Since TWM was four months, he’s been waking up twice or three times a night. He was always hungry – we tried re-settling him just with a cuddle and some music, but he was never for having it. I was aware that conventional advice would be to have weaned him at that point, but we were very keen to follow Baby Led Weaning (BLW) and as such wanted to wait until as near to 6 months as we could. We started BLW three weeks ago: since the middle of last week, he’s started sleeping 8pm – 8am with just one wake-up at 2am for milk. Last night he slept 8pm – 6am, came into bed with us for milk, then slept til 9am. And I feel gooooood!
Baby Led Weaning does what it says on the tin. The theory is that a baby’s gut matures between 4 and 6 months, and so to avoid the risk of allergies, intolerances, and other intestinal problems in the future, to avoid weaning until baby is around 6 months. Babies will also show signs of readiness for weaning, which are different to traditional ‘signs’. Things like waking in the night from four months have been seen as a baby being ready for food, when in fact it is a growth spurt – and the calories in milk, be that breast milk or formula – are far greater than those in purees suitable for babies from 4 months. Putting things in their mouths is a developmental advance and isn’t (on its own) a sign that a baby is ready for food.
BLW says that once a baby can sit up on its own, has lost the tongue thrust reflex, and reliably reach out and grab things and bring them to their mouth – all of which will happen at or around six months – they are ready for weaning. The advantage of waiting until this time is that because their gut is matured you can offer any food, negating the need for pureeing and also for feeding food to them. A BLW baby will learn to feed themselves with finger food, and explore tastes and textures for themselves. They learn to chew before they swallow, which in turn helps the development of the muscles they use for speech. So TWM sits at the table with us and has some of whatever we’re having. He’s had banana, kiwi, apple, pear, pineapple, strawberry, raspberry and satsuma. Veg; he’s particularly enjoyed broccoli, carrot, butternut squash. He likes rice cakes and breadsticks. He’s had brwon rice and potato. He’s had a suck of the meat from a beef casserole, chicken in black bean sauce, and mince from bolognese. It’s easy, and it’s cheap – no buying different or special food.
I completely understand that there are different schools of thought when it comes to weaning; I wouldn’t judge anyone else for their choices. For us, I did lots of reading and my own research, and BLW is right for our family. I like all the advantages it has; and fundamentally I’m lazy! He’s still breastfeeding five or six times a day – and will continue to get the bulk of his calories from breastmilk for some time to come. In the meantime, this is a lot of fun!