Disclaimer - I only know that this method is working for my own child and I do not want this post to come across as advice giving because it isn't. I used to hate people rubbing advice in my face when JC wasn't sleeping. I believe that luck has more to do with it than any parenting approach but this is just my opinion. I happen to have been lucky with weaning so far and it's going really well. That's not to say that Grumpinator won't change all the rules on me tomorrow but for today, I am pleased that everything is going well.
How it all started
Grumpinator was a colicky baby. Some people call it 'spirited' others refer to it as 'touchy'. He had bad reflux as well which made feeding him a nightmare sometimes. When he reached 4 months I was starting to look and feel like the walking dead. Lack of sleep was taking its toll and he had started to wake up for a breastfeed every hour again through the night. Enough was Enough. The doctor advised me to start giving him baby rice at 4.5 months. Ohhh *sharp intake of breath and brace myself for the negative critcism*. Yes, I know all the reasons we should have waited until he was 6 months but please, spare me them because after a difficult mental battle, I decided to follow my instinct and do what felt right for me and my child. So for the first month we started him on purées of fruit, veg and baby rice. I felt like a total failure because I had big ideas about waiting until 6 months and following Gill Rapley's Baby Led Weaning approach - basically skipping puréed food altogether and starting on 'solid' food and allowing self feeding from the start. JC liked fruit and rice but hated veg purées and it was always a battle. It didn't make him sleep much better, he went from being up every hour to every 3.5 hours.
5.5 - 6.5 months (now)
When JC started sitting up by himself we decided to ditch the puréed food and start again with finger foods. It is the best decision that we have made. He loves his food. I started this blog to document his eating journey and I am so pleased at how far he has come so quickly.
We started off with loaded spoons of soup, mashed veg, yoghurts and then progressed to finger dippers (toast, rice cakes, oatcakes, bread rolls, pitta) with various dips like hummus, peanut butter, fish pate. He is now on three meals a day. Typically he will have Weetabix or porridge for breakie with some fruit. For lunch he'll have soup or dippers with some fruit and a yoghurt. For dinner he just eats what we are having. I just make sure I cook it without salt and cut things into shapes that he can easily pick up. We depend a lot less on spoons these days as his motor skills are much better and he can pick food up with his hands.
Here is a video of him eating dinner tonight. We had Chicken Stir Fry and Noodles.He has started really studying his food before he eats it. He just loved every bit of it!
He enjoys his food more when he is in control
He can join in family meals with no stress
I don't have to prepare special food for him, I just need to think more careful about what we all eat
It encourages his motor skills and every meal time is a learning experience - which makes him tired so that he will sleep 7pm - 3am, 3am - 7am.
It teaches him social and language skills as he is part of the action at meal times
Mess - with a capital M! It is so incredibly messy that I usually strip him down to his babygro at meal times.
Time - It takes him longer to eat his meal himself than if I was spoon feeding him so I need to be more organised
I am looking forward to him developing his motor skills further. In the next few months he will develop his pincer grip and be able to pick up small pieces of food like peas, sweetcorn and grapes. This will open up a wider variety of food for him. I need to keep refreshing and changing my recipes so that he gets a varied diet and doesn't get bored. I am feeling positive about his eating just now and just hope that it continues as he gets older. He has just started drinking out of an open cup which is a whole new messy experience and another post.