Tomorrow is the day we will introduce Poppy to the world of food. I am super excited and also a little emotional that she is growing up so fast!
As most of you will know we have decided to try baby led weaning with Poppy. This basically means that we skip the puree stage and she will just get finger foods and feed herself rather than being spoon fed. To begin with it is just for fun, she will mostly play with the food, explore the textures, spit it out and make lots of mess (I knew there was a reason we got a dog!) This is the reason we have waited until 6 months to begin any solids, it is safe for her to now feed herself as she has the motor skills needed and can sit up unaided (or with very little support). A babies digestive system is also not mature enough before 6 months to handle foods efficiently and due to Poppy’s early intolerances I didn’t want to take any risks if she wasn’t physically ready. It also means that baby is still getting enough of the vital nutrients from milk that they need as the solids are not replacing milk feeds at this stage. If solids do replace milk feeds (as with spoon feeding) it reduces the amount of good stuff baby absorbs due to the nutrients in solids being less easily absorbed than those in milk for the first year or so of their lives. For this reason we will always be offering Poppy food after she has had a milk feed so that she is already nice and full. It will take her a little while to clock on that this funny tasting stuff can actually fill her up just like Mummy’s milk, and that is when the gradual transition from fun food to fuel food will occur!
Credits image: Simon Wheatley (CC)
Here are some of the main benefits to baby led weaning:
- No hassle of making separate foods for baby. Poppy will eat what we eat, more or less.
- Improves baby’s dexterity. Often children who have been weaned this way start to use a knife and fork of their own accord and because they have been bringing food to their mouths for such a long time they are very good at it.
- Poppy is in control, if she doesn’t like something that is fine by me. There will be no pressure what so ever, but we will continue to offer her plenty of variety and like most children I am sure she will go through stages of disliking something and then suddenly loving it and we will go with it (hands up if some days you just don’t feel like eating that but you really want those…)
- She eats until she is full not until we say so, and so she naturally develops appetite control. I am going to try my absolute hardest to not use the phrase ‘one more mouthful’ or bribe her with pudding, both of which I am sure are programmed into us and slip out with almost no control! I trust that if she doesn’t want anymore then she is full up or doesn’t need it and if she does want more she can have it. Having had a pretty unhealthy relationship with food myself growing up, this is one of the biggest reasons I want to do baby led weaning in the hope that Poppy does not follow in my footsteps. Food will never be a battle or a chore and she will learn how to be healthy from the start.
- Introducing solid foods from the word go means that babies will learn how to swallow without having the confusion of purees sliding down their throats to suddenly having to figure out lumps which they have never come across before.
- It is easier to go out to dinner round friends houses etc. You don’t need to come with a bag full of baby feeding equipment and let your own dinner go cold whilst you see to them.
- Baby watches you eat and socialise over meals and enjoys being a part of that and learning how to do the same.
- Babies who are weaned this way tend to be less fussy eaters.
- You know exactly what your baby is getting, not like in those funny coloured jars you buy in the supermarket.
- If baby isn’t yet ready then they will let you know. You go at babies pace, just like any other stage of their development. We don’t (can’t) force them to walk or talk so why force them to eat? (I am not suggesting spoon fed babies are pinned down but you get the idea…)
- The muscles baby develops when learning to chew are used when they learn to talk, so it is good practise!
- Endless learning opportunities! Shapes, textures, weight, colours, size, quantity, smell and of course taste (if lots of foods are mixed together then baby can not distinguish the different tastes, and may not like the foods when eventually offered separately)
- It is FUN FOR EVERYONE!!! (My camera will be fully charged ready for the big event tomorrow)
A couple of people (my lovely Nan) have voiced their concerns about the risk of choking (actually she just told me in a slightly aggressive voice that Poppy WILL choke). There is no further risk with this method of weaning than any other. A babies gag reflex is much stronger than ours, and I am ready to expect plenty of gagging as Poppy starts to push things to the back of her throat. This is a good sign because it shows that Poppy is learning how to deal with the problem herself, and I will try my best not to panic and confuse her when this occurs! Thankfully real choking is rare, but I am fully trained in Early Years first aid and have given Tim the low down too. I think it is important to know how to handle that situation regardless of how baby is weaned, and encourage my family, who may find themselves alone with Poppy when she is eating, to look up choking in a baby and ensure they feel confident that they would know what to do. Apart from that I hope you will all join and support us on this exciting journey!