Friday, May 25, 2012

BLW Interview Series - Kelly K

I am very excited for this interview. Not only is Kelly K. another granola mommy right here in my homewtown, but she is super-passionate about baby-led weaning so I know she'll have a TON of useful information for us. Thank you, Kelly K., for spreading the good word here!

1. What is baby-led weaning?

Baby-Led weaning is feeding your baby solid or finger foods from the start - skipping purees and spoon-feeding all together. Baby-led weaning is a different process than feeding purees then moving to solids/finger foods when baby is ready. Baby-led weaning allows the baby to instinctively feed themselves the right amount of food when they are physically ready for food and cut out breastfeeding/formula feeding on their own terms as they consume more food.

2. What led you to decide that BLW was right for your family?

I saw that baby-led weaning would have a lot of benefits:

1. You wait until baby is 6 months - when their digestive tract is finally sealed and ready for food (I didn't want to start feeding my baby before then because it can cause a host of digestive issues if the stomach lining isn't properly sealed.).
2. It's EASY. I'll do easy. Instead of spending hours making my own purees, freezing & bagging them, then defrosting them, we could just make a little extra food, and give her some of what we are eating (making sure to add salt at the table instead of during cooking when possible because too much salt is bad for their kidneys).
3. Bonus - we eat a LOT healthier now. I knew I wanted my baby to have good nutritious food, not burger king, so if I wanted burger king, I had to make a whole meal for her - I didn't want to make a whole new meal, so we've been eating a lot better, which is good for all of us.

3. What are the benefits of BLW?

Baby-led weaning allows the baby to consume the right amount of food - babies know how much or how little they need (which is generally not 'exactly 4 ounces of this puree and 4 ounces of that puree...'). I knew my baby would feed herself enough - which studies have shown can lead to a lower risk of childhood and adult obesity. It allows my baby to taste and feel different textures - not only does she smell and taste the sweet potato or peas, but she can squeeze it between her fingers, and move it around in her mouth in its natural form. It also gives my baby a chance to develop fine motor skills, like learning how much to squeeze to hold a banana but not mash it. It gives my baby a chance to develop eye hand coordination and chewing skills - I've noticed that babies who have been fed purees will often suck their solid food, whereas a BLW baby will chew his food. If I go to a restaurant, I don't need to pack a separate meal (and spoons) for my baby, she can just have what I'm having. I don't have to spoon feed a baby - this means my food doesn't get cold while I'm feeding my starving baby. She feeds herself, I feed myself - occasionally she'll feed me now too!

4. What are some drawbacks of BLW?

When a baby new to BLW tries a food, they will often gag - a lot. This can be very scary for parents especially when they think their baby is choking - which is actually pretty uncommon. Knowing that gagging is a necessary part of learning how to move the food around in their mouths is very helpful. Some babies will gag more than others, but eventually they'll get the hang of it.

BLW is messy. The baby will pick up food, which means it'll likely be all over her hands, face, hair, lap, floor etc. It's important to remember that while she's making a mess, she's learning - about texture, about how much pressure to use, about how to smear food on the tray (later this might be called finger painting), about gravity (dropping food on the floor), about searching for food in their lap etc. 

BLW can make mealtimes a lot longer - remember, baby is eating at HER pace, not yours. That can mean dinner lasts an hour or more or less depending on the baby. Eating is a multi-step process that takes some time to figure out, but eventually they'll get a little faster. With purees, mom (or whoever is feeding baby) gets to choose how fast mealtime goes.

Baby will choose how much to eat - this is a positive, but can be worrisome for parents who watch baby eat a lot of food for several days, then hardly anything the next day or two. Generally things will even out over the course of a week, but it doesn't make you worry any less.

Other people - sometimes grandparents will worry about the baby 'choking' all the time, or ask 'why don't you just feed them purees until they're ready' - this is always challenging, but I've found that education (sending them links or having them read the BLW book) and watching baby eat helps.
5. What did your pediatrician say about your choice to do BLW?

My pediatrician didn't really know what BLW was (and wasn't interested in finding out), but suggested feeding her baby rice cereal for the Iron boost. We tried it once, and she HATED it - I don't blame her, it tasted awful. After that, we fed her Rice Chex - her iron-fortified baby rice cereal!

6. If someone were considering BLW, what would you say to them to encourage them?

Definitely do some research and try it. The benefits are huge and it's EASY. Your baby will amaze you (and her grandparents!) with her new-found abilities.

7. What are your favorite BLW resources?

The book that started it all: Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods - and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater. by Gill Rapley  

This book answers a lot of questions about BLW and gives some tips on how to get started.

This book has basically an abridged version of the main Baby Led Weaning book, and throws in some recipes.

A facebook group that's helped a lot of people: Baby Led Weaning Mommas - This is a group where moms share experiences, frustrations, excitements, encouragement, and pictures of their babies feeding themselves.

The baby led weaning website: This website answers a lot of questions that moms may have about baby led weaning. - this site also has a forum :) - there isn't a ton of information here, but some good bits in the leaflet & guidelines pages

8. Thank you so much for doing this! Any last words?

signs of readiness for baby-led weaning to commence:
*sit up with little or no support
*reach and grab things effectively
*take objects to their mouth quickly & accurately
*make gnawing & chewing movements
(this list is directly from p.7 of the cookbook mentioned above)

*Baby-led weaning is anti-climactic. on day 1, you give your baby sweet potato fries, and she looks at them, plays with them, might throw them on the floor, might put them in her mouth, but generally won't consume much. She doesn't know what food IS at this point.
*Remember to offer water with meals - purees have water/liquid added, but whole foods don't, so keep baby hydrated. We eventually offered water throughout the day via a sippy cup in her play area.
*Offer breastmilk/formula about an hour ish before a meal so they get the nutrition they need from that, then add food to it.
*Babies can digest meat at some point between 6 and 9 months, my baby was able to digest meat at 7 months (before that any time we gave her meat she had gas & cranky issues)

Remember: Food is fun until one (year) - most of baby's nutrition will probably still come from breastmilk/formula until they are a year old, but baby will let you know when they're ready to drop the milk feedings.

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