Wednesday, 21 August 2013

My Issues with Baby Led Weaning

Having enjoyed some weetabix and banana for breakfast
This post has been rattling around in my head for ages and before I start typing it I would like to make the following disclaimer:

How you wean your baby is your decision and I believe there are pros and cons to all methods and I do think there is a lot to be said for baby led weaning (I use little bits of the concept myself) and I have dear friends who I love dearly who swear by it and I still love them despite anything I am about to say.

Weaning, it's another one of those contentious parenting issues isn't it.  That separates people into "good" parents and "bad" parents depending on what you do.  Do you use purees? Are they home made or do you used shop bought packets of puree? Do you start at four months? Wait till six? Or do you do baby led weaning?

In case you don't know the idea with baby led weaning is that babies eat lots of finger foods/things they can pick up.  They can munch on what they can manage and get all the rest of what they need from milk, as they get older and more proficient at eating they get more of there nutrients and substance from solid food and less from milk, it is so called because the baby sets the pace.

Here are my issues though...

The name!  Baby Led Weaning, and even more so when you think that BLW folks tend to refer to the alternative as spoon led weaning, makes it sound like having decided to spoon feed my children that I am force feeding them!  They still dictate when they have had enough, they are more than capable of communicating when they are done and we don't finish every meal that we start.

The idea that just because we are puree feeding we are chained to the kitchen making special foods for ever more.  In the early days we just pureed some of the veg that we were having in our dinner anyway and very quickly we progressed to just eating whatever the rest of us were having for dinner.  I think that Miriam was 5 months old when she had her first curry (a dinner she loves!) and she continues to just eat whatever the rest of us are having, just pureed to a texture and consistency she could manage.  Now that she is a little older it is normally just mushed up with a fork or increasingly I just put bits down for her to pick up for herself (there's that nod to baby led weaning from me)

My baby (both of them actually, but even more so Miriam) was ravenous, long before she was ready to do baby led weaning, she could hold her head up quite the thing but nowhere near being able to sit up.  And I don't just mean she was waking up more (I am well aware this isn't necessarily a sign that it is time to start weaning), I mean she was grumpy, she was obvious hungry and at meal times when the rest of the family ate she screamed her way through.  I started weaning at four months and if I had waited any longer I would have been subjecting everyone to a very sad two months, everyone was happier (not least of all her) when she starting having some extra food inside her belly.

I frequently hear that BLW is better for avoiding allergies, and I am happy to admit that I have no evidence that it isn't but I would love to see some evidence that it is!  As far as I can tell apart from delaying the age we wean at the only difference between what I feed my child and what a BLWer feeds their child is the form it is served in...  Maybe I am just lucky but both my puree fed children are completely allergy free!

Also, and this is a very minor issue, how do children who are exclusively given meals to pick at learn to use a knife and fork? (I know they must do but for my children it was just natural to start using the spoon when I left it sitting to get a mouthful of my own dinner and then progress from there to a fork...)

Mainly though. I think my issue comes down to the fact that I feel judged.  I feel like if you have chosen BLW that you think I am harming my children or doing it "wrong".  My children are happy, healthy, love fruit and veg, not overweight and don't eat lots of junk food so please can you try and adjust your language? Or maybe I just need one or to of the baby led weaning camp to tell me what beautiful children I have and tell me I must feed them lovely healthy food for them to be doing so well.  Because you know what? I do and they are!

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