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Baby Led Weaning – the basics

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Nom-nom-nomelette

(I’ve revamped this post for #blogtober 2017 – where day 11’a prompt is ‘kitchen’! We love food in our family, so have a read of how we introduced food to Squid, 18 months ago now!)

This blog post is the first in a series of posts about Baby Led Weaning! Weaning your baby onto solids is a huge step for everyone involved. It’s the start of your child’s relationship with food, and it can be exciting and daunting in equal measure.

Before Squid was ready for solids, I had done a lot of research into how to approach introducing food, and we decided that we wanted to try Baby Led Weaning (BLW) as the method to do that. Traditional Weaning (TW – weaning with puréed foods, gradually introducing textures) works for some families, and that is fine; we have not done traditional weaning and so I do not know very much about it.


So what is BLW? 

The principle of BLW is that your baby eats whatever you eat, in the same form that you eat it (ie not mashed or puréed). One of Squid’s first foods was steak! Soup, mashed potatoes, yoghurts etc are all fine too – as they come in the form you would eat them. The only things you need to avoid are honey (not before 12m – risk of botulism), whole nuts (choking hazard!), shark and Marlin, and you must be mindful of salt and sugar intake! Apart from that, your baby can eat whatever you eat – family meal times have never been so easy! Your baby’s food doesn’t need mashing or chopping up – just serve the food to your baby in ‘handheld’ chunks (think ‘chip shaped’!) and watch them go!
Top tips – bread soaks up soup really well, little hands can easily pick up mash, and pre-loaded spoons work well for yoghurt! 

The world’s most disappointing narna


My first port of call was to get myself a copy of the BLW book, by Gill Rapley – I got this when Squid was around 3 months old. If you are considering BLW, then I would really recommend the book – we picked ours up second hand for a few pounds on eBay!

The long and short of it is that you skip the purées. This means that, unlike with TW babies learn to chew their food first, before swallowing. 
Another crucial element is that the baby is in control of what, how much and how quickly they eat. With TW the parent might keep going until there is no purée left in the bowl, though the baby may be full already – once a liquid is in their mouth, their instinct is to swallow. BLW helps babies to understand their appetite, and to only eat until they are satisfied.

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Squid loves apples!

In the book, Rapley tells you the signs to look out for that your baby is ready to begin solid food. She states that these signs will usually occur ‘around the middle of the first year’ – 6 months/26 weeks.

The signs are:

  • Being able to sit, with little or no support;
  • Being able to reach out and grab objects accurately;
  • Being able to accurately bring both hands, holding an object, to their mouths;
  • Make gnawing/chewing actions with their mouths.


Other sources also state that a loss of the ‘tongue-thrust’ reflex is another sign of readiness – that is, a baby will not reject food by pushing their tongue back out. 
The theory is that it is not until around 6 months of age that the gut ‘closes’ and their bodies are ready to digest solid food. These ‘outward’ signs are good indicators that a baby is ‘internally’ ready to begin eating solid food. 
Waking more frequently at night is NOT a signal that your baby is ready for solids (this commonly happens around 4 months of age, where there is a ‘sleep regression’ or the ‘is-my-baby-broken-why-won’t-he-sleep-please-shoot-me-sleep-regression-from-hell’ as it was affectionately known in our house – more on sleep regressions here in a post I wrote for Breastfeeding World!)
There are some really interesting theories on the ‘Virgin Gut’ which swayed us to wait until Squid was around 6 months old to start weaning. Have a look here.

He eats what we eat – lazy Sunday breakfast


BLW has so many benefits. To name but a few:

  • You don’t have to feed your baby – you can all enjoy a hot meal together!
  • They learn about textures and individual tastes.
  • The baby controls what, how much and how quickly they eat – this means that they only eat until they are satisfied, never ‘over eating’. A BLW baby is less likely to struggle with portion control, and therefore their weight.
  • It takes the stress out of eating – as milk is their main nutrition until they turn 1, food is just great fun before then!

Remember – milk is your baby’s main source of nutrition until they turn 12 months old, so you need to fit milk feeds between meals – milk comes first! Squid nurses 10+ times a day still at 9 months – although he enjoys food, he prefers his milk! (Revisiting this post at 25 months, Squid now eats like a teenager – he had three portions of dinner today! Plus he nurses several times a day too, what can I say, the boy loves to eat! There are very few foods he won’t eat, and he is in control of his own appetite and tastes – we absolutely loved doing BLW and don’t regret anything about it! He uses cutlery beautifully, rarely gets in a big mess, and food has never been a battle. Meal times are happy and social!)

He eats what we eat… everything in moderation, right?!

I really, really do recommend reading the BLW book, because I could essentially just rewrite it here and that would be silly!
There is also a ‘Baby Led Weaning Cookbook’ which I got for Christmas. I would say that this book is nice to have, but not essential.
Did you do BLW with your baby? What made you choose BLW over TW? Let me know in the comments below!

To read more posts about BLW, click here!

Squidmamma x 🐙

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#blogtober day eight: holidays – how to survive going away WITH the kids

#blogtober day eight’s prompt is holidays! We’ve been away on a few holidays since Squid arrived – once to Malta for a week when Squid was 8 months old, to Nottingham for a week when he was 22 months old, plus several overnight and weekend breaks with him. Holidays aren’t quite the relaxing experience they used to be, but it’s lovely to get away as a family nonetheless! 

Here are my top 4 tips for holidaying with kids!

1. Pack savvy

It’s so easy to ‘over pack’ when you go away with children, but take the time to really think about the things they will need. Make a list, and stick to it. Consider whether you’ll have clothes washing fascilities where you’re staying – and if so, halve the amount of clothes you were planning on taking. I love this clothes packing hack tutorial for when we go away! 
Don’t forget things like a first aid kit, plus any medications (especially things such as anti histamine and anti diarrhoea tablets!), lots of baby wipes and more nappies than you think you’ll need!

Trunkis are essential!


2. Take All. The. Snacks 

The journey to your holiday, be it by plane, car or otherwise, is likely to take time – and so snacks are absolutely essential! Easy to eat things such as raisins, bread sticks and rice cakes have got us through several plane journeys, and a packed lunch is vital on a long car journey! It will break the journey up and save you pennies – feeding a whole family at the service station or 34,000 miles in the air is very expensive!


3. Take it in turns to relax

When you’re on holiday with other people, make sure that you take it in turns to chill out. Children can be hard work when they’re not in their own environment, and often safety is a concern – especially around the pool. So tag-team with your significant other for who will be watching and playing with the kids whilst the other reads their book. It may not be as relaxing as the sun, sand, sea and cocktails holidays of the past, but being a parent doesn’t mean that you can’t kick back a bit when you’re away. 


4. Relax the rules and routines

Holidays are a chance for your little ones to chill out a bit too, which means that perhaps bed time might be a little later than usual, or they are allowed an ice cream in the heat of the day. Try not to get hung up on maintaining routines, especially around nap times. Relax and go with the flow – when you’re home, you can settle back into the swing of normal family life. 


5. Pack a few ‘all rounder’ toys 

Try not to take the whole play room with you when you go away – a couple of toys which serve a variety of purposes are all that’s needed! For example, a pad of paper and a set of pencils, a Fuzzy Felt book, and a carry-along wooden play set can be easily transported, and the opportunities for imaginative play with just a select few toys are great. 

The wooden farm animals come most places with us!


6. Get in the photo

Finally, don’t forget to take snaps of your family holidays, and most importantly, make sure you’re not always the one taking the photo – be in the picture too! Many of our old family holidays photos from my child hood are taken by my dad – meaning he’s not in many of them, and I’d have loved to have seen him in the pictures now. 


Have you been away with the kids? What would your number 1 top tip be? 

See you tomorrow! 

Love, Squidmamma x 🐙

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Survival Guide: hospital stays with a little one

Squid’s first hospital admission was when he was 7 weeks old. He was struggling to breathe and his oxygen saturation levels dropped to below 90% so he was taken in to be monitored and for oxygen if needed. It was terrifying, but really just set us up for things to come. 

I had wished and wished that the asthma gene would bypass my little love, but it seems we weren’t that lucky, though I have a vain hope he may grow out of it. 

Luckily our last admission was in February, so we’re 3 months clear – though I hope writing that hasn’t jinxed it! 

Being in hospital when you yourself are ill is stressful enough, but when it’s your little one, it can be even worse. So, I thought a handy little guide to surviving a hospital stay with your child might be useful! 
Now, we’ve only ever been admitted for short stays, so perhaps this advice might be different for longer hospital stays, though in my experience, children become poorly very quickly and equally seem to recover quite suddenly too!


Firstly then: Essentials for your over night bag

  • I think any hospital stay requires home comforts, and especially so for children. Pack any comforter they have, and if they don’t have a specific comforter, then pack a favourite toy. For yourself – pack your own pillow! Nothing is as uncomfortable as a hospital grade, plastic covered pillow!
  • Snacks! All the snacks! Plus bottled water. The hours between ward rounds are never ending, and you’ll likely be exhausted from a lack of sleep (because hospital wards are busy and NOISY!), so keeping your energy levels high is important! At our local hospital, the parent staying with the child is only allowed a meal if there’s spare food at meal times so make sure you pack yourself lots of high energy food – or send someone to go and grab you some! My parents always bring me in a huge picnic when Squid gets admitted, and it’s great to graze on throughout the day (and night!)
  • Loose change! For the car park if any visitors have the misfortune to have to park in it, and for the vending machines in the hospital if you desperately neeeeed a Diet Coke at 4am. (Yes, that’s happened.)
  • Phone charger. A phone with 100% battery is totally essential for maintaining sanity in the middle of the night when all the bleeping and buzzing keeps you awake!
  • Calm activities. Though your mini human may be poorly, if they’re anything like Squid, they still need occupying (between bouts of sleep!) Things like colouring books are always a great, quiet and calm activity which can help while away a few hours. Our hospital is lucky to have a huge playroom on the children’s ward – with a play specialist at certain times too – but I know not all hospitals have this facility, so things like jigsaws, stickers, magazines and books are all essentials for that hospital bag! If you’re admitted in the wee hours, send a relative to grab some things the next morning – you don’t need to leave your child’s side if you don’t want to! 

  • Patience. Hospitals are busy places, there are hundreds of patients and on a children’s ward especially, it can feel like days last for weeks. The lack of sleep, coupled with worrying about your little love, can make you feel irrational, so just remember that the wonderful nurses and doctors are working tirelessly hard to keep patients happy and make them well again, even if it seems like things move slowly (especially when you’re hoping to be discharged!)

Top tip – don’t be afraid to ask the staff if they’d mind staying with your small person whilst you nip to the loo/have a wash/make a cup of tea! Remember to look after yourself too! During quieter times, the staff won’t mind a bit. 

How to prepare your child for a hospital stay

If you know your little one has a surgery or hospital stay coming up, or if they’re regular residents of your local children’s ward, then it can really help to familiarise them with the things they might encounter. 
Things that have helped us are books about hospitals, doctors and nurses. 


Playing ‘nurses’ with a hospital set – we love to take each other’s pulses and check our hearts with a stethoscope! 


If your child, like Squid, has an inhaler, they may be really great at taking it. However, it might still help to administer any medicines to cuddly friends first! This can really help things seem less scary. 

 

Has your little one ever had a hospital stay? What really helped you get through it? I’d love to know! Leave a comment below to share your top tips with other parents!
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Love,

Squidmamma 🐙 x