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Baby Lead Weaning and My So-Called Diet

We all want to lose that weight after we give birth and there’s a lot of material I remember reading in the hospital saying that if you don’t get rid of it in the first year….it just gets harder to get rid of.  So far that has proven true for me. The longer I wait, the longer and harder it seems to make me work to get rid of it.  Which makes me wish that the adipose in Dr. Who were real and that they could take your fat away without causing harm.  It would be nice to just blow a whistle and have your fat walk away as cute little cuddly looking creatures and be done with it, but that’s not how it works.

First let me say this though. I am not telling you how to diet. That is not what this post is about. This is about how through baby led weaning you can create a healthier diet for you. So if you’re here for the latest fad diet….that’s not me. Personally, I hate to even use the word diet.  Half the time the diets I see out there would have you eat so little that you just feel worse, which in my case just makes me feel fat.  You don’t need to starve yourself to lose weight.

Secondly, our cultural norm of who is fat is way out of wack. According to The Obesity Complex and this article, not only is BMI off (especially since it doesn’t take any muscle into account), but a little bit more fat than what we consider average can be a good thing. When I read The Obesity Complex last year I learned that someone in the “at risk” or “slightly in the danger zone”, is more likely to survive a heart attack, some major surgeries, and live longer. This is not to say that there is no such thing as too fat and obesity is still in issue in this country. However, the danger zone may be a bit higher than we think.

So now that I have the ranting and raving about my issues with dieting and the medical health profession out of the way, why don’t I share with you what I came here to: the way I’m losing weight with a baby.

When I decided I was having my precious little Freya, I decided that I was going to eat healthier. This worked until I moved home and after I failed at breast feeding. I guess I shouldn’t say failed. I tried everything from a lactation consultant to a doctor and after four months of breast milk flowing the way it should, my body just decided to stop cooperating. It was very frustrating and I lost the path I had promised myself. I feel back into my bad addiction of eating foods I know I shouldn’t and setting a bad example for Freya.

That lasted two months until we started talking about solids. Now, Freya had already had some solid foods before she turned six months because sometimes formula was not enough and she had some issues with formula, even the gentle. So about once a day she had very tiny little bits of this or that and baby cereal.  Still, when we started talking about real food all the time, I wanted Freya to eat healthier than her father and I have tended to in the past.

That’s where the baby led weaning came in. Freya wasn’t a big fan of baby food, especially once my mom started feeding her bits of sausage. She would eat it eventually, but she wasn’t exactly happy about it. She would much rather have her Cheerios or some bits of fresh fruits and veggies instead.  It also helped that nearly all the research indicated that helping baby eat healthy often led to you eating healthy, but let me come back to that. Let me explain what baby led weaning means first.

What is baby led weaning?

It really is nearly as simple as it sounds. Baby led weaning is the process of weaning your baby by letting them eat along with you. For us it just meant buying a Tupperware mini chopper that we could take with us and feeding her a bit of what each of us has while we are out or at home. Freya loves it. It is important to note that we are talking about the UK definition of weaning where you are adding to the child’s diet. You aren’t just trying to get them all the way off breast milk, though there are some that will say you should work on complete weaning if you are on formula. As far as I’m concerned baby led weaning is a wonderful thing, but you should talk to your pediatrician before beginning to wean your child off formula.

Is it healthy?

According to the most recent research babies start reaching for food around six months. They still take their bottle, but they want to learn and explore food the same way they explore just about anything else….with their mouth. It’s not about nourishment yet, but experience. This is around the same time that mothers are being encouraged to wean their children. This is in accordance with WHO outlines. Of course, every child and pediatrician is different, but ours was fine with Freya eating solid foods instead of baby mush.

What are the advantages?

By this age children are capable of feeding themselves. We just have to cut the food into bites that are the appropriate size. . They may not use a napkin and fork or hold a tea cup with their pinkie finger in the air, but they can put the food in their mouth with their fingers (which is great fine motor skill practice as a side note). Also, while it may be a bit more of a mess, they want to get their fingers in there so that they can learn to do it themselves.

Then there are the advantages for you. You don’t have to carry extra food for each meal, which saves space in the diaper bag. Technically, you don’t even need the chopper we use for bigger food. You can just cut it up yourself.  Second, you don’t have to worry about buying a food processor, baby food, baby cereal, or any of that. The only thing we buy are the yogurt bites because she likes them for a snack in the car and they aren’t that messy.  Finally, you get to enjoy your meal with your child without worrying about how much they reach for your food because you’ll be giving them some of it!

What do you need to get started?

Just a love for food, yourself, your child, and a high chair. Well, we use an adaptable booster seat with a trary. It can be attached to any chair any height. This was more cost effective for us.  You don’t need a bowl and you can feed them with a spoon or let them eat with their fingers. Right now the baby just wants an experience and just as babyledwaning.com says: the baby just wants an experience. That experience can be food from a fork, food fed to them by their own fingers, or by flinging a bowl across the room.

Some Final Tips

  1. Just chop up whatever your family is eating. There is no reason to avoid steak. Freya loves it and spaghetti; we just chop it up fairly fine for her.
  2. Don’t worry about the mess. A child, their high chair, and your kitchen are cleanable.
  3. Try to eat together as a family when possible. Your child is going to watch you eat and learn those social cues through observation. Providing a positive example will lead them to later want to follow your example.
  4. Don’t get too hung up on the meals. Yes, try to be healthy, but don’t push yourself too far out of your comfort zone if you’re not used to eating healthier yourself. Make it a gradual change or you may end up frustrating yourself. We had to do that ourselves. For example, first it was getting leaner meats, then it was cutting down/eliminating the soda, and now we’re working on the dreaded veggies, finding out what all we like as a family. So take your time if healthy eating is new to you or you are just now trying to make that change. Don’t overwhelm yourself.
  5. Just put a couple of pieces of food on the tray at a time so your child doesn’t get overwhelmed.
  6. From what I’ve read and my own personal experience, timing the meals between bottles seems to work best. Freya doesn’t get as frustrated when she’s trying to grab the food if she’s not already hungry.
  7. Don’t put everything in your child’s mouth for them. It’s one thing if you’re giving them a slice of something as you chop it up, but if you have them in the high chair let them put it in their mouth. One of the problems we had was that Freya didn’t want anyone to do it for her. She would actually spit it out and put it back in herself!
  8. Always have a camera ready. You never know when the best photo op ever will arise. If you don’t have camera 360 already see my photography post about the app. Some of my best pictures are of her trying to eat a daisy or the mess she’s made in her seat.  Also, these are some of the moments you want to remember.
  9. Enjoy the process. Just like everything else with babies this too shall pass way too fast.

Conclusion

Now, I’m sure some of you are asking where my so called diet came into this. Well, about four months ago when I started researching this topic, one of the remarks a parent had posted on another site said something to the following effect: baby led weaning has led me to be a healthier eater for the benefit of my child. And that is where the diet comes in. Before Freya, I ate whatever I want and in my case carbs are my worst enemy.  Since I’ve started feeding Freya what I eat, I’ve found myself choosing healthier meals, even on that rare occasion that we eat out. I usually share a bit of my healthy veggie, meat, and cheese omelet in the morning, some watermelon in the afternoon, whatever we have for dinner, and finally, some homemade frozen yogurt bites as a late snack.

What works for me to lose weight and what works for you may be different. For me it took keeping a diary to determine which foods made me feel ill and which foods energized me. In my case, I found that when I eat too many carbs or fats in a day, I just don’t feel as good as the day goes on. So take a look at what foods make you feel physically good before you make that call. Also, if you have any health problems talk to a physician before undertaking any major changes in your diet. You don’t want to cause something else to tumble while trying to make healthier food choices.

Baby led weaning is a way to cut out a lot of processed foods and to save yourself some time making your own organic equivalents. We experimented with all three and quite honestly, I’ve found this one to be the easiest because I don’t have to shop for extra stuff. We still buy some baby food (well WIC does), but now we just use it to make baby ice pops that Freya sometimes eats instead of yogurt bites.  We didn’t have the time to make all the baby food and keep up with all our other responsibilities.

Finally, this is what worked for us and these are just suggestions based on my personal experiences with Freya. You may find different results, so never feel bad if anyone’s advice doesn’t work out. No one method is perfect and not everything will work for every family. Each family is different as is each child and parent. Just do your best and cherish this time with your child because it only happens once. That’s what’s really important. Do what you find works best for your family and forget the rest.

Blessed Be.

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