Whether I like it or not, it’s time to think about the dread ‘W’ word – weaning. What? Already? I know, time flies. It won’t be that long until we really do embark on the crazy journey of solids.
Of course when I say weaning, I don’t mean a complete end to our breastfeeding relationship, but rather the gradual addition of food to Cordelia’s diet. Until the first year or so it’s important that breast milk is the major source of nutrients in a baby’s diet. Food is just the icing on the cake.
Cordelia has two teeth. At just shy of five months she’s sporting a pair of chompers and she’s not afraid to use them, she’s eager to use them. Though having teeth or not is not a sign of readiness for solids. Some babies develop them earlier than others. Some are happy to gum steak at their first birthday party. Others say don’t bother cutting mine thank you very much.
There is no one sign of being ready for solids, but rather several combined. One is chronological age of older than six months, another is being able to sit upright unsupported, then there’s being able to swallow, there’s also desire to consider. If your baby can’t sit yet, then wait a few more weeks or so, the time will come. Baby can’t really swallow yet, that tongue shoves everything out of baby’s mouth? Wait. Baby is four months and the mother down the street insists that starting solids will be the cure for what ever ails you, from poor sleep to spitting too much, or I’ve even been told that starting solids will get a baby crawling sooner. Those are all false. An immature gut can’t handle solids and starting too soon is more likely to make what ever ails baby even worse.
Cordelia has a few of those signs already: she can sit, and she is very interested in what ever it is mommy, daddy, and her two big sisters do at the table every evening. And so we embark on our first adventure into baby led weaning.
This evening while we were eating we gave Cordelia her own spoon. She held it, examined it, tasted it, chewed it, whacked daddy over the head with it, threw it for daddy to fetch, and squealed with delight at the trick she taught daddy. The spoon stays. We’ll continue giving her opportunity to try out utensils and let her practice sitting. In a month or so we’ll likely begin solids. At supper we’ll have a few pieces of soft food for her to pick up and let her practice picking stuff up, putting it in her mouth, possibly chewing it, possibly swallowing.
We won’t puree a pile of food for her, we wont sit there with a spoon shoveling it in, and we certainly won’t offer her low nutrition rice cereal. We’ll let the meal be an experience in tastes, textures, colours, sounds. She might not eat very much, and that’s okay. Moving at her own pace will help her develop good eating habits. We’ll allow her to eat what we’re eating, not offering pureed sweet potatoes three meals a day for five days in a row. Yes allergies may be a concern, but for us, having been-there-done-that, we’ll keep our stress levels low and just pay attention, not necessarily to what foods may cause a reaction, but rather to her. If there is a reaction we feel it’s most important to know it exists, then we can figure it out afterwards.