The Last Post

29.09.14

So, a month and a half has passed since my last blog post, and I think this really sums up what I’ve returned here to say: I’m drawing to a close because there’s really nothing to report!

That’s not strictly true – there’s lots I could ramble on about, regarding the development of Daisy’s pincer grip, the progression of her different styles of getting stuff more efficiently and accurately into her mouth, lists of the many different things she’s tried, praise for how well she’s taken to drinking plain water from a beaker (something which I still struggle to convince Daniel about!) However, with regard to the main point of resuming this blog – to see what BLW is like the second time around – the main conclusion I’ve reached is that it’s much less of a big deal, you all just get on with it, and it’s really not blog-worthy!

To give credit to Daisy, this is helped by the fact she’s taken to it so easily. There have been no gagging dramas to report, no frustrations about her ‘not getting it’ or being fussy about what she eats. She just seems to enjoy whatever we put in front of her, and at eight months (today!) she is eating three solid meals a day with great independence, enjoying snacks whenever there’s a snacktime going on, has dropped to four breastfeeds per day (and at no point returned to night feeds), hasn’t had any digestive issues as far as we can tell, and she’s basically a pleasure to dine with!

I have a friend (who I think is one of the tiny handful of followers of this blog – hello!) who also has two children of similar ages to mine, and did BLW with her first. She explained to me recently that she decided not to go with BLW with her second because she just couldn’t be doing with the mess and the waste. I admit, there is just as much mess the second time, and a lot of waste again (though a bit less with Daisy I reckon, since she’s such an enthusiastic eater!) So I can totally understand that position too. At times when we’ve been in a rush to get out of the house on a morning, I haven’t quite been tempted to spoon feed Daisy, but I have only offered her foods that will be easy to clean off her hands and face!

So this is goodbye to the blog for this time around. Just two things to wrap up with. Firstly, to really recommend the recipe book by Rana Conway (Weaning Made Easy: Recipes) which has come up trumps many times in the past few months with meals and snacks we have all enjoyed. Secondly, to present in video format the point that Daisy has reached following three months on the BLW track: food theft from her brother’s plate, using a well-honed pincer grip!

Cheers!

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Warning: this is a long one!

Daisy is fully embracing this eating thing! So far it’s been an absolute pleasure to introduce her to food – she’s enjoying everything we’re offering, really quickly getting the hang of biting, chewing and swallowing, doing really well with loaded spoons, loving being a part of family mealtimes, and basically she appears to be a natural at BLW! IMG_2610She’s been joining in three mealtimes a day every day since she turned six months (two weeks ago), and I can’t even remember now the list of things she’s tried. Sometimes she does have something different from the rest of us (she’s been having a lot of roast sweet potato wedges and steamed green beans and courgette from the garden) but often she really is just having a bit of whatever we’re having, for example, tonight we had cheese, onion and courgette quiche with boiled new potatoes, peas and green beans, and she had a little bit of everything. I’d just made sure not to add any additional salt to the pastry and the quiche filling. She’s also had a few tastes of meat now – the first time accidentally when Dan was messing about with his own food, flailed his fork in the air, his piece of sausage flew off and landed on Daisy’s tray, and she had it in her mouth before anyone could do anything about it!

She’s enjoying all kinds of fruit – (long may this last; her big brother is a ‘fruit refuser’) – and has munched and squashed her way through wedges of nectarine, pear, pineapple and fist-sized strawberries. Banana is a bit harder to keep a hold of, but today she had mashed banana mixed into her Greek yoghurt and oats at breakfast time, and this went down an absolute treat. She’s had Weetabix for breakfast once; only once. Never again. Well, not until her aim has significantly improved! I figure there are plenty of breakfast options in the world so I don’t need to make life hard for myself by including one of the messiest and hardest to clean up substances known to man on a regular basis! My early intentions to keep her away from sugary treats haven’t been very well maintained, and she’s now also tried ice cream, scones, flapjack, oat biscuit and a little piece of Twix that was part of Dan’s birthday cake decoration last weekend. She’s loved all of this stuff. Obviously.

Daisy is an awesome sleeper and moving onto solids has barely affected this. She spontaneously stopped night-time breastfeeding at 10 weeks old and from then has slept consistently for around 11 hours solid every night. I know. We are truly blessed. Since she started on solids, there has been one night when she was quite unsettled for half an hour or so in the middle of the night and I did wonder if this was because she’d eaten a particularly hearty meal quite close to bedtime (but we were also staying at my Dad’s, where the heating is usually on full blast whatever the weather, so she may have just been too hot). And then a couple of times in the past week she’s woken up crying about 40 minutes after going to bed, but when I pick her up she stops crying and just does a couple of dainty burps and then goes straight back to sleep! For a few days, she was also making a rather strange grunting sound from time to time, and I wondered if she had indigestion or was struggling with a poo. But she’s stopped doing this now, so maybe she was just experimenting with a new noise! She’s also gagged a few times (mostly on fruit), but has managed to recover from this fine and without intervention. One thing I have noticed, which I don’t remember happening so much with Daniel, is that she often has a piece of food left in the roof of her mouth at the end of mealtimes, which I don’t notice until some time later, such as when she’s next lying down for a nappy change. So I’ve needed to get more vigilant about checking in her mouth before we leave the table. Sometimes I need to carefully flick it out with my finger, but other times if I wait long enough, she will squidge it out of her mouth unassisted.

Daisy seems to me to be consuming a lot more at this early stage than Daniel did. She tucks in with great enthusiasm and the evidence of her success is coming through in her nappies. There’s still lots ending up on the floor, but solid meals seem already to be forming a real part of her daily energy intake. I mentioned last post that she’d already dropped a couple of feeds, and this has continued. From 8 or 9 ‘boobs’ per day before she started weaning, we’re now down to just 6 or sometimes even 5 per day. Having breastfed two babies now, I realise I’m something of a pre-emptive feeder, and would ‘top up’ my babies to my own convenience, so that they wouldn’t be hungry during journeys or during some activity I had planned. On reflection, I think this means I was offering feeds more frequently than they perhaps really needed by this age. With Dan, I think I was still feeding him 9-10 times a day at this age, but Daisy seems already to be actually replacing some of her milk feeds with solid meals. Today she went from 5pm to 9pm between breastfeeds, and with teatime happening at 7.30pm, this seemed to suit her fine.

She is so into the routine of mealtimes already that I also don’t feel I could really skip one for the sake of convenience now. With Daniel, at this stage I wouldn’t have had any qualms about taking him out in the morning without a solid breakfast if we had an early start, or letting him sleep through teatime. But with Daisy, I think she would really notice already! I was a little late to meet a friend for coffee this morning because I was so sure that Daisy would miss her porridge if we didn’t do breakfast properly before we left!

Daisy is also taking to water much more quickly than Dan did. She’s already getting the hang of the freeflow sippy cup – with a little help she can sip from it, and sometimes she does actually manage to lift it to her mouth herself using both hands, and tip it up to get a little drink. With Dan, I remember buying about five different types of beaker, thinking that if I just got the right style of cup he would be able to drink from it. But with hindsight, he just wasn’t that into water (and still isn’t). Daiys’s doing well with a spoon too – helped, I think, by the fact she’d had lots of practice with empty spoons in the lead up to weaning; the soft plastic weaning spoons had been one of her favourite playthings for months! Watching her eat now, with spoons and with her fingers, is reminding me of one of the main reasons why I love BLW – mealtimes can be a whole learning and discovery experience, rather than just the functional exercise of ‘getting nutrients into your child’. I can happily stare for minutes on end at the way she uses her hands in different ways, with a mixture of trial and error and success. And she has yet to tire of being sat at the table before the rest of us do.

To finish up this mega-post, a few more general reflections on the weaning process #2. I had forgotten somewhat about the hassle of cleaning up all the mess several times a day – sweeping the floor, washing down the highchair, daily (or even twice daily) baths for your sticky infant – and all the dining kit you need to take with you if you’re eating out. Daniel had pretty much moved out of the stage of needing bibs and his own toddler dinnerware and cutlery now, so we’d just about stopped thinking about this when we ate out. Now I have to remember once again to take the bib, the sippy cup, the tupperware of roasted veg…

The other thing I’ve been reflecting on is how much bigger a deal weaning is when it’s your first baby. Let me say clearly, I think this is absolutely the way it should be – of course it is; you hold a life in your hands for the very first time and it’s crucial to feel that you’re getting it right! My thoughts have simply been triggered by the fact that my new circle of mums this time around includes a few who are doing it for the first time, and their questions, concerns and anxieties about when to start, what to start with, what times of day to offer food, how and where to offer it, etc. just don’t strike me in the same way at all this time around. For sure, I did some thinking about whether it was time to begin, but now we’re well off the mark, it all seems much easier and much more instinctive than it did the first time. With Daniel, I had actually drawn up a chart of all the key food groups, vitamins and minerals, how many portions of each a baby should have each day, and all the main foods that could provide this – and pinned it to the kitchen cupboard door! Whereas Daisy is pretty much just getting stuck into whatever is to hand, and I feel much more relaxed that she’ll come through it all undamaged!

I guess I’ve also had chance to observe many more baby and toddler eating habits over the past two and half years since we did this the first time, both baby-led and traditionally weaned kids, so I now know that – within certain boundaries of sensible, responsible parenting – it doesn’t really matter too much what you do! Your child will grow and develop, they will probably choose sweet things over savoury given the choice no matter how much you dress up the healthy stuff or limit the sweet stuff, you’ll get into fights about this if you choose to, but essentially they will eat some stuff every day and in all likelihood they will be just fine!

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Six months old – all systems go!

Daisy is six months old today, so it’s all systems go! We celebrated her half-year birthday with lunch at Bill’s restaurant again. Daisy enjoyed some sweet potato fries, and some pitta bread dipped in hummus and baba ganoush (posh tastes already, my little girl!) IMG_5676An unexpected bonus was that our meal was on the house! The staff committed my pet hate of taking your order when they’re out of a key ingredient, but just bringing you a substitution without checking first, and then they missed something off Jon’s order too, and when we mentioned this (politely, of course!) they offered to give us the meal for free! So, they remain high in our estimations. The food was all delicious too, even in the absence of my rosemary and seasalt flatbread, and the late arrival of Jon’s streaky bacon for his burger!

This was Daisy’s first restaurant meal in a proper highchair pulled up to the table. She seems so happy now that she can join in mealtimes at eye level with the rest of the family. IMG_5679She’s been sitting up with us for a few days now, and she’s full of smiles and seeking eye contact with us, to show us what she’s got and how pleased she is with it! She’s yet to get bored before we all finish, which is great. (Actually, I remember Dan always being the last one to finish when he was weaning – long after Jon and I were done with our food!) We used a bowl for the first time today too, stuck to the highchair with the sticky mat that Dan used to use – and just like her big brother, Daisy was fascinated by trying to pull the bowl off the mat, to examine what was underneath. She did eventually succeed! IMG_2473

Looking back over the past few days, it appears that we’re already at the stage of three ‘meals’ a day with Daisy. This was slower to get established with Dan, but I think that’s because he was the first, and Jon and I weren’t in the habit of sitting down to three meals a day when he was little. But now we have a toddler, mealtimes are much more regular and structured, so Daisy is getting involved every time. Her breakfasts so far have included polenta pancakes (recipe taken from this book, which I’ve recently discovered) and shredded wheat in breastmilk; lunches and teas have included a tiny omelette, steamed and roasted veg of various types, toast, pitta bread, and some beanburgers also from the book noted above.

I’m trying not to get too carried away with the ‘more laid back this time’ – it’s tempting to let her have a taste of anything that’s going, but I don’t want to overwhelm her tummy when she’s only just getting going, and I’m going to try and hold off the sweet stuff for a bit longer than I did with Dan. I think (having talked to lots of other parents) that it can only be a matter of holding off the inevitable, rather than being able to avoid a toddler sweet tooth if you delay their first taste of the good stuff for long enough! But with Dan, cakes and biscuits became part of his daily experience quite early (because they’re part of mine too!) and I think it’d be good to establish Daisy’s tastes for a variety savoury things a bit more firmly before we get into sugary treats.

I’m also going to stick to just water and milk for longer than I did with Daniel. As a first-timer, I think I was anxious that he wasn’t drinking enough water, so I quite quickly introduced fruit squash (with artificial sweeteners) and then he wouldn’t accept anything else. It’s only been in the past month – under the positive influence of his visiting cousins – that he’s started seeing milk and water as ‘cool’ things to drink! And he’s almost three years old.

I’m sure that Daisy isn’t eating enough yet to be dropping milk feeds in response, but today she did definitely miss a feed, relative to our usual daily pattern. I normally feed her at about 6.30pm, just before we have our tea, so that we can have the meal uninterrupted. But when I went to find her this evening while tea was cooking, she looked so content hanging out with Daniel and Jon in the living room, that I just didn’t offer it, and she was fine. She enjoyed tasting her beanburgers and veg while we had our risotto (yes, I did her something different – as I’ve observed in the past, if you want to have tasty food yourself, it can’t always be a case of ‘they just eat what you eat’!) and wasn’t desperate for milk straight afterwards. But at bedtime she did have a really good, focused feed on both sides, which is pretty unusual these days (it’s usually just one side properly and perhaps a little nibble on the other while she drifts off to sleep). This is great though – a good sign that she knows her appetite and needs, but can go a little longer between feeds than I perhaps realised. Winner all round!

*****

A couple of breakfast time videos to finish off with. I’m not sure why the scaling has gone all weird, but if you right click and choose ‘turn scaling off’, it seems to correct it!

 

 

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Three more days in…

A few more days to update on. But after this, since we are now well into daily tastes, I’ll try to hold off the general descriptive posts until something really exciting happens! But to bring you up to date…

A couple of days ago, I experienced a prime example of why babies should not eat in a reclined position. Daisy was in her bouncy chair on the floor, whilst I was sitting at the table (so looking down on her from some height) and she had a stick of boiled carrot. A piece of about 1cm cubed broke off the end into her mouth and she started to gag, and from the angle I was sitting at, I could see precisely where it had got stuck at the back of her mouth, beyond the back of her tongue and right at the top of her throat. And I also had a perfect view of just how ineffective her cough/gag mechanism was when she was in such a reclined position – basically trying to work against gravity; it was going nowhere. I sat her upright and within a few seconds she’d gagged it out of her mouth, and she didn’t seem at all distressed. But it was a very clear lesson in why babies should be sitting upright when eating. So, no more snacking in the bouncy chair.

Her next meal was actually whilst sitting in her car seat, but it was propped up on an adult dining chair and wedged very firmly against the table edge, at a safe angle. This was at Rice Style Thai restaurant in York, her first dining out experience! She enjoyed two slices of cucumber, donated from my and her granny’s salad garnishes, and had a tiny piece of roti bread (the first time I’ve learned that there is a Thai version of this, very similar to Indian roti).

The first slice of cucumber held her attention for almost the whole of our meal, reminding me of one of the reasons I love BLW – that you can go out to eat as a family, enjoy your food at the same time as the children and not have to worry about feeding them first, or taking along different food for them. Fair enough, she doesn’t actually need meals at this stage and she isn’t really eating-eating, but it was a nice reminder of the times we ate out with Dan once he was a bit further along, and the fun we have to come. I remember being a bit more self-conscious about eating out (or eating at friends’ and relatives’ houses) with Dan when we were doing BLW first time. This time around, it doesn’t seem all so momentous or such a ‘performance’. I actually had to make a point of saying to myself “Hey, this is Daisy’s first time eating out in a restaurant! Take a photo!

The next day, Daisy had a veritable feast! A bit of my apple during yoga class, some toast at Bill’s restaurant, some satsuma in the park after we’d picked Daniel up from nursery, and some chapatti, potato wedges and Yorkshire pudding at tea time! She seemed to particularly love the Yorkshire pudding (though I got the phone-cam out a bit late; she was losing interest by the time I took this bit of video) and this was her first taste of something containing eggs and cow’s milk.

The piece of toast at Bill’s was a very nice experience. I’d met a friend for a birthday lunch treat (her birthday, my treat) and Daisy slept very conveniently throughout our main course, but was awake and fidgety once we were ordering coffee and desert, so I asked our waitress if she could source us a scrap of bread crust from the kitchen for Daisy, and she came back with half a slice of toast for her on a plate! Bill's toastSo lovely of them – and I highly recommend the restaurant overall. Daisy thoroughly enjoyed her toast, sticking with it for ages and thus enabling my friend and I to thoroughly enjoy our coffee and lemon drizzle cake! Having said the other day that I didn’t feel Daisy eating out was so much of a performance, today it really was, as she was being super cute with her toast munching and attracting the attention of the two couples sitting either side of us, and the waiting staff who were covering our area. Bill’s in York has only been open since yesterday, so at 25 weeks old, I think Daisy might be able to take the title of their youngest ever diner! She also consumed a small piece of bright blue business card after she’d finished with her toast, so I will be looking out for that reappearing in a day or so… IMG_2333

That evening, we tried out the high chair at tea time for the first time and it went remarkably well. We tucked a rolled up towel behind Daisy and she seemed very comfortable, and sat up with us for much longer than I expected her to tolerate it. In fact, she was the last person still dining and I only got her down because she seemed to be losing her focus on the food – she didn’t seem restless about being in the highchair itself, even after a good 20 minutes.

We’ve had visitors staying for the past week so mornings have been a bit hectic, but when things quiet down after tomorrow and there’s time to linger a bit over breakfast prep, I might start offering Daisy some porridge fingers or pancakes after her morning breastfeed…

… and it turned out that today was actually calm enough to get on with it right away. We did the porridge fingers this morning – the recipe worked really well (very simple: 3tbsp breastmilk, 3tbsp porridge oats, mix together, microwave for two minutes, cut while warm, serve cool). Daisy actually had these first thing, before her milk this morning – she is an exceptionally patient baby and doesn’t immediately demand milk on waking if she’s being happily entertained by her dad or her brother. I was finishing my own breakfast when Jon brought her downstairs, and she happily tucked into a porridge finger for several minutes while she waited for her milk. I offered it back to her after her breastfeed, but she wasn’t to bothered about going back to it after that.

Today Daisy also had a bit of pizza crust and sucked on a raw carrot stick at lunchtime, and had some broccoli and a little bit of bread roll at teatime. She was really grabbing out to get a handful of my tuna pasta bake too, but I’d covered it in salt, so that was off limits. The broccoli made an almighty mess, got all stuck in her neck and down her chest, and when she got in the bath with Dan immediately after teatime, he wanted to know why there was ‘grass’ floating in his bathwater!

 

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Pizza, pincer, and lots more tastes…

In the past two days, Daisy has tried: some fingers of pizza crust from a homemade pizza (she absolutely loved it), hummus from a ‘loaded spoon’ (resulting in this hummus goatee), a bit of peanut butter sandwich (rejected by her big brother, so we finished it off between us), a roasted new potato from our first crop in the garden (this was also a major hit), more apple, pineapple and melon, and some more home grown courgette. hummus goateeReflecting on the difference between first and second time around, I think we can surmise from this that I am much more laid back about what she tries at this early stage! She is still nine days away from turning six months, but I think she’s now tried so many different things that we may as well start branching into some porridge and maybe some yoghurt. She isn’t sitting up very steadily yet though, and I think runnier foods will probably be better once she can go in the highchair and explore them from her own plate or tray.

I was also very impressed this morning when she picked up a blueberry in a perfect pincer grip! Not straight away, I should say, but after a few experiments involving different combinations of fingers, she worked out exactly how to do it. Unfortunately, however, she seems to have inherited her brother’s distrust of blueberries. He has only eaten one in his whole life, and Daisy looked similarly dubious, relative to how keen she has been to immediately pop everything else she’s been offered straight into her mouth. She played with four different blueberries over breakfast time, but only one was licked, and even when she managed to squash one in her fist, she didn’t try sucking at the juice. Ah well. They cost a fortune so maybe it’s no great loss!

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Fruit, veg, and …. beer

Daisy has been having tastes of things every day since I decided we were ‘go’ with weaning. It’s still usually only one thing per day but today she had some bread, melon and pineapple at lunchtime and then she demolished a couple of broccoli spears at tea time. Of course, most of it is ending up on the floor or embedded in the folds of her neck, but she is really enjoying it, and she has a great grip. The fruit she was trying today was cut into large but relatively regular cubes, rather than sticks (it’d been prepared for a grown-up fruit salad), but she’s got her own way of anchoring them between her fingers and thumb,that is very effective for keeping a tight hold whilst still being able to suck at the fruit juice and gnaw at the exposed bits.

She also seemed to really love the bread she’s tried. It was actually homemade ‘beer and basil bread’ from the Guardian newspaper’s ‘Cook’ supplement last weekend. The ingredients are: self-raising flour, basil, sugar, salt, and beer! So, not really items among the typical recommended first foods, but she seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. I gave her fingers of the end crust, which were good and solid and excellent for sucking down to a mush.

The broccoli at tea time today was a fine reminder of just how messy this process is, but it’s also such great fun! So far, Daisy is just sitting on my lap to eat (or in her bouncy chair, but I know that’s not great as it’s on a bit too much of a recline). She’s getting close to sitting unsupported, but I think she’d still be flopping over a bit too much, and would look uncomfortable, if I sat her in a high chair on her own.

So far, she doesn’t seem to be experiencing any negative effects of her solids. Bits of courgette have also appeared in her nappy in the past few days, so a little is definitely passing through. Only 12 days to go now until she hits the magic 6-months, and we can start exploring all kinds of other things! Though based on my behaviour to date (see aforementioned beer bread), I’ll be surprised if I actually wait that long…

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We appear to be ‘in’

Ok, so I think I need to be honest with myself and acknowledge that I’ve started weaning Daisy at five months. Virtually every day in the past week or so, I’ve offered her some kind of fruit to taste. It’s very, very early introductions – just single pieces of melon, apple or nectarine, only ever one ‘stick’ per session. But she is most certainly having a real good explore of their taste and texture. She keeps a tight hold and licks, sucks and gnaws away with her gums.

Today I found myself reserving a few slices of my nectarine at breakfast time, for her to try later. But then I had second thoughts about the mess (she’s already had an early morning bath today), so I ate them myself at lunchtime. There is a bit of Grandad Phil’s homegrown cucumber waiting for her in the fridge for teatime though. I think we are definitely off the mark!

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