Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Week 3 - Chewing and eating (maybe)

We've been up and down with the eating over the last week, Jacob seems to have had a mild case of chickenpox (I say mild, as the spots are few and far between and the jury is out as to whether they're just baby pimples) and that combined with the teething has meant that he's been very fussy and not overly keen on being strapped into a highchair.

Having said that, he is very enthusiastic when he's in the mood, happily chewing or sucking on larger pieces of food, and at least liberally smearing his face when given a loaded spoon, if not actually eating it. He seems to have stopped gagging so much (our pantomimes of chewing have got better and now stop him mid-gag so he can have a good giggle at our idiocy) and we've seen evidence of Things passing through him (nobody ever told me parenthood = getting excited about the contents of dirty nappies).

I wrote the following list of foods he's tried down for a friend, so thought I'd post it here as I was quite impressed when confronted with the whole thing:

Banana (easy and yummy)
Cucumber (easy and good for teething)
Peach (stabbed a bit onto a baby fork and he had no trouble)
Mini shredded wheat (dry or soaked in formula)
Cherry tomato
Grated carrot
Mashed potato
Mango, Melon and Pineapple (supermarkets often sell these presliced for £1 for lots of slices, almost as cheap as buying the whole fruit, easier and less waste and effort! Perfect for holding).
Toast (spread with unsalted butter, or cream cheese, or puree [free samples of, I hasten to add])
Red pepper (raw, sliced)
Rice cake (plain or with butter or with cream cheese)
Crumpet (with butter or puree)
Lasagne (Jacob just stripped each layer off and sucked it, he completely demolished it)
Easy-peasy breakfast biscuits (see recipe on
the BLW forum, use more flour as they're sticky. I made loads and froze them, they're brilliant for breakfast if you can't think of anything else).
Pitta bread (with houmous)
Plain yoghurt (or with puree mixed in)
Porridge (or porridge pancakes, see BLW forum for recipe)
Roast butternut squash/sweet potato
Broccoli (steamed)
Apple fried in cinnamon
Soup (with bread to mop up).
Drop scones (i've made banana or blackberry)

Mostly, we're having lots of fun with trying things. He's dropped his milk intake quite dramatically, but I think this is more to do with the discomfort from his teeth, combined with the chickenpox, and an increased interest in what's going on around him which is distracting him from his food.


Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Week 2 - lots of new tastes

We're well into our second week of BLW now, and at times finding it a bit hard to make time for meals, but have still managed to offer food at least once a day.

Towards the end of last week Jacob's milk intake dropped by about a third, and he was tired and coughing a lot. We thought it unlikely that he was dropping his milk naturally due to the introduction of solids, since the only thing that seems to have gone down is juice sucked off various fruits.

A possible reason came to light yesterday, when I had a text from a friend to say that her baby (with whom Jacob was in close contact 10 days ago) has chickenpox. Sure enough, Jacob has a few spots scattered around, and so we're just waiting to see if they develop further.

On Saturday (before pox suspicions were raised) we went out for the day to Barry Island with friends. Jacob enjoyed the beach, having his first dip in the sea and his first go in a ball pit at the soft play centre. As is practically expected of you at the beach, we had fish 'n chips for lunch. We know that whilst the very idea of BLW means letting your baby share your meals; little kidneys can't cope with very much salt so I don't think we'll be making chips a regular part of Jacob's diet. I did let him have a go on a few (unsalted) ones which had been left to cool by the side of my plate. He wasn't very keen though, and was far more intent on launching himself headfirst out of his Daddy's arms onto the floor. He was caught at the very last second, but it scared the life out of all of us, so we decided to leave the food for the day.

Since then, he's had a go on a rice cake with cream cheese, which he smeared liberally all over his face but wasn't too bothered about eating. Yesterday he had crumpets with butter (I read the packet afterwards and saw that crumpets have a shocking 0.5g of salt EACH, that's half his RDA) and some strawberries. He loved the strawberries, and we saw the first evidence this morning that they'd gone through his system ;)

Today we bravely offered his first 'proper' meal, of veggie spinach and ricotta lasagne with salad. Putting it on his tray, I was all poised to start cutting it up and offering it to him on loaded spoons, when he showed me how silly I was being by easily peeling off the top layer and shoving it in his mouth.

It was by far our most successful meal to date, we sat for nearly an hour while he chewed every last piece, making encouraging chewing faces/noises every time he started to gag. He hunted around on the floor and in his lap (and in his hair, and in the folds of his bib) for any bits he'd missed (or spat out) and had a second go on them all.

There was significantly less food when he'd 'finished', so we'll have to wait and see whether or not anything goes through.

I never thought I'd be this interested in or eagerly anticipating the contents of a nappy.


Friday, 11 September 2009

Day 6 - Rice cake

Today was a bit of a fail - Jacob was up all night and we were exhausted as a result. His first feed was at a very uncharacteristic 5.30am so our rough daily plan was all over the place. He was very clingy and not keen to be left even for a minute or two all day so I resorted to plonking him in his highchair in the kitchen so he could watch me clear up and wash up.

I gave him a rice cake to nibble on, keeping a close eye as I was worried about him 'inhaling' it as it's so light and fluffy. It was fine though, he enjoyed the taste and had a good chew on the bigger pieces.

Letting him eat on his own like this isn't really the idea of BLW; we're supposed to eat as a family so that Jacob can watch us and see what we're doing, and he can share our food. I'm sure, though, that there are going to a few days where life gets in the way of idyllic family mealtimes. We'll do our best though, especially when he moves on from the fruit/veg stage.

We had aimed to do another meal at some point during the day, but it just wasn't feasible with the state he was in with his gums, so we gave in and put him down for an early night at 6pm.

We're both going to try and catch up on our sleep tonight ready for a day out with friends tomorrow at Barry Island.

Day 5 - More cucumber please

We had toast again for breakfast today, and then sliced red pepper and cucumber for tea.

Jacob's teething is getting worse by the minute, we've tried pretty much everything available on the market to help ease it: Calpol, teething gels, teething powders, cold teethy toys from the fridge, hard teethy toys of all shapes and sizes. After spending a small fortune, I can say with some certainty that the majority of them could be done away with and replaced with cold sliced veg straight from the fridge. Jacob nommed so hard on the pepper that it produced a rather musical squeaky noise, and he managed to chew a whole end of it off (which was spat straight out again). He especially liked the cucumber when it was soft side down, hard side up, so that his sore top gums got the best of the cold hardness.

It would be very easy to just give him cucumber at every meal from now on ;)


Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Day 4 - Toast!

First non-fruit food today, toast for breakfast. Jacob had a good nom on it, and got considerably messier than he has done with anything else so far, which surprised me.

I'm finding we're getting into a bit of a routine with regards to clearing up and keeping clean. In the morning he gets up, comes downstairs in his sleepy suit and has his first bottle straight away, then plays for an hour or two before his nap. After his nap we play for a little while then have breakfast, after which I take him back upstairs for a wipedown and to get dressed.

This makes it a lot easier as I only have to worry about the state of his clothes during lunch (and find it's easier to remove any long-sleeved tops and trousers, and feed him in just vest and bib). If we do a 'tea' meal, it's usually after his afternoon bottle and before his bath/bottle/bed routine, so I can take him straight up and plonk him in the bath.

We didn't do tea today as he was a bit under the weather, and lunch was the same as tea yesterday (mango, melon and pineapple). I was eating a Muller Rice and he was avidly watching me, so I scooped up a bit with his spoon and gave it to him. It went accurately into his mouth but then he absolutely screamed - I don't know what he didn't like about it but he was inconsolable :(

I think we'll stick to the home-prepared foods for a while - no more sugary puds.

Day 3 - Three meals already

We perhaps got a little carried away today and managed to inflict 3 meals on Jacob. He seems to be enjoying it so much though, that we can't see any reason not to.

We want him to try as many different things as possible, without overloading him at each meal, and while we have the luxury of plenty at-home time to do it, we think we might as well make the most of it.

Breakfast was banana with mini-wheats. I heard the mini-wheats crunch as he put them in his mouth, so he's definitely getting some chewing skills, although I'm sure he's still not ingesting anything.

We went out for lunch, just a shopping trip to Tesco's but we went to the cafe and had a panini (Dad), jacket potato with beans (me) and a garden salad to share. Jacob had a good go on the grated carrot, lettuce and cherry tomatoes cut in half. I let a bit of my potato cool and he picked it up but I don't think it went anywhere near his mouth. He really enjoyed sitting in the highchair and made a right old mess, which I quickly cleared up afterwards.

Oh and we had a self-righteous parent moment when we saw a mum letting her baby (not much older than Jacob) drink Coke out of the Coke bottle. The baby was wearing make-up. Poor baby.

We bought lots of different fruit and veg for him to try later, including a pack of large chip-shaped mango, melon and pineapple slices, which was cheaper than buying the separate fruits. He had a slice of each for his tea, and he loved them. He couldn't decide which was his favourite and kept swapping from one to the other, they were all bendy and slippery but he had a good go on them all.


Things I Have Learnt:
  • Take a pack of Milton wipes wherever you go, as highchair trays are not necessarily clean.
  • Long sleeved bibs are a must, the food gets everwhere.
  • Take off (baby's) trousers before you start, as most food ends up in his lap and it's silly going through 4 pairs of trousers a day.

Day 2 - More of the same

It occurred to me that these first few weeks might not hold too much interesting or useful feeding anecdotes. That explains why we're now on Day 4 and I haven't updated anything, so I'm just doing a quick catch up.

We did a similar lunch on Day 2 of cucumber and peaches, as the cucumber was such a big hit. He did really well again, happily munching away on it. Peaches were slippery and therefore a bit more difficult until we pushed them onto a fork and handed it to him.

He fed himself with the fork really well, but cucumber was the definite favourite. He also learned how to eat with expending as little energy as possible, by upturning the cucumber on his highchair tray, then eating it there without using his hands at all!


Monday, 7 September 2009

First meal - Banana and Cucumber

All 3 of us sat down yesterday afternoon for Jacob's first meal. Us grown-ups had beans on toast, and Jacob had some slices of banana and cucumber.

He's been keen to start for several weeks, he can sit with little support, he makes chewing motions while watching us eat and can accurately take objects to his mouth and chew on them.

He had a good look at the banana and cucumber on his play tray, then looked at us. We encouragingly took a piece of banana or cucumber each and munched them in an exaggerated fashion. He picked up the banana and tentatively licked it. It was very squidgey and most got mashed between his fingers, but a fair bit seemed to disappear into his mouth and we heard some swallowing (and some gagging!).

He then moved onto the cucumber, which was an instant hit. It was straight out of the fridge and he nommed hard on it to soothe his gums. He sucked all the soft bits off the middle then threw it on the floor. It was given back to him but he told us in no uncertain terms that he had finished with it. We gave him a new bit and he had a good go on that too.

When he was finished, he was covered in the stuff, with mashed banana between his fingers, and in his ears, and down his trousers ;)

We can't wait for the next meal.


Feeding background

Yesterday we started baby-led weaning with Jacob, who turns 6 months old tomorrow.

Since his birth, we've had no end of problems with his feeding. While I was pregnant, I was sure that I was going to be able breastfeed, and read many books on the subject. I felt I was prepared and ready, confident that if I felt pain, my baby wouldn't be latched on properly, and with some simple adjustments, off I would go again.

At no point during my pregnancy, did any health professional provide me with information about antenatal classes or suggest I attend any. My husband and I decided not to sign up for NCT classes as we thought the money could be better spent elsewhere, and as we're both avid readers, thought we could learn all we needed from books.

I had a long labour, and was given pethidine although I was adamant I didn't want it. When my baby was born, I put him to the breast but he didn't suckle. He was born at 8.34pm, and when a paediatrician came to check him at 10am the following morning, he was aghast that he still hadn't fed. I kept putting him to the breast but he would just fall back asleep. Midwives came and went, but I wasn't shown how to hand express my colostrum until my baby was nearly 24 hours old (and still hadn't fed).

I was kept in hospital for 5 days, during which time Jacob was fed from syringe or cup, firstly with my expressed breastmilk and then with formula top ups. He still wouldn't feed from me when we were discharged.

The day after we were sent home, a community midwife visited me at home, I explained my problems and she suggested I try nipple shields to help Jacob to latch on. I did and he immediately latched on and fed for half an hour. The relief was incredible, but my supply couldn't keep up with his demand by then and we had to continue giving formula top ups.

I had infections and was given antibiotics which lead to me getting thrush in the breast, which was passed on to Jacob and we were medicated for this for several weeks. I had mastitis 3 times, and the pain was incredible.

I was still desperate to continue, and did my best, but it got too hard and I was dreading each and every feed, and so switched to feeding expressed milk or formula from bottles, with just a short breastfeed at bedtime.

Now, Jacob is thriving and happy, and breastfeeding doesn't hurt any more. I love the closeness it gives me, but my supply is so low that I can only feed him for a couple of minutes at a time, and that's just for comfort. I feel sad and cheated of my opportunity to exclusively breastfeed. I constantly obsess over how to increase my supply of breastmilk, although I feel sure that at this late stage, I am unlikely to be able to relactate to the extent Jacob would require (he's a very hungry baby, on the 98th centile for weight and taking well over a litre a day).

I don't feel guilty (any more!) about giving him formula, although I did at first I soon realised that it was silly, and that having had my expressed colustrum, I'd given him a fantastic start. I really wanted to breastfeed more for the bond, for the feeling of closeness and of nourishing my baby.

I am so frustrated and angry about the lack of support I was given. People kept saying "it'll get easier" but couldn't tell me when or how long it would take. When I had thrush and mastitis the pain was just indescribable, I never imagined it could hurt so much, and my midwife told me I had to "grin and bear it". I was desperate for help, but struggling as I was meant I could barely talk to my husband or family, let alone pick up the phone to contact a complete stranger for help.

I feel like going on a campaigning warpath now - I think that along with antenatal classes, breastfeeding should be taught in classes during pregnancy. Breastfeeding support groups are already established, and I think that they should expand to include antenatal breastfeeding classes. I think how to breastfeed should be taught honestly, without glossing over the potential problems, but describing them and teaching women how to deal with problems, and explaining clearly how difficult it will be at the start, but how much better it can get if you persevere. Setting women up for success like this, and establishing relationships between breastfeeding counsellors and pregnant women, should mean that mothers are better prepared for the realities of breastfeeding, better able to cope when there are problems, and already have contact with breastfeeding counsellors and support groups so seeking professional help is easier for women who, like me, are struggling with asking for help.

I feel helpless though, as I can't see what difference I alone can make, and while I feel it's too late for me and Jacob, I'm clinging to the hope that I'll know what I'm in for next time (if there is a next time!) and will be better prepared to feed my next baby. I am by no means suggesting that women can only bond with their babies if they breastfeed - I think it's having an expectation of how something is going to be, and then that not happening, which causes the crushing sense of disappointment which can be projected onto your feelings (or lack thereof) towards your baby.

Now that Jacob is 6 months old and we're ready to move onto solids, we're entering a whole new minefield. I've decided to go down the baby-led weaning route as my parenting style is relaxed and baby-led at the moment. Jacob is fed and sleeps on demand, and this works well for us as we're definitely not Gina Ford types. I'm not a good cook, and am relishing the opportunity to learn how to cook easy and healthy meals for us to share.

I decided yesterday to stop expressing milk for Jacob, as he will not longer suckle from me, and will not finish bottles of expressed milk. It's a relief, to be honest, not to have to return to the house to express every 4 hours, and I'm sure we'll all benefit as a result.