Baby Led Weaning

Growing healthy babies with healthy appetites

Posts Tagged ‘blw diary’

Someone who actually knows what they’re doing… A BLW Diary from the past

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

Paola and Lea live in Budapest, Hungary, and Miss Lea has been in charge of her own weaning for a good few months now… which means that at least one person round here knows what they are doing.

Anyway, Paola wrote this document a month or so ago for the Yahoo baby led weaning message group and has very kindly agreed to let me put it up here as well. If you want to see Lea creating a work of art from a bowl of blackcurrants and yoghurt I suggest you pop over to the Photos folder.

Post Script 1st December 2006:

So if I've now been doing BLW with Babybear for longer than Paola had when she wrote this document, does that make me a veteran as well? Maybe…

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that, having read this over as a more experienced BLW-er, I would completely counsel against putting food up to the babies' mouths to test for the loss of the tongue thrust reflex. As I understand it this could be quite a choking hazard, so just let the babies pick up the food for themselves. If they don't, then leave it for a day or two and try again. There's no rush.

Also, as you might know I never did the puree thing at all – to be honest if you know about BLW before starting weaning there's no need for them at all, and even if you hear about it along the way I don't think there would be a problem with ditching them quickly and transferring to finger food.

I haven't changed what Paola wrote, though, because it is her story, not mine.

Lea and starting baby led weaning

Lea is now 10.5 months and I thought I
would put a few words down about our experiences of weaning and baby-led

I had been thinking, reading and worrying
about how to introduce ‘solid’ food to my first baby for at least a month.  I am not sure why I was so nervous about it,
but I couldn’t quite imagine my little Lea actually eating food, and I wasn’t
keen to give up the convenience of breastfeeding.  I read a lot. I was given a couple of recipe
books, which I scoured.  But I became
confused about why I needed a special book to tell me to steam apples and mash
them up, or how to make a tasty sounding stew which I would then puree when I
had lots of recipes for stews which I could puree, or why I would add breast
milk to make the food taste like something familiar to her, when the whole
point was to introduce tastes which were unfamiliar, or why I would puree
everything to the same consistency when the point is to introduce different
textures. I looked in the shops at the boxes and jars of special baby foods,
and wondered at the lists of additives – though all of them good and important
for baby health and growth. I was a bit concerned about not giving baby rice as
I read that babies need iron and that their supplies run out after about 6
months.  But after asking around a bit
and reading a bit more, I realise that they do get iron from breastmilk, and that
as long as I was a bit careful about giving her foods with iron in them, she
should be fine.

Then I came across an article by Gill
Rapley about baby led weaning, and that made more sense to me than any of the special
baby foods or baby recipes.  I realised
that if I wanted to wean my baby, then I might as well introduce her to food,
and not to babyfied mush.  So a few days
before 6 months, at breakfast, Lea was in her high chair – she often sat with
us at meal times – and I gave her some bits of apple and banana.  I can’t say she ate much – if anything.  And she pulled the silliest faces as I tried
to put bits of food into her mouth, but she did open her mouth and seemed
interested.  She had been sitting well
for about a month – though I honestly couldn’t say if her tongue thrust reflex
had gone.  I never quite worked that one out.

And from that point we started giving her
breakfast. It was February, which is significant because the first foods she
had were what was available in the shops at that time of year – lots of apple,
pear and banana, and root vegetables.  I
also bought some rice cakes and wotsit sized puffed grains which are readily available
here in
Hungary – I remember starting with puffed millet, and moving onto rye.  So I really tried to give her just finger
foods. I would hold bits near her mouth and she could eat a bit.  Sometimes she managed to bite (or more
accurately gum) off a piece, she would gum it a bit, and then it would fall out
of her mouth.  This was reassuring because
I learnt quite quickly that her reflexes meant that pieces of food which were
too large for her to swallow would find their way out of her mouth.  But she was more interested in eating her
yellow plastic plate or waving it in the air, then in the actual food.  And it was frustrating – for me and for
her.  I gave her lots of slightly stewed
pieces of fruit and steamed/baked vegetables. 
But the food slipped out of her hands, or she ended up shoving it into
her eye or up her nose, or she would just squash it up between her fingers.

So after a week or so of just finger foods,
I started mushing up food with a fork and spoon feeding her – and she liked it
and wanted more.  But I would always also
give her finger foods.  I also wanted to
give her foods which are by their nature mushy – like yoghurt, lentils – so it
wasn’t an entirely negative decision.  I
reluctantly cooked a few batches of vegetables and fruit, mushed them and froze
them in ice-cube trays.  I tried not to
put the food through a food processor, but to mash it with a fork, so that it
at least retained some of its natural consistency.

But even with spoon feeding, she didn’t eat
much.  We moved to two and then quickly
to three meals a day because I thought that if she was offered food three times
a day she might eat a bit more.  It didn’t
really work like that.  It was just a lot
of work and very messy and not much fun. 
After a month, when she was about 7 months, our health visitor told us
to introduce meat and fish, and that she should be eating about 170gms of food
day.  We reckon on a good day she was
probably eating about 20gms.  (In
ice-cube terms, about 3 or 4 cubes a day). 
So we got a bit worried and didn’t know how to get her to eat more, and
we tried a bit harder to keep on offering spoons of mush to her.  But one day I just relaxed.  I decided that actually Lea knew best what
she needed.  She liked food, she ate what
we gave her, she just didn’t eat very much.  She was still breastfeeding a lot, and it was
convenient when we were out or travelling not to have to give her solid food –
she could easily miss two of her meals.

So we cut back to two meals a day, and she
started to eat a slightly more ‘reasonable’ amount – though nowhere near 170gms
a day!  We still gave lots of finger
food, she didn’t gag or choke, and she seemed to know to suck and chew at the food.  By around 7 months it seemed she could pick
up and hold pieces of food much better. Most of the time the food went into her
mouth, but most of it still ended up on the floor.

We went to a wedding in Paris with her when
she was 8 months.  We were giving her
lunch one day, and looking for the bits under her chair to pick up, when we
realised that she had actually eaten one of the puffy wotsit like blobs that we
had been giving her.  It felt like a huge
step forward.  She still didn’t need so
much food, but she was starting to swallow more significant amount of finger

A few weeks later, we went to stay with
some friends in the country.  We had an
early supper, at around
6pm and I fed her at the same time with the two ice cubes of mush and
bits of cucumber and rice cakes that we normally gave her.  She ate it all, which was unusual, and then
she started crying and reaching for more food. 
The only things I then had to give her were what we were eating – roast chicken,
rice and salad.  So she munched her way
through 6 or 7 strips of chicken, several handfuls of rice and a few slices of
cucumber.  She held the food in her
hands, put it into her mouth, bit into it and chewed it up.  This was the first time I would say that she
actually positively wanted to eat.

At 9 months, when we went away for a few
days, we could just feed her from the breakfast buffet at the hotel – she was
happy with fruit and toast and jam.  I remember
telling a friend, and she thought I was joking!

We still do a mix of spoon feeding and
finger foods.  At 10 months she could eat
a whole meal of finger foods.  But I still
want her to eat foods that are easier to spoon feed, though I am trying to
encourage her to take the spoon more.  Occasionally
she manages to get a spoon of food into her mouth, but more often the food ends
up on the table.  She still eats broccoli
by holding onto the flower end and eating the stalk, however many times I try
to show her that it would be better to hold the ‘handle’.  I am also putting larger chunks of veg, bread
and different grains into slushy food so that she can use her fingers.  It is very very very messy.  Sometimes she dives nose first into the food, and
she has had several banana, apricot, avocado, and more recently mango, face

She plays with any food that is spilled on
the table, and has taken to rubbing it into the table and into her face.  She still drops a lot on the floor – and no
doubt will do for many more months if not years.  Some days she won’t eat more than a mouthful
or two at a meal, other days she scoffs her food down.  We still aren’t giving her snacks.  I wouldn’t say that she ever demands food
from us or cries with hunger, and we can still miss a meal without her seeming
to notice or mind.  She has her
preferences, but she will try pretty much anything I give her – the first time
I have her a cherry she didn’t seem too impressed, but the next day she ate at
least 20!  When we are out, I only take
some small biscuits/rice cakes for her.  And
when we are in a restaurant or café I can give her chips, fish, chicken, bits
of salad, pizza – many of the things I would eat.

Her gran thought I was mad and it was
dangerous to give her pieces of food.  My
husband thought I was a bit mad.  They
are both Hungarian, so they just think its an English way of feeding babies
(little do they know!).  But now both of
them are so proud of Lea. She isn’t a particularly big eater, but at 10.5
months she still breastfeeds 4 times a day, and sometimes 5 times.  I think baby-led weaning was one of the best
decisions I have made – to give her finger foods from 6 months, and to persist
with it even though we also spoon feed.  

Paola Grenier and Lea (born 8 August, 2005)


June 2006

When Lea ate what

Introducing different types of foods – allergy concerns

6 months – mainly fruit and vegetables

7 months – I start to give her toast at
about 7.5 months having read that there is no benefit in delaying giving wheat,
as long as you don’t give it all the time

8 months – started to give fish (salmon and
tuna) and meat (chicken and beef)

9 months – started to give her plain
yoghurt and also tomato

10 months – gave a bit of egg

12 months – am planning to introduce
cheese, pasta, strawberries, honey

Lea Likes…

Breakfast – pieces of fruit, dry cereal (some sort of organic/bio stuff), yoghurt
with fruit and soaked oats, porridge with fruit, plain toast, toast and jam, toast
and butter, pumpernickel

and supper – selection of finger foods and a bit of

Finger foods

Fruit – apple slices (steamed), pear, peach, apricot, plums, mango, grapes
(pipped), cherries (pipped), dried apricot (soaked), dates, sultanas (better if
soaked), apple crisps, banana

Veg – courgette, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, parsnip, potato, carrot,
sweet potato, avocado

Pulses – white beans, butter beans

and fish – hand sized pieces (boiled/baked chicken
and fish)

made fried rissoles type things – falafel, cabbage
and potato, salmon and white bean, tuna and rice balls, chicken and potato or
bean, mini beefburgers

Organix products

– rice cakes and other puffed grains (which are
easily available in Hungary and are great finger foods)

Mushy food

veg – spinach, butternut squash, cabbage, courgette,

fruit – almost anything, usually mashed with a fork,
but Lea particularly loves stewed apple with a bit of cinnamon and prune

Grains – brown rice, quinoa, white rice, barley, oats, corn, barley,

Dairy – yoghurt (plain yoghurt with mashed fruit and a bit of oats)

Stews – red lentil stew (initially just plain lentils, and later with
onion and bits of veg), barley vegetable stew, tuna and tomato, rice and mixed
veg. Sometimes I add bits of meat, but
mainly I cook the meat separately and she can eat it whole.

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