Sunday, 21 November 2010

See for yourselves

Ben has reached a bit of a plateau with his foods. If he is awake he sits in his high chair at our mealtimes and has the same food, mostly what he can pick up with his fingers. Some things I put to his mouth with my fingers (rice, peas), and yogurts I feed to him with a spoon. I thought you might like to see what he is up to:

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

First foods

I can't believe how the time is flying. Ben is now six and a half months. What has he been eating since the last post? After the avacado he liked a bit of banana but not potato or bread. He didn't seem to enjoy or be interested in the foods. So I left it for almost another week, giving him tastes every now and then. About ten days ago he became more intersted and started taking more food.

Below is an example of a few days, but it is an example of the foods we have given him - not what he has actually eaten. Mostly it was adapted from what I was eating

Day A
Breakfast - banana (about a third, sliced into long quarters to fit in his hand)
Lunch - bread fingers, cucumber fingers (cut into hand sized pieces, with no skin), cheese fingers (thinner than the cucumber)
Dinner - rice, carrots (julienne)

Day B
B - yogurt
L - toast fingers, apple pieces
D - pasta (large to fit in his hands), pieces of tomato, cucumber fingers, chocolate cake

Day C
B croisant (end of mine)
L banana, grated cheese
D - broccoli, peas, potato (a few spoonfuls I dipped in gravy), apple puree

Day D
B nothing - asleep and got to get to school
L fahita, cucumber, yogurt
D - potato (part of my jacket pot), grated cheese, sweetcorn, icecream

The only things feed to him by spoon are yogurt, apple puree pots and potato (with some of the potato on his tray for him to eat and play with. He is not eating huge quantities, for example, half a yogurt pot. I am not doing anything special, just feeding him family food. I am not worrying about quantity either, just giving him a range of tastes. When we had lasagne I gave him a taste. I am enjoying this chilled out approach to weaning and thoroughly recommend it.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Let's talk about poo!

Poo - before you become parents you can't believe you can or would have whole conversations about the contents of your babies nappy, but you do. A baby's poo tells you a lot about your baby and their health. Pooey nappies was one of the few drawbacks of becoming a parent again. I joked that the baby would be potty trained by six months or not start solids till they were out of nappies! Within a short time after introducing complementary foods the change starts.

The day after having his 'first meal' of avacado he did a huge thick poo. This was a reminder for me of one of the main benefits of not introducing solids too early. Breastmilk only poo is quite sweet in comparison to babies' poos once they are on solids. I can't comment on the sweetness of poos of babies on formula milk but one additional benefit of breastmilk only is that the babies do not need to poo so often as breastmilk contains so very little waste as it is individually prepared just for that baby. Ben was doing a poo just once a week before starting solids.

In fact a woman's body continually changes the make up of the breastmilk in response to the growing baby. It is thought that the 'growth spurt' cluster feeds - where a baby goes out of routine and starts feeding a lot for a day or two - triggers that change, as a signal to the woman's body. Breast milk also becomes more watery in hot weather; it contains less calories at night and more brain building components.

Interestingly (or not) I had noticed that before I had given Ben any solids his poo had started to change and to be more paste like than watery. Perhaps a sign that his digestive system was developing. Now we are here and the poos are changing. Fortunately, being a vegetarian I will not be giving Ben any meat till a year or so, and will thus avoid the very worst, but even so it is surprising how quick baby poo becomes like adult poo. Not fun - but at least with washable nappies it will not be sitting in our bin!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Avacado baby

Ben tasted some avacado yesterday. I was having it for my lunch and as he was in the sling I thought I would try him with some as I know it is a favourite with babies. It was too slippery for him to hold, and he kept dropping it, so I mashed some with a fork and fed him with a baby spoon. All in all he took about three teaspoons worth, which I think is a good start. He was in the sling all the time and had hold of the spoon most of the time. He kept trying to put it into his mouth and I helped him with that, just taking it off him to reload. I didn't let him have too much in his mouth at any one time. He did look a little surprised when he swallowed the first couple of times but seemed to enjoy it. I took the cue from him to stop when it didn't look like he was enjoying it anymore.

Ben is six months tomorrow. So I will be giving him more and more tastes and foods to eat from now on. As I said in my first entry in this blog, I am not going to worry about mealtimes and getting him on to three meals a day in a high chair asap. I want to do it more gradually, fitting him in with family meal times. Sometimes I'll try him with something, sometimes I will not. Tonight I plan to do jacket potatoes, so I will try him with some mashed potato and we'll see how that goes.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Not quite ready yet

I still don't think Ben is truly ready for solids. I gave him a few pieces of carrot to play with, one dinner time this week, and play with them was all he did. Another day, responding to his frustrated cries, I gave him a crust of bread to chew on. He loved shoving it in his mouth and sucking and chewing on it, but much like he does with his other toys. Then a bit of the crust must have come off and he started to choke. One of the developmental changes in babies which is behind the recommendation to wait till six months is the development of the tongue and jaw which allows babies to manoeuvre the food in their mouth and push it to the back of their mouth and swallow it. I am also keen to wait till he is six months - another week to go.

Of course a baby does not go from unable to take solids at 5 weeks and 6 days to being ready the day later. For over eight years the UK government has recommended solids are not started till 6 months. This unambigious time is used not to confuse us poor ordinary citizens. The World Health Organisation, however, has more faith in parents. Their guidelines, which are adopted by the UK, are that no solids should be given to a baby before four months, that a baby gets sufficient nutrition from being given breastmilk exclusively till 6 months (and this also affords the baby time to develop better immunity from bacteria which may be present in sold food), but that parents should be looking for the signs of readiness for solid food in their own baby.

Signs that your baby is ready:
- sit up on their own
- watch you eat, following the food with their eyes
- reaches and grabs at food on your plate
- chews their toys
- does not stick their tongue out when you put an object, such as a spoon to their mouth.

These show that the baby has made the physiological changes that allow them to eat and digest solid food (not simply liquid with food in). These changes include development of the jaw and tongue (so the baby can chew the food and manoeuvre it to the back of the tongue), and of the digestive system. It has been suggested by research that too early introduction of solids increases a baby's chance of developing allergies. Another element of the recommendation to wait till 6 months is that the baby's immune system is more developed as there is the possibility of bacteria being present in the food or on the utensils. (This is why if you are giving your baby food before six months then you are recommended to sterilise the bowls and spoons.)

Well Ben is certainly watching and grabbing at my food, but he is not sitting up on his own and he is still sticking out his tongue (well he was the last time I tested this, last week). So we wait...

Friday, 1 October 2010


Well Ben had his 'first food' yesterday. I could not deny him any longer as he sat on my lap at the dinner table and grabbed at the ginger cake I was dishing out. Most of it went on the floor but he certainly enjoyed the sensation of squeezing it through his fingers and sucking it.

So, thinks I, is this the beginning? Have I started him on solid food then?

Actually I had given him other foods - but to explore rather than eat. He is curious and reaching out for everthing - and everything goes in his mouth. So I wondered what he would make of cucumber put to his mouth. Brr, cold. He drew away. Another day and he was crying and probably teething. We were eating pizza. I gave him a pizza crust which he happily bit and gummed.

However, I am not quite ready to give him solid food. Partly because I know what that does to their poo and I want to put off changing those nappies! Mainly, though, because I have read the books, looked at the research, and know that my baby is fine just having breastmilk. I do not want to be swayed by the prevailing culture of consumerism in the form of high chairs, bibs, cutlery, blenders, steamers, etc. I know that waiting till he is six months helps protect his immune system and his chance of getting allergies. (more about the reasons for six months in another blog)

I am also aware of other cultures around the world, where there are no books or magazines telling them to keep up with the Jones'. Where feeding your baby is much more a slow natural process. Where feeding your baby is something you do alongside normal life. Ben will learn about food along side the family. Weaning will not be about getting him to be on three meals a day asap, or about him sleeping through the night; he will learn about food, about textures, tastes, satiation, and being part of a family.

Today I had pitta bread and humous for lunch. He wants to see it, to feel it, to have what I have. I break off some bread and give it to him. We 'eat' together. Only he doesn't actually eat - just sucks it, learning the flavour, the texture, as it slowly crumbles in his hand. When he has had enough of this play, I pick him up and breastfeed him - still my favourite way of giving him all the nutrition he needs.