A new way to wean? Or an age old solution to an age old problem?
Maya making a mess...
The lazy or the logical way to wean your baby?
I had twins ten and a half years ago and was told to wean them at 4 months using purees. Thinking back, it really didn't make much sense. I mean... why force a child to eat something when their bodies (tongue) are still rejecting it?
Weaning wasn't easy and logic told me that it wasn't right, however it was the thing to do - so I did it.
10 years later, I found myself in the same position again. This time, with a wealth of information at my fingertips. The internet wasn't around 10 years ago in the way it is now, and all of a sudden I found myself looking for other options.
I started researching early - determined to know it all and have all my facts to hand when the time came. My first challenge came when Maya was around 4 months old when friends and family started to ask when I was planning on weaning. This one was quite simple since the WHO and AAP now recommends nursing for 6 months exclusively before introducing solids.
My second challenge was convincing my husband to do it differently. Afterall, purees are the only way, right? Wrong! My research had led me to a concept called Baby Led Weaning and a book by a woman called Gill Rapley. Putting it simply, it's about allowing the child to introduce themselves to food in their own time, with their own hands. The belief is that a baby will know what it can and can't eat, what it's allergic to, and how much to eat. Between 6 months and a year, the idea is that food is for experimentation and fun. Nutrition is far less important and milk is still the number one food. The first time I read about it the concept scared me. I was terrified that it would lead to choking, but the more I read the more I began to understand the gag reflex and how it differs from choking and that babies who are in control of putting food in their own mouths, are actually, far less likely to choke.
Gill has written three books on the subject, "Baby-led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food" which was the first book I read. This explained the system in full and was truly insightful. Her second and third books were also excellent. "I Can Feed Myself!: The Baby-Led Weaning Approach to Introducing Solid Foods" and "Baby-led Weaning Cookbook: 120 Delicious Recipes for the Whole Family to Enjoy". If I ever got stuck for something fast to make for all the family, I'd whip out that book.
The ease of the system was also a delight. I didn't have to make any different foods for Maya so food ideas were never a problem. Since our family eats a healthy balanced diet, Maya did the same - eating exactly the same foods as us.
There is obviously a lot more information regarding the whole concept of BLW however I would highly recommend the book as a valuable resource. I can't believe how easy weaning was this time round. My twins both have eating issues. One is very picky and doesn't like "lumps" which I'm convinced is caused by the textures introduced by purees and the other will eat until he's stuffed - he doesn't understand the concept of being "full". I believe this was caused by the "one more mouthful" aspect of weaning.
Maya on the other hand will eat anything and knows when to stop. In contrast to my twins, she has been a total delight to wean.
I remember mentioning to friends who had children how easy the concept was and briefly how it worked and was told I was just lazy. That may well be the case, but you know - I'd rather be lazy with a happy and healthy baby than not lazy with a miserable one!