Thursday, March 10, 2011

Food, glorious food!

I've been a bit negligent about updating this blog lately. Sorry, my dear readers! My excuse is that I've spent a whole lot of the last month feeding Sprout. We started him on solids a day or two after he was six months old. Despite adding one meal, then two into his daily breastfeeding 'routine', I'm not feeding him any less, in fact, I think he's breastfeeding more often, some days.

I can't remember where I heard about Baby Led Weaning, but it really sounded like a good idea to me. Once I read Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett's book, I was convinced of the benefits. BLW is basically a fancy new term for how people used to introduce solid foods, before blenders & baby food mills, before pablum. We just give our child appropriate finger food & let him feed himself. No purees, no straining, no jars of baby food. He will eat as much as he needs to, just like he breastfeeds as much as he needs to. He'll also learn how to pick up the food with his fingers, manipulate it with one or both hands, then how to chew, bite & move it around in his mouth with his tongue. BLW follows the natural development of the child: when he was able to sit up straight on his own in a chair (& thus avoid things falling back into his throat the way they would if he were reclined), able to grab things then put them in his mouth & the tongue-thrust reflex was gone (so he wouldn't automatically push anything out that went in, the way all newborns do) he was ready to start eating.

When I mentioned appropriate foods, I meant pieces sized so that he can grab half & eat the other half, no really small things until later on & nothing so hard that it requires teeth to crunch up. So far we've fed Sprout:
  • steamed broccoli spears
  • mango slices
  • steak
  • steamed yams
  • steamed carrot
  • rice cereal
  • mashed chickpeas
  • rice cake chunks
  • steamed cauliflower
  • roasted potato wedges
  • pear, both cooked & raw
  • steamed sweet potatoes
  • sauteed chicken breast
  • Mum-mums
  • apple, both cooked & raw
  • plain yogurt
  • banana
  • avocado
  • curried green pepper
With fruit & potatoes, I leave some of the skin on to make the pieces easier to grip. For softer things like avocado & yam, the easiest way for Sprout to eat it is to load up a spoon for him & then hand him the spoon. He grabs it & stuffs it into his mouth, occasionally taking the scenic route by way of his ear &/or cheek. That said, he actually isn't that messy when he eats. I have been meaning to make him a few sleeved bibs to cover up his clothes, but so far we've been managing by just rolling up his sleeves & putting a 'normal' bib on him.

Another aspect of BLW that I like is the emphasis on exploration & truly experiencing food. Theoretically, because Sprout is eating many different textures during a critical period of development, he'll be a more adventurous eater as an older child & even in adulthood. The fact that he's learning early how to move food around in his mouth will help prevent him from choking later too. I know from babysitting experience & other parents' stories that spoon feeding babies often involves a lot of power struggles & trying to trick the child into eating another mouthful. With BLW this doesn't really happen because the child controls their own food intake. Sprout has only reacted with glee to most food we offer him. His most negative reaction thus far has been indifference. When we gave him steak, he picked it up twice, sucked on it, then left it, preferring to mash up his yams & suck them off his fingers.

The skills he's learned in just a month of eating 'real' food are awesome: he has gotten much better at using his spoon; he can pick up different sizes & shapes of food, he's started to be able to bite pieces off; when he grabs food awkwardly & can't get it into his mouth, he will use his other hand to adjust the piece so he can bite or suck on it; he's actually starting to be able to drink a substantial amount of water out of a cup when I hold it for him. His pincer grip is coming along too: I think he'll be picking up cheerios & blueberries soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting! (I've had to enable comment moderation on older posts to thwart spammers, so your post may not appear right away.)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...