Ok so the butternut squash I cooked yesterday I kind of overcooked. I was aiming for 'crispy' but ended up with 'mushy'. She wasn't really bothered by it so I mashed it up with some cream cheese, lime and paprika today to make a dip. The result: dip, breadsticks, (lightly cooked) carrot, sausage meatballs and apple.
Obviously, us being on day 4 of weaning, she doesn't have the skills to dunk the dippers herself but she enjoyed licking at the dip and sucking it off the breadsticks. After the initial confusion, that is.
She's getting better with her fine motor skills too. I've seen a big difference in just 4 days - now when she spots something she wants she can actually grab at it instead of accidentally sweeping everything off her tray in the attempt. Granted, she doesn't get it right every time but it's a good 7 times out of 10 now she'll grab her selected chunk of food.
She's also decided that keeping food in her mouth is the way forward. But it's not easy! This stick of carrot kept falling out so she made sure it stayed in there by keeping her hand on it. Logic is working its way into our baby's brain!
In other news: she turned 6 months old today. I have kept our baby alive with my body for (almost) 6 whole months. Not counting the (almost) 9 months before then. I can't believe how quickly the time has flown. I am so proud of her ♥
We had a takeaway tonight. Amy was offered egg fried rice, carrot, pineapple, bamboo shoot, chicken and a spare rib.
Not the healthiest of meals (although there is a smidgen of fruit & veg in there☺) but another joy of BLW - when hubby gives me a break from cooking by getting a takeaway, I don't have to worry about what to feed the weaner.
She adored the spare rib. She had a brief suck on the chicken but she spent a good half hour nomming away on the rib. I don't know if it was the flavour or the fact that it was easy to keep a hold of but she loved it. She actually ate some of the meat too, rather than just sucking away on it, there was a fair bit swallowed there.
She's adapting so quickly to this new world of food ♥
Amy's really coming along now and Claudia is enjoying it too. We seem to sit down more for breakfast and lunch now whereas before I will admit to becoming a bit lax - I would give Clauds her food on her little pink table and we'd eat separately. In my defense she did seem to like being able to come back to her food throughout the afternoon (and I still always have snacks available to her if she wants them) but it's quite nice to sit down together and eat. She also seems to eat a bit more that way, too. We have always had dinner as a family at the table so there's no change there but Claudia seems keener to prove that she, too, can eat 'like a big girl' so she's been eating more than she has in a long while.
Anyway we had a bit of a lie in this morning so skipped breakfast but lunch consisted of the following:
Carrot, roasted butternut squash, Philly on toast, cheese and another sausage meatball.
Philly on toast is fast becoming a favourite; she'll happily suck and gum away on it for ages. Funny how she has a preference already, we're only 2 days in!
She quite enjoyed the butternut squash too, although it was a bit of a new texture for her; she's not had anything so squidgy before.
The problem is, it's quite bendy so she ended up missing her mouth and sucking on her thumb for a while before getting all confused, realising and sucking on the food instead. Silly bear.
It's a funny one, gagging; scary as hell to watch but a common (and normal) reflex in the early days of weaning.
Babies start off unable to move food around their mouths very effectively. This means that food could easily stray to the back of their throat which then has the potential to choke them. Food manipulation is something that comes with practise but practise, of course, means that you have to practise on something. Like food. Which could choke you.
The way nature got around this was to give young babies a very sensitive gag reflex. In the early days of weaning, if anything strays away from the very front of the mouth without being swallowed it triggers the gag reflex and out comes the food. The baby is generally totally unperturbed by it all but it's pretty scary for the parents to watch.
As the baby learns how to use their tongue to more effectively move the food around their mouth (and in doing so, minimises their chances of choking on said food), the gag reflex slowly moves further and further back until eventually they are left with what we have as adults: a reflex that is only triggered when food is in danger of actually entering the windpipe. Hence why we, as adults, are worried or frightened by our babies gagging - to us it is a last ditch attempt to stop food from choking us but it's quite different for babies.
Spoonfeeding a baby bypasses this gag reflex by placing food right at the back of the mouth from the very beginning (which is why some spoon-fed babies tend to gag an awful lot when lumps and finger-foods are introduced later), but baby led weaning does not: the baby essentially figures out the food manipulation for themselves right from the start. This means that in the early days there is often a lot of gagging. It is nothing to be alarmed about and it is very different from a baby who is choking; it's just a case of trying not to leap to their 'aid' every time it happens; you will see that they are very rarely actually bothered by the gagging. Claudia once spent ages bringing up a big chunk of steak in a restaurant, much to the horror of a lady at another table who rushed to our assistance and informed me my child was choking. Claudia then picked the perfect moment to deposit the steak on the tray, pick it up, examine it and pop it back in her mouth to happily suck away on it again. Good on ya, kid!
To illustrate my (rather lengthy) point, here is a video of Amy gagging on some tuna. Being flaky, she had quite a bit of trouble once it broke up into little tiny pieces and spent a good long while gagging on it but, as you can see, once she's got it all out she's straight back to 'happy smiley mode'.
Last night we had sausage meatballs (I was being lazy and the sausages needed using up) with sauce. Amy had some of those, some spaghetti and a chunk of cheese and carrot too. She didn't actually get much in but she had fun squishing it about and sucking on it.
This morning we went for some more toast with Philly. This seems to be a firm favourite already; she spent ages sucking on it, lucking it and chewing away. She seems pretty good at moving the food around inside her mouth and hardly gagged at all.
Lunch was a leftover meatball, some carrot, cheese, pasta, tuna and a grape (split in half as, whole, they are a choking hazard).
She had a good go at everything. The carrot proved lots of fun, the tuna was quite tricky as it flaked in her mouth which prompted a good old gagging session but she got it all up and was unperturbed.
All in all it seems to be going really well; she's enjoying herself and seems totally fascinated by this whole new world that's been opened up to her. She is shattered afterwards (half a boob then absolute unconsciousness!) so all this food must be giving her brain something to work on!
An unexpected bonus: weaning the baby means the toddler is more keen to eat! She's going through a ;not hungry' phase so rarely eats much except toast these days (although will go through phases of eating, for example, an entire mango in one sitting) but last night she ate all of her spaghetti and meatballs and today she had all her pasta, a meatball and 10 grapes.
At 3 days shy of 6 months, Amy has had her first solids. I was hoping to wait until she was 6 months as I didn't think she was quite ready; well what did I know?! In true baby led weaning style, she persistently grabbed at some of my toast today so I decided to take that for what it was - an interest in food - and set her up with some of her own.
Oh boy was it ever a success! I gave her toast with Philadelphia, a few chunks of cheddar and a bit of banana and she went nuts (after first exploring the spoon and bib, obviously).
Claudia got really confused, bless her. She has had 6 months of "Amy doesn't have lunch like us, she has booby milk" and couldn't understand why all of a sudden her little sister was eating toast! She came over and nicked a piece for herself, then offered Amy a bit. And when I say "offered", I of course mean "shoved in her mouth"... When I explained we had to be gentle, she then handed it to her instead. Gosh those two make my heart melt sometimes ♥
Honestly, I'd forgotten how much fun it can be; it's been over 2 years since I last did this. Amy had great fun grabbing at the food and shoving it in the general direction of her mouth. Actually, I was quite impressed with her coordination: once she had a firm grip on the food it pretty much always ended up in her mouth. I'm sure Claudia had more trouble than this but then my memory is probably rather skewed. Either way, Mummy was wrong: she clearly is ready for solids ☺
Last night I was having a flick through the BLW book by Gill Rapley to try and refresh my memory on 'how to wean'. Well after looking through the whole thing I remembered that there is no 'how to', it's truly led by the baby; give them food and let them at it! There are no 'stages', no list of foods they allowed only at certain ages, no gradual progression to lumpier and lumpier foods and, best of all, no puréeing! I am inherently lazy so that suits me just fine; all I have to do is make our dinner as usual and make sure that any large bits are cut into manageable 'finger's for her and that's it! Best of all, I know that she's getting all the nutrition she needs from my milk so I am not worried about the old "are you getting enough into her?" questions that inevitably follow the baby-led approach. At this age, food is a complement to milk; it's a toy to be explored and learned about but is in no way vital to their growth.
Strangest of all, perhaps, is since doing the baby-led weaning with Claudia, I can't see why anyone would do the purées... Unless your baby is struggling to gain weight I suppose (but even then, milk is so much more nutritious, and purées tend to start out with foods you'd eat if you were on a diet anyway - fruits and veggies!) but it just seems so backwards. You start before they're developmentally able to feed themselves, which means you have to spoonfeed them (which inevitably means you choose how much they eat and when); and then you have to re-teach them how to feed themselves so that by the time they reach toddlerhood they are feeding themselves again. To me the logical progression seems to be: breastfeeding (where baby feeds themself 'on demand' and chooses how much to take), fingerfoods, normal meals. Anyway, I know BLW isn't for everyone but it just makes so much sense to me that I now couldn't imagine doing it any other way.
Claudia has proven that BLW results in a child that actually enjoys food. We have no meal-time battles with our 2 year old; if she doesn't want to eat what's on offer then we don't force her, some days she just isn't very hungry and that's ok. She hasn't starved yet! When she does eat, she does so happily and at her own pace and isn't that how it should be? It's a lot easier second time around; even though it's a bit of an unusual approach to weaning, I am confident because I've done it all before and I know it works, I know she won't starve and that will help me ignore the nay-sayers.