal with self-feeding, biting and chewing, while the other will just sit and contemplate the food. It is so nice to see that soon also that baby will know what to do with the things to eat, stimulated not only by your example but also by the example of his little sister or brother. And there is more – all of a sudden he or she will even reach out to “steal” food from the other baby and try it! Compared to singletons, twins learn earlier not only to take the things of others, but also to share with them. After some months your little ones will have big fun trying to feed each other and later they will insist to have two pieces of everything so that they can share it. Don’t be fooled - most of the times such “generosity” will simply end with choosing the “bigger” or “better” piece for one’s self!
What about the double mess?
There will be a double mess, but there are also some good ways to avoid it! Babies are messy, especially in the beginning, when their movements are still uncoordinated, but they will get better and better every day. When the children are still small and don’t move a lot an easy way to prevent stains and avoid to wash two pairs of clothes after every meal may be to cover all the baby with a big light cloth tied on the neck. The most suitable ones turned to be the old style cloth diapers – light, soft and easy to wash. As the babies get bigger a thing that helps quite a lot is to get them accustomed to roll up their sleeves at the table so that you don’t find the entire menu stamped on them after dinner. A good bib is also a must. The plastic ones with a pocket for the food protect very well the clothes and also collect almost everything that may fall from the hands or mouth of the baby. There is a big choice of such bibs on the market, however after several tries the best one for me turned to be a self designed and home made plastic one. All you need is some self adhesive Velcro strip for the neck and “pocket” and a pair of scissors. You can make the desired shape according to the size of the child and have a wider and longer bib compared to the ones that are usually found in the stores. Just fold the lower part upwards and you will have a “pocket” for the food! Strangely enough the best material for such a bib turned out to be the one of the plastic bad curtains – light, flexible, impermeable, easy to wash and quick to dry.
You can also put a plastic sheet under the highchairs of the babies to protect the floor. In that way there is also no need to waste every piece of food that falls on the ground. It’s even easier to use a piece of newspaper under each chair and throw it directly in the garbage after dinner.
Some more tips:
As you might have already noticed a good schedule helps really a lot with twins. Try to organize as much as possible the lunch and dinner time together for all the family members. Sometimes it is more convenient for the adults to dine a little bit earlier than usual instead of postponing the dinner for a later time in the evening when babies sleep. By that time you may be also too tired and hungry. Just prepare the table, put the babies on their highchairs, give them something to eat and then sit down to enjoy your meal too. Place the babies on the table in a way that you are able to reach them without getting constantly up. You may choose to place one child closer to you and the other closer to the other parent. We used to put them side by side at the head of the table and sit on both sides. In that way we could see each child good and help or intervene if necessary.
You will be surprised how quickly your twins will start to eat clean, drink from a cup and use their own silverware. Before you realize it you will find at the family table next to you two or more satisfied and good eating kids with real table manners. And each meal will be a great pleasure for all the family!
So we had a comp on the Baby Led Weaning.com Facebook page to celebrate 6000 ‘likes’ (seriously… I KNOW).
My chum, the lovely and talented Charlie Meyer had offered us this charmingly bonkers image as a prize, and so it fell to her children to pick a name from a virtual hat, or at the very least make a bored, stabbing motion at the screen. And upon whom did their grubby finger alight?
Step forward Miss Laura Oakley! CONGRATULATIONS! Make a speech! Oops, she fell over her huge dress! YAAAY!
We hope you love it very much.
(Also… I have another announcement. Brace yerselves.
As you may already have observed… we need to revamp the site. We (ahem, mostly mostly Jem) had actually done quite a bit, but it all had to get chucked for one reason and another and basically it’s all taking a long time. Money, innit? We can’t make the time to do it, because we’re not getting paid and we have mouths to feed.
So. The big plan had been to put ads on the new site, but unless we can make ourselves some time to make the site… we’re stuck.
We’re going to dip our toes into the ads thing (I’ve been refusing them for YEARS now) and see if that frees up some time for us. I’ll be careful, I promise. This whole thing, the site, the forum, the FB, the massively neglected Twitter feed… it’s nothing without you and no-one knows that better than I do, believe moi. Stay tuned for further developments, folks.)
So we were talking about flour on the Facebook page (as you do) and it came up that we make most of our own bread. I posted a photo (partly to substantiate the claim, partly to BOAST) then had to admit that it’s actually my husband who does most of the work. Think of me as a consumer rather than a manufacturer.
Over to the baker…
“My almost no-knead bread is really just an even more simplified version of the Jim Lahey No-Knead Bread that was popularised by The New York Times in 2006. I’ve linked to the recipes and clips below.
However, I think the basic recipe can be improved further because the one drawback with the original recipe is that the very wet dough is tricky to work with and especially to shape. The way to improve that is with a slight trade off. That is, a bit less water and a little bit of kneading.
Here is what I do instead:
3 Cups of strong bread flour of your choice (450g).
¼ teaspoon quick yeast (such as Dove Farm bright orange packet) (1g).
1 ¼ teaspoon salt (8g) Fiddle around with this if you’re avoiding salt, but we think it does need some.
1 mug water (250g) (you may want slightly less or more, it is a bit trial and error. But try this amount first time).
A bit of flour for dusting
An egg and a spot of milk in a cup to create a nice wash with a shiny finish (optional)
Mixing bowl (or two)
Spatula or wooden spoon
Casserole dish or oven proof pot either ceramic or metal is fine. The key issue is that it has a lid and can be preheated in the oven.
A chopping board or preferably a silicon baking tray.
Oven gloves or similar… you seriously do NOT want to burn yourself on the scalding pot/dish.
Add the flour, yeast, salt and water into a large mixing bowl.
Combine by hand or with a spatula or wooden spoon if you have an aversion to getting messy hands.
Recently, I have added in a stage of kneading the dough for five minutes rather than simply combining it all together but it is strictly my preference. Besides if the dough is too wet you probably won’t be able to do that kneading anyway.
At this stage when you have a nicely combined dough (after a couple of minutes) you might want to transfer the dough to a second mixing bowl coated with olive oil. Alternatively, stick with what you have if the messy bowl doesn’t bother you much and your preference is to save on the washing up.
In either case, cover your bowl with the dough with cling film for a minimum of 10 hours and ideally 12 hours at room temperature , say on a work surface in your kitchen.
A few hours into the waiting process, you can remove the cling film and work the dough around a bit in the bowl for five minutes by hand or with the spatula. Fold the edges in towards the centre as you turn the dough around. That should give you something resembling a ball shape. The idea with this stage is that you can work some of the airholes out of the bread so you get a denser bread that is better for sandwiches and spreading (precisely because there are no holes in it). Again though, this is a personal preference for me and you can again miss this stage out.
I also miss out the very messy stage with the dish towel covering the dough for two hours as having tried it I could neither see nor taste a notable difference in my bread.
After the dough has been covered for your around a minimum of four hours (but around 8 hours for best results) you are ready to bake it.
At this stage, turn your oven on to heat up to 250 degrees centigrade and put your cold casserole dish or lidded pot into the oven to heat up.
While this is happening, get your dough out off the bowl and transfer it onto a floured/oiled board or work surface. Actually, if you have a silicone traybake tray, put it on that, the flexible sides are great.
Work the bread around for a few minutes shaping it as you go into the final shape you want for your loaf.
Once the oven and casserole/pot are heated to 250 degrees than take out your pot (with oven gloves!), remove the lid and place your shaped dough into the pot. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with a dusting of flour and/or brush the egg and milk mixture onto the top with a pastry brush. Put the lid back on and place in the oven.
Set your timer to 25 minutes.
After 25 minutes take the lid of the pot and brown the top of your loaf to your preferred hue (I tend to cook it uncovered for three to five minutes).
After that your loaf is done, tip it onto a wire rack to cool.
You can find Jim Lahey’s original recipe here: http://www.sullivanstreetbakery.com/recipes
The very useful video demonstration here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13Ah9ES2yTU
And the original NY Times article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/08mini.html”
Yay! And this is what it looks like in the casserole dish we have. Some people have asked for timings etc, so I can say that he normally makes up the dough before going to bed, then leaves it and bakes it the next morning. If he’s in for the day, he does the middley bit of faffing, if he’s asleep, he doesn’t.
Nope, can’t do it. I mean, they probably will be good enough eaters, but they’ll still be pesky human beings, prone to changes in taste and challenging boundaries. But you’ll trust them to come good, because you’ve seen them hoover up broccoli.
You, my friends, will have Faith.
A guarantee that they will not gag or choke?
As above, I’m afraid. Gagging’s great, it’s a safety mechanism, and while it sounds barf-a-rrific, it’s such a cunning way of moving food shapes around a little that you will marvel (once again) at how clever and wonderful your child is.
Choking? Not fun. Rare, though. I had two babies, one of them choked once, and it was on a bit of apple that I just knew I shouldn’t have let someone give her but I was scared to look a prat. Lesson learned, Mother, don’t be scared to look like a prat in front of your friends. Fortunately I’d done my sensible parents’ Infant Resus course and the baby was fine with a bit of a whack on the back. She, naturally, was unbothered, and I had to wrestle the apple from her pudgy fists before it went straight back in.
So, what will convince you to do Baby-Led Weaning? *drum roll*
It’s a little experiment. Very simple. (Not altogether enjoyable.)
Simply sit in front of your beloved tomorrow night, and have them cut up your food into pieces and feed them to you. Mebbe mash ‘em up a bit, even, get all those flavours nicely mixed. MAYBE even whizz them up a bit, if you’re feeling racy.
Serve on a spoon, not a fork.
Now, see if they get the portioning right – is your mouth unpleasantly full, or half-empty? Do they feed you slowly, so that you are begging them for more (with your eyes, hush now, no speaking, you’re a baby. Furious yelling will be fine). Or is it so fast that you worry you can’t swallow the first bite before the second and third hove into view? And what if you don’t like the dinner but your partner or friend can’t abide waste? Eeeer. Open wide…
Try it, and see what you think. Don’t forget to finish with a lemon-scented wipe to the lips! Think of it as dessert!
And if that doesn’t convince you to let your baby have a bash at self-feeding, nothing will.
Which is Fine. At the very least the experiment will likely have made you a better spoon-feeder, and that sort of understanding and care can only be good for our babies, no matter which weaning method we choose.
(many thanks to margaux for the lovely pics)
Do make sure to enjoy all of the chocolate eggs that your Mothers-in-Law and other randomly disapproving relatives will have bought for your tiny babies today! (File the experience under ‘these people never cease to amaze me.’)
Mind you… I do think on this happy day one can take healthy eating a little too far… please observe below. Not my work, I hasten to add.
Hello all, Siobhan Courtney has finished her diary for us now, having returned from the country and done a bit of practise infant resus… (truth be told she returned some time ago and this got rather lost in my inbox at Christmas. Bad Aitch.) I hope you’ll join me in thanking her for her thoughts and experiences over this exciting developmental (emphasis on ‘mental) stage.
For the record, the first image I have used to illustrate the piece is what one would do for a child of 12 months and over, where you place over your knee and give five blows between the shoulder blades, using the flat of your hand.
With babies, you lie the baby over your forearm so that you know you are giving support to the neck, illustrated further down. If that doesn’t work, it’s onto chest thrusts, which are explained in more detail by the St John Ambulance below*.
“Fellow BLW’ers is sadly the end of our journey. I have really enjoyed sharing it all with you and it’s been wonderful to read all your comments and tips – thank you so much.”
“Back in the country and back in the classroom – (well kind of….)
So I’ve managed to transport a BLW’ing baby back into the country safely and soundly after my very first road trip with Alban. We only went to Wales but what a wonderful adventure it was. I packed a special BLW bag for Alban as I didn’t want to get caught out again. Our ’essential stock’ consisted of breadsticks, apple slices, cheese chunks, red pepper wedges and a banana. Needless to say all very manageable finger foods resulting in a rather varied lunch for the little man at the motorway services!
Our little trip was relatively drama free to be honest. I feel so much more confident about eating out now with him – practice really does make perfect. However, most of the time it’s a real job to get him to eat any of his lunch because he’s just too busy nosing around. I was also very impressed that he had an extremely spicy penne arrabbiata that he ate quicker than me. What a proud parent moment that was – isn’t it funny how you just get so excited over something that must sound so mundane to others?!
One really interesting outcome of our week away is that Alban’s taste buds seem to have totally changed. He’s now not overly fussed about melon, broccoli, carrots and spinach despite not getting enough of them previously. However, I suspect that may have something to do with Mummy serving them to him practically every day. Maybe he’s just decided he’s had enough of those for a while and is enjoying embracing his new found penchant for potatoes, toast, banana and breadsticks. Carb overload anyone? It seems pretty normal though for the fickle little things to love one type of food one week and hate it the next. Anyone else found this?
So, 6 weeks into our BLW journey the subject of choking does tend to linger at the back of my mind. Not in a scary way, but just (god forbid) if anything did happen I wouldn’t have a clue what to do – apart from scream and panic. With that in mind I thought it would be sensible to book onto a first aid course. I’m writing this now after just returning from it proudly brandishing my first aid certificate (my first one ever!) Anyway, I feel so much better after this evening. I really would recommend attending a course – mine was through my children’s centre and they run pretty regularly throughout the year.
Interesting highlights from this evening was the trainer telling the class the two biggest causes of choking in babies is grapes and cherry tomatoes – in that order. There are very few cases of choking though so that should be put into perspective. Our trainer said he’d recently been working with a number of nurseries, who are now cutting the grapes and tomatoes into quarters rather into halves. He said they’re taking the initiative because ‘one can never be too cautious’ and to also soothe parental worries. The advice for parents is to squish them flat before offering them to your child.
We were also told never ever to hold our babies upside down by their feet if they’re choking. Even if you’re so hysterical and think this may be a good idea at the time the baby’s head and neck would be totally unsupported. This dangerous position would also not help at all in dislodging a stuck piece of food.
As I’ve only attended a short course I should state strongly that I am by no means qualified to give medical advice – these are just my experiences from my class tonight. I really do feel the advice we were given tonight though was invaluable. Even if you can’t get a babysitter, take your sleeping baby with you and just park your buggy in a quiet corner of the room – the course is really worth it. There’s also some excellent advice on choking on the St John’s Ambulance website which was recommended as an essential resource. I had a quick look at the site before signing up to the class and was pleased that the trainer made us practice the back blows and abdominal thrusts on plastic dolls until we knew what we were doing.
It was really reassuring to know we were being taught best practice even though I didn’t actually attend a St John’s Ambulance course, but everything we covered was the same as the information on their website and that of the British Red Cross. The trainer also recommended we regularly test our skills online to keep refreshing what we learnt on the course. And finally, apparently this First Aid Manual is an absolute must have for every home with children. It covers how to deal with every emergency and I‘m actually finding that it’s not that bad of a bedtime read.”
*Management of Choking – Children
For all children (above 1 years of age), the management of choking is the same as for an adult:
1. Ask child to cough up obstruction.
2. Give five sharp blows between the shoulder blades
3. Give five chest thrusts.
Management of Choking – Infant (to 1 year)
Lie infant face down on your forearm with head low.
Support infant’s head and shoulders on your hand.
Give 5 sharp blows between shoulders.
Check after each back blow to see if the obstruction has been relieved.
If the blockage is still not cleared, your last resort is ‘chest thrusts’. For infants, this is performed by placing the infant on a firm surface on back. Place two fingers in the CPR compression position and give 5 chest thrusts; slower but sharper than CPR compressions.
· Encourage the casualty to relax and breathe deeply.
· Ask the casualty to cough to remove the object.
· If unsuccessful, place the casualty with the head low.
· Give 5 sharp blows between the shoulder blades.
· As a last resort, try ‘chest thrusts’.
· While waiting for the ambulance, if the blockage has not cleared, repeat back blows and chest thrusts.
· If the casualty becomes unconscious, remove any visible obstruction from mouth and commence CPR.
There’s a really great summary here as well, from BabyCenter.