Wednesday, 29 May 2013

BLW: Baby led weaning versus puree feeding: My experience of both–Guest Post by Karen at Tales of a Twin Mum

 

The final post in my series of guest posts on BLW is from Karen. Karen is married with three children – twin boys T1 and T2, who are 3 and a half, and an 8 month old daughter E. Karen is a freelance copywriter and regular friendly face in the blogging community and Twitter. She is also one of the few whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet in person when I first moved to Bournemouth at my first ever Tweetup! After taking a very short break from blogging to landscape their garden (which I can’t wait to see photos of) I really appreciate Karen taking the time away from her busy return to blogging schedule for Tales of a Twin Mum to contribute to my guest post series with her own experience comparing the traditional purée weaning to that of baby-led. For those of you thinking of starting BLW, Karen has also written her own great post on her own blog, including some ideas for first foods to try, which can be found here. Thank you Karen.

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When my twin boys were four months old, our health visitor advised me to start weaning because T2 was being sick all the time and she was convinced it was reflux and would improve with real food. It wasn’t and it didn’t, but that’s a whole other story. Because they were so little, I had to begin with baby rice and purees. I found it exciting buying a hand blender and making up ice cube trays of foods for the freezer as I couldn’t wait for my boys to move on to the next stage of their development. The only problem was that half of the things we ate for dinner didn’t work as a puree (chicken salad, fajitas, pork chops…the list goes on), so it wasn’t long before the excitement wore off and I started getting stressed that I didn’t have the time to make them separate meals to us.

As they got bigger I struggled to get them to take lumpy food, as they preferred it smooth. They’d often gag and be sick because of eating tiny lumps. I was terrified of the idea of giving them toast or sandwiches as I didn’t think they’d be able to cope with them. By the time they were about nine or ten months they started to turn their noses up at foods, especially if it was something homemade rather than a jar of baby food. As the months passed and they became more independent I was happy letting them self-feed but they were still very picky. If I made them chicken sandwiches T1 would eat the meat and pass his bread to T2, and T2 would eat the bread and pass his meat to T1. If I gave them hard boiled eggs T1 would eat the egg white and T2 the yolk, so at least food didn’t go to waste but it meant they were both missing out on the things they were avoiding. Their eating has gradually got worse, and now at three and a half they are both super picky. I can usually get them to eat things with hidden veg in the sauce like spaghetti bolognaise or homemade pizza, but every meal is hard work. We have to use pudding as a bribe EVERY DAY – if you don’t eat X amount of this you won’t get that. I never thought I’d be that sort of strict parent but if we didn’t do it they would literally survive on fruit, yoghurt and biscuits. I don’t let it stress me out; I know they’ll eat if they’re hungry and they have plenty of energy but it does get exhausting beginning every meal with them refusing to taste the food. If it’s something they’ve never tried before they will not taste it, no matter how much bribery I use.

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T1                                               T2

With E I wanted to do everything possible to a) make weaning easy b) make her an adventurous eater and c) get her eating what we eat right away. We decided to wait until she was six months and try baby led weaning. It has worked amazingly well. She eats noodles, sandwiches, pasta, Yorkshire pudding, potatoes, beans, carrots, stir fry – literally everything we put in front of her. The only thing she hasn’t liked so far is melon, but I’m going to give that another go and see how we get on. I know that she’s eating (or sucking on) things off our plates that the boys never did (garlic bread or slices of olive, for instance) so I’m hoping with all hope that she stays on this path. So far so good. I’ll have to report back in six months or so to let you know how we get on, but I *think* this time we have a real eater rather than somebody who eats the breadcrumbs off a fishfinger and leaves the lump of soggy fish behind (yes that refers to you, T2). Keep your fingers crossed for us!

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E

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Hear We Come!

Callum had his appointment with the Ears, Nose & Throat Clinic (“ENT”) today.

The first part involved the lady we saw at the Audiology Department at the local Health Centre, repeating the test she did with the boats and the little men and the inner ear machine thing that shows a flat line if the patient has glue ear. I’m not sure what the results showed but she said she would write up the results for the consultant we were about to see.

After a short wait, we were called in to see the consultant who asked us what had led us to this point. I guess he wanted to hear Callum’s history from my point of view.

He confirmed the glue ear and told me to put my fingers on my ears while he spoke to me to demonstrate what it was like for Callum. Extremely muffled!

It is normal for there to be a 3 month observation period while they see if the glue ear improves. The consultant was concerned that the last test was only in April (just over a month previous) but I told him the first hearing check took place in February and he said he was reluctant to wait another 3 months so if I was happy to proceed they would book an operation date for grommets to be fitted.

The consultant asked a few questions about Callum’s breathing and whether he snored. I told him that he does and that we had previously wanted to check his adenoids at a time when he was having constant coughs, combined with his snoring and poor speech but as his coughs improved we didn’t take it any further. Because of this, he suggested they check the adenoids at the same time, while Callum was under anaesthetic for the grommets, and remove them if necessary.

I’m hopeful that with grommets being fitted and his adenoids removed if needed, this should make a dramatic improvement on Callum’s hearing and speech.

It is also my hope that Callum’s confidence in large groups will improve. He gets really intimidated by large groups and will cling to me (or Stuart). This could just be a general confidence thing but maybe its related. I guess time will tell.

We were thent sent up to the Day Case Unit to book the operation.

The really good news is that the operation is booked for 30 July so before he goes to school. I’m thrilled, I was so worried it would be after.

While in the Day Case Unit, Callum was given a folder for us both to go through which the nurse went through again with him when we booked the operation. It showed Callum what he could expect on the day with photos of the rooms he would see, the nurses that would care for him, the ‘magic cream’ they put on his hand to make his hand go numb, how they would put a clip on his finger to check his heart rate and oxygen levels. He seemed to take it all in, looking a little concerned but not scared. The nurse wanted to take his heart rate and oxygen levels with the clip on his finger while we were there and he was a little apprehensive so I put it on my finger first to show him it was ok. He then allowed the nurse to put it on his finger too and relaxed when he saw the numbers on the machine and felt his own heart beating. The nurse then quickly measured his height against a chart to find out he was as tall as a grey alien (do aliens communicate their different heights but changing their skin colour perhaps?) and then we were done! Callum was a little disappointed that he didn’t have time to draw me a picture before we left on the little table of paper, pencils and toys in the room but I reassured him he could draw me a picture at nursery instead (and he did…they are…er….yeah, wonderful straight lines and squiggles).

So that’s it, he is booked in and ready to go.

I mainly feel OK about him having the grommets and Adenoidectomy (to use the correct medical jargon) as I know they are very routine surgeries and I have had them both myself.

I remember the Adenoidectomy quite clearly. I was 5 (or there abouts) and I had to stay in overnight. I remember going to ‘sleep’; I remember being really spoilt by my family getting all the toys I’d always wanted; I remember the naughty little boy that ran up the corridor to tell them that the other girls and I were getting out of bed (to our bedside table to get books, colouring books etc) and him getting himself told off for being out of bed; I remember seeing another girl’s teddy being bandaged up while she was having her operation, being asked whether I wanted teddy or dolly to have the same treatment, me handing over my dolly just to be disappointed when she was returned to me with a new rubbish outfit and a sticker with my name on – no bandage; I remember coming home and my aunt giving me fruit pastels then I complained that my throat was sore and her telling me it was because I’d eaten all the fruit pastels.

All the things that matter to 5 year old (or there abouts).

I wasn’t scared, if anything, I was a little excited about the adventure and I enjoyed all the fuss that was made of me.

I know he’ll be fine. But there still is a small part of me that wobbles that my little baby big boy will be under general anaesthetic.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Sleep! Oh How I’ve Missed You!

It has taken 8.5 months, 2.5 months longer than her brother, but I can now confidently say (*bites lip & frantically searches for wood*) that Millie is sleeping through the night! For the past week, Millie has slept through from about 6.15-6.30 until between 6.15-7am every single night with just one stir around our bedtime for her dummy…in fact, she stirred last night then settled herself back to sleep without the dummy!

WOOOOOOHHOOOOOOOOOOOO! I FEEL HUMAN AGAIN!!!!!!

Forgive me but I feel that deserved to be shouted from the rooftops! With my search for work having begun, I was nervous about struggling to get up at the crack of dawn for work while still getting up in the night!

Strangely, it is now like my body has gone into catch up drive! Wanting to catch up on all that missed sleep from the last 9 months. I struggle to wake up and then feel exhaustingly tired around mid-afternoon! I can even go back to sleep if I wake up early – I never used to be able to do this; once I was awake, I was awake for the day.

Dreams are also on catch up. Not sure if you know this but when you don’t sleep much, you have less REM sleep (which is when we dream). Dreaming is our minds way of processing what has happened during the day and storing new things we have learnt etc. It is important for us to dream. So when we do get a good solid night of sleep, we tend to dream more to make up for the lost dream time before. So I have been dreaming lots of weird and wonderful things but nothing of interest to blog about (you really don’t want to know about how I couldn’t shake poo off my hand do you?!).

Anyway, back to Millie! Other than the sleep, not much else is new. She is eating with vigour, trying everything (EVERYTHING!!!) in site…well as far as she can bend in double & stretch to reach. Still no moving by way of roll, crawl, bum shuffle or commando crawl! Apart from the odd occasion when she rolls back to front in her cot & then complains because she is stuck! For the time being, I am enjoying being able to plonk her somewhere and for her to stay there so, although I don’t want to hinder her moving progress, I am happy for her to do it in her own time.

We have 2 teeth! Two teeny weeny but very sharp little bottom teeth! This is already making a difference with her eating. She actually uses the teeth to rip food off a bigger piece now.

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Her babbling has a range of dadadadanananananalalalalalagagagagaga now and sometimes she sounds like she is trying to sing or have a conversation with you. So cute!

I feel she is on the verge of clapping. She loves watching what you do with your hands and occasionally brings them together but that’s as far as it goes.

She is at that age where everyone wants to talk to her! Supermarket shopping can double in time as we get stopped by every other person who wants to talk to her. I love it and feel so proud but it does make shopping to a restricted time-limit rather challenging!

Callum is lovely with her and apart from wanting to take ownership of all of Millie’s toys but not so keen to return the favour with his own, he really does love her and looks after her. I really hope (and I can see that it might) that stays with them throughout their lives as they grow up. Seeing them together I know we made the right choice of trying for a 4 year age gap.

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I feel so very blessed!…and human!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

BLW: Guest Post by Kaajal, aka @Mrskpnut

Another great contribution to my series of guest posts on Baby-Led Weaning. This week we have Kaajal, a Mum of 2 who had her daughter about a week after I had Millie. Both the girls have been so similar right from the start so its been lovely to share our experiences as our daughters have been going through phases at the same time. Although this is Kaajal’s second child this is her first experience of BLW and rather than a wholly BLW approach she is combining it with the occasional spoonfeed for softer meals like porridge.  Not already a blogger but considering venturing into this amazing world and I feel privileged that her first dip of the toe is a guest post on my humble blog. Thank you so much Kaajal and good luck if you do decide to continue blogging.

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Our family consists of dad, mum (me), a 7 year old boy (D) and a soon to be 9 month old girl (J). I can't claim that we're fully BLW, but we are doing some!

Life pre-number 2 was pretty easy. My son was old enough that he ate what we had (without any chillies) and at most, if we were going out, just grabbing a bottle of water was sufficient. Gone were the days of carrying around a huge bag for him!

Along came number 2 and the age gap of over 6 years meant that weaning D felt a bit of a distant memory. I'd previously gone with the traditional route of first tastes and puréed mush with huge success actually. D eats pretty much everything. He's not so keen on boiled cauliflower, preferring to eat it raw, but I can't really blame him for that. 

The main thing that I felt D didn't do though was chew. He seemed to be quick to shovel food in and swallow it as quickly as possible. Some of this I now attribute to him being a mouth breather, but he does seem to have grown out of it now. When he was at nursery you could literally tell what he'd eaten that day by the contents of his nappy (sorry TMI!) and I wanted to avoid this.... Leading me to consider BLW. 

Another consideration for BLW was purely related to the (lack of) effort involved. I'm breast feeding J so know that if she's not eaten much, I'm always there to top it up - making it even less to consider when feeding her out and about. 

Although there were many 'for' points, the main one what I battled with in my head, and still do, was the mess. With D spoon feeding had been pretty clean; probably due to him being so open to new foods and chilled enough to open his mouth whenever a spoon was in sight! 

One thing that really helped was ditching the old highchair - a fully padded, reclining, height adjustable all-singing, all-dancing thing for the basic ANTILOP from IKEA - so easy to clean! (Although avoid until baby is sitting very stably). 

Our journey with BLW started with a few bits of steamed vegetables. Broccoli was a no-no. Asparagus a hit. Green beans were chucked off the highchair and promptly consumed by her big brother!  

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Undeterred, the next day I offered J a banana. Things started off pretty well and soon went downhill from there. J has always had a very hard suck. It seems that this power also equated to a very good bite. Once she's got bite of something it's very difficult to get her to give it it up! She managed to take a huge chunk of banana into her mouth, gag on it and then proceeded to cry for the next 5 minutes - especially when she caught sight of the banana. 

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I don't know when we reached the turning point. J has really got the hang of finger foods like rice cakes, biscuits etc.  

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Her pincer grip seems to have developed overnight and happily chases raisins around her highchair too. Breakfast has mostly become a time for spoon feeding. I give J porridge. She happily eats it. Lunch time can be anything really - we like BLW pancakes and banana muffins.

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Out and about, depending on where we're going I've made food for J to hold and eat or just let her have what we are. The Tiny Dining mat (I bought mine from John Lewis) has been put to some use and gives me comfort about whether an area is clean or not. 

There's been days where J blankly looks at the food in front of her but if I feed her bits of it she'll happily eat - hopefully not a sign of future laziness as it's at times I know she's hungry! 

The grandparents still continuously nag me about her choking and have helpfully brought round boxes of Farleys Rusks to get some 'proper food' into her; they've been dumped on a shelf in the utility room, and will be disposed of gradually. 

There's no conclusion to this story yet. I still need to be more adventurous (and brave?) to just let her get on with messy foods. We're getting there slowly and seem to be enjoying the journey so far!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

BLW: Guest post by Sarah at Adventures as a Mum


Its Week 2 of my guest posts and my third contributor is Sarah. 

Sarah is a full-time SAHM to her 6 month old Son, The Boy and has a couple of cats. Like all my guest postees, Sarah is one of the many mums I met on Twitter. We became mutual 'followers' around the same as I was expecting Millie, or was it on the #Nightfeed!?! It has been great to share experiences and challenges we face with our Little Ones and not to mention have someone to chat to in those early hours when it can feel very lonely. I was thrilled when Sarah agreed to share her own experience of BLW on my blog, especially as she has only just started out in the world of Baby-Led Weaning after her son turned 6 months at the end of last month. Thank you Sarah!

Sarah also blogs at Adventures as a Mum, writes book reviews at A Kindle & Kittens and has just started a business selling her crafts at The Crafty Octopus - wow that girl is busy!

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My little man turned six months on 24 April, and one of the things my husband and I were keen to do was to introduce a wide variety of foods to him.

As he was born early, I wasn’t sure if he would take to BLW bang on six months, he has been around four weeks behind his peers in terms of development (eg smiling etc). However he really surprised me and with great gusto enjoyed his first bit of food last Wednesday -  a slice of toast.

For us, taking a BLW approach seemed logical. It seems much easier than pureeing food, and I’m also keen to ensure that he doesn’t grow up to be a fussy eater like me! Even to this day I can’t eat soup and yoghurt with bits in. Ridiculous I know.

In some ways, BLW is hard – for me it is most noticeable when talking to mum friends - I am the only one of my mum friends taking this approach and many started weaning their baby’s before the six month mark and I hear all about the (purreed) meals their children are enjoying. However, we are trusting the BLW method and I have to say that, one week in, we’re really impressed.

In a short space of time Daniel has already learnt the difference between holding a slice of banana, potato cake and melon – he knows that if he grips the banana too tightly it squishes (but he also learnt he can lick his hand!!) and he soon learnt that melon is slippy. It is amazing to watch as he tackles each new thing placed in front of him, and watching his reaction as he tastes it. I can honestly say there has been only one thing he hasn’t liked, and that was avocado. He even enjoyed some spicy home made falafel last week – I was really surprised as it was super spicy but he seemed to enjoy it.

So far he has had:

Carrot, hummus, cucumber, melon, banana, toast, crumpet, boiled potato, pasta (was a bit tired so didn’t really play with this), yoghurt, falafel, potato cake and probably a few other things I’ve forgotten

It is hard in some ways, as Daniel isn’t actually taking much of the food in, but already in a week he is learning new skills in terms of his hand co-ordination and he knows when I am eating too. He is taking as much of his milk feeds as ever, but I am positive he is enjoying the experience.

Another by product has been that I am more conscious about what I am eating – I try to eat on the basis that if Daniel wants some of what I am eating then he can. So crisps and chocolate are out, and fruit and veg in. It’s really nice in the morning to share breakfast together and to not have to worry about getting stuff pureed and mixed for him.

Yesterday, I gave Daniel a yoghurt. I pre-loaded the spoon and he reached for it, and straight into the mouth,. He very quickly learnt that once the spoon was emptied if he handed back to me, it was loaded up again. I did try to get him to load it himself, but we are some way off that skill yet. However – the pictures below show a very happy boy!

BLW is really easy and seems, to us, to be the best approach. Daniel is eating foods that his peers are months away from trying and he is visibly excited when each new thing is presented to him. Today I am off for lunch with a friend, and Daniel will try whatever I order. I can’t wait to see where he is at in a months time.



Thursday, 2 May 2013

BLW: On Reflection - Guest Post by Mushypea of Mushypea, Sprout et al

My second guest post on the baby-led weaning theme is from Mushypea. Mushypea is soon to be married to Sprout (how exciting!) and is a full time working Mum to their 19 month old son, Munch. 

Straight away you can see Mushypea is passionate about food so it is no surprise she wanted to instill this passion in her son which is a great reason in itself to try BLW.

Mushypea writes beautifully in her own blog about her family life and her own personal life adventures so please have a read over at Mushypea, Sprout et al. Thank you, Mushypea, for sharing your experiences here, it is a privilege to have you guest post on my blog. 


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On Reflection

The light of our lives that is the little boy we affectionately call Munch loves food.  It’s not surprising considering that both his parents, Sprout (the other half) and myself, Mushypea, adore food.   From the sheer pleasure of tantalising those  taste buds with explosions of flavours to the satisfaction of creating something ourselves – we love food.

Munch’s food journey began with breastmilk  right up until we hit the six month mark.  We’d begun to include him at the dining table a couple months beforehand so that he could watch us eat – sounds a little cruel when it’s put like that doesn’t it?  We put bits of veg in front him a couple weeks before his six months arrived so that he could touch said bits of veg if the desire arose.  Sometimes he would just look at it in wonder and other times he would attempt to pick things up.

Why BLW?  It seemed logical to us in that not only was it a fun introduction to food but also the development of motor skills, learning to use his tongue and mouth to manipulate and move food around, the different textures that we could introduce and the simple pleasure of sharing mealtimes together eating the same food.  In hindsight I would like to add that actually it was the lazier option when faced with the decision to BLW or puree.  Even now I cannot imagine where I would have found the time to puree anything. Hats off to those that go down the puree route but it wasn’t for us at all. The ease of being able to share our food straight off our plates was a huge draw.

First finger of toast
Munch’s first foods were fingers of toast, vegetables and fruit.  The first few weeks were filled with those moments where he would attempt to pick things up and transfer them to his mouth.  Then there were the times he would gag because he had misjudged the quantity or length of the item he was trying to gum.  The gag reflex is located further forward in a babies mouth than in an adult so that knowledge gave us more confidence in BLW as the first gagging experience is scary!  Choking we were prepared for; if there is one thing I strongly suggest it is to make sure that all involved are confident of what it is you need to do should choking ever happen. 

BLW took us all on a discovery of food, it encouraged us to try new things as we wanted Munch to try anything and everything. The fun in learning how grabbing at all foods in the same manner doesn’t always work was a joy to watch.  His learning of how to eat different foods was and still is fun.  No longer do we have a little boy who ends up with yoghurt all over his face and food in his hair.  Munch is now a skilled user of the spoon and fork but will still resort to using his hands at times because it is far quicker.  We adapted and changed our ways as more and more new foods were introduced and at 19 months Munch loves his food. 

BLW?  Yes, it gets messy and yes it may seem as though they are not ‘eating’.  I would say relax, enjoy the mess, be amazed at how quickly they learn.  The mess doesn’t last forever so make sure you take photos that will make you smile in years to come!