Baby Led Weaning Update – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Good morning and happy Friday!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been just over a month since James has started eating solid foods.  It’s become such a part of our daily routine and he’s become so much better at it, I can barely imagine our day without it.

Overall, I’ve been a huge fan of baby led weaning (BLW), or really the hybrid approach we’ve taken (James eats with a spoon too – I put the food on the spoon, and he holds the spoon / puts the food in his mouth).  Here’s a little bit about our experience so far.

The Good

Fun: I’m sure feeding baby any way is fun, but I am seriously loving meal times with little James!  He gets this extremely serious look every time I bring him to his chair.  He eats so eagerly unless he is tired, and has started making little “mmm” noises, it’s just too much 🙂

Same meals: While, as I mentioned, we don’t often eat dinner together at this point due to timing, it’s getting to the point where I can sometimes give James some of what we had for dinner the next day for his meals.  I just put aside a portion before adding salt / anything else he can’t have.  I know this will be more and more true as he continues to try more foods and I love the convenience of it.

Social Eating: I love that I’m able to sit across from him and eat with him or chat with him while he eats since I’m not focused on getting a spoon in his mouth.  I like being able to model table manners and how to have a conversation.  I think these things are best taught by modeling, so might as well start young!  Along these same lines, I love that there is usually something we can offer him (sometimes just avocado) if we go out to lunch.

Fine Motor Skills: I can’t believe how much James’s ability to use his fingers to pick up small things has grown this past month.  I’m sure some of this is just due to his developmental stage, but I think part of it is also due to BLW because, apart from food, it’s hard to give babies opportunities to develop these skills since they want to put everything in their mouth and many tiny objects are unsafe.

He currently uses his thumb and two fingers to pick up little bits of food.  They don’t always make it into his mouth, but it’s amazing to watch him concentrate on picking them up and holding them steady.

Drinking from a Glass:  This is a little random, but watching James drink from his tiny glass (a shot glass from Ikea) has become a favorite pastime in our house.  I think it’s pretty much the cutest thing in the world.  When I first gave him the glass a month ago, it seemed like he would never be able to use it on his own, but just in the last week or so, he’s become so proficient with it.  He still spills of course, but is able to successfully hold the glass on his own and drink from it – and he loves it!

I did three things to help him with this skill:

1. I sit across from him and model drinking from a glass, holding it with two hands, before giving him his.

2. I hold his glass out to him, with my fingers on the very bottom so there’s plenty of room for his little hands.  When I just put the glass on the table, he knocks it over, but he can take it from me with great success.

3. Lastly, I started holding the glass up a little, by his nose, so he would lean his head back when he drank.  He’s still practicing this, but it has helped him actually drink the water instead of just blowing bubbles in it or sticking his tongue in the glass.  Now that he can use his glass, I’m excited to make him a smoothie soon!  Just in time for summer.

The Bad

Food waste: This is absolutely the number one downside we’ve seen.  It makes me sad to see all of the food that goes onto the floor and can’t be eaten.

I do try to minimize this in a few ways.  With something like a fried egg or pancake, where I could just hand him the whole thing, I cut it into strips.  This way I can put one strip at a time on his tray and if he drops it, the whole thing hasn’t gone to waste.  In generally, I only put a couple of pieces of food on his tray or placemat at once, usually one of each thing he is eating, so he can choose.  I think this helps him concentrate on picking up a specific piece of food instead of just swiping around aimlessly and knocking food onto the floor.

The Ugly

Mess: Ohhhhh the mess, my friends.  This depends on the day and what he is eating, but especially if he’s using his spoon for something like avocado or oatmeal, he is usually covered in food by the end, not to mention the chair and the floor.

As my friend Natalie wrote here, I do not think mess is a bad thing.  Mess is part of the process and I involve James in the only way I can right now – showing him and talking to him about how we clean up after eating.  As he gets older, I’ll involve him more as he becomes more capable of helping.  But despite the beauty and learning opportunities of a big mess, it can be a little tiresome at times 🙂

Fortunately though, there are plenty of foods I can offer him that are less messy (pancakes, banana, zucchini, egg, etc.), so I sometimes group messy foods together at one meal so, for instance, lunch cleanup will be super easy and dinner will require a more thorough effort.  He loves oatmeal for breakfast though, so breakfast is always super messy.

Gagging: I had read that gagging is a normal part of baby learning to eat, but it still terrifies me every time it happens.  Babies’ gag reflexes are further up on their tongues at this age to protect them from choking, which makes gagging happen more frequently.  From what I’ve read, this is a safer time for them to learn to eat finger foods because of this extra protection…but it’s still not fun to watch!  James has only ever gotten upset at all by this once though.  He normally just spits the offending food out and keeps on eating.

I’ll probably post soon on our experience with the weaning chair versus a high chair and on Jame’s favorite meals so far.  Let me know if you have any other questions about baby led weaning!

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Things Making Me Happy

Happy Wednesday!  It’s been a great few weeks over here and I just wanted to share a few things that are making me happy lately.

Neighborhood Park

We found a new park close to our neighborhood last week and I am loving it!  It has a paved trail as well as a much longer unpaved trail, a playground with sun shades, baby swings, a splash pad, and a pool.

I took James there last Friday and we had such a good time!

A road runner, off to play tennis!

I often miss our old neighborhood where we could walk to everything, including some really nice trails, but I admit that it was great to be in a nice park without the crowds of where we used to live (right by Zilker).  Because there are fewer people, we also see more animals, like road runners and rabbits.

New Mom Friends

Before having James, none of my friends had babies.  I’m pretty shy and introverted, so wasn’t sure I’d really make any new mom friends.  Thanks to the library though, I’ve met a couple of super nice women with babies almost the same age as James and it is so fun to have people who don’t mind talking endlessly about baby sleep and who can hang out and do baby-friendly things in the middle of a week day.  I feel so lucky to have met them!

Baby Brunch

I made James pancakes last Saturday and it made me so happy 🙂  I used this recipe and it was easy, healthy, delicious, and made a ton so I have a bunch of extras in the freezer.  I spread James’s pancakes with a little coconut oil and sprinkled with cinnamon.  I think this recipe would be easy to play around with and I’ll probably try a pumpkin or zucchini version soon.

It was fun to make something we could all eat together and to think that this was the first of likely countless times that we’ll enjoy a pancake breakfast together.  Also, I think the leftovers would be a great portable snack for James to bring to the park or something since they hold together well and are not very messy.

Front-facing Carrier

I really try not to buy all the baby things.  We did splurge on a new baby carrier last weekend though and it is making me happy.

James is super independent and wants to be moving around ALL the time.  I love this about him, but it can make it harder to take him places.  We have this Ergo and K’tan, but he’s never loved them and his disdain for them has grown now that he’s more and more mobile.  However, when we tried him in the K’tan facing forward, he got so happy!

Sadly, our Ergo did not allow baby to face forward and I really prefer the more structured carriers, especially now that James is getting heavier.  My friend Laura recommended the Ergo 360 to me and we are loving it so far!  I still don’t think James would be content to be in there for hours, but I’d settle for a happy baby while I grocery shop for 30 minutes or walk for an hour 🙂  I also love that this one has a lot less fabric on the sides than my original Ergo, so it’s less hot, which is important in Texas!

Stroller Running

We have the BOB Revolution running stroller (generously given to us by my parents – thank you!) and I finally tried running with it last week.  I had read that I could start running with baby once he was 6-8 months old and had great head control.  He just turned 7 months and has had good head control for months, so I decided to give it a try.

It was SO much more fun than I thought it would be.  I’ve always hated running with a lot of stuff – holding a water bottle, weighed down by winter clothes, etc.  That’s how I pictured stroller running would feel.  It wasn’t that way at all though, it felt great.  Sure, it was a little more challenging than running without the stroller, but since James is usually only happy in there for 30-40 minutes anyway, the added challenge is no big deal.

This will let me run outside more instead of the treadmill, and also get a workout in when James is awake so I get do something else during nap time.  I’m very excited about it!

This Guy

Always.  He has been so happy, talkative, and FUN lately.  He’s the best.

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May Goals

I have to say, typing out my goals for April made such a difference!  Instead of a bunch of vague, fuzzy stuff in my head that I wanted to accomplish, I had a very manageable list.  I definitely plan to keep doing this in the future.

First, a recap of April’s goals:

Conceptualize Playroom: Check!  I now have a very clear vision of what I want James’s playroom to look like.  I’ve mostly cleared out the office, and have purchased about half of what we need.  I just need to get a shelf, rug, and picture frames.  I’m pretty sure I know what I’m going to buy, but I want to finish cleaning out the office before I actually buy it.

I’m most excited about the reading nook I have planned!  I already got this canopy and soft rug for it.

Prepare Garden Beds: This was the only one that was a big time failure…oops.  I didn’t even start doing this, and I’m honestly not at all confident that it will happen this month either.  I did acquire a few pretty potted plants for the back patio, and may just settle for that for now.

Make Family Dinners: Check!  This was mostly a success.  I did much more meal planning / cooking this month and found a few new staple meals that are very quick and easy, reasonably healthy, and taste good!

We did not really eat a lot of family dinners with James though, and I now realize we probably won’t for a while.  Because of his early bedtime, he usually eats around 5:00.  I honestly don’t really want to eat dinner that early, but also, my husband isn’t usually home by then.  For now, I’m settling for eating a snack with James while he eats, and will make an effort to eat lunch with him.

Watch Less TV: Check!  This may be the one that made me the happiest.  I finished watching West Wing and did not start a new tv series (until this past weekend…oops).  I occasionally watched a movie, but not being in the middle of a series I love meant that watching tv was not my go-to activity for the night.  I may designate one night a week as tv night or something, I’m not really sure.

Okay, on to May’s Goals!

Read More: This is my number one goal this month.  It’s already started to happen naturally because I haven’t been watching much tv.  I love to read and want to really get back into the habit of reading regularly.

Write More: I’ve never had any talent for (or really enjoyed) most artistic activities, but I’ve always loved to write.  I have a couple of writing projects that I’ve started, but haven’t worked on in a while.  There is one in particular I’m hoping to finish this month.  It’s a children’s book for James.  I know it will likely never be published, but I plan to print it with Pinhole Press, which lets you print your own board books, to give to him.

Go Somewhere New Every Week: It is so fun to take James out these days.  He is super friendly and smiley and seems to really enjoy getting out.  We go somewhere almost every day now, but I am definitely a creature of habit and we often go to the same few places.  We just moved to South Austin right before James was born, so I am still discovering the area.  I’m looking forward to taking James to new places this month, even if it’s just a different park or library of coffee shop.

Wear Sunscreen: I wear sunscreen when I go to the beach or know I’ll be outside all day, but I am not good about wearing it every day.  With the amount of time I spend outside, I know I should be doing this.  I want to finally make this part of my daily routine this month.

What are your goals this month?

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