One of the keys to BLW is that you actually start later. There is not really a nutritional need for food other than breastmilk/formula prior to 6-7 months. There is a historical/cultural reason that purees are usually started at 4 months, but there is not a nutritional need. (FYI, for those of you following my experiment in induced lactation, that ended shortly after going back to work full-time and we are full-time bottles now). So, when people (i.e., my mother and MIL) kept pushing us to give him rice cereal as soon as he turned 4 months, I held my ground. Truth be told, I felt a little superior to all those less-informed mamas who were stuck feeding their kid rice cereal and store-bought purees. I mean, what kind of mother does that? When Seven hit 5 months, I started offering him finger-sized foods. He was not interested in them in the least. They sat, on his tray, untouched. Of course, he was also in the stage where just about anything would go straight into his mouth. But if it was actual food, he wanted it nowhere near his mouth.
|What is this foreign substance you are trying to give me?|
Then one day I offered him broccoli. And he liked it. He really liked it! It did take him a while for him to pick it up, clearly thinking this was just another of my foolish attempts to get him to eat. But once he allowed it near his mouth, he sucked just about every nutrient off that stalk. We rejoiced! I resolved to cook nothing but stir-fry all week so he could eat all the broccoli he wanted! (poor E wanted a little bit of diversity in our meals...)
|This seems like food to me.|
But during this time, Seven caught some illness. He only had a fever for one day, but the, umm, digestive problems continued. And then they still continued. So I had to call the doctor for advice. What did she say? You guessed it, give him rice cereal. So there I was, mixing up the rice cereal that I was never going to give him. And when he refused to open his mouth, I didn't blame him. I considered it more like medicine anyway. I tried to show him how I ate it and liked it, but honestly, I thought it was pretty disgusting. No wonder he didn't want it! But we pressed on, following the doctor's orders.
We tried every trick in the book to get him to open his mouth for the cereal. But there was no plane, train, nor automobile that would work. Actually, it made me kinda proud to realize how smart he was. When he did something so funny he had to laugh, he quickly put his hands in front of his face as a defensive mechanism against the spoon. He learned to turn his head and smile to get out of the line of the food.
As his digestive problem seemed to have resolved itself, I thought it was time to go back to our BLW approach. So I brought out the broccoli and now added some whole carrots to the mix. Except some tiny thing happened during this interlude with cereal. He got a tooth. (This deserves a whole celebratory post on its own, but he has a tooth!) And now when I gave him the carrot (which he loved), he started breaking off pieces of it. Pieces that put this mama into major freak-out mode. I swear my heart is still in South America as it dropped to see him coughing up this chunk of carrot. And he bit off some pretty big pieces of broccoli now, too, not just sucking the stalk.
So I had to admit that I was not ready for full BLW. I knew I couldn't go back to that until I had some assurance that he has figured out the whole swallowing thing. I sighed and put away the whole foods. But still, all was not lost. I didn't have to resort to that tacky store-bought stuff. No jarred food for my pure baby. He liked the taste of carrot, so I'll just puree my own. No big deal. Yeah, actually it is quite a big deal. No matter now much I pureed those carrots, they never got to a consistency that would stay down in his stomach.
At this point, I was feeling pretty low in my mama-abilities. I couldn't figure out how to feed my son! BLW approach led to him choking. Even my own purees were not working. And he refused even rice cereal, which was a doctor's orders. So feeling pretty low, I purchased a few jars of baby food. I pretty much felt like I was giving up everything I believed in, but was desperate to feel like I could start the transition to real food. And you know what? He loved it. OK, maybe love is a bit extreme. But when I opened up that jar of store-bought pureed carrots, he opened his mouth and then swallowed. And it stayed down! I didn't have to trick him into opening his mouth. He didn't spit it back out as soon as I did manage to get a spoonful in. He ate it and then smiled.
So lesson learned. Don't judge decisions that other mamas are making. If it works for 90% of babies, it will probably be just fine for mine. And do what works for your family.