Charlie Led Weaning

I can’t believe that we’ve been weaning Charlie for two whole weeks now. Progress has been a lot slower than I expected; it’s still difficult for Charlie to move food from the tray of his high chair to his mouth though his progress is brilliant, and it’s still intensely frustrating to feed him purees and baby riceĀ  – we never know ahead of time whether he will wolf the lot down or if we’ll have a meltdown on our hands. We’re now pursuing a mixture of baby-led-weaning and the traditional method. I am still disappointed that we didn’t manage to get to six months of before weaning him, and sad that we’ve abandoned our original intentions by introducing baby rice.

Charlie is still getting an opportunity to have finger foods each day. Toast is perenially popular, and carrot and pear are still winners. Parsnip is mighty slippery to hold. And cauliflower met with disgust.

Phil is feeding Charlie his teatime baby rice at this moment. Charlie is more interested in the baby rice box than the stuff itself, and tonight Phil is better at dealing with his apparent disinterest in eating than I am. Charlie needs to be wholly occupied with some other activity and then he’ll happily accept a whole spoonful of baby rice. For someone as gluttonous as me, I find the lack of enthusiasm for the food in front of him a bit difficult to understand.

Whilst I’ve been writing this post, Charlie has been steadily eating his baby rice as we sing to him. His mouth opens wide in a smile at ‘Old MacDonald’ and the baby rice dribbles down his chin. How is it that babies can dribble upwards as well as downwards? I’m always finding crusty baby rice and porridge in his eyebrows of all places. Photos of the messiest baby in the world will follow soon.

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Bleurghyum

We had a very chaotic weaning day yesterday. Charlie tried toast with an apple puree substitute for jam. He licked the apple puree off, then got down to sucking the toast. Nyom! Toast is a winner! At lunchtime I experienced the opposite extreme – I gave him cauliflower florets. Charlie absolutely loved putting them in his mouth, but hated the taste (or at least I presume he did). But obviously he’s slow to learn, because he kept trying the cauliflower again and again and again, excited each time he manoeuvred the rapidly disintegrating cauliflower to his mouth, and then screwing up his mouth in disgust. I took pity on the poor thing and gave him some pasta that I’d just finished cooking – but perhaps plain pasta looks too much like cauliflower, because he wasn’t too enthralled. The sauce went down a bit better, but weirdly enough I had to offer it to him on a wooden spoon before he’d deign to try it, and then there was only half a teaspoon left. The little thing looked like he wanted to eat, so we tried banana again, me holding a whole piece close to his mouth, and him headbutting it quite successfully.

I’m quite confused by what I’m trying to achieve by weaning Charlie. Is the aim to get him steadily eating more and more food, knowing how much he’s consuming and progressing merrily towards three meals a day? I’m so target driven that it’s very tempting. But Baby Led Weaning would have food be about play and discovery at this age – about learning the skills to pick up a piece of squidgy banana and use a spoon and the fun of new tastes and textures. For the next few days I’ve planned both finger food and easy-to-eat food, so that hopefully Charlie will get a bit of both experiences.

So this morning Charlie refused baby rice for a second time. Obviously he recognises that it has all the flavour of wallpaper paste. We bought a 100g box, and we’ve used about 3g, though, so Charlie will be being given plenty of opportunity to reform his opinions. We might do him a favour and mix it with a puree next time. Lunch of pasta and homemade tomato and pepper sauce was more of a hit on the taste front, but Phil cleared up the mess when he got home from work – most of it ended up on Charlie’s vest, t-shirt, trousers, socks, highchair, pillow to prop him up in the high chair, floor, my arm, my cardigan. It’s like feeding the five thousand – if you collected up all the bits and pieces afterwards there would probably be about 10 times the amount I originally gave him.

So, last night we had our first refusal. Up until now Charlie had gobbled up everything we put in front of him with great eagerness, so we decided to give him his third ‘solid’ meal of the day (after some toast for breakfast and the bananama episode earlier) – baby rice. The day before he had demolised a bowl of the stuff so we were expecting a repeat performance. However, on this occasion Charlie categorically refused to touch any of it – resolutely ignoring the spoon we offered him and pushing it away when it was put nearer him. In fact, he was far more interested in grabbing the bowl than eating its contents – one early lunge resulted in him flicking the baby rice-laden spoon over his head comically splattering himself in the process. There’s probably still some of it on the wall…

Charlie after "the spoon incident"

We planned a meal of banana at lunchtime today. I was optimistic – shouldn’t banana be the best baby food going? Sure, it has a reputation for getting everywhere and drying to a dark solid paste, and for being, well, interesting when it comes out the other end. But we were armed with a bib with sleeves, and nothing could defeat us.

I wanted to give Charlie his banana after he’d taken his milk. He had a long nap around 11am, so it ended up being about 2.00pm before we sat down with some sliced pear and banana for both of us. I had Charlie on my knee at first, but couldn’t manage both him and the plate, which threatened to end up being flipped onto Charlie’s face, so I popped him into the highchair. The banana was so soft that it simply squidged in his hand every time he picked it up, which was frustrating him. He was sucking merrily away at the pear, but then I was seized by a fit of self-doubt. Why was he sucking at the pear? Was he still hungry for milk? Perhaps he would suck a whole piece of pear right to the back of his mouth and then choke on it. I gave him more milk, and then ended up mashing up the banana and spoonfeeding it to him. He loved it and was soon grabbing at the spoon and cramming it into his mouth, but I feel like I’ve abandoned the principles of BLW; I shouldn’t be worried about getting as much food into him as I can, rather letting Charlie explore new textures and tastes at his own pace. On the other hand, Charlie really wanted the banana, and wasn’t ever going to be able to feed himself with it as fast as he wanted to.

In other news, we have had confirmation that Charlie has been ingesting and digesting food. From the nappies it looks as if both the pear and baby rice have been doing their jobs. Hooray! Can’t wait to see what the banana looks like. I googled ‘banana nappy’ to see if I could find out what is to come, but sadly no one has quite as bad taste as me, so there were no images to be found.

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We went today to a session on weaning organized by the Health Visitor. Exhibit A: a carrot, a sweet potato, two parsnips, a pear, and an apple. ‘These are all good for pureeing’, the HV intoned. Although the Health Visitor seemed hazy on the details of weaning and the talk she was giving (‘Don’t give your baby a milk feed before you offer him food’, ‘He should be on three meals a day by the time he’s six months old’), she was clear on one detail: purees only until six months. We are only allowed to introduce finger foods when Charlie is able to sit up with minimal support, and when he can introduce food into his own mouth.

‘But Charlie can sit up unsupported now, and he’s 21 weeks’, I said, proudly showing off Charlie lolling around happily on my lap, displaying all his wondrous motor skills. Never mind that my Health Visitor then went on to confuse BLW (where the baby feeds him or herself with the same kinds of foods that the adults in the family are eating) with the lumpier textures of stage two of traditional weaning, she was confident that Charlie wouldn’t be ready for solid solids (as opposed to mushy solids) for another five weeks. I didn’t dare tell her about the toast. The toast even had butter on it…

Anyway, we tried some baby rice this afternoon. Not really BLW, but in tribute to my Health Visitor, and because Charlie has been waking more and more frequently at night. Conventional wisdom says that this is an indication that he’s ready to be weaned. BLW wisdom says that it’s a false sign of readiness that won’t be cured by tipping food down his throat. My wisdom is that I’ll try anything to get a good night’s sleep.

I mixed some of the baby rice with breastmilk and gave it to him on a spoon. After that initial split second reaction of utter disgust he was eagerly trying to cram the spoon in his mouth, threatening to scream every time I took it away from him to reload it. So I guess you could say it was a success. Charlie could half-manage the spoon himself if it was pointed the right way, so it wasn’t so very very far from being baby-led, anyway. At least I didn’t have to pretend to be an aeroplane just to get the food into his mouth.

spoon

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That means ‘Welcome to Charlie Led Weaning’ in Charlie speak.

Baby Led Weaning means skipping purees and mashed food, and allowing your baby to feed himself with solid food from 6 months onwards. Until now this meant a couple of carrot sticks and… ummm… ahhh… a spoon that had a bit of leftover cheesecake on it at Pizza Express. Charlie is just shy of 5 months old, but his motor development is really really good and he’s so bright and alert, and we’re not really going to aggressively wean him just maybe let him share lunch with me two or three times a week, and, and, and that’s enough justification for now, because it is done; weaning has begun.

At lunch today Mummy, daddy, grandma, and grandpa were eating home-made beans on toast, and fruit. It seemed like a good time to try Charlie with baby-friendly finger food. That is, I’d been reading about BLW for weeks, and was just itching to try it out. So Charlie had his very own fingers of toast and slices of pear. It took Charlie a while to grab the toast on the chair of his highchair and the expression on his face when he brought it to his mouth was priceless – a mixture of surprise and suspicion. But within a minute he was gumming away at it, getting increasingly frustrated when he dropped pieces or when they were out of his reach. Pear was even more successful and got thoroughly mangled and munched (as best you can munch something when you’ve got no teeth), though I’m not sure anything substantial really went into his tummy. We did have our first gagging experience though – a few coughs and splutters and a little piece of pear was ejected from his mouth.

Charlie enjoys pear

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  • charlieledweaning: Does she have The Book... Baby Led Weaning by Gill Rapley? It tells you everything you need to know - about three times, as is the fashion of these th
  • John Self: Mrs Self was talking to me about baby led weaning just at the weekend. Our little man is a bit young for it yet, but I shall watch Charlie's progress

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