Baby Led Weaning

Image by moon_child via Flickr

My youngest son recently turned 6 months and so we are starting to introduce solid foods following the Baby Led Weaning approach. We went down the more traditional route (baby rice, purees, spoon-feeding) with our other son so this feels like a new adventure. I’ve read the book by Gill Rapley and am excited to see how it works.

He’s not sitting up unaided yet which is one of the signs of readyness for BLW but can sit well supported in the highchair and he’s really interested in our food so I’ve been giving him a few things to try. So far I don’t think he’s actually eaten anything but he is enjoying playing with it, and at the moment that’s what it is all about.

He’s had broccoli, baby corn, bread, chips, and tonight he really enjoyed playing with some spaghetti. So far, so good!

I haven’t been getting much sleep lately. My little one is teething and has a cold which makes for some pretty sleepless nights. I don’t like it, but so far I have been able to put aside my needs (for sleep) in order to give him what he needs (cuddles, milk and being walked in a sling).

But in the early hours of this morning I suffered an excruciating cramp in my calf muscle. I woke up in agony and unfortunately, in my haste to sit up and start rubbing my leg, also woke up the baby who was sleeping alongside me. The cramp subsided after a few moments but left me with a very sore leg and all I wanted to do was keep it warm, gently rub and stretch the muscle, and generally nurse myself back to sleep. But the little guy had other ideas. He wanted milk – fine, I lay down to feed him. He wanted a new nappy – fine, I got out of bed to fetch a nappy and change him. He wanted to be rocked and cuddled back to sleep – not so fine, walking was painful, the cold air on my leg threatened to set off another cramp and I was afraid to move too far from the bed in case I needed to suddenly put him down if another cramp started.

Our needs were in complete conflict and the end result was I was in tears of frustration, he was grumpy and unsettled and no-one was getting their needs met. How is an attached parent supposed to deal with this?

I think this kind of situation calls for the advice given here by Scott Noelle. I’ve been subscribing to his Daily Groove emails for a while and generally find them interesting but a bit beyond me. However this one has struck a chord. Particularly this bit:

In other words, you are more likely to get it ‘right’ if you feel free to get it ‘wrong.’ This is almost identical to how unconditional love works.

Even simpler, when you claim your freedom to choose, there’s a good chance you’ll discover that you don’t mind fulfilling your child’s “demands”; you just didn’t like the feeling of no freedom.

So if I am understanding this correctly, if I accepted my freedom to ignore my son’s cries while I tended to my own need to care for my leg, then I would feel better about meeting his needs before my own because it would be my free choice? Hmmm, interesting idea, wonder whether it would have worked in practice. I really hope the exact same situation doesn’t arise again any time soon, but I’m sure there will be another opportunity to put his theory to the test. Just need to get my head around it properly first…

Sleeping baby seen from crib height, behind it...

Image via Wikipedia

Our co-sleeping journey is getting interesting at the moment. We didn’t co-sleep with our first child – I kind of liked the idea of the family bed but didn’t know enough to overcome my doubts about the practicalities. But by the time our second son came along I had read more, from experts and other mums, and was more convinced about the benefits of co-sleeping. Also our lack of space meant the baby would have to stay in our room longer than he would last in a Moses basket so it became a more practical solution.

So far I have really enjoyed co-sleeping. It took a while to discover the benefits – mostly because feeding issues meant it was many months before I was able to feed him while lying down. Then we went through a nice phase where he woke up to feed a couple of times in the night, I could just roll over and feed him back to sleep. But now he is six months old and teething so waking up to feed more often. And sometimes feeding isn’t enough to get him back to sleep. He’s also moving around a lot more so he doesn’t stay nicely in the bedside cot where I put him down. Soon he’ll be able to sit up and then pull himself up so we are going to have to explore other options to keep him safe.

I keep reading forum posts from other co-sleeping mums who have toddlers who feed all night long and am wondering whether that is in our future too – and if so, did I make the right decision to co-sleep? On top of this, our three-year-old seems to have decided to embrace the family bed concept and comes in to join us most nights now. I love feeling him snuggled up beside me but our bed really isn’t big enough for four and getting a bigger one is not an option right now. So I’m feeling a bit at a crossroads when it comes to co-sleeping – it is supposed to mean everyone gets more sleep but at the moment the opposite is true.

As often happens in life, just when I am questioning my decision, several links have come my way that help me see that what I am doing is right, and give me the strength to keep going.

Firstly: this Reflections on Motherhood video which was featured on the PhD in Parenting blog. Mums were asked what they would tell themselves if they could go back to right before they had their first child.

http://www.youtube.com/v/taDqKWWPDAY&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xd0d0d0&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1

The ones that stood out for me were “Millions of parents survive sleep deprivation”, “Nobody really knows what they’re doing” and “Forgive yourself”.

I’m repeating these over and over in my head today.

Secondly: this anthropological take of breastfeeding and co-sleeping. As a Developmental Biologist I am always fascinated by anthropological studies, especially those looking at the effects of the rapid development of modern life compared with the very slow pace of human evolution. As far as our genes and biology is concerned we are still hunter-gatherers living in caves. This essay discusses the gulf between our cultural expectations and our babies’ biological expectations particularly in relation to sleeping and feeding. I might come back to discuss this more in a future post as I’d like to say a lot more than I have time for today.

Finally: Co-sleeping safely at The Stir. 9 co-sleeping rules – I think we do a pretty good job of following all of these! Mostly they are common sense but it is good to read through them and remind myself that we are doing the right thing.

A very very quick one tonight as I really should be in bed.

Today was Crafty Tuesday hosted by my good friend 🙂 The children decorated coloured paper with stickers and marker pens then we taped them to the outside of jars and filled the jars with water and glitter and sparkly stars. Snow globes!!

A home-made 'snow-globe'

A home-made 'snow-globe'

I’ve been doing rather too much reading of other blogs and not enough posting on this one lately so here are some of the things I’ve discovered and my thoughts on them. Not really very parenting related but nevermind.

Travelling light – No Baggage Challenge
This guy is currently travelling around the world with no luggage at all. Not even a carry on bag. Everything he carries has to fit in his pockets. At first it sounds mad but then it sounds oddly liberating. And it has inspired me to see how lightly I can travel on a day to day basis. Today I have ditched the cool bag for my lunch (since I no longer also need it for expressed milk) and have my lunch in my handbag. Even when out with the kids I’m going to try to travel lighter.

Do it every day – Huffington Post
This post about overcoming procrastination (timely in light of my last post) says that the advice she was given when starting a blog is that it’s easier to do it every day than three or four times a week. I guess because then there is no decision to make and no putting it off until tomorrow. You just have to do it. Let’s see if it works.

Craft with wooden blocks – How Does She?
I so want to make some of these. Especially the picture puzzle one. Now where can I get some wooden blocks from??

I haven’t written a blog post for a while, not because I don’t have anything to write but because I keep thinking of so many things to write about that I never settle on any of them. Also the blog Pierson my head always sound so great that I could never actually write them so my perfectionism gets in the way.

Procrastination and Perfectionism. The two big, bad Ps that always seem to stand between me and the things I want to achieve (writing this blog, keeping my house tidy, eating a better diet, etc)

I can recognise this … now what do I do about it?

Cover of "Playful Parenting"

Cover of Playful Parenting

Today was my first day back at work after seven months of maternity. I’ll discuss my feelings about this in another post but one advantage of working is that I get time on the train each day to read. So I’ve started reading Playful Parenting by Laurence J Cohen hoping it might give me some inspiration to deal with some of the problems I’ve been having with my 3 year old.

I’ve read chapter 1 which is pretty much an introduction into why being playful is important. My first reaction is “great, but how do I do that?”

Specifically:

  • how do I juggle the never-ending housework with playtime?
  • how do I play with my 3 year old when the baby needs feeding/changing/holding?
  • the examples so far are all very well but coming up with the ideas in the middle of a stressful situation is not going to be easy

Am hoping the rest of the book has some practical advice. Right now I’m thinking that my problem is going to be relaxing my inhibitions to really play with my children. I have the same problem with my musical theatre group – I can sing and dance well enough but my acting is terrible because I’m too self-concious. Maybe becoming a more Playful Parent will also help me become a better actress!