My Two Cents Truthful Comment (2 of 2): Baby-Led-Weaning (BLW)

My intended comment turned into a post again. Coincidence? Perhaps not!

This is a response to Jenmum’s post BLW Wobble. There she says she’s practicing BLW but it’s been tricky both time- and food-wise, and it’s all feeling somewhat inconvenient. She asked other BLW parents for some insight and wonders  “…is it common to feel a bit of a lull and a bit overwhelmed?”

The short answer is yes, I’m sure that it is a common feeling, I’ve felt it and it only makes sense to. Humans are social beings who are generally thought to thrive in social and supportive environments. There isn’t much support for BLW and it is not commonly found among your close family members or even circle of friends. They may not necessarily be nay-saying it, but they aren’t the like-minded, story sharing parents that would be truly welcomed.

That said, for those of you who don’t know what baby-led-weaning really is, or if you have interests, questions, or concerns about it, you can read a great article here by Gill Rapley (Deputy Programme Director of Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative) that discusses the basic guidelines for BLW and addresses the FAQ on the topic. A useful resource is babyledweaning.com.

My long answer to the not uncommon (or so I believe) dilemma is:

It can get quite messy, (I love these child aprons , perfect size to cover whole baby) and it might force you to reconsider your diet. But that’s a benefit!

If you yourself eat what you think is good for baby (and not just opt for the empty carbs as is temptingly quick and simple to do) you’ll probably feel better all around, have more energy and be connected to babe on another level: an ‘eating inuitively’ level. This is where you just know what you need to ingest based on what you’ve already had. Though baby’s needs are a little different from yours, they will be met in a more natural, whole life living way, based on a sound theory and less in a guess work kind of way.

So eating mindfully, and together, you connect to your own and baby’s body, and both of you will have a more complete diet (nutritionally and spiritually).

If it feels like too much to do all the meals together with baby doing BLW, do what you can enjoyably. I think it’s really important that we don’t give off the negative feelings to our baby that are so often associated with eating now-a-days. It’s also important that they aren’t felt rushed or pushed to eat certain foods, and especially not how much to eat.

Baby’s know what they want better than we do (compared to what we know of ourselves and to what we know of them in general). If they only eat certain amounts of specific foods and at particular times of day, so be it. It’s a wiser option to let them choose their diet than to create one that they may not enjoy.

I know you were mostly joking when you said your son would “eat only plums I’m sure if he had the chance”, but you know what? My daughter, Illuminating Sage, also adores fruit, well she gobbles up almost everything she has access to, but fruits are a favourite. Oh well! Fruits are easily digested, they are naturally sweet, which baby’s love, and they provide a lot of energy, which is especially beneficial to those littlest humans in our lives because they are always on the go.

I say if he wants to eat fruit, let him! It’s okay to go through favourite food phases, better that than prepared or rather pureed foods or the like, even if they are prepared by you, because don’t forget one of the awesome reasons we BLW, so baby can appreciate and learn the whole experience that is eating.

By using his 5 senses to take in whole foods, which is sensually pleasureful and a huge part of the eating experience, he can have that fulfilling sense and be sensibly full. Having options in front of him (shape, colour, texture, and scent wise)  he’s going to learn how he wants to eat, and thus enjoy nourishing himself all the more so that he is actually doing that, nourishing, not just shoveling stuff into his mouth. By choosing whether or not a food is something he wants right now, deciding how to chew it up, enjoying (or not) the different textures and tastes (which are often non-existent or bland in purees) and knowing how much he wants to eat, per bite and per meal, he is truly experiencing the eating process.

Truthfully it’s a lot easier when baby is allowed to be part of every meal, picking and eating (or playing with) what they choose to. (Some people choose certain meals to include baby in and part time BLW for any number of reasons.)

It is tempting to disinclude baby from our meals as a BLWer for many reasons. Some being convenience to eat what you want and not having to clean up messes (though you get messy with purees, it’s just a different extent and style). It is actually more expensive and time consuming, as well as emotionally consuming, to feed a baby prepared purees (feeding them, getting them to eat some of everything, or some of something when they may not want it, all while they are probably not tasting very much). But if what we want is for them to become natural, healthy & intuitive eaters then the best approach to take is the same as it is in all aspects of life learning, to learn by example, by watching and doing.

This is also why it’s important that we try to influence them as little as possible. Baby’s are soaking up everything around them 24/7, and a lot of it seems passive to us, though really it’s the way they learn behaviours. They always get something out of our actions. But especially when we’re trying to force something on them (like what to eat for example) do they do the most ‘interpretive learning’. Meaning they get something out of it that we may not intend for them to. Let’s say he is either full or hasn’t had enough and we start cleaning up or take it away from him (maybe we’re in a hurry), he might very well internalize something like “I want/don’t want more food, mama is making me do the opposite, since mama is my all knowing guide, god even, I must be wrong & unworthy to determine what is good for me and my body.” These actions are telling baby something that we might not mean, but will inevitably convey if we don’t really consider what we are asking of the little being. Something like this can lead to poor nutrition choices in older children continuing into adulthood. If we can’t trust ourselves to know what our body needs, then we will see the detrimental effect our whole lives, in many aspects, not just food wise.

We personally try hard not to influence Illuminating Sage while we eat, and in every aspect of her life, but I’ll list what we do and don’t do as general guidelines when we eat (because that’s what I’m writing about now):

DO

Cook with baby, inolve her somehow in the preparation, have her nearby playing with kitchen stuff if she’s interested (and she usually is) when not in a carrier.

While eating, have her on our laps so she can experience the motions (the 3 of us often eat together so she can also watch what the other does). This also enables her to eat off of our plates so she is learning about sharing (and she does share her food, she has been offering us bites alternately with herself since she was 8 months or so). It also shows her that she is getting the same food as us and she feels included (I know because if one of us has food she will express interest, and because we allow her the option of trying it, she decides whether or not she’d like some, and this depends on what she’s up to at the moment). We waste less! Also, she is content being held, and not in the least because she knows that she can go down and play on her own at anytime (there is not as much immediate freedom in a high chair).

Have extra utensils on hand for her to experiment or play with.

Be prepared to breastfeed at anytime before, during, or after a meal. This may mean a quick clean up too if it’s been a messy meal, or if she wants it now I just take off my clothes (or embrace the messy breastfeeding babe if my company doesn’t permit nudity : ))

Lower your cleanliness standards at least until you know that baby is done with her meal, unless you can do it slowly and kindly all the while staying present to baby’s eating and other needs (I’v yet to master this without feeling like I’m influencing her to hurry or finish etc.)

Allow her to eat as much or as little of any of the foods present as she desires.

Seek friendly support or advice if it feels right or you want the connection.

DON’T

Try to force or even express extra interest, before she does, in certain foods. When she does like certain foods more, or laughs or smiles at the taste of something, be present to her feelings and enjoy that with her. But this doesn’t mean try and present this food to her in the same meal again and again so she’ll eat ‘more’ or ‘enough’, nor does it mean you should expect the same reaction every time she tries it, or stop offering her other foods in that nutritional category because you’ve found one she likes. The same goes for foods she seems to dislike. (Though I wouldn’t pretend to dislike something just because she does, like by saying “yuckgh!”)

Rush or hurry.

Feed her as a general rule. Unless it’s a game that she’s initiated or something playful like that, or if you’re sharing a handheld fruit and she wants a bite etc…use your judgment.

Worry if she seems to be ‘regressing’, for lack of a better term. If she goes back to breastfeeding more or exclusively for a while and slows or stops eating her solids, know that it is temporary, just like breastfeeding itself is, and she won’t rely on this forever.

Force her or show disappointment at her lack of utensil dexterity, or lack of interest in using them at all. Same goes for the use of her hands for that matter (for the first few weeks Illuminating Sage only slurped or chewed off the plate or out of the bowl). In fact try not to show much enthusiasm for these things either (punished by rewards), just go with the emotional flow, she’ll be genuine and you can share in her feelings.

Offer foods you are uncomfortable with her trying. Reasons may vary, ours go from size of the food chunks, to whether or not there is sugar in it, to the organicness of it, many of the same rules we follow for ourselves. We luckily (and strategically, based on our diet and lifestyles) have no allergies to worry about so far.

Let it stop you if you’re out of your home. Just be prepared with whatever tools you think you might need, and let the restaurant, family member, or friend know what your up to if you feel more comfortable doing so.

Let others stop you from doing what you think is best!

Expectations Leave Us Wanting

         How did I re-discover that researchedly passionate person in myself only a short time after the ‘essential’ formative school years were through with me? It has a lot to do with my strong willed,  down to Earth, and out right honest-or as my mom would call me tactless and stubborn- character. Though she’s not not completely wrong in her choice of words, it’s part of a common misinterpretation that parents make of their children when they choose to ignore what’s right in front of them, the true reasons why children and especially teens “act out” or “rebel”. They’re lives are predetermined, overscheduled (that’s what happens when schedules are involved at any point), they’re restricted, repressed, confined, pushed to compete, passed off to to the television, and not at all the least, punished by rewards. Our parents, if we were the “luckier” kids in comparison (well truthfully it all depends on what your sprit is really here for)  could sing us praise and push us with determination to succeed at anything, and usually something in particular, whatever succeed even means.

Our goals are always changing, more commonly increasing in size than anything else, and nothing is ever enough.  So be it. Many  of us have noticed this, but most of us ignore it, forget it, think it doesn’t apply to us, or some combination of the three. Forcing what we call goals on someone else, especially a young someone who you care so much for is exactly the way to get the results you don’t want, if, and I amassuming here, you are one of those parents or potential parents (even partner, friend, son or daughter, anyone in a relationship applies here to an extent, though it is much more obvious and with greater impact from a parent to a child) who wants some fundamental attributes to make up the other person, attributes like, caring and compassionate with others and herself, being thoughtful and aware, and being healthy and happy.  If you are someone who wants these things of and for your child, by pushing anything on her, even presenting things to a certain degree, does just that, it internalizes in her and then manifests as a ‘wanting’, as a  child who has been pushed and presented to rather than a child who ‘IS’, a child who remembered her true self willingly and lovingly and who chooses for herself, and more often than not looks within herself to do so. Wanting something in particular for her other than to love and be loved is unrealistic, and hindersome.  

           The words my mother uses to describe me, tactless and stubborn, they somewhat applied at one point in my life, and since that was during  the vast majority of the time in our lives when we lived in the same house, and thus spent the most time seeing eachothers’ characters, I accept that she still mostly sees me that way, and I choose not to let it affect me too much, or our relationship. It’s a result of the dramatic outlash that sometimes comes with a rebellious teenhood, and affects and reflects her as much as me. This is not placing fault on anyone. Our culture and society as a whole have been building for thousands of years, and for one family to over come it would truly be something. No, what I wish to convey here, is the authoritative attitude and lack of responsability we all take when it comes to our children especially. My mother would not likely today be describing me with such words if things had been different, and probably more importantly, they would not even have come close to applying to me. When I say that those words ‘somewhat’ applied to me, I mean that they did, but only because I was confined, and made to feel ‘un safe’ emotionally to be who I really am, I didn’t even know who that was,  but we saw glimpses, through the anger I took on because I was not allowed freedom in the greatest sense of the word, we saw a stubborn and tactless girl, when we could have experienced her as a brave and honest being. When we are truthful and strong to the core of our being, like I now know myself to be, but are formed (attempted rather) to be other things like appropriate or athletic or atheist to name a few, it makes it unneceassarily difficult to remember who you really are, and the suffering takes over. What the truth of the matter is, is that my being, our beings, our childrens beings are repressed, forgotten, and looked upon in haste and in trepid if at all.
           
          As we are all one, a collective consciousness, it doesn’t serve us the way our lives could to care for children and fellow beings this way. If we act out of love and as pure parents, pure beings, rather than acting through our expectations of each other and of ourselves , we wouldn’t be coming to the point of rebellion, of labelling each other as such and such a type of person, we would just be.  If we just be with our selves, with our children, with eachother, then we can be close to being one, we can focus on truth and love, on just being, peaceful and pure.

Beautiful Books: A Bilbliography To Believe In

This is a list of books that have truly influenced our lives. There are links on the Loving Links page that have much to do with these books, and are sometimes based on them or are the author(s)’ site.
Descriptions, authors(s)’ names/book titles, and reviews will soon be posted.

Almost anything by: John Holt, Osho, Eckhart Tolle, Ina May Gaskin, Don Miguel Ruiz, Deepak Chopra

Books (also in no particular order):

The Continuum Concept

TCC2

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No Contest
Unconditional Parenting
Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue
Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television
The Plug-In Drug
Lotus Birth
Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene
Adventures in Tandem Nursing
Raising Our Children Raising Ourselves
The Self Respecting Child
Life Learning: Lessons From the Educational Frontier