It is time for the six month check-up. We are excited to find out the new ‘measurements’ for our boys and see how much weight they have gained. However, what we felt when we left the doctor’s office was as totally different feeling; one that left me questioning my own knowledge and experience.
“The boys have not gained enough weight.”
“They have dropped to under the 5th percentile.”
“You may not be producing enough milk for the both of them anymore.”
“You should start introducing baby cereal.”
As a new mom I can see how the outside influence of professionals can make you change your ways in a heartbeat, no matter what you believe is the ‘right’ thing to do. Because for an instant, I did just that. In our training, we learned that the child will show us physical and psychological signs for weaning. The child will begin to drool, has cut his/her first tooth, and should be able to sit up with minimal support. The child will show an interest in people eating around him/her and start reaching for food. This was part of my mental checklist and because the boys were a month premature and were not sitting well on their own, had no teeth, etc. I had the right mind to hold off. But here I was, rushing out to Whole Foods to purchase Organic Baby Rice Cereal!
Then, I had to check in with myself (as well as vent and get reassurance from those around me).
Were my boys happy and thriving?
(R sitting with support in nursing pillow, looking at one of his favourite books.)
(First time P ventured off the movement mat.)
Were they sleeping well and through the night?
Did they show signs of distress or lack of food?
NO! (Big sigh of relief.)
I was introduced to Baby Led Weaning after my training, once I started my Parent-Infant classes. At snack time, one parent pulled out a whole apple, took a bite, and then handed it to her 9 month old to eat. I was in awe! I researched it and read the book Baby Led Weaning, which I thought was very interesting and sounded very much on page with the Montessori philosophy.
Some key components include:
- Feed babies food in their natural form (cooked or steamed if needed)
- Teach babies to feed themselves and eat as much (or as little) as they need.
- No need for purees or spoon feeding, babies will learn to break down the food in their mouth.
- Baby may gag a bit in the beginning, but remember that the baby’s gag reflex is not as far back as an adult’s.
- Hold off on grains until baby’s system is producing more amylase, which is a type of ptyalin that helps to break down starches.
So this is what we did.
The boys began with avocado, banana, steamed cauliflower, broccoli, apple, carrots, and pear. Yes, at first I was a bit nervous and so were those around me, especially when the boys gagged on the food! It took us a while to get into a groove and perfect the set-up (at their weaning table with the proper dishware etc.) but now they have all meals at their table (along with complementary milk feeds).
Overall, it is a very lovely experience for all of us. The boys are now enjoying many different types of organic food and I find it easier to prepare food for them as I do not have to do much else than what I already do for my husband and I. Some of their favourites right now include Ezekiel bread with avocado, homemade pancakes, chicken drumsticks, salmon, cod, meatballs, yams, sweet potato, banana, raspberries and blueberries. Unfortunately, the “broccoli loving babies” that I had in the beginning are no longer and this is when the “lovely experience” turns not so lovely as they very purposefully throw what they don’t want on the floor. I am very thankful for our dog on these occasions as she gets invited in to assist with clean up!
Every meal is finished up with a drink of water from a real glass (ours are shot glasses from Ikea) and in the beginning I poured only a little to get them used to holding the glass with two hands and tilting it up to drink. Now they have pretty good control and will hold out their glass for ‘more’, which I pour from a child-size pitcher. At the end of a meal they definitely show signs of being done, by pulling off their bibs, pushing their dish away, or by pushing their chair away from the table.
It is time for us to introduce the use of cutlery, which opens up a few more doors in terms of choice of food. I haven’t purposely held off, but with the boys approaching 11 months it is time! I have also started to encourage them the wipe their own faces, hands, table, etc….basically to help me clean up their mess. Not that they do this as of yet but the language and actions are there for the future. 🙂
So all in all this too has been a learning experience for me as an educator and mom. We are quick to give our opinions about what we feel is ‘right’ by the books, but every child and situation is different and what works for one family may not work for another. That is why Baby Led Weaning works for us, and it may (or may not) work for you!