Tuesday 30 April 2013
Sunday 28 April 2013
You all know how enthusiastic & passionate I am about Baby-Led Weaning but am I alone in this? Is it just a new parenting buzz word! Will there be a new weaning fad along next week?
Well firstly, its not new really. Many parents were doing BLW with their kids years before I came along (especially any children that came after the first) but no one had particularly coined a name for it back then. Even when I weaned Callum following BLW it was 4 years ago. Its just so great that so many more parents are seeing the results and are enjoying the same approach today.
Secondly, I wanted an opportunity to share with you some of these other parent’s experiences.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be publishing a number of guest posts from some very lovely Mummies (would be lovely to have a Daddy in there too if anyone wants to join in, it’s not too late) who have kindly blogged their own experience of Baby-Led Weaning. There are some just starting off, some who have older children now so can look back at their experience and there are some who can compare between different styles of weaning having tried both purées and BLW. The aim is to publish one or two a week until the end of May.
I’m very excited to be sharing these with you and would like to thank all the contributors for taking the time and effort of writing your guest posts for me.
So, starting this week, probably around Tuesday, look out for the first guest post from Karen at Woman, Wife and Mum and then the others will follow thereafter.
As always, please feel free to comment and/or ask any questions of me or the posters who are taking part.
Friday 26 April 2013
My 9 months is nearly up and my hunt has begun!
Shortly before giving birth to Millie, Stuart and I discussed my plans for returning to work. It wasn’t a question of would I as I enjoy working – I love the adult interaction, I love my job (as an IT Trainer) and I’ve put a lot of effort into getting where I am in my career so I don’t want to give up on it yet. The question was when. I said I expected I’d be ready around 9 months and as that was when my Maternity Allowance ran out so money would be tight(er than it already was) it seemed like a logical plan. It did mean there would be a few months of full time childcare for 2, however, so finding a job that would cover those costs for those few months would be the biggest challenge.
Well, here I am with Millie just turned 8 months and my job search has begun! Mentally, I was ready to go back after a couple of months but my heart definitely wouldn’t have been ready then and is still struggling a bit now thinking of all the firsts I might miss. I was lucky that I had 18 months with Callum so got to see a lot of his firsts!
But, I know Millie will be fine and I will be a better mummy for working! I’m not me when I’m not working and think I’m often feel quite low as a result.
Anyway, all this talk of work is really unsettling me and making me quite anxious with so much going on in my mind. I may need to write another post to get it all out but for now my thoughts are turned to Millie and routines!
Up until now I have pretty much been baby-led. Not just with weaning but with everything. I’ve been relaxed and gone with Millie’s signals for what she wants when. Therefore, we haven’t really had any fixed daytime routine. We established a nighttime routine around 12 weeks (if not a little before) but Millie has otherwise been fed on demand (which is ‘usually’ 3 hours but sometimes more sometimes less), naps when she yawns and starts to grizzle and sleeps for an unpredictable length of time. When someone asks me about her routine or when she naps, for example if she is being babysat by my parents, its all a bit sketchy! But I realise, if I’m going back to work and Millie will be in full time nursery, they’ll want some kind of routine!
So, consciously but still led by Millie as much as possible, I’ve been trying to establish some kind of routine around times! Looking at her nap and bottle times, it does look like she may be naturally slotting into a routine herself. She still wakes up at random times between 6am and 6.45am so I’ll average that it is 6.30am and this is what I’ve noted for the last week:
6.30am – wake up, bottle, dressed
7.30-8am – breakfast
8.30am-9.15am – nap (45 minutes)
9.30am – bottle
11am-1pm – nap, bottle (2 hours)
1.15pm – lunch
4pm – bottle
5pm – dinner
6.30pm – bottle, bed (sometimes this is nearer 6)
At the moment I’m going to remain quite flexible around this times but keeping them in mind. She is still not guaranteed to sleep through every night – like last night she woke at 10.45 and wouldn’t settle then downed a whole bottle so its hard to be fixed during the day plus I find being too strict just causes me stress and babies do kind of do what they want to do whether you like it or not. As hard as they have been I do think I enjoyed the first 6 months a lot more than with Callum because I was more relaxed and therefore Millie has been a lot easier baby (aside from the not sleeping through at night until later).
Now….about that job….!
Wednesday 24 April 2013
Firstly, I loved the idea of telling a story using one person’s Facebook status updates. Being a social media addict it automatically appealed to me. Although, I wondered if it would keep me turning the pages, I was foolish to think that because this is exactly what the very nature of this book does – it keeps you turning pages! It is a quick read and therefore a can’t put down in the same way that a book with short chapters pulls you in. I’ll just read the next status…just one more…ok just another…. Before you know it, you’ve reached the end and at the same time have been taken on a journey through a 4 year snapshot of Dottie Harris’ life in which time she says goodbye to the carefree spontaneous life you have while still a childless couple and then goes through 2 pregnancies, she shares with you how she copes with caring for a newborn, a toddler, 2 children etc not to mention juggling the family-work-life balance.
The amount of times I totally related with Dottie or where Dottie’s status updates said my innermost feelings that I daren’t not share myself. Thus making it a hilarious read where I often found myself LOL, ROFL or LMAO, or all of them at the same time, and left me curious to the comments she might’ve received in relation to that particular update. I confess, this novella also made me feel a lot less guilty about my ‘passion’ for wine which seems to have grown exponentially since having children even when I didn’t think it possible!
I think this is a great pick up put down read (if you have stronger willpower than me) for when you are in between books and trying to decide what next to read.
Survival of the Ginnest by Aimee Horton out on Amazon Kindle on 29 April 2013 with other ebook readers following shortly thereafter.
Monday 22 April 2013
One of the reasons I love BLW is that I am absolutely fascinated watching Millie’s learning and improving dexterity.
For example, she’ll be holding a piece of food, like a bread stick, in her fist and has finished eating the bit that sticks out the top of her hand but can’t get to the piece that’s still in her fist. Originally, when she couldn’t get to that food, she would just open her fist, drop it and move to the next food item. Now, she will place it down on the table and pick it up slightly different, sometimes using her other hand to help her.
The other fascinating development is watching her slowly master the ‘pincer grasp’ which is where we use our thumb and forefinger to pick up small objects. Knowing that babies when you first start to wean them (at 6 months) can’t pick up food items such as peas and dry cheerios (or the Aldi Harvestmoon equivalent in our house – Multigrain Hoops!) it can be easy to just avoid offering them until much later but I have offered these items to Millie from the start. Yes, she used to struggle to pick them up and then give in. Then she could pick them up in her fist then drop them when she couldn’t get to the food. Now, however, she has progressed to using a sort of side grasp. Its not a clear pincer grasp yet but certainly a pre-curser to it and I would say she is not far off fully mastering it.
To show her progress, I’ve taken a video of her eating the above mentioned Harvestmoon Multigrain Hoops. She has picked up food with a better grasp than in the video but not when I’ve had my phone/camera to hand but you get the idea.
The video also shows how she is using both hands in co-ordination to help her get food to her mouth and passing from one hand to the other.
Keep watching for the very cute (in my biased opinion) hoop wave at the end!
Tuesday 16 April 2013
Things are going well for Millie – we are at 8 months now and, aside from yogurt which is more miss than hit, Millie is loving anything I’m throwing at her (clearly not throwing).
What I thought might be really helpful to others is if I compiled a top tips page of things I’ve discovered or even to reinforce things I’ve read in the book which have helped me too.
I’ll keep coming back to this page and adding tips to it as I discover or remember them. If you have any you have discovered then please do share them in the comments and I’ll add them in – all tips welcome.
So here goes (in no particular order – bullets are purely for ease of reading)!
- Set expectations: Expect Mess! - Its gonna happen and if you are prepared for it you are a lot less likely to be concerned by it. Expect waste! – This is the thing I find hardest to deal with. The waste! But its a bit like the mess issue – expecting it makes it easier to accept. Also, in the beginning if they are eating with you and what you are eating or what someone else is eating (for me its often just Callum and Millie eating) then its less of an issue as you just share a little bit of what you have. There’s no need to make too much extra, if its pasta you are talking about 3 pasta shapes maybe, quarter of a slice of bread for toast, half or even quarter of a wheatabix, Keep it spall to begin with and you’ll waste a lot less. When they start to eat properly, then you can make more of a portion but this is going to take some time – their tummies are still very small (size of their fist). If you do make too much, just give a little bit at a time then save the rest for another meal. Got 6 carrot sticks, give 2 then add more if they need/want them – the others can always be put in the fridge for later if not wanted. If you keep the floor beneath them clean then I’ve nothing against picking up food Millie has dropped and giving it back to her (again, if we are at home).
- Old sheet/disposable plastic table cloth (or the like) – If you have a carpet where the food play is going to happen, put one of these down first. An old sheet can be thrown in the washing machine and a wipeable tablecloth or playmat can be wiped clean after meal times.
- Wear an apron – I read this in the book and find it a great idea. If we are eating at home (less acceptable in public) and Millie is either on my lap or I’m loading spoons of soft food for her, I wear an apron – much easier than having to keep changing my clothes. Especially for me with the soft food – Millie doesn’t like soft food and will bash the spoon until it is thrown across the room, at the floor or at me!
- Food on table/surface or large mat – To start with, put food straight onto the table top if possible or, if not, a large mat. If a mat, preferably a heavy one or one that sticks. Bowls and plates will be as much a fascination as the food itself (remember its ALL new to your baby) so WILL be played with, turned upside down, dropped, eaten! I’ve not avoided bowls as Millie has to get used to them to be able to move on from playing with them but I might put the food in them for a bit then when she starts to play with the bowl I tip out the food and let her play.
- Use plain bowls and plates – If you have to use a bowl or plate – lets face it, soggy wheatabix, soup etc does not work well on flat surfaces – then stick to plain ones. Your baby may not tell the difference between 2D & 3D things yet (I’ve tried to research this but haven’t found anything useful) and may try to pick up the ‘pictures’ which then leads to picking up the whole bowl plate. I’ve found Millie shows a lot less interest in the bowl or plate if I use a plain one. Also, I actually find the ceramic plates better than plastic ones as they are heavier & harder to pick up but, obviously, you’ve got the breakable risk there.
- Put new foods on your plate not theirs – Something we discovered with Callum, as they start to get older and a bit pickier and more suspicious of new foods, don’t put it on their plate, put it on yours and talk about it with the rest of the family/eaters (“mmmm, this courgette is nice”). Immediate intrigue! Next may follow “can I try it” or if not speaking a grab for your plate. If not, you could just casually ask if they want to try it or offer it. We found Callum was much more likely to try and like more foods like this. These days, now he is 4, if I want him to try something new I include him with the food prep and get him to try the food both cold and hot and compare. This is why eating as a family or eating your meals with your baby works the best when blw because they see you eating so are reassured its safe and want to copy. They learn from you!
- Don’t hold back – Remember, the early days are the best times to try as much variety of food as possible! Try it all. Don’t hold back because ‘most babies’ don’t like that flavour (Callum & Millie have often preferred stronger flavours to mild ones and think about lemon – both kids love sucking a lemon!!!! I can’t stand it!). Some babies have even enjoyed eating actual chilli peppers – raw! Personally, I’d avoid going straight in there with a vindaloo but start with mild spice (like a mildly spiced chilli & rice) and if they don’t recoil from the spice or cry (like Callum first did) then try something spicier. I’m not talking hold a “How much spice is too spicy!” contest but if you like making curries at home then give it a go! Same with mushy food and small food – if they don’t get to play with it then it will take them longer to learn how to do it. I love watching Millie now use her pincer grip to pick up foods and have loved watching how she has learnt to do it. Same as when she picks up food in her fist and can’t get to it with her mouth, I’m itching to help her but all by herself she has learnt to put it down and pick it up differently allowing her mouth to get to the food.
- Keep trying – linked to the above, if you offer them food and they pull a face and throw it on the floor, don’t give up, keep trying. I think someone once told me you have to offer them the same food and let them reject it 13 times before you accept that they don’t like that food. Remember, they are in control of what they eat and what they need so they 1) might not need that food that day; 2) be taken by surprise by the taste and need to get used to it; 3) just be more interested in one of the other flavours on offer that day; 4) just not like a slight variation in that brand, i.e. yogurt – you get lots of different flavours and different styles, try them all. With yogurt we first tried Millie on one of those tube style yogurts and flicked it all over the kitchen, tried a bit more, flicked it over the kitchen, then again. Next time I tried the same yogurt but different flavour and she loved it (though I pre-loaded the spoon as she struggled with the tube). Tried a yogurt pot yesterday and today (different flavours) and she pulled a face and dismissed both.
- Go straight to booster – I’ve said this in an earlier blog but can recommend avoiding the highchair altogether and going straight for a booster. They really can then be included with the family mealtimes then and are much easier to transport if needed – even if just between rooms. We have a booster that works at the kitchen breakfast bar and at the dining room table. Very easy to keep clean too!
- Two spoons – If you are pre-loading spoons for them to take, while they have one, just as it looks like they are finished with it (not before) then load the next one. They should see the new spoon and think its something knew and go for it – but be quick and ready to catch because the other spoon will be discarded with a quick drop/throw. If you load too soon then they may discard what they are eating immediately. I love watching Millie eating say a carrot with another identical carrot in front of her, she sees the other carrot and drops the one she is eating for the one on the table. I place the discarded one back on the table and immediately she wants to swap again no matter how recently she just picked up the last one! If you just have the one spoon, you may find yourself wrestling with them for it even if the food on it has gone.
- Its bananas! – Keep the bananas small then once you’ve peeled back the skin to halfway, trim it. Keep half of it peeled so they have something to hold on to and then trim it so the skin doesn’t get in their way (think that one is in the book but its a good one!). Another good tip for all kids – frozen bananas! Especially if the skin has started to go a little (very) black and noses are starting to turn up. Peel them, if you wish you can slice them in half longways, place on a baking sheet or something similar then pop in the freezer. Once frozen, you can pop them in a food bag and then the kids (or you) can eat them like ice pops!
- Food overload! – Remember not to overload your baby’s plate. It can be tempting to put a wide variety of different foods on their ‘plate’ all at once so they can choose what they want to eat but they can get quite easily overwhelmed and not want any of it. Both Callum & Millie, in the early days, would just sit there or complain if there was too much in front of them but if we just put a couple of bits down and add pieces as they were eaten, dropped or discarded then they would happily explore each piece. Although, as mentioned above, if you put something new down while they have something already in their hand, it will be too interesting to resist and they will drop what they are eating to investigate even if it is exactly the same as what they have in their hands.
(The book I refer to is ‘Baby-Led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to To Love Good Food’ by Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett)
Wednesday 10 April 2013
Last week, Callum had his appointment with the Audiology Department of the local health centre to enable them to carry out a decibel check to find out exactly how affected his hearing loss is as a result of the Glue Ear he has in both ears. I didn’t realise but Glue Ear doesn’t have to affect the hearing at all.
The lady (doctor?) was lovely and quickly put Callum at ease and said they were going to play a game. She bought out 2 long wooden boats with little wooden men sitting in them which she removed. She put headphones on Callum and said every time he heard a whistle, he was to put a man in the boat.
This took me back to when they did hearing checks in my senior school, however my test was a lot more boring as was just the case of taking a cup off a stack and putting it in a line when we heard a whistle. Apparently I had grommets fitted in one of my ears as a child but I don’t remember it being fitted.
Anyway, Callum went through both the boats of men, then placing beads on pegs, then a wooden shape sorter toy. A different headphone thing was placed just behind Callums ears with the big headphones placed over one ear then the other. Throughout I had no idea how he was doing.
Towards the end, Callum started to get bored and wasn’t really listening out for the whistles so the lady couldn’t complete the test but had enough data to be conclusive.
She let Callum play with the toy boats and people (I think if she had continued to use this toy, she would have held his attention to the end) while she showed me the results on her computer.
The graphs showed that his right ear, which had moderate hearing loss, was worse than his left which had light-moderate hearing loss. Some of the tests she performed showed that the hearing loss was as a result of the Glue Ear and not anything permanent which was a relief. It was the low vibration noises he struggled to hear more – on his left ear he could hear high pitch noises normally.
She then explained what our choices would be. The first being to continue as we were and hope his Glue Ear cleared up by itself, though advised against this as it was suspected the Glue Ear had already been there for a while and I was concerned about his speech and confidence. The second was to have grommets fitted. The third to have a hearing aid fitted, which was apparently rarely considered by parents but was an option nonetheless.
The next steps was for her to file her report and refer us to the Ears, Nose & Throat (ENT) clinic where they would no doubt do a similar test to what she had done again and then they would make the final decision and recommendation for grommets if that’s what we decide.
For now we are waiting for the ENT clinic appointment. Stuart and I would definitely want to go down the grommets route and we both really hope he can have them fitted before he goes to school as I’m sure it will make a big difference to his confidence and speech.
Tuesday 9 April 2013
How did I forget?
I was lulled in to the false sense of sleep – Millie’s sleep pattern was not perfect but was definitely bearable. Usually having a bottle between 10pm and 11pm and then waking between 6.30am and 7.30am with the very rare occasion of going longer or, even rarer, all night! I was getting a good many hours sleep! I was starting to feel human again.
It hit me!
Out of the blue!
The 8 month sleep regression!
I’d forgotten all about it and started to panic that she was on the start of some bad habits! Callum was regularly sleeping through from 6 months from 7-7. We are yet to get a regular routine of this with Millie. I started beating myself up, as us parents regularly do, about being tougher on Callum than on Millie and therefore paying the price!
I decided it was time I took control (having relinquished the control to Millie for most of her 8 month life, being led by her), time I got tough and denied her these silly snacking bottles she had started having in the night! Operation sleep through started last night. She had slept through before I knew she could do it – hell, she could regularly sleep 7 hours straight when she was a few weeks old.
Last night, she went to bed easily, as she usually does, at 7pm then the first grizzle came about 10.30pm. I let her grizzle for a bit then thought I was more likely to get her to sleep until 7am if I was to feed her then so about 11pm I dragged myself out of the slow descent into dreamland and I fed her – she took about 3oz of a 7oz bottle. Groan! She could’ve had more!!!
Then around 3am she grizzles again. Hang on its only 3am, you can do better than that Millie! I got up and tried the dummy! Twice! I stroked her! I shhhh patted her! Several times I made it back to the bedroom and a couple of times actually back into bed…even just starting to get warm again….before she started the grizzle once more. By 4.30am, I couldn’t take any more and gave in. I knew she would sleep as soon as she had the bottle so I gave her the bottle. I expected her to guzzle it up. She didn’t, she had 3.5oz of another 7oz bottle. Rah! But, back to sleep she went with just a couple of soft murmurs.
Then, as I was documenting on Twitter my early morning '#nightfeed updates, I awoke to lots of lovely support and was also reminded about the 8 month sleep regression!
Relief! Its temporary!
I can relax, let her do her thing and wait for her to get over it! I may have to feed her a couple of extra times a night for a week or 2 but stressing wont make it go any quicker and its only temporary. She will start sleeping through again. She will! Will!
*starts rocking staring into the distance as Callum wipes the dribble from my mouth*
ETA: Great article on the 8 Month Sleep Regression
Friday 5 April 2013
I really feel like Millie has made a bit of a leap forward with the baby-lead weaning in the past week. She is gagging less and less, she hasn’t lost any enthusiasm with trying new foods, if anything, she is even more enthusiastic and enjoying foods she has previously dismissed. As I type she is happily sucking the life out of a rehydrated apricot – her first try of this.
Her nappies are turning from a bright yellow to a woody brown colour with added lumps! (gross I know, sorry!) This tells me she is definitely swallowing some of what goes into her mouth! Whoever knew nappy watch could be so exciting (its not – I’ve not seeped that low…yet!).
Although we haven ‘t tried her on anything particularly spicy yet, if something has a tiny bit of heat (like a mild chilli) she hasn’t refused it…or burst into tears like Callum did making me feel just awful! She is another lemon lover though! No idea where either child gets that from but certainly not me! I hate lemon…even as a slice in a drink!
Her dexterity progress is slow. She still can’t really control a cup of water (with or without a sippy lid) and spoons, unsurprisingly, are still pre-loaded…and often whacked on the table top or chair until topping is removed!
I did have a lightbulb moment yesterday with medicine. Why, if I’m encouraging Millie to take a spoon in her own hand and eat off it, am I surprised when she gets upset or rejects medicine when I spoonfeed her it or inject it into her mouth with a syringe? Instead, I tried filling half the 5ml side of a medicine spoon (2.5ml being the correct dose for her age) and then carefully handing the spoon to her. It worked, she was much more agreeable to it though did get a little excited and flicked the last bit off the spoon at my mum & her glasses. I’d still call it a success!
We have had to get used to feeling like a celebrity when we are eating out with Millie as she gets lots of attention. Obviously, for being so goddam cute (in my unbiased opinion) but also because they are so surprised to see a baby her age eating proper solid food. Most of the attention is from grandparent aged people “wow, look at her chomping into that piece of celery – my grandson is older than her and he isn’t on that sort of solids yet and he is such a fussy eater!” was one amazed exclamation. Its not uncommon, these days, for parents who start weaning their children to also offer finger foods from 6 months (whether they started weaning at 6 months or before) so it surprises me that they are so amazed – perhaps its because she is a petite baby too so looks even more surprising. Or perhaps even when parents offer finger food when out it is less obvious.
I think we have won over my parents more this time than we did with Callum. Though think Mum disapproves of our reluctance to offer chocolate until Millie is 1 year old. She even bought her a chocolate Easter pressie, I think intended to sway us, but I’m staying strong. I’m not mean but while she doesn’t know what it is, I’m hesitant to introduce her. I’m not restricting her from anything else – if I was eating a bit of cake and, although I wouldn’t necessarily offer it, if she went for it I’d let her have some. I do believe no food should be taboo as it just creates a bigger attraction to it but I don’t want foods like chocolate to replace nutritious food while she is eating such little amounts of actual food (as opposed to milk). By 1 she should be on 3 meals a day so the occasional chocolate treat wont then be a big deal. The rest of us all eat far more chocolate than perhaps we should so there’s no harm in delaying her chocolate addiction! I think that’s it – we eat cake occasionally but chocolate frequently. While she is meant to be eating what we eat, cake is less of a frequent issue.
Once more (as with Callum) we have gone for the booster seat over high chair route. Mainly because we wanted something Millie could use both at the breakfast bar and at the dinner table. The only high chair that gets to both heights is gorgeous but also £400!!!!! But, to be fair, the booster seat is completely adequate as she is over 6 months and sitting up strong and we would want her pushed up to the table rather than using the tray anyway. We’ve gone with a cheapy, easy to clean, £15 booster from Mothercare. If your baby is over 6 months I’d actually recommend it over a space-taking cumbersome, sometimes expensive (unless from Ikea) highchair – it will last them right until they are ready to sit on a normal chair too! My sister said, after having 3 children, if there was one thing she would have changed for number 1 it would’ve been to not bother at all with a highchair – she only used it for consecutive children because she already bought it for her first. I’m inclined to agree with her having not bought a highchair for either Callum or Millie.
Here is the seat we bought.
Here is Millie enjoying a Hot Cross Bun & some cucumber on her chair at the kitchen breakfast bar.
I really like these too and because my parents kindly gave us some money towards a highchair, I’m going to get one as they are really handy to put in the car to take to restaurants and for when you visit family or friends without children/with older children.
One thing was for sure, Millie had definitely outgrown the Bumbo and it really wasn’t safe for her to remain on top of the breakfast bar or table instead of on a chair.
My Dad loved seeing her joining in as part of the family pushed up against the table while we were enjoying our Sunday roast. I think Millie rather likes it too!