My new year’s resolution for 2012 is for Jon and me to eat our evening meal at the dinner table. Part of the reason for this is for us to get into the habit for when Daniel starts to eat with us (we’ve always eaten in front of the TV until now). Although I’ve wavered in my decision, depending on who I’ve been speaking to, I’ve decided to give BLW a go as (despite the lack of ‘scientific’ research evidence) something about it instinctively seems to make sense to me. So for the past 10 days (apart from one day when he sat in the bouncy chair at floor level, and one day when he was asleep during tea time), Daniel has sat on one of our laps while we eat tea, as a first step towards taking part in family mealtimes.
Daniel is 5 months old today. He has been showing an interest in adults eating and particularly drinking for a few weeks now. If he’s sitting on your lap whilst you’re drinking, he cranes his neck around and watches your glass or mug as it goes from the table to your mouth and back again. He has also been reaching out for whatever is within his grasp on the table, has pulled a few plates and glasses across the table (and pulled a half pint of water over himself on one occasion), splatted his hand into a pool of ketchup or hummus, and has grabbed a handful of food off the plate of the person whose lap he’s sitting on a couple of times – but until a few days ago we’d always intervened to make sure nothing made it to his mouth.
Since the new year, when he’s been sitting up at the table with us, we’ve given him a clementine or two to investigate while we eat our meal – and sometimes a lime for a bit of variety! He tends to begin by just touching it, maybe batting it to the floor a couple of times, but then he’ll get a grasp of it or move his face down towards it, and have a lick or a suck on it (we leave the peel on).
A couple of days ago when we were having salad, we allowed him to get as far as grabbing and keeping hold of a few leaves out of the bowl (two baby spinach leaves and one lettuce leaf). He dropped them onto the table top and then investigated each one. After a while of looking and feeling, the spinach got a lick – but was quickly dropped on the floor. The lettuce lasted a bit longer, and after the same process of first looking at it, turning it this way and that in his hand, he then put it into his mouth and munched on it for a while. We didn’t deliberately stop him from swallowing it, but it didn’t make it that far into his mouth in any case. Small bits fell off, but they stuck to his hands rather than going further into his mouth. After a while, he seemed to lose interest and it all ended up in a soggy little pile on Jon’s plate.
So we appear to have started the first stages of BLW somewhat before the 6-month window, but Daniel’s level of interest and dexterity at this point suggests that nothing is going to get swallowed for a while yet anyway. As such, I’m glad that we’re starting this early exploration phase now, so we may be a bit further along the way to actual eating when he does reach six months.
I may be inferring too much from his smiley expression, but already after just a week or so, he does seem to look pleased and excited when we all come and sit up together at the table. Who knows what’s really going on in the head of a 5-month old, but it looks to me like he’s enjoying taking part in family mealtimes already! However, I’m not sure that he realises yet that the things he’ll encounter on dinner plates are ‘edible’ – at the moment, I think foodstuffs are just going into his mouth for exploration in the same way that everything does, from muslin cloths, to toys to newspapers, to other people’s hands and faces.