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What I believed: Babies should start eating solids by being spoon fed puréed/blended foods. Feeding them ‘proper food’ is dangerous and they can’t eat it anyway due to lack of teeth
When I learned of the ‘baby-led weaning’ concept, my immediate reaction was “…um, how on EARTH can babies eat proper food without teeth?! They can’t possibly get any nutritional benefit from it, and they’ll choke on it.” Of course, I was proved wrong; I saw several parents employ it and use it to great effect.
When D reached 6 months, I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go in with weaning. I was a bit iffy about BLW still, so when we were bought some jars of baby food to start us off, I thought we’d try them. We reached the 6 months mark when we were amid family, so they were all keen to see him eat his first foods and BLW was not even mentioned, let alone considered.
The baby food route… didn’t go well. As D had had to have various medication to do with his wind issues and eczema when he was younger, he was really not happy to have someone put anything at all in his mouth. We had some success with him taking the spoon and feeding himself with it (sort of, heh) but in general he refused any sort of food if we tried to give it to him, despite being increasingly grumpy during mealtimes and grabbing at our plates. As we were getting ready to give up on the jars, D grabbed a piece lime off someone’s plate, and began to chew it. He did the same with some toast a few days later, so when we got back home, I decided to prepare him some special food, that was like ours but not quite (bit salty/processed for him, I thought) and was not baby food either. We started with bits of fruit, vegetables and things like bread and toast. He loved it!
The reaction to him feeding this way was mixed: some people thought it was amazing how independent he was, wanting to feed himself and be in control of his food at this early age; some thought it was ridiculous that we should expect him to eat like an adult when he has no teeth or concept of how to eat properly. They said that all babies do what D did to start with; we just gave up too easily and ‘let him have his way’ – again (see co-sleeping and feeding stories…). We’ve tried since to spoon-feed him some things – we had a few jars left, one of which he allowed us to feed him (must have liked that one!) but the others, he didn’t want. We’ve tried to feed him soft stuff he had trouble grabbing with his hands (porridge, mashed potato, etc) which has been a bit hit and miss.
Now that D can eat more foods, and our diet is (somewhat!) under control, we are staying on the BLW route, with him eating the same foods as us. Another part of this myth that I believed was that babies should wean at 6 months and that’s that – no more milk. D is still having milk 3 times a day, as well as 2.5 meals (breakfast never really goes down too well…) and I hope it continues for a while yet. :)
What I believed: co-sleeping is not only dangerous, it will lead to clingy kids
I had no intention of co-sleeping. I heard about other people doing it, and thought “well, that’s up to them” while imagining a 5 year old jumping into my bed. Urgh, nooo thank you! …and then I had D. D, who from the very first night only settled when he could feel me. Who would only settle if I fed him, and cuddled him and stayed with him. These are not unreasonable demands of a newborn baby, but I tried for some time to get him to sleep in his cot – I was up all night picking him up and soothing him, and finally ‘gave in’ and let him sleep next to me. We converted the cot into a side-sleeper (bed extension) but it didn’t really help; D wanted physical contact with me to be able to sleep properly. Bit of a problem when it was summer and boiling hot in the house, but it was still the only way he would settle.
Before having D, I thought I knew exactly how I’d parent him. I judged other people’s parenting and scoffed at silly ideas they had or at how unruly their children were. Pffft.
Every now and then, I find my views on a certain subject have changed; I’m going to attempt to document these in this series of blog posts so others don’t fall into the same traps I did.
What I believed: Breastfeeding after 6 months is unnecessary; breastfeeding after a year is just weird
I remember reading the blog of a mum who expressed sadness that her daughter had weaned at 9 months. I remember my thoughts at the time being very much of the “well, I should think so!” type of thing – I’d read that babies go onto solids at 6 months, so why should she still have milk? Pffft. The same mum had a son a few years later and breastfed him until he was well over a year old. My thoughts at this were along the lines of “he’s going to be so messed up for later life if he’s still having milk – and breastmilk, at that – at this age! What a selfish woman, she needs to get her son to eat properly”. I had visions of the Little Britain ‘bitty’ sketch (probably NSFW, if you want to look that one up…) and of a fussy child who would never eat.
My thoughts on this didn’t change too much when having D. I told him indoors that I would do the 6 months, maybe a year at most, but no more than that. When he can eat solids, he’ll have no need for milk… Right? Wrong! When he began eating solids, I was kind of upset. I liked feeding him myself, and I didn’t want to introduce things that weren’t perfect for him like breastmilk was. At the beginning, weaning went really well and I wondered if he would be off milk for good much sooner than I wanted – I needn’t have worried there though :P
Anyway, back to my point: it’s well known now that babies should have milk (breastmilk or formula) as their main source of food until they are a year old, and pretty much every piece of literature on the subject talks about it. The WHO (among others) also recommends carrying on breastfeeding until age 2 and beyond. I have no idea if we will continue onto age 2, but I certainly hope to continue for a while yet.