Weaning is by far the hardest thing I have had to do since having Piran. It is a complete rollercoaster ride, and one that some times I just wish I could get off.
In January we started the baby led weaning when Piran was 24 weeks old. I blogged about the first two weeks here. Things seemed to be going well to start with but we certainly have had our ups and downs since then. He is now 34 weeks so we have been doing this for 10 weeks now. We usually do two meals a day – breakfast and dinner.For breakfast he usually has toast with cream cheese, crumpets, a rusk and fruit. Dinner is usually whatever we are having, unless it is unsuitable when I will give him cucumber, rice cakes and cheese or something similar instead.
We have good days and bad days. Some days he will not put the food anywhere near his mouth. If he is not interested he just picks it up and drops it all on the floor. If you put it back in front of him it just goes back the same way. That is also how I know he has finished, he deposits everything off the table and starts playing with his bib or the table cloth.
On the better days he will pick everything up and put it in his mouth. Now he has five teeth he can easily bite parts off, although most of it ends up falling back out of his mouth. You can see that he can swallow food occasionally, usually with great pantomime! We have got over the worst of the gagging incidents and it seems that he understands what he can and can’t eat. He loves vegetables and sucking on meat but he is not so keen on fruit.
All of this makes it sound that he is actually eating. Occasionally he is, but I would say at the very most he eats perhaps a dessert spoon of food a day, probably less. This is the part that I find the hardest. I see my friends with babies that are three months younger and that are weaned from 4 months on purees and the like and they are eating more food in a day than Piran eats in a week.
A few weeks ago I was so worried that I caved in and tried to feed him a couple things with a spoon. On the few occasions that I have tried it he either cries, refuses it completely or tries to push it out of his mouth by gagging and ultimately making himself sick. So, I obviously stopped it pretty sharpish. Part of me feels a little better about this, it means that I have made the right decision for him, this is the way that he wants to learn to eat. The other part of me sees others eating so well and then I feel guilty, that perhaps because I didn’t start weaning at 4 months, that I waited too long. If I had started then would he be happy to eat from a spoon? Would that be better in any way?
He has just dropped his night bottle, but still has 4 8oz bottles during the day. So he gets plenty of milk. He is a cracking size, 22lbs on the 91st centile as he has been since birth. He is happy and healthy and well.
Some days this is fun. We sit at the table all together and he smiles and eats and blows raspberries. Other days are so hard, demoralising really. I know the things to bear in mind – food for under one’s is just for fun, that he gets everything he needs from his milk, that we are letting him learn and taste and try everything out. But oh some days are so hard.
I feel like I am being judged all the time, although it is probably all in my head. Every time someone asks me about weaning I try and make excuses, telling them that he won’t eat off a spoon. Why do I not have conviction in my choice to wean this way? I had no idea how hard it would be. I worry about what will happen when he goes to nursery, but luckily he is only doing afternoons so most of his meals will be given to him by us or his Nanny.
I see people on Twitter talking about how much they love baby led weaning. I read the blog posts that people write and I wonder what it is that I am doing so wrong. Why do I find it so much harder than everyone else? Why does Piran not eat as much as these other babies? Then I wonder if this is just the good side. Are they just celebrating the triumphs, and feeling like I am in private? I will admit, that when we have a positive meal, or he really likes something then my first instinct is to share it on Twitter with my friends. So perhaps I am guilty of the same.
So here it is, the blog post that has taken me weeks to get the courage to write. I suspect that in a few months I will write a post about how great weaning this way has been for us. When Piran starts to eat a significant amount and things fall into place I am sure that I will be much happier about the whole process.
But for now, while I am smack bang in the middle of everything I want to record how I feel. This is my opinion. Baby led weaning can be great. But it can also be hard. If you are starting out, and if this is your first time, work out how hard you think it will be then triple it. And add a bit more if you are having a bad day. It is not simple. But I ultimately hope it is worth it. Good luck if you are starting out, please don’t let me scare you in any way. I just wish that when I started out I had realistic expectations and then perhaps I wouldn’t have lost so much sleep over it. Perhaps if you listen to what I say, and find it so much easier than we have then you will pleasantly surprised.
This is a mixed up post, and I am sure it could have been written in a much more coherent manner but I feel better for getting it out. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on the subject.