Do you really have to pick one?!
When you become a parent it can be totally overwhelming. All of a sudden you are faced with a lot of important decision making, personally I struggle to make decisions in the most simple of situations.
So, you can imagine my inept faffing and lengthy pondering when it comes to making important real life decisions for the tiny human I am now responsible for. Parenting decisions are extremely tough, there seems to be a vat of contrasting opinions all over the internet just to make the process that little bit more difficult. In the two days that followed Tobias’ birth, I had two different midwives working with me who had completely polar opposite ideas on whether co-sleeping was okay (I’ll talk about this another time). When even the health care professionals are giving conflicting advice with regards to some pretty important stuff, it can cause us even more confusion.
We decided to wean Tobias at 4 and a half months – I can already see the mum police chasing me with their pitchforks and shouting information about the virgin gut at me! I’m a firm believer that you, and only YOU, as your child’s parent know them best. Therefore, when you make an informed decision, no one should try to shoot it down or make you feel bad. Every parent (or at least I would sincerely hope) has their child’s best interests at heart. I never take decision making lightly when it comes to Tobias, I always try to make a well-informed decision, and generally I wind up making the final call with good old mum gut instinct!
When Tobias started trying to grab the food from my party favour fish and chips cone I was eating at a birthday celebration, it was a sure sign. He was ready! Tobias had been ticking all of the “ready to wean” boxes. The final box was ticked when he tried to struggle from my arms to reach someone else’s party food cone, staring at them and watching their every bite. There was drool EVERYWHERE. “He’s ready” I recall thinking.
Fast forward to the next day and I’m standing in Asda, in the baby aisle buying spoons and bowls. I was a little sad admittedly. Then again, I’m always a little sad, apprehensive and excited when Tobias reaches another “growing up” moment. What will I be like when he’s going to his first sleepover at his friends?! Or his first school trip away?! Or off to university?! OR ON HIS FIRST HOLIDAY WITH HIS GIRLFRIEND?! I’m actually very happy to assume that by that stage I’ll be care free and sipping a large ice cold G&T whilst waving him off!
How did I get here?! I was talking about weaning. Where was I?
Okay so first port of call, like many other parents was the borefest that is baby rice. Tobias gobbled away, confirming for me that I’d made the right decision. The following day I boldly served up a purée of broccoli, peas and pears… again, his eyes lit up, and he devoured it in minutes. –
Pre-warning, weaning is MESSY. I didn’t realise just how messy it would be. Since the moment Tobias figured out how to use his hands he became a grabber, not a casual one like some more chilled babies. He grabs EVERYTHING. He has to have a hand on whatever it is you’re holding because HE’S in control. Now, there’s a personality trait that’s going to cause me heartache through the years!
We progressed through the spoon fed weaning well, blended purees of fruit or fruit and veg. T refused anything purely vegetable, which was causing me a bit of frustration. I couldn’t let him develop a sweet tooth and all signs were pointing in that direction. I persevered for a while, trying again and again with more bland veggie puree. He wasn’t having it at all. Instead of eating it, he’d blow outwards onto the spoon as a way of communicating his message, “Are you trying to poison me mum?!”. When I did manage to get a spoonful in, he’d gag, his eyes would fill with blubbery tears and once the retching was over he’d look at me like I was a monster. “Vegetables never killed anyone” is not a phrase which babies understand, it would seem. So, one day, as I sat in our kitchen splattered in a root medley purée and feeling rather defeated I decided I’d need a different approach.
Welcome, BLW. The life saver. I realised that Tobias’ independent demeanour worked well with BLW. If he’s in control (or at least thinks he is) he tends to comply. I set a stick of steamed carrot on his tray, and he lifted it and began to eat it (thrilled that this was obviously his own idea). He kept reaching for another every time I set more down. I had to remember this could just be a novelty. However, luckily for us, he hasn’t refused a single thing when we give him food this way.
So far he’s tried things I never dreamt I’d be giving my 7 month old baby unblended. He now eats carrots, sweet potato, butternut squash, broccoli, cucumber, oranges, toast, bread, avocado, rice cakes, eggs, and strawberries, HOW AMAZING. His diet puts mine to shame! Recently as I’ve watched him gobble up fresh fruit and veg, I’ve thought about how awesome that must be for his digestive system, and how dreadful my diet is in comparison. A couple of times I’ve been on the verge of joining him, and making healthier choices. (Maybe a challenge for the summer months).
I chop his fruit, veg and toast into finger food sized chunks so he can pick them up from his tray and watch as he happily munches. It’s great to see him really enjoying food rather than me battling with him to get a spoonful of vegetables in.
I can’t remember who initially suggested BLW as a way to get the vegetables into him, but if I do I’ll be kissing their face because it was genius! We have a little hybrid situation going on, when we’re out and about I often give him a fruit purée pouch, he’s obsessed with the Piccolo Mango and Kale, and the Ella’s Kitchen ‘white one’ . Also, let’s be real sometimes BLW can be messy and it’s already stressful enough, trying to make sure your child doesn’t mash food into the interior furnishings of someone else’s home, a restaurant or a cafe. No harm done by continuing with a couple of spoon feeds.
Not once on the internet have I read anyone saying “why not try a mix of both?”. And I suspect it may be down to this ridiculous assumption that you have to be so actively pro one parenting decision or another. Any other parents noticing how aggressive some opinions about parenting are online?!
So, for the sake of making sure other mums and dads know, it’s okay to use a mix of TWO DIFFERENT ways. Spoon feeding is fine, BLW is also fine. So right now, do whatever happens to work for your baby.