Friday Favourites – A Dad’s Homebirth Story

Ending a week of Baby Led Weaning posts, I want to share with you My Daddy Cooks.

Nick is a guy I really like, a dad I respect and a blogger who has made a fantastic career for himself. I followed Nick on Twitter for a while before meeting him at a food show in London. Nick also practised Baby Led Weaning with his son Archie, and he was one of my early encouragements in the practice thereof. We had just started on BLW, and Nick was so enthusiastic about it when we spoke, that I was more hooked than ever.

Nick and Archie have made a name for themselves by doing video blogs of themselves cooking in the kitchen – which is where I respect him as a dad. He really took an interest in doing something with his son, which is a legacy they’ll always share.

And not so long ago, their family grew, when his wife Jo gave birth to their daughter Matilda in a home water birth. There are so few ‘men’s accounts’ of home births around, that I thought I must share it with you. It’s a beautiful story, in two parts.

“Jo was in total control. By about 12.20 she had disappeared off into an almost parallel space. Focused, intense, almost other-worldly. Some of her songs were certainly not from this planet. All I remember at this point was feeling very serene, very at one with the process. I was also in awe of Jo’s bravery. She seemed to be controlling the pain. She wasn’t panicking. She was following Jane’s gentle prompts. I sensed the baby was close.”

This paragraph took me back to Ameli’s birth. The beauty of the moment. The calm. Read his story – it’s really beautiful.
Do you have a favourite post you’ve read or written this week? No matter what the topic, add it to the linky below – BUT If you’re going to add a post to the linky, please read and comment on the post above yours and add this to your comment: “Stopping by from Friday Favourites at <a href=”http://www.diaryofafirstchild.com> Diary of a First Child</a>”

Baby Led Weaning: First Food Suggestions

I’ve written a bit on the why of baby-led weaning, I’ve spelled it out in my top ten reasons, I’ve written about what Baby Led Weaning equipment you need (or don’t need, as the case may be) for Baby Led Weaning, but I haven’t written anything on how to get started, or more accurately, with what to start.

Before I just rattle off a list of foods, however, here are a few important things to remember: (And if you want to hear it from the expert on Baby Led Weaning, Gill Rapley,  you can buy her book.)

  • Baby Led Weaning shouldn’t be started before your baby is ready, i.e. showing signs of interest in solid foods (which can start as early as four months, but hold out for six), is able to sit up on their own, and is six months old.
  • Baby Led Weaning is about the experience of food, rather than the nutrition only of it. Food is fun till one. Until they are around one, milk should be your child’s primary source of nutrition, and food should be introduced for the touch, feel, smell factors. Food should be mushed in the fingers, sucked, gummed, smelt and experienced, and how much is eaten is rather irrelevant. Around the first birthday, your child will automatically start eating more of the food.
  • Baby Led Weaning doesn’t mean you give your child food and then walk away. It’s not ‘hands off’ in the way that scares parents looking in to it. It’s still weaning, there’s still parental involvement. It’s just baby led.
  • Babies don’t need teeth to eat. They are perfectly capable of breaking down foods with their gums – be smart though. A 500g rump steak isn’t a good idea.
  • A baby’s gag reflex is in the middle of their mouth, unlike an adults, which is more towards the back. Your baby might sound like he or she is choking, but it’s unlikely. The gag reflex is precisely there to prevent chocking. At the same time, don’t leave an infant unattended when they are eating.
  • If your child doesn’t like something, it doesn’t matter. Remove it from the plate, and offer it again in a few weeks time. Tastes change as taste buds develop.
  • Try to use organic foods, and don’t boil them. You’re trying to maintain the flavours – bland food isn’t very interesting. Steaming works best for hard vegetables, or we often pan-fry in a non-stick pan with no oil.
  • If there is a history of allergies, asthma or eczema in either parent’s family, try to avoid milk products (cow’s milk, cheeses and yogurts), shellfish, citrus fruit and their juices or eggs, until your baby is around eight months old. If there are allergies, also avoid sesame seeds or peanuts. If you’re really concerned, do a blood allergy test, so you know for definite what to avoid and what not. There is also a school of thought that says avoiding these things increases the risk of allergies, rather than reducing it – do your research and decide for yourself.
  • Honey, salt and wheat products are not recommended until the baby is a year old. This is a strange one for me, as, for example, in South Africa we give babies “biltong” – dried, cured, salty meat” for teething. ‘Regulations’ and ‘recommendations’ vary from country to country and over time, so do what you feel is right for your baby.
  • You can change to baby led weaning at any time, even if you’ve already started puree feeding, but be aware that babies used to swallowing purees first may be more likely to try to swallow and then gag on finger foods.
  • We’ve never puree fed, and you don’t have to start with mush.
  • When you were pregnant, your baby became accustomed to your way of eating. If you’re breastfeeding more so.
  • These are suggestions for first foods. Use your discretion and if you’re not sure, wait a while. All of these suggestions are aimed at children over six months, some for over one year:

Fruit

  • Banana
  • Avocado
  • Melon
  • Pears
  • Peaches – if soft, raw is fine, otherwise lightly steam
  • Nectarines – if soft, raw is fine, otherwise lightly steam
  • Plums – if soft, raw is fine, otherwise lightly steam
  • Strawberries – after six months, if no allergies in the family.
  • Apples – great for teething gums, but do be wary as it is a hard fruit and can be a chocking hazard. Otherwise bake and cut into chunks. With cinnamon. Yum.
  • Blueberries – cut in half to ensure they aren’t swallowed whole (for smaller babies)
  • Grapes – great for gumming, but keep an eye on younger babies. Peel if you desire, as the skin can get stuck on the throat, which is quite uncomfortable. Peeled and frozen and halved is also heavenly for sore gums.

Vegetables

  • Carrots – great for teething, but same criteria as apples. Lightly steamed is preferable.
  • Broccolli – lightly steam or roast
  • Cauliflower -lightly steam or roast
  • Butternut Squash – roast or boil
  • Sweet potato – roast or boil – cut into thin fry like pieces for easy holding. Don’t deep fry though.
  • Potato – roast or boil- cut into thin fry like pieces for easy holding. Don’t deep fry though.
  • Courgette/baby marrow/zucchini – steamed or roasted or lightly fried or grilled
  • Aubergine/eggplant – good for cutting into squares, roast, steam or grill – taste it to make sure it’s not too bitter.
  • Cucumber – raw
  • Asparagus – a favourite in our home, but be aware that it can be stringy and be both in the stomach and the mouth at the same time! Cut into bite-sized bits.

Other

  • Rice – great for motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination!
  • We also choose Plum baby snacks, especially those that use spelt instead of white flour.

Great snacks to have on hand:

  • Pasta – try gluten free if under one
  • Cubes of cheese – no molded or goats or sheeps milk under one
  • Fish or meat – well cooked. Although Ameli’s been eating raw salmon (sashimi) since 12 months
  • Hard boiled egg – assuming no allergies
  • Home-made low sugar seed and nut bars – assuming no allergies

Spices

  • We use loads of herbs and spices in our food.
  • Cinnamon – supports the digestive system, but delay introduction if there are food allergies in your family. Also a great source of iron – so no need to worry if baby is otherwise breastfed.
  • Turmeric – great for adding flavour to food and also a powerful anti-oxidant
  • Cumin – supports digestion
  • Coriander – again good for iron among other things and great with chicken dishes
  • Nutmeg – also good with chicken, soothes the tummy
  • Ginger – also good for upset tummies (hello, morning sickness!) . It also eliminates gas from the intestines, and is an all-round good food.
  • Garlic – adds masses of flavour, an anti-oxidant and apparently improves breastfeeding if mama eats garlic.

And a final note:

We try to avoid adding sugar to anything, because really, glucose does nothing good to the body. Instead, replace it with Xylitol. It is slightly more expensive, but is sweeter and actively helps prevent tooth decay and can even reverse the effects of some decay.

In truth, the best way to Baby Led Wean is to cook your own dinner, and take a few bits and pieces of age-appropriate foods off your plate and onto your baby’s. That way there’s much less wastage, no extra preparation, and you end up eating healthier too, since you want to give your baby the best.

Anything to add? It’s sure to help someone!

 

10 Reasons to Choose Baby Led Weaning

I love baby led weaning and it’s one of the greatest things I’ve discovered in parenting. It always amazes me how people struggle with both the time consuming and financial burden of purée feeding.

I once tried to explain Baby Led Weaning to mothers on a parenting forum and what amazed me the most was how negative they all were: the most common argument was how ‘scary’ it sounded, or how ‘dangerous’. Which I felt was a little sad. I mean really, which parts of parenting don’t feel scary or dangerous at times?

***
Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

The Carnival of Natural Parenting is hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama.

***

So, here are seven reasons why I think Baby Led Weaning is better for babies:

  • Benefits of longer milk feeding/ digestive preparedness

Baby led weaning doesn’t normally start until the baby is around six months old, able to sit up on his/her own and has shown some interest in food. As a result, a baby led weaned baby will probably stay on milk feeds until around a year before solids really make up much of the diet at all. Following the ‘food is fun till one’ principle, a BLW baby will receive most of their nutrients by milk while playing with food until one, when they’ll start eating more. With my little girl, there was a marked difference in the quantity of solid food she ate before her first birthday compared to how much she ate a few weeks down the line.

Since baby is still on milk, they are getting all the nutrients required, and you don’t have to worry about force feeding a child that doesn’t want to eat.

  • Natural motion of babies mouth

The mouth is designed for food. When a baby breastfeeds, their sucking motion isn’t actually sucking at all. If you watch a breastfeeding baby, you’ll see the jaw moves almost in a chewing motion – which it doesn’t do with bottle feeding. Breastfeeding prepares a baby for chewing, and baby led weaning helps them to take food in, chew and swallow, rather than puree feeding which simply requires them to suck back (which is where choking hazards come in) and swallow.

  • Natural desire to feed self

Babies have a natural instinctive desire to feed themselves. Have you ever seen a baby fighting to try and grab the spoon? They are naturally inclined to learn to feed themselves. And why not? If your 12 month old can feed herself, you won’t still be having to spoon feed at 3 years old. And you won’t be making airoplane noises or choo chooing around the room to get your child to eat either.

  • Experience of different textures and flavours

Food is fun till one is a great, and messy, principle. It means that everything that goes on the plate becomes an experiment of flavours and textures. Mushing marrow between the fingers, slip-sliding mango up and down the plate, ‘tearing’ pieces of bread or meat, and spearing sashimi (raw salmon) Baby-led weaning breakfastare all great explorations and help prevent pickiness.

  • Promotes development of hand-eye coordination and finger dexterity

Picking up kernels of rice one at a time requires quite a bit of dexterity and concentration, so it’s great for developing these essential skills. Chasing a cherry tomato around a plate and capturing it requires hand-eye coordination. And the reward is tasty.

  • Less picky eaters

It is said that BLW toddlers aren’t as picky eaters as their puree fed counterparts. This is partly due to having been exposed to different foods (I don’t see sushi and asparagus flavours in pots), but also to the different textures so there’s not the expectation of mush – blended mush- and baby gets to know individual flavours, sharp tastes, sour tastes and so on.

  • Baby listens to own body

Although I can’t find much by way of scientific evidence for this – after all, who’s going to pay for a study that’s not going to make anyone any money? – it is anecdotally claimed that babies won’t eat food that is later found to be bad for them. I have personal experience of this with my daughter. I’m willing to trust it, because in the end it can’t hurt.

But there are also at least three benefits for mama, and the family as a whole:

  • Starting Baby-Led WeaningLess strain in terms of  time and cost

I don’t know what a month’s worth of puree feeding costs, but I understand it’s quite a lot. At least with baby led weaning, you don’t have to spend money on bottles of food, and you don’t have to spend time on spoon feeding.

  • No need to puree, easier to prepare food

Maybe you’ve always made your own purees, so it hasn’t cost you that much? That’s fine, but with no need for puree’s you don’t need to stand praparing seperate meals. You don’t have to wash your blender every day. You don’t need to buy special food pureeing equipment. You make your family meal, and everyone eats the same thing.

  • Family eats healthier, mum doesn’t finish off baby’s food

Everyone eating the same thing is also healthier for the whole family. For the most part, we all try to do the best we can for our babies, and we want to give them as healthy food as possible, which generally means the whole family eats healthier. In addition, there’s no weight gain from finishing little Johnny’s fishfingers after your own meal. What we do is simple: I prepare the same amount of food as we’ve always done, and take a few bits and pieces off each of our plates to give to Ameli. She doesn’t eat a huge amount anyway, but now that her appetite is increasing, I just make a little bit more, and any left overs go into the freezer for days when I don’t have time to cook.

These are my reasons for baby led weaning. Can you think of any more?

***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Plum Baby Giveaway

We practice baby led weaning in our home. This week, you’ll find a couple of posts here on the practice of baby led weaning. It is one of the parenting things I am most grateful for having found.

At the same time, I’m also a big fan of Plum Baby food.

So, why do I dislike purée feeding, but like a baby food company? Because the quality of their other foods is superb.

Their breakfast cereals, for example the muesli with strawberry and banana, contains organic oats, banana, rice flour, amaranth, strawberry and quinoa. This cereal contains gluten, but some of the others don’t. Have you spotted what’s missing? SUGAR. Compare this with most other breakfasts for children – or for adults for that matter? I love that these have no added sugar. (Which means I can add Xylitol for sweetness, all the while helping strengthen her teeth against cavities.)

What about their snacks?Plum baby

Savoury bakes with carrots, parmesan, Spelt breadsticks of different flavours, oat rounds, and multigrain rings. And again, no sugar.

I went to a local healthfood shop and bought Ameli some lovely nut and seed bars. Until I got home and looked at the ingredients and found it was sugar or caramel holding them together.

The savoury snacks have no salt, and ingredients differ, but these have gluten, wheat, egg and dairy free options and are suitable for vegetarians.

There’s also strawberry and peach yoghurt, and guess what? No added sugar. You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you?

Why my issue with sugar? Well, I don’t have one. I think it’s fine – not good, but fine – as part of a balanced diet, but the problem we find is that everywhere we go, Ameli is offered sweets. Lollipops, chewy sweets, and packets of crisps. It’s on offer everywhere, and everyone wants to give her a treat, so sugar is definitely not a required food source in her at home diet.

So… that’s why I like Plum Baby. Even though I don’t believe in the necessity for purées and definitely do not recommend them from 4 months old, in a free market, it’s a good thing that we can pick and choose the things we want to use and the things we don’t.

Now, on to the giveaway…

Plum are offering two hampers worth £25 each to two Diary of a First Child readers. The hampers will contain items from their range, but no purees.  The competition closes on the 21st of March at 12:00 noon and a winner will be randomly selected using random.org

To enter the giveaway, head over to Plum’s website, choose a product you like, come back here and leave a comment telling me what it is and what age child it would be for, should you win.

You can also follow Plum on Facebook, which will give you an additional entry if you leave another comment saying you have or do.

And the winners are: Galina V and Anne Stone. Thanks to everyone who entered, and to Plum for these great prizes!

***

You do not have to tweet or share this competition to enter, but doing so helps ensure that I can keep bringing you giveaways! You can subscribe to Diary of a First Child by RSS or email. You can also follow us on Facebook or on Twitter. We hope to see you back again soon!

Misleading, Inaccurate Headlines Harm Babies Too

I went away for the weekend and seem to have come back to the world gone mad. Headlines such as “Breast is not best“, “Exclusively breast-feeding for six months ’causes allergies“, and “Mother’s milk”may do more harm than good are all over my RSS feeds.

Now, Analytical Armadillo has written an exemplary article on the ‘facts’ behind this study, and Dispelling Breastfeeding Myths has raised very valid points about the media involvement in the controversy over this. But here are my thoughts on it.
Read more: Misleading, Inaccurate Headlines Harm Babies Too

A Baby Led Weaning Story

One of the things I really like about baby led weaning is the theory that a baby will only eat what isn’t bad for them. According to this theory, when a baby won’t eat something, they will generally later be found to have an intolerance or allergy to it.

Read more: A Baby Led Weaning Story

Why Baby Led Weaning?

As with so many things baby-related, I knew nothing about weaning and first foods a year ago. I had seen people spoon-feeding babies purée, and accepted that as how the process of learning to eat starts. In my journey into parenthood, however, I came across the term “Baby Led Weaning”, which really intrigued me. So much of my parenting style involves Ameli, my daughter, guiding us to knowing what’s right for her that this seemed a strange exception to make.

About a month and a half after beginning baby led weaning (BLW) I began reading the book of the same title by Gill Rapley and Tracy Murkett.  One of the first things that really stood out for me was the definition given for spoon-feeding: “to provide (someone) with so much help or information that they do not need to think for themselves” and “to treat another in a way that discourages independent thought or action”.

(Something to note about weaning: weaning a baby doesn’t mean that they no longer have their milk feeds. Especially with BLW, the first solids are so little that continuing milk is essential. I met a very upset mother recently who kept crying as she was desperate to breastfeed her baby, but had “started weaning” and kept trying to feed her baby puréed food, no matter how much he (or she) herself longed to breastfeed!)

Some of the great things I love about the concept behind BLW are that:

  • There is no additional cooking needed, i.e. no Smoked Salmon Bagelseparate meals
  • Babies are involved in the experience from the start
  • As there is no force-feeding occurring, eating doesn’t have a negative connotation (so no here comes a train, open the tunnel, the aeroplane wants to land!)
  • They can eat till they are full and then stop.
  • We can eat as a family together. No separate mealtimes required (according to Sue Palmer in her book “Toxic Childhood – what the modern world is doing to your children and what you can do about it”, all children in a merit class she was involved in, without exception, had one thing in common – they all had dedicated family meal times at the dinner table).
  • BLW babies are more adventurous eaters as they’ve learned to explore new textures and flavours. At seven months old my daughter has a definite favourite: smoked salmon. She will actually try to get into my mouth to take it out if I haven’t given her any.

Admittedly, I am not a purist. There are times when a pre-packaged puree, whether bought or home made, can be a life saver. I was happy, then, to read Ms Rapley say that the odd spoon feeding or soft food isn’t harmful, but never allowing a child to roll lumpy food around their mouths, or having them always sucking the food off the spoon to the back of the mouth could delay chewing.

She goes on to explain that babies have never needed purées, but because they were being weaned on to solids before they were ready (i.e. 3 or 4 months) it was assumed to be the only way. Since we now know that babies shouldn’t really have solids until about 6 months, it becomes easier to understand why they don’t really need solids – by six months they are able, if given the opportunity, to feed themselves.

A few other bonuses of BLW mentioned in the book that I had not thought about before are:

  • Long term health. If a baby is breastfed and BLW, they still have breast milk for much longer than a baby weaned on to purees (as they are fuller and require less milk)
  • No stressful meal times
  • Fewer food phobias etc
  • Less need for games or tricks
  • Eating out is easier as baby can eat something off your plate, making it also…
  • Cheaper

The only downside to BLW is the mess. And boy, can it be messy.

When we started in March, I made this video of our first solids attempt for our far off family. Watch how she devours those courgettes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sDp5n-nO2g

There’ll be more soon. Watch this space!

365-119 to 365-125 A Week in Pictures

I must admit that in the normal day to day of life I am finding it hard to take photos every day. I don’t mean it as a grind – life is beautiful and full of precious moments. I look up and see my little girl smiling at me, I see her taking her first tentative steps, I am enveloped by my husbands love and blessed beyond measure by my family and friends, but these are not photographic moments. They are just moments in my life which make it beautiful. Sadly, I only have two photo days for you from this week, but I hope you enjoy them none the less. I should be back in full swing again next week!

Day 119 – Day trip to Birmingham

I must admit that I have always had a rather Dickensian view of Birmingham (Did he ever write about Birmingham?). I’ve always seen it as an industrial city and imagined it as as gray and dull. I went to visit my friend Gayle, (who blogs at Bumbling Along) and discovered how terribly wrong I was. I found it a beautiful city, full of flowers and history and very deserving of the title as Britain’s most cultural city.

Day 120 – Smoked Salmon Bagel

I do so love Baby Led Weaning. Ameli’s favourite thing at the moment seems to be smoked salmon. She will literally pull my mouth open to get at smoked salmon when I eat it. Here she is eating a smoked salmon bagel.

Smoked Salmon Bagel

Dear Ameli- Letter to a Seven Month Old

I know I say this every month, but I cannot believe that it’s been seven months.

I sat you in your Bumbo this morning while I was hanging the washing and I was telling you about your birth and about that exact time seven months earlier, when you couldn’t sit in a Bumbo, or eat a biscuit or any of that. It’s phenomenal. It’s miraculous, this whole growth thing.

Let’s see…

A month ago I thought you were mobile. Thinking back, I had no idea. I think you’ll be walking soon. You pull yourself up on everything: tables, your cot, my trouser legs. In fact, you’re pretty much incapable of sitting still. It’s a neverending squirm with you. You have so much energy, I am surprised you don’t eat more.

Speaking of eating, you are doing really well with your baby-led weaning. Your favourite food so far is smoked salmon, but apart from grapefruit, there’s really not much you don’t like. I can’t blame you on the grapefruit, though, it had no sugar or honey on it!

You had your first flight this month. We flew to Norway to visit your aunty Deshaine, and you were great on the flight. You breastfed for take-off and landing and slept for the rest of it. There was this huge volcanic eruption in Iceland the day we flew out and it caused a bit of panic, but we got home on schedule and had a fantastic time.

You’ve definitely reached the clingy phase. I can’t really leave you for too long and you start crying for me. It makes me feel special, but also a little bit tired sometimes.

My Beautiful DaughterOn the plus side, you have stopped screeching so much, which is a major improvement, and you laugh a lot more. Especially when we hang you upside down or play aeroplanes with you. Or sing ‘Open and closed, open and closed, don’t get in a muddle, open and closed, open and closed, give yourself a cuddle’ – that does seem to be your favourite.

On the other hand, you’ve started clawing at my breasts when you feed, a little like a cat on a scratching post when it’s been removed from its mother too soon. As a result they are currently various shades of green from the bruises.

We’ve had a reprise from your teething pains for a while, but that came to an end recently, and I suspect you’ll have a whole bunch of new teeth to show off soon. At least your sleep has improved, even though you still wake two or three times a night for a feed.

Well, honey, mommy will be going to sleep shortly, and I’ll curl up next to you and hold you close to my heart. I’ll watch you in the moonlight and hold on to these moments, knowing that they pass all too quickly. I’ll wake up in the night and listen for you, for your breathing, just to make sure you’re okay. When you stir I’ll pull you to me, and I’ll drink in your baby smell, holding my breath in an attempt to capture your scent forever in my memory. When you suckle at my breast and make little ‘hmmmm’ sounds, and after when you nuzzle in to me, those are the moments that I know your whole being is an extension of my heart.

You are more precious than I ever thought possible.

I love you for always.

Mommy