Friday, June 17, 2011

Why baby-led weaning wasn't (entirely) for me...

So here's one of the posts that I told (warned) everyone about. Call it a test of sorts. This post contains my opinions only. Not an argument for or against any particular parenting choice (or also religion in this case... yeah, I went there). I'm not inviting, nor do I care to hear any negative or drama causing comments. If you are offended by this or any post or feel your opinions are superior to mine, feel free to contact me directly about it. I don't care to hash things out publicly over the internet. So far I have faith that most of my followers are supportive and open minded people, I hope that I am right.

Ok... now that that is out of the way, let's get on with it. Happy thoughts everyone!

I don't subscribe entirely to any one style of parenting, much like I can't commit to any particular religion. I tend to pick the bits I like and agree with the most from each and leave the rest... It's not that I don't believe or identify with any of them (religion or parenting style).
As a matter of fact in my pursuit of self education in both I've come across things that are insightful and exciting... I've been inspired!
I think:
Wow, this makes so much sense!
I get it, I GET it, I get it!!! Yes!!
and then...
That is too much.
Aaaaaand, I'm done.
I feel parenting styles, like religions, all share these amazing ideas and then there this one or two things specific to each that are totally overboard. Again, in my opinion.
Take Catholicism... love everyone (good), do unto others as you would have done unto you (good), our church is the only church (Wait...) original sin i.e. spend your life repenting for what happened before you existed (What??)
Buddhism... love everyone (good), do unto others as you would have done unto you (good), renounce conventional living and all earthy pleasures and possessions (Wait...) meditate until you become god (What??)

I'm sure you can already see where this is going... you may even have parenting philosophies in mind where you've said the same thing. I'm not going to talk about them now, though I probably will eventually.

What I'm talking about right now is Baby Led Weaning. This is one of those instances where at first I was like, whoa... what a great idea! Then I started to really think about it and it didn't entirely sit well with me. In terms of Aura and I specifically. I totally agree with developing hand-eye coordination and chewing and also exploring through touch, taste and smell. I liked the idea of baby being able to explore food at their own pace. But instinctively (there's that all important word again) I knew that there were a few things that wouldn't mesh for us. So, like most things so far, we're almost on board... but there are a few modifications to make it work for us.
First of all, on the pro side, Aurora doesn't eat store bought baby food. There were one or two instances at first when she did and the results made me even more determined that it won't happen again. As a matter of fact, I am so against commercial (particularly jarred) baby food that it may be the one and only parenting choice I'd actually be willing to debate. Bake a sweet potato, mash it and put it in a bowl next to a jar of sweet potato baby food, now pick which one you want to eat... end of debate. But see, even here I'm willing to give a little (and I mean a real little) WIC currently will only provide jarred baby food for babies 6 months to a year and stops giving fruit and veggie checks. I personally donate the food to a food kitchen because I don't want it and I have access to farmer's markets and inexpensive local food sources and time to make my own. Do I expect everyone to have that luxury... honestly, no, of course not. But I do frown upon WIC for not giving moms the option. Yet another story for another time. I digress.
I don't buy commercial food for Aura but I do feed her purees. The main reason being, quite simply that I believe babies should be exposed to as many different foods as possible (within reason of course) early in life.  Food is a very big part of my life. I've worked in restaurants and I cook almost every day. I love trying new foods and recipes. I want my daughter to feel the same and to develop a healthy relationship with food. Purees are the best and easiest ways for her to experience new flavors and tastes. I have introduced her to finger foods already but there is a limit to how many things Aurora can feed herself. At the moment she can just about handle those Happy Baby cereal puffs and she's had bits of banana, cut up cooked carrots and avocado.
Aura LOVES avocados!

However, she's already eaten about twenty different types of pureed food so far (and she loves oatmeal!) which I feed her with a spoon. Her purees are much thicker than the stuff they sell for babies her age, but she does not mind at all. She 'chews' them up just fine. But like I said, I do feed her myself along with giving her finger foods. For one, it's less messy and she seems much more satisfied at the end of a feeding. For two, I think it will help her develop a better idea that mealtimes are for eating not playing and last but not least, this way I don't need to cook
Green Beans!
everything to death so that it's soft enough for her to pick up and eat but not choke on. Not to mention the fact that she's more content trying (and often failing) to get those pesky nibbles in her mouth if she has something to actually eat while she's trying.
If you think she'd be better off only feeding herself... well, tell her that when she's frustrated and kicking her feet and banging her hands because she wants the food in her mouth NOW. She's a hungry girl and she likes eating. I'm more than willing to help, even if it means I'm doing it 'wrong'.
One of my 'issues' with full on BLW is that I feel there's this aspect of 'Here kid, if you want to eat you have to figure out how to do it all by yourself.' As a mother I feel it's my job to feed her first and foremost. I completely agree that it is helpful to start early with self feeding so that she'll be able to do these things on her own soon. I just don't feel that six months is the time to start cutting them loose and backing away. Also, I want her to stay excited about food and really want to eat solids, not just play and explore and get them in her mouth occasionally until she figures it out. Again, just my opinion... 
I had originally started whole tirade just to introduce a new section which I originally posted on the blog for my local baby food biz called What Aurora's been eating! I think I'm going to start posting it on this blog instead and linking back in reverse. The other blog is being pretty neglected lately and I feel like it's a better fit here anyway. Apparently I got carried away.
And, on that note, I think this has gone on long enough... sometimes I go off on tangents. I apologize.
Sleepy delirium is kicking in. Good night all.
Positive comments only please.
Thanks! <3


Not Your Ordinary Agent said...

I don't know if I thought about it as much as you, but I definitely agree. Both of my kids ate my food and little to no "jarred". I didn't want to fill them with chemicals. We were fed "organics" when we were little, they just weren't called "organic". Everything WAS organic. I think children today deserve preservative-free. This does not mean that they have never eaten preservatives. Geesh, I could go on and on about this, but I'll spare you my wordiness. Love your blog and your committment to your beautiful daughter!!!!

MsAngelStarr said...

Thanks so much. Just started following you! I would gladly have this conversation any day of the week! It makes me sad that the most available and convenient foods are the unhealthiest. Even worse that people have accepted it as normal and most are content to never look for anything better...

Sarah @ said...

I just wanted to chime in and say that not only do I think you're doing the perfect thing for your daughter by deciding what does and does not feel right to're also approaching baby lead weaning just as I did.

My big problem with baby-lead weaning was monkeys. Seriously. I checked out books about how monkeys and apes eat when my daughter started eating solid foods because I wanted to know what the most natural means of introducing foods would be. It surprised me how many primates chewed their food first - and let the babies pick the food out of their teeth to eat. I'm not about to do that (or at least not much of it, although I did chew up a few crackers for her early on), and it had nothing to do with sugar conversion of bacteria in my own mouth (after all, her saliva would act the same and we do kiss and sometimes she coughs or sneezes in my mouth by accident so the bacteria is still exchanged to a lesser amount) - I just didn't like all the extra chewing. But I figured, you know, doing that is like a primitive form of a puree, right? I mean, the primate babies were also being introduced to full solids simultaneously, but human babies are born with more undeveloped brains and motor skills.

Anyway, so yay you was my point, the rest is just frivolous nothingness lol =)

MsAngelStarr said...

Thanks and I'm with you on the whole monkey thing! It always makes me laugh when I see the 'what did we do before blenders' argument. Well, we're humans and what sets us apart from most mammals is our ability to use and develop tools! Food mills have been around for centuries, before that (and in countries that don't use appliances) there are always rocks. Cavemen smashed food with rocks so I think modern mamas using blenders isn't that crazy. Before rock smashing we probably did the chew and spit routine just like birds and monkeys, but I have a food processor and I'm not afraid to use it! After all, we learned to use fire and build stoves but I don't hear these advocates saying not to cook babies food... not sure how the line was drawn at purees?

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