Monday, July 1, 2013

Bananas, carrots and peaches, oh my!

Happy Monday, everyone! Ashley comin' at ya this rainy Colorado evening, feeling so relieved that we are getting some really good moisture, what with all the fires my beautiful state has seen already this Summer. You may or may not have heard about the big Black Forest fire that burned more than 500 homes and claimed 2 lives, as well as those of countless animals. It was absolutely devastating after the city experienced the Waldo Canyon fire last Summer which destroyed more than 400 homes. At the same time as the Black Forest fire, several others were burning across the state, including one at the Royal Gorge. Then just before they could get the Black Forest fire contained, A fire started down near my home, which has spread and now branched off into two more fires. It breaks my heart to see my beautiful home state burning, and I know several other states are being hit hard, as Canadians are being flooded. It's just a sad, sad Summer around the continent! In any case, here in Colorado, the rain is much appreciated. 

I want to take a moment, though and offer so much appreciation to the first responders in all of these tragic incidents! This morning I woke up to find the news that 19 firefighters were killed in Arizona as they fought a blaze that caught up. This crew of individuals was the first in to try and gain some kind of containment. Let us all offer up gratitude to these heroes for their valiant efforts; and let's all send up thoughts, prayers, what have you for each of their families in the wake of this tragedy. 

Now, I'm sorry to switch the topic so suddenly, but I want to talk to you all about our adventures in solid foods with Baby C! I am so excited about it and I want to share with you this trending new method and the benefits behind it, as well as some research as to why it could be a good idea for you. Now, please note that I understand that this could be a bit controversial as parents will be defensive of their choices in raising their children. Understand that I am not saying that you are wrong if you choose to use a different method, I am just sharing what has worked for our family, because I am excited about it! Also understand that I am not an expert, but rather just another mom who probably reads too much and researches everything before coming to a final decision about making any changes in baby's life. ;) So if you'll humor me tonight, I hope you'll come away with some good ideas for your own family! 

The method that we are using to introduce solids to Baby C is called Baby-led Weaning, or BLW. Now I recently learned that the US is one of the only countries to use the word "wean" to mean "to take away". In this case, it simply refers to "an introduction". It is advised that you wait until 6 months of age to begin BLW or introducing solids (other than cereal) because baby has a porous gut. This can cause baby some great difficulty in digesting new foods and can cause severe constipation, espeically if baby has been exclusively breast fed. Formula fed babies may experience constipation at a much younger age, because of the un-changing fat content and heaviness of formula, as opposed to that of breast milk. The BLW approach actually skips cereal all together. It is thought that the introducion of cereal isn't sincerely necessary for baby. And the tradition of adding it to baby's bottle in hopes that he/she will sleep longer is now actually advised against by some doctors, including my own. It is thought that the benefit of longer sleep as a result of adding cereal to the bottle or diet, is actually mere coincidence. 

(Following excerpt from

This idea has only been solidified for me with Baby C. Since he has started solids, you would imagine that he would sleep longer, if the "cereal in the bottle" trick were to hold true. However, it doesnt matter what I do... I could nurse C right before bed and directly after having solids at dinner time... he still wakes up for his feedings. By the time I have reached my "wits end" (which I imagine is the time that parents want to add cereal to the  bottle), C surprises me with a night of almost uninterrupted sleep. And that's because this is just his next new pattern. He is constantly growing and changing, so I must adapt. Cereal is also said to be a lot of heavy and empty calories. So, on top of throwing off baby's "I'm full" instinct, this said to me that he would be getting empty carbs and calories, as opposed to the full, healthy nutrients in my breast milk. 
*Again... this is what we decided was right for us based on the information we read and received from our doctor. 

Now, if you are interested in trying BLW, it is again advised that you wait until baby is at least 6 months of age. However, this is not only because of a porous gut. 

"They should be able to sit up unassisted, have lost the tongue thrust reflex and should be able to grasp and hold onto foods."

If baby is not able to sit up or grasp and hold onto foods, the whole point of BLW will be ruined in a sense. This is because with BLW, you will not be spoon-feeding your baby. I did start out offering mashed bananas to my son with a spoon before I was turned on to BLW and did my fill of research on the topic. But the whole time, Baby C wanted to do it himself! So with BLW, you allow your baby to finger feed himself. Sure enough, I can leave Baby C with some cut up pieces of peaches, carrots - whatever it may be - on his tray in his high chair and he will experiment. He will practice that raking motion of trying to grab things and he'll even have success using just his thumb and forefinger to grab some chunks - all as he should be at his age. I do tend to start him off by sticking a chunk or two in  his mouth, while signing for him that it's time to "eat". And I'll also walk by and encourage him and ask him if he would like "more" (while signing "more"). He responds well and is now able to land fistfulls in his mouth more often than not. I'm sure that as some of you are reading, you're surprised that I would just leave Baby C to "fend for himself". I assure you, I am not so naive as to not be worried that he could choke. But I set us both up for success. I cut his foods into teeny tiny little chunks and make sure that they are very soft and easily "gummable". For things like apples, carrots and potatoes, they are peeled and boiled before being cut, cooled and served to my little man. My own softness rule of thumb is that the food chunk should be easily smushed by me pressing down my forefinger with little force. Still, even if all of the chunks don't end up being this soft, I make sure that they are small enough that if C couldn't "gum" it up or get at it with his new tooth (note how proud I am of his new tooth! hehe!), he could safely swallow it whole if need be. 

BLW is all about baby experimenting and learning to be independent. It gives him the opportunity to say how much he wants and then we sign together when he is "all done". 

Another important piece of introducing table foods, is the three day rule. It is advised that you wait three days in between introducing a new food, just to be sure that there is not a food allergy. This is most important if there is a family history of any kind of food allergies. Not all families may need to be super strict with this rule, and that's completely fine. Again, every family is different. Just as you may not choose to practice BLW, I will not practice BLW like the next family. We will all do things differently, as we see fit for our own children. I'm not right for doing it one way, and you're not wrong for doing it another. 

Now, just as there is a guideline/rule about waiting 3 days in between introducing new foods, there are several opinions for what ages are appropriate to introduce foods of each food group. Because most suggestions are terribly similar with a few very slight differences, we have employed the following chart to use with Baby C. 

If you gave that a quick gander, you might have noticed that there were foods listed that are advised for ages 4-6 months. "But, Ashley, you said you're supposed to wait until 6 months at least!" Well, that's right. However, it is advised that if you are introducing solids much earlier than 6 months, that you home-make pureesd for baby. 

Now, I must interject here for a second, because I think this is something important to understand: You know your baby best. When Baby C hit 3 months, I began to panic. "Gasp! When should I start him on solids!? He doesn't seem ready! Do I have to!?" No... I didn't have to. And I learned from talking with a lot of other "crunchy" moms, as well as our family doctor, that C would tell me when he was ready. And he really did! I could tell the difference between him grabbing at something to put in his mouth, because he was being oral, and him wanting to put something in his mouth, because he was ready to actually consume it and experiment and taste it and do what mommy and daddy were doing. Bottom line: trust your mommy and daddy instincts! And when you feel uncertain, consult your family doctor or pediatrician. That's what they are there for! 

Well... that's all I have for you tonight, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening and that you  have a spectacular Tuesday! 

For more information on Baby Led Weaning, visit:

Zebra love and hugs for now! 

Ashley :)

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