Baby Led Weaning the BLWMamaUK way
When I started weaning Little Dude there seemed to be an awful lot of rules; a whole list of foods he couldn’t eat, set times when I should feed him, specific ways to introduce new flavours. Unfortunately, LD clearly hadn’t read any of the helpful pamphlets provided by my Health Visitor and refused point-blank to engage with my lovingly prepared purees. After the first frustrating month I somewhat reluctantly switched to Baby Led Weaning (I am fairly risk adverse and feeding ‘proper’ food to my squishy six month old was a scary prospect) and to my delight, he suddenly became interested in food.
Like most areas of parenting, Baby Led Weaning seems to come with its own set of rules; purists may claim that any kind of pureed food isn’t true BLW. Some are steadfast in their belief that food must be placed in front of baby for them to explore with their own little hands. On this point I have to respectfully disagree. My method of weaning has always been ‘baby led’ in the truest sense: Little Dude started this in the first place by refusing the spoon. Since then, I’ve trusted him to show me how to do things his way.
Yes, plenty of his early meals were strips of pepper, chicken, cheese (or whatever) plonked in front of him on the highchair, but I also continued to offer him a spoonful of yoghurt or porridge here and there too. At first not a great deal of either actually ended up in his tummy so smoothie pouches have offered a perfect middle ground between the self-feeding empowerment of ‘true’ BLW and the easy-to-handle (and crucially – to swallow) puree. Most importantly, LD remained in charge; he decided whether to squirt smoothie all over the kitchen wall or whether to lift the spout to his mouth and take a good slurp. Once he realised something tasty was inside, there was thankfully a lot more slurping than squirting.
One of the benefits and drawbacks I’ve discovered with BLW is that baby can see exactly what they’re eating. This means that Little Dude had a good understanding of what foods looked like and could recognise them from an early age, the downside being that if there is something he doesn’t think he likes there is no hiding it. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard him wail “No bluuuebleees” at me as he’s spotted me washing them at the sink. Like his Mama, LD has never been a big fruit eater. Even now at two and a half years old he’ll eat pear, strawberries, and the occasional apple, but everything else is very hit and miss. With him it’s a texture thing – he’ll happily eat any fruit blended into a smoothie - so I use pouches to give him a good fruity vitamin hit in a way that he likes. Again, ‘baby led’ all the way. That’s not to say he doesn’t still get fruit presented to him on a regular basis – he doesn’t get off that easily – but equally I don’t want to deprive him of something I know works for us both.
Now I’m very happily pregnant with Even Littler Dude I’ve started to think about how I approached things as a first time Mum and what I might do differently second time around. I’m still a worrier but having seen how well BLW worked for us last time (and how little spare time I will have with a toddler to run round after as well), I’m guessing the days of carefully preparing purees in those little ice cube trays are long behind me. My plan this time is dive straight into BLW and to compliment this by introducing pouches a lot earlier. BLW is a messy old business and pouches can also be thrown in my changing bag and taken out with us without causing too much chaos. I’m sure I’ll still find myself crawling under café tables trying to retrieve pieces of discarded chickpea fritter but sometimes a self-contained snack makes life a lot easier, especially when we’re picnicking in the park or heading somewhere with the buggy. So far I’ve only used pouches to make fruit smoothies but they would work equally well for smooth soups or veggie-packed juices so it’s about time I got practising some new recipes.
Baby will inevitably take a little while to get the hang of feeding him/herself from a pouch but in the meantime I know one small, cheeky dude who will happily hoover up any leftovers!
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Poppy is the fantastic mum behind BLWMamaUK. She has an amazing Instagram feed with over 9000 followers and a facebook page where she shares photo's of the meals that she serves her Little Dude as well as recipes and tips on Baby Led Weaning. If you are thinking of going down the Baby Led weaning route she is a great mum to follow and if you are already doing it you can get some great new meal ideas from her pages.
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