Sunday 9 December 2007

Is this food or packing material?

As I was saying, Mia has been introduced to the world of solid food via the interesting (this is your cue to say: "Oh off she goes on that mad hippy nonsense again") concept of Baby Led Weaning. I first learned about it when Jack was a baby (thanks to LisaS, who is another mad hippy) but for reasons that I can no longer remember, only made a half ass attempt at it.

The idea is to let babies feed themselves - no spoon feeding, no purees. "Oh my good lord, but your baby will choke!" you may cry. Well look, it's not like I'm giving Mia a turkey drumstick to gnaw on this Christmas. Although come to think of it, Paul's Uncle Mike recently told me that he gave drumsticks to both kids when they were babies, and they turned out just fine. All joking aside, I freely admit that it did make my heart jump when Mia gagged and sputtered a bit when she tried the rice cakes. We are so accustomed to the idea that babies get purees, that it's very difficult for our brains to accept anything else. Anyway, the idea is to let babies feed themselves...safely. For example, instead of spoon feeding Mia carrot puree, I will give her cooked carrot sticks that are still mushy enough to be safe to eat, but in a form that allows her to feed it to herself.

I think it's easiest to understand if I put it in terms of more "conventional" weaning. At 4 months, you offer purees because babies cannot physically ingest anything else. At 5 months, you introduce lumpier foods, and at 6 months, you start with finger foods. Since Baby Led Weaning is done at 6 months onwards, we're simply skipping the two former stages.

Why am I doing this? Do I want to spend mealtimes sticking a spoon in my baby's face with no hands free, or would I rather sit back, stuff my own face, and be entertained watching my baby attempting to pick up slices of avocado? I rest my case. Okay seriously, I'm doing this because I've always been an advocate of letting kids play with and explore food. I'm still that way with Jack. I think it's important to let kids be in control of what goes in their mouths. Except if it happens to be a clump of dirt, dog toy, or something unidentifiable from the garden, obviously.

So far, Mia's not actually eaten anything, but I've only given her food twice this week. I first gave her slices of avocado (too slippery) followed by rice cakes (easier to pick up, but anything that went in came right back out again), and cooked carrot sticks (interesting to lick, but again, anything that went in came back out again.) She doesn't have to get any food in her belly - breast milk gives her all the nutrition and calories she needs for now - so this is all for fun and practice.

And I am in no rush to get her established on solids. I am enjoying the relatively inoffensive nappies while I can.

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