The last few days have got me thinking about some of the basic principles of BLW, in particular the ‘baby just eats what you eat’ idea. Now, this is not meant to be a critique or criticism of what the books say, and I know BLW is a flexible approach so none of it is set in stone, but I’m starting to find that it’s not as simple as that. At the moment, I’m either making different things for Daniel (e.g. breastmilk porridge, mashed avocado on ricecakes, ordering him his own ‘side’ of seasonal vegetables in restaurants) or I’m doing things differently for us so that he can join in (e.g. no salt on the roasted veg). So it’s not as simple as just sitting him down with a small portion of whatever Jon and I are eating.
There are two main reasons for this. The first is the content of the food. We began BLW early (5 months) and D is still not quite yet 6 months, so although we have ventured into some carbs, I still haven’t offered him fish, meat, cheese or eggs. And then there’s the salt issue, so he can’t have anything pre-made that contains too much sodium (e.g. pesto).
The second issue is the mess, and here I’m starting to wonder about how far I’ll be willing to take the BLW approach once D is on three meals a day. There are definitely more and less messy meals. Plain pasta, toast and butter, steamed courgette or pepper – all pretty tidy and easy to clean up. Porridge, avocado, hummus, yoghurt, and anything eaten when he’s too tired (which thus gets spread all over face and hair when he does his ‘I’m tired’ nuzzle) – very messy and sticky. So I’m thinking it’ll be a long while before I offer him anything like stew or pasta with sauce.
What I really got to wondering about is when and why you would offer your child something that is bound to make a huge mess everywhere. I get the sense that for some families, BLW is a glorious exploration of colour and texture and half the fun is the chaos that ensues. However, I’m starting to realise that, for me, it needs to be a slightly more controlled process – I’m not up for slopping a load of casserole down in front of him simply so that he can experience pushing it all onto the floor.
But then I also got to thinking that there is no need to rush the process either. We’ve only been at this for three weeks, and he’s getting really good at eating sticks of fruit and veg that are an appropriate size and manageable consistency, so there’s really no need to rush him on to things I know he won’t handle so well. So if I’m patient, then there will probably come a day not too long from now when he suddenly does a perfect pincer grip or sucks a whole spoonful of yoghurt neatly into his mouth, and then I’ll know we’re ready for a risotto!
So, stepping away from the general ruminations, what has D tried over the weekend? The roast dinner at Jon’s schoolfriend’s house went very well – D’s new favourite of roast parsnips and roast potatoes, and some carrot also went down pretty efficiently. A breakfast, a lunch and two teatimes at Uncle Kev’s featured croissants (quite successful: lots to grab onto and shove into his mouth and he seemed to love the taste, though it was perhaps a bit rich as he was a bit sick during and after the meal!), toast fingers – some spread with hummus and some dipped in butternut squash soup (much gummed, but quite slippery), plain spiral pasta (not much interest shown – perhaps too soon for something requiring a pincer grip), and steamed broccoli, courgette and pepper (no problems – he’s a pro at these three now!).
The pub lunch with my friend went okay. I ordered D a side of roasted root veg and he had a bit of a go at the parsnips, carrots, swede (not too keen) and roast potatoes, but he was quite tired, didn’t want to sit in the pub’s highchair and so sat on my knee which meant I couldn’t really see how he was getting on. I don’t think he ate much at that meal.
I also gave him a taste of my fruit scone and a small shortbread biscuit when we had afternoon tea at a pub. I felt a bit guilty about the sugar content, but as I’ve mentioned before, once you start including your baby in mealtimes, you very quickly don’t get away with excluding them any more. There would have been protest if D didn’t get his share of the goodies!
What was good over this weekend was that again nobody batted an eyelid at the BLW approach. I did mention it to the friends and family we were eating with – that we were doing a ‘no puree’ approach – but there were no queries, no complaints about any mess, and everyone we were with simply went with the flow. Even at the pubs, the staff didn’t say a word about the mushed veg all over the tabletop or the scone crumbs on the settee (I did do my best to clear up the debris before we left!).
My breastmilk porridge was not very popular this morning. I offered it on loaded spoons, but it either fell off on the way to D’s mouth, or he wasn’t able to suck it off very well. He squished some of the lumps that fell onto his tray, but didn’t make many attempts to put them to his mouth. He is pretty good at getting the spoon to his mouth accurately though, so I guess it’s all good practice and I just need to be patient and let him keep on with the things he’s mastering more quickly. On that note, a plain ricecake offered after the porridge went down very well and very efficiently.
Just a quick poo update to finish. Now his movements are more solid, it’s clearly more difficult for him to get them out, and we’re often having a lot of straining for very little result (meaning more nappy changes, as there can be three of four of these meagre offerings in a day!) On two occasions – when he was pooing during a breastfeed – the effort of straining has made milk come down his nose, and on one occasion he was also a bit sick from the effort, poor guy! I don’t think this is anything to worry about, but I suppose we should keep an eye out for constipation and keep trying to get him to have some water with meals. I’ve not been very consistent about this yet – need to remember to pour the boiled water into his beaker sufficiently in advance of mealtimes for it to cool down to drinking temperature.