Back when I was pregnant for the first time, my good friend, herself a mother, solemnly told me; “If I can give you one piece of advice, it’s this… Read Past The Birth.”
“You’ve got all the books, right? And you’re reading all the websites?”
Yep, and yep x 1000.
She continued; “Read BEYOND the bit where you have the baby.”
The condition of being a parent, my friend explained, is very binary.
“One minute you don’t have a baby, the next minute you very much have one. And apart from the hospital auxiliary bringing you tea and toast and giving your downstairs a going-over with a damp flannel, the focus is very immediately off you and onto the newborn.”
“It is at that point,” she continued,”that you are supposed to know how to do EVERYTHING ABOUT BABIES, but if you at least know how to feed them and change their nappies that’s a start.”
Reader, I ignored her.
I did it for good reason, or so I thought. Truth was, I’d had a really crummy time getting pregnant and then an even harder time staying pregnant and the idea that finally we were going to pull it off was just a bit too unbelievable. I thought, rightly or wrongly, that imagining what lay beyond the labour would just jinx the whole endeavour.
So here’s the thing.
You don’t have to read past the bit where you have had the baby, honest you don’t. You, right now, with your big tummy and your possible medium-sized fears, just have to do what you can do. But if you are the sort of person who does like to skip ahead to the exciting bit, or who likes to read up in advance and Have A Plan, then let us advise a little about the food thing.
Whether you crack the breastfeeding thing or don’t (I didn’t, not really), in six months’ time that little tiny scrap will be sitting up, or trying to, and will be ready to eat real food.
It’s unimaginable, I know, but it will happen. And in the UK, it’s called weaning.
Traditionally, weaning meant doing purees for a bit, because the advice was to start on food at 4 months, and then moving onto fistfuls of solid food. You’ll know this already, because there you are in your old family photos, somewhere around 6 months of age, happily covered in spaghetti and cake. (Incidentally, still my favourite meal).
Now, because the recommendation re starting weaning had moved from 4 months to 6 months, it turns out that you can skip the purees altogether and go straight to sensibly prepared solid food.
We call this Baby Led Weaning.
It’s not new, people have been feeding their around- six-month-olds like this for ages, hence the cute old photos, but BLW become a bit of a ‘thing’ of late, just to contrast it with the more conventional weaning story of purees and spooning. It’s just an option that you might want to think about at some point in the next few months.
You will just give your baby real food, cut up into pieces about as long and thick as your pinkie finger. And they will just eat it. Very simple, really, and fun, just like all the best times with your child. They eat, and you coo, enjoying watching them enjoy themselves. You might take the odd picture and chat to the rest of your family and you will get to eat your own dinner while it is still hot. What’s not to like?
But I’m not here to sell BLW to you, particularly if you’re still not ready to Read Beyond The Birth. But at some point, if you think BLW might be worth looking at further, we are here at www.babyledweaning.com, we have a forum of genuinely friendly parents (we’re all just normal parents, by the way, it’s very much a peer support thing) at http://www.babyledweaning.com/forum/ and we are on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/babyledweaning.
We will also be doing a bit of a chat at MN’s Bumpfest on the 27th of September, and will be happy to help anyone who needs it.
So good luck, everyone, with your births and beyond. Exciting times lie ahead.