There’s going to have to be a lot of both of these if we’re going to see this BLW thing through properly.
First the mess. Yes, in theory I understood that BLW is messier than normal weaning. But I had no concept of the reality. I’m by no means a clean-freak, but as Daniel sat on my lap tonight having a go at some sweet potato wedges, I found myself having to do a few deep breaths and some swift ‘coming to terms’ as orangey pulp went all over the table top, the floor, my chair, my jeans and his front. The long-sleeve coverall bib was very effective in keeping it off his clothes though, and his face stayed remarkably clean (I think the bit of sweet potato in his hair might actually have been my doing, feeding myself over his head!)
Getting a high chair (which I plan to do next week) might help to contain things somewhat. But I hadn’t really comprehended what this will mean in terms of mess creation and subsequent cleaning up once he’s on three meals a day. I suppose it’ll just take up more of my day, which is fine. To be honest he’s been such an easy baby that maternity leave has felt like a lovely holiday so far, so I guess it’s only fair that a bit more of my day will now be taken up by baby ‘work’!
As for the patience, it was Jon who mentioned this over tea tonight. What I read as Daniel ‘staying interested’ in his food for longer than it took us adults to eat our meal the other day was probably really just that it takes him much longer to ‘eat’ as much as he wants to. Once again tonight, Jon and I had long finished our meal while Daniel was still chomping away at his mango slice. So another thing that the books had told me, but that I now need to take on board on a practical level, is that mealtimes on BLW will be much more drawn out than if I was just spooning an allotted amount of puree into his mouth. However, this is no bad thing. It’s actually quite nice to just sit there watching him make his slow and steady progress.
So as for the actual eating today, Daniel first demolished three sweet potato wedges – demolished as in there was little to show that they had ever been wedges; I don’t think he swallowed very much at all as they were too mushy to keep a grip on and the lumps that did go into his mouth mostly seemed to come out again in due course. However, a slice of mango was much more compliant and he managed to keep a firm grip on it and gum off an impressive amount of flesh before it eventually was abandoned. As with the nectarine, he got the mango into a good position whereby the skin side was uppermost and he could scrape off the flesh with his lower gums. He even turned it around at one point – once he’d removed all the flesh from one end – in a manoeuvre that looked for all the world like he knew exactly what he was doing! Although a lot ended up down his bib, I’m sure he did actually eat some of it and he certainly seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the taste. No noticeable gagging either tonight.
This is what was left of the mango at the end. So even if he didn’t swallow much, it shows what a 5-month old can accomplish with their gums if given the opportunity!
So how am I feeling about BLW a couple of weeks in? Well I really plan to stick with it, and I just love watching Daniel exploring foods independently and making his small steps of progress. Jon and I glow with pride when he picks something up in a purposeful and effective way and gets it straight into his mouth. But there have been a couple of wake-up calls regarding the mess and the relative ‘inefficiency’ of BLW compared to spoon-feeding.
More generally, I also had a bit of a moment when I realised that, whilst this first month or so is all about fun and exploring and I can decide whether or not to offer Daniel food at a mealtime as it suits me, once he’s six months old he will begin to actually need sustenance other than breast milk (even if not quite as quickly as some traditionalists would have you believe) and I will have to make sure that I offer him food several times a day. That in itself is not really something specific to BLW. But on this journey of new-motherhood, it feels to me like the next big challenge; will I manage to keep up the patience and tolerance for BLW when Daniel’s messy and drawn out meals become a regular daily occurrence?