Harry is now nearly 7 months old and our whole feeding programme has been under criticism from my other half’s family. The battles have been with them not Harry who is a happy healthy little boy.
The first source of contention with the outlaws has been our decision to exclusively breastfeed from day 1. Harry has never had a bottle or formula. I am not anti-formula, it has its place for mums who can’t nurse for whatever reason (of which I know there are many) but for us, the free boobtender option has worked, and despite initial difficulties worked well.
The second source of contention has been the decision to use BLW (baby led weaning). From birth my mother in law has been desperate to feed Harry, whether it be a bottle or puree and I have refused – point blank refused, I have faced criticism about building a rod for my own back, to depriving my baby of normal foods, and to be honest it has driven me potty, but I am so glad I didn’t back down and wasn’t swayed in my opinion as BLW has been amazing.
For those who don’t know, rather than shovel puree mash into your baby’s mouth whether or not they want or need it from three months building up through various stages of lumpiness, and ice cube trays, cooking special little meals and spending hours portioning into the freezer (which might be your thing, and fab I am pleased for you; but to be honest I am far too busy (read lazy) to get into that and too frugal (read cheap skate) to buy jars from the supermarkets – have you seen the price of them and the sugar content?!) you just let them eat what you eat…
Waits for stunned silence….
Yep, exactly what you eat, with a few tweaks, cut out the salt when cooking and avoid things like honey but after that pretty much anything goes.
I explained this to my mother in law, and I sadly didn’t get stunning silence, but instead a tirade of how I was neglecting my baby with his first experiences of food. I politely and calmly explained that the breast-aurant was enough for Harry until 6 months and that food was for play until age 1, not substance and hoped eventually she would get it.
Fast forward and Harry hit six months, whilst my other mummy friends were complaining about the amount of time spent in the kitchen and warming ice cube trays up (though I did feel for the mum who lost her entire freezer stock with the power outages recently in Shropshire) I smiled to myself and waited. The HV fully supported our decision to wait as Harry was healthy and at 17 weeks 19lb 2 oz.
The mother in law at this point was apoplectic as friends with babies younger than Harry were eating jars of mush, and having met a friend of mine in the pub and watched how much he ate compared to Harry I was getting some serious ear-ache! But I still resisted.
Six months arrived – the magic day February 24th was here, we had seen the DVD on Baby Led Weaning via the HV bought the book and had attended first aid courses just in case. We had spent mealtimes over the last few weeks with Harry watching us from his high chair whilst we ate. The excitement was mounting and I put some of my salad on his plastic plate and waited tentatively…
Well none of it was swallowed though some went in his mouth, a fair bit went on the floor (which pleased the cats) and the bowl ended up on his head (note to self – just use tray in future) but the mealtime was stress free, it was calm, it was fun, and we ate our tea without too much issue. It took every ounce of my willpower not to pick the food up for him and hold it, but our first adventure taught me some valuable lessons.
The next meal time we tried toast, with cooled soup on the edges (homemade veg) cut into fingers, which disintegrated – so we went and toasted more and cut it into quarters. Harry loved this, he picked it up put it in his mouth and sucked the soup off, and I think actually swallowed some, again, stress free and no issues.
What we weren’t prepared for was the tummy aches he had that night, we rang the HV and she said, wait a week and try again, and we did, this time success, no pain, and instead of worrying about how much Harry has or hasn’t eaten we ensure he has plenty of boob, after all that’s his main source of food until age 1, and see what he would like.
We tend not to offer food at every meal, but wait now for the cues that he would like something (like pinching it off our plates), if asleep we do not wake him for meals, and let him be. The whole process is so relaxed and no demented aeroplanes and shovelling in to be seen.
We have discovered he loves celery much to my amusement as the other half hates it, cooked carrot, raw pear, raw apple, peppers raw and cooked, toast, and veg soup. The best thing is that we can take him anywhere and he eats what we eat. We went to the pub for lunch, they have a “Tapas” menu for children (chunks of bread, cheese, cucumber, carrot, fruit, 3 items for £1.20) and we got our meals and Harrys Tapas, and he was happy and content right the way through.
I love that we do not have to think about warming jars, feeding Harry before we eat, preparing ice cube trays or mixing bottles and throwing them out after 2 hours?!? (It’s all alien to me). We can go out on a whim and not have to rush back home to a puree snack, or find an open supermarket, as Harry simply eats what we have, and do you know the best bit? We have a convert……, my Mum in Law was spotted giving Harry chunks of white fish to eat himself the other day…….. At that point I really did smile. Though I do need to ensure that the packs of buttons, rusks, and rich tea biscuits don’t find their way into his hands anytime soon!
A huge thank you to Donna for encouraging me to write this post, hope you enjoy the pictures and the clips of Harry exploring food. If you decide to go along the baby led weaning route, I can recommend the Baby Led Weaning Book. I would also recommend a plastic table cloth for the floor under the highchair unless you have wooden floors (or a dog) and a highchair you can fully wash with no nooks and crannies – we love the Happy snack by Chicco.
Please note – My rants above about formula and puree are personal to me –Sometimes you don’t have a choice – for mums whose babies are milk intolerant or not gaining weight and I promise this isn’t a criticism of you, if your baby needs puree or formula and you have been advised medically to do it, please do; and don’t be offended by the above, it is just my views x
Thanks so much Suzie for this great post – I’m really glad I gave you the nudge to write it 🙂 It looks like Harry loves Baby Led Weaning just as much as we do and it’s great to hear that your Mother In Law is a convert!
If you’d like to read more posts about Baby Led Weaning then you can see the full guest post series and more here.