Munch is eight and a half months old now and we have made adjustments and added new skills along the way. We started baby-led weaning (BLW) when Munch hit the six month mark. For the month and a half prior to this we had introduced him to his high chair; in part because he had gotten bored craning his neck to try and see what we were doing from his activity centre when we were eating, but also to get him used to being included at meal times. At around five and a half months of age we started leaving him easy to grab pieces of vegetables from our meal - of course all he did was play and look at them with the odd piece reaching his mouth but other than that he did nothing with it. We knew he swallowed some by the way they came out in his nappy. Oh the fun I had determining the food items that had made it to his stomach. We purposely waited until six months before going at BLW with vigour as Munch was prone to eczema - even before we started we knew we would have to be careful as he had suffered from bad bouts of nappy rash in reaction to certain foods which had passed to him through my breastmilk.
On hitting the six month mark we started with breakfast. Fingers of toast - they found his way to his mouth and he gummed away to his delight. From there on in BLW has become this magical journey of food discovery - Munch has this expression that he has when he tries a new food which passes as quickly as it appears and he will then quite happily take his fill. Our eating habits were pretty good before Munch and so the adjustments we needed to make to our diet was minimal. In the first couple of weeks of BLW he did suffer from trapped wind but that passed once his digestive system had gotten the message that his diet was changing. After two weeks on BLW, his dirty nappies changed completely much to the disgust of Sprout!
We have been very aware of the foods neither of us really ate - namely fresh tomato. Imagine our surprise when he absolutely loved fresh tomato! As with most adults, Sprout and I do have a few food preferences of our own but we have worked to offer these foods to Munch so that he doesn't miss discovering a new taste or texture. Hell, I've eaten bits of hard boiled egg with a smile on my face at breakfast with him and I cannot begin to tell you how much I cannot stand them. Maybe you think we are going to extreme but I look at some of the children we come into contact with and have noticed that they are already displaying the same attitude towards certain foods as their parents. Sprout and I want Munch to enjoy all foods - even if they are those we don't.
We watched as he got upset and frustrated with things like rice and mince and made the decision that a preloaded spoon was the way to go for a while. OK, at times he ends up with food all over his head and other times he will sit and open his mouth and we will feed him because he is having a lazy day. We're not the strictest of baby-led weaners; we follow his cues so in our own way I think we are. He has never been one to launch food off his tray even though we have a splash mat in place. Nor does he like being cleaned up with a damp flannel after meals. We announce that we are going to wipe his face so it's not so much of a shock but even after more than two months of this we are still met with tears!
Meals out are a joy. The only thing that has taken getting used to has been not having dessert. Boy is that difficult. A meal out is a treat in my book and I have always been one that has dessert but because we are not at the stage where we are offering them to Munch, Sprout and I agreed that we cannot have them either. Yes, there may be fruit salad on offer but I refuse to pay for something that I can easily whip up at home. It is doing me good but it has meant we secretly eat our treats once he is in bed for the night - so possibly not so good huh? During the recent bout of summer sunshine we even had our first picnic together. I was not sure what to expect as Munch has always eaten at a table but hey, no problem whatsoever. He sat and ate without once trying to crawl away - success.
Sprout and I are used to BLW; he gags very rarely and we have learnt to trust him when he proceeds to put something in his mouth. The hardest part I have found is when we are in the company of others - "That piece is too big", "He won't like that", "It's too spicy for babies" etc, etc, etc or even the simple act of helping put something in his hand/mouth. I have many a time stated in my most authoritative tone that he is fine and to leave him be. Interfering usually means he is more likely to gag or choke but try explaining that! He eats three meals a day without it becoming a drama and I can be found trawling around the fresh fruit and veg looking for new things to offer him.
We are learning and adapting all the time. The only thing that has beaten us thus far is how do we get the spoon back from him without a fight? We have offered a different spoon but that normally results in Munch holding one in each hand. Suggestions will be gratefully received!