Recently I've had a few emails and contact from people who are having some problems or wanted some advice about baby led weaning. You'll see from some of my earlier posts that I'm definitely not an expert but I think I'm well positioned to offer some reassurance. We've definitely bounced up and down the weaning road with some success but also some notable failures. For those of you out there who may be worrying about whether your baby is eating enough, or whether baby led works for you I hope this post helps a little bit.
Somebody mentioned baby led weaning to me before Little Legs was even 5 months old but I didn't have a clue. I was already a bit worried about the whole weaning process anyway as we'd had such a difficult start to milk feeding in general. I won't go into the ins and outs of my problems with breastfeeding because thats a post on its own but needless to say we battled on until she was 12 weeks old and then switched to formula. I felt as though we'd only just got the milk feeds established so the thought of weaning her was daunting to say the least.
Then two things happened. Someone leant me Gill Rapley's Baby Led Weaning book, and the highchair arrived. I started to feel quite excited about introducing Little Legs to solids so we started. I started her with baby rice as she was only five and a half months old and I was too much of a coward to give anything else.
Then I started to get a bit braver, I started giving her rice cakes, cucumber, banana, fingers of roasted veg. I batted off the concerns of friends and family with a nonchalant wave. Baby led weaning was the way forward for us. I remember my Mum looking on with horror at every meal time as Little Legs would gum her food happily but then launch it across the room, Eating a big fat nothing every time. I wasn't worried though, I was quietly confident that she would eat in time. I thought it was a doddle, but then it happened, "that incident" as we now call it. Little Legs choked. She didn't just gag, she actually choked. The culprit was a piece of sweet potato. All I remember was screaming as I saw her gasping for breath. I frantically got her out of her highchair. All my well intentioned first aid training went out the window as all I could manage in blind panic was to tip her upside down. It worked. Little Legs went back to giggling, as she does best whilst I sat with her on my knee and just cried.
Needless to say, the book went back to my friend and it was on with the purees. But for me, something just didn't feel right with spoon feeding Little Legs. She's such an independent little madam and seemed so curious when she saw us eating that I decided to give baby led one more try. It was the best decision I ever made.
Don't get me wrong, it hasn't been without its anxieties. There have been a few more gagging incidents but thankfully no more choking. For a long period of time Little Legs did just play with her food but when we started to relax a bit as opposed to monitoring every mouthful she was eating, so too did Little Legs. We slowly but surely realised that there was less and less food on the floor, and in the nooks and crannies of the highchair, and more and more in her nappy. Then the scales tipped the other way, I started to worry that Little Legs was taking too many solids and not enough of her milk as you'll see from my earlier post Baby led weaning and formula feeding.
Little Legs turned seven months old this week and everything has finally fallen into place. She's well established now on three solid meals and three milk feeds a day. Her weight gain is good and she's a bright, beautiful little baby. The purpose of this post isn't to push people down the baby led weaning path. I guess I just wanted to say that you should do what feels right for you and your baby. Follow your instincts, your heart, and your baby and everything will be fine.