Hi all !
I’ve been meaning to blog about Sophie’s new start into Baby Led Weaning but as usual, Life got in the way, and gosh I have really been struggling just to find time to breathe. I can go into half the day before remembering that I haven’t eaten anything but a piece of stale toast and I can fall asleep just about anywhere in any position now.. and I thought the first two months of having a baby were the hardest -_-
I’d blogged earlier about starting Sophie on some purees, but since then I’ve done a lot of research and we’ve decided ( K, Sophie Rose and I) to wean her in the BLW, or Baby-Led Weaning method instead.
Basically, BLW is suitable for babies aged 6 months and above, because that’s around the time they lose their gag reflex and their tummies start becoming ready for some solids. They will also be improving their fine motor skills (using fingers to pick up food, reaching into bowls for morsels, etc).
- Baby to feed him/herself. No shovelling of purees or porridge into their mouths. This helps them become independent eaters and also allows them to experience new textures, tastes, improve their motor skills and learn how different foods need different consumption methods (tofu must be picked up gently, rice needs tiny finger work, noodles are slippery, etc)
- Baby to decide how much he / her wants to eat. Meaning no cajoling, begging baby to eat or extended meal times. This operates on the premise that in initial stages, babies know best how much they can take and what they are ready for.
- Babies to eat together with their parents and family at meal times, to involve them and help them build social skills / bond with the family over dinner / lunch / breakfast.
- Babies to be ready to swallow and having lost their gag reflex. You can see this when baby is able to lunge forward and pick up your food, move it to their mouths, chew and swallow.
Sounds like a whole lot of trouble to go through, right ? I mean, to most parents it would seem easier to have fixed meal times and to minimize the mess by feeding the baby instead of letting them fling food everywhere and perhaps hardly eat anything at all.
So I went to read up. Here were my concerns:
- Choking – I was worried that Sophie Rose would choke on small pieces of food and asphyxiate.
- Mess – I don’t have a helper at home and the thought of cleaning my entire living area of discarded mushy food is horrifying.
- Baby not eating enough – what if they just play with the food and not get enough nutrients?
- Troublesome to mix it up with different textures and food variety every day.
So I ordered two books on Baby Led Weaning – the original manual and a cook book – together with my Mummy support group ( East Mummies March 2014 group, you are my rocks!) to find out more.
In theory, BLW made so much sense to me as I felt it would help build up Sophie’s motor skills and sensory development, allow her to properly experience and enjoy food ( she got bored with purees so fast ) and also allow her to be more independent ( I don’t want to always spend every meal forcing her to finish her food before I can start mine.)
So, armed with the cook book, tips from the Baby Led Weaning Facebook group and some kind of mad courage, I decided to do full BLW for one week. Here is how it went:
What I prepared:
- High Chair – baby should always be in an upright position to minimize chances of choking and gagging. We got the Stokke Tripp Trapp.
- Washable smooth bibs with a pocket to catch falling food ( I used The Little Bow Compay’s Elodie Details ones and I just love them!)
- Bumbo Seat with Tray – Sophie is still a little wobbly in the Stokke so I decided to use the Bumbo to test out BLW first.
Day One: Baked Apples / Whitemeal Toast Fingers
I was concerned about “raw” apple bits getting lodged in her throat as uncooked apple can be very crunchy and hard. So I toasted apple slices for just 10 minutes without any oil / butter in my conventional oven. I left the skin-on as the BLW guide says the skin helps baby grip better and also adds an extra dimension of touch.
Sophie just loved them! She started off licking the slices, and then got adventurous and stuck it into her mouth and moved it around her gums. Finally, she grasped it between her teeth and gave me a goofy smile, before biting off a chunk and -GASP- swallowing it with no problem at all !
She REALLY LIKED the toast fingers. She cackled in delight when they made a crunching sound as she mashed them with her fingers and she was using two hands to stuff it into her mouth -_-
It was really a joy, though, watching her experience and enjoy new things! Babies make everything new 🙂
The BLW book recommends toast as a first BLW food because they are easy for baby to hold, keep their texture, yet dissolve easily in the mouth when it comes into contact with saliva.
I needn’t have worried about choking – Sophie was very cautious and would push around the food in her mouth until her saliva had softened it enough to be swallowed easily. You can see they are chewing as they purse their lips, pout and make very exaggerated facial movements.
Thus emboldened, I got more adventurous on Day 2
Day 2: Steamed Sweet Potato Chunks and Seaweed Rice Crackers
Now I gotta say I was pretty impressed at how open to new food Sophie doll was. She grabbed the chunk from me – I dangled it just out of her reach to encourage her to stretch and move – and took an eager bite – before giving me a disgusted face. I initially did not understand why she didn’t like it as she’d readily taken sweet potato puree before, but one bite told me why – the sweet potato was a little grainy. Sweet, but grainy. And I hate grainy. Sophie is my daughter indeed.
On the other hand, she just loved her Pigeon Seaweed Rice Cracker, which are like toned down Want Want biscuits minus the MSG and salt. I took a bite first to test them out and can I just say, they actually tasted umami? Must be the seaweed. Anyway these dissolve into mushy paste once in contact with saliva so they are very easy to eat and good starter snacks for her. She finished 3/4 of the biscuit before flinging it to the ground.
One thing I made sure to do – never ever to force them to eat more. Once they indicate that they’ve had enough, we should stop. This is because
- Overfeeding might give them tummy upsets
- Their primary (and really the only necessary) source of food will still be milk until they are a year old, so you needn’t worry too much about their solid food intake
- Forcing them to eat turns the experience into a negative one, which may make them associate meal times with struggle. Meal times should be fun and interactive.
We brought her out for High Tea at Hyatt on Day 2, so she got to try even more things !
Day 2: Artisan Rye Bread (Soft, with crunchy crust) / Celery
Yeah, she really digs her carbs. She luxuriated in the artisan bread, rubbing the soft yeasty slice all over her mug before stuffing it into her little rosebud mouth. She was so intent on demolishing the piece that she nearly toppled forward from the effort of getting more into her mouth, faster !
She was also enthusiastic about .. of all things .. celery.
Which is not strange to me because I really love celery too. I think she was enjoying the fibrous stem – they make great natural teethers.
The best part? We barely had to stop from our meal to feed or entertain her. She was so happy sitting in her high chair (Hyatt uses Stokke, yay!) chewing away at her snacks and smiling happily and companionably with us. We were able to enjoy our scones and high tea in relative peace!
“WAI YOU STILL THE SAME SHAPE AFTER I BITES YOU?”
Day 2 Dinner: Broccoli Florets
I hadn’t planned on giving her anything during dinner, but we had some steamed broccoli florets and she was looking eagerly at us having our meal. Decided to include her and handed her one nice, soft piece – which she promptly used to “brush her teeth” she didn’t eat much, mostly just enjoyed the sensation of the “flowers” against her lips and gums and had some florets, but she was using her thumb and forefinger to grip the floret, which I read is a sign of fine motor skills babies need to have in order to start communicating.
Day 3 : Carrot, Sweet Potato and Raisin Butter on Toast / Pan-fried Tofu Fingers
Today, Sophie turned six months old officially so I decided to make her a slightly more sophisticated breakfast.
We’d bought these powdered organic purees a while back and I didn’t want to waste them. So I used them to make “butters”, or spreads for her toast fingers. Today I tried the carrot, sweet potato and raisin on her whitemeal toast. Her little fat hands were out like a flash grabbing the toast slice from me and immediately shoving it into her mouth ! I was speechless.
Within minutes, she had finished 1/3 slice of bread and was sucking her fingers to get the remnants of her spread.
Next, I passed her some tofu fingers. To make these I used Organic Sprouted Pressed Tofu from Vitasoy ( pressed tofu is a little firmer than silken tofu but not pre-fried like Tau Kwa), sliced them up and fried them until crispy outside on a non-stick pan.
Sophie was a little surprised by the texture initially. She grabbed too hard and the tofu because mush on her hands. Still, she didn’t give up and I could actually see her trying to control how much force she was using to hold the tofu. Sure, she eventually gave up and settled for shoving the mush into her mouth, but a few more tries and she’ll be holding wobbly tofu like a pro.
And that concludes the first week of Sophie’s BLW, which I will be calling The Sophie Breakfast Club.
Some people asked how I enforce this since my mum’s helper looks after her in the afternoons.
Well, I’m very lucky because she is very open to BLW and was super interested after I told her what it entails. In fact, she even headed to the market the next morning to stock up on carrot sticks, celery, broccoli and toast for Sophie. I was very specific in explaining to her what foods to avoid (grapes, tomatoes (choke hazards) citrus, eggs, peanuts, milk (allergens)) but I needn’t have been because she’s been with us for 27 years and practically raised my siblings and I.
After a discussion with her, however, we decided that she would prepare and cook a few tablespoons of fish porridge for Sophie and feed her with it every afternoon. Although this runs contrary to BLW principles, I believe that good quality fish ( we buy Ikan Kurau / Garoupa at $30 a slice from the wet market) is essential for good brain development from an early stage and she may not get this from just BLW.
- At 6 M, I am keeping her food variety limited to milder, generally safer veggies and fruits. No citrus, eggs, peanuts and milk because these are the things babies are most allergic to. Although she likes grapes, I’m not allowing her to feed them to herself yet because her motor skills are not fine enough for her to properly grasp the round grapes and I’m worried she might choke.
- I cut all the food into long, finger-like chunks or sticks, because at the starter stage, these are the easiest shapes for baby to hold.
- I always, always supervise her during her feeding sessions.
- Cooking for babies doing BLW doesn’t have to be extra work – I just have the adult version of whatever she’s having. I’ll have toast with hummus while she has toast with puree, I’ll have a yummy tofu scramble while she has her tofu fingers. 🙂
I’m finding BLW a whole lot of fun and I can’t wait to start her on pasta shapes, sauces etc but I think the most important thing is to be relaxed, enjoy the process and your baby and to just take things one step at a time. I refuse to stress myself out about her food intake as long as she’s healthy and growing well. 🙂
Next up, I’ll be letting Sophie try some baby yoghurt (oh the mess), as well as simple salmon or tuna croquettes she can self feed.
That’s our BLW so far, and I’m so excited to keep it going ! Feel free to share your own experiences, tips, and advice 🙂
Hope this entry helped those considering if they should try out the BLW route 🙂
Libby and Sophie Rose