Isaac’s first trip: Feeding

We recently brought Isaac to Tasmania for our first family trip.

Before we left for the trip, Isaac was beginning to munch on toast in the morning and we were hoping that he would progress sufficiently in the two weeks or so before the trip to actually eating the toast. And, he did! Behold, our easy to feed baby on the trip! He munches on toast, honeydew, lemon (???!!!), bread and lemon, watermelon, drinks water from a bottle, chomps on broccoli, capsicum (another ???!!!) and cucumber!

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He didn’t actually ingest most of the above — except for bread, which he really ate, and capsicum, which he also really ate, and demanded more of. But it was good enough for him to get some solids while on the trip, and also be happy at the dinner table.

Which was really important because we had been sitting him with us at meal time for a couple of weeks now before we left for the trip. Then on the trip itself, he actually demanded to be included in all the mealtimes. In one particular instance, we were sneakily eating instant noodles while leaving him to play on the floor, which he was very happy to do, until he turned around and saw us eating, at which point he literally screamed! We laughed, gave him a biscuit, which made him happy for the rest of the meal.

Apart from random solids from our own meals, he had his usual fill of milk. Nursing really is the best thing ever for trips because there was no need to bother with bottles and thermos flasks and milk powder and sterilizers and all the other implements of bottle feeding. Just a nursing cover and we’re good to go everywhere!

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Um. Just to be sure, I wasn’t actually nursing Isaac at this point since I was clearly happily drinking a flute of sparkling wine. Isaac was already happily sleeping under the scarf when I started drinking. Also, it was a beautiful day on the Gordon River Cruise. It’s a bit of a journey to get to Strahan (the town where you take the cruise) from either Launceston or Hobart (the two major towns where you can fly into Tasmania) but worth the trip if you have the time!

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Nursing at Snake Hill, part of our long walk from the Cradle Valley Visitor centre to Ronny Creek. I didn’t even bother with a nursing cover because we were pretty much in wilderness =)

So as it turned out, feeding was another area in which our little man was absolutely easy to travel with =) More trips please!

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First Solids: Baby Led Weaning

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(Isaac in an early, haphazard attempt to introduce steamed pumpkin the BLW way. Disaster! But so cute!) 

I first read about baby-led weaning in New York Times earlier in the year — I was expecting by then, but um, as someone who bought everything only in the last month leading up to Isaac’s birth (and only completed our shift to the new place with three days to spare before the scheduled c-section), clearly I was not making any plans regarding the introduction of solids, which was still months and months away. But I remember thinking that it seemed like a very chill approach to that aspect of child-rearing, and that seemed to fit in how I thought I wanted to raise Isaac. Anyway, I promptly forgot about the entire BLW thing until a month or so ago when the babies in my mummies’ group began to approach the magical six month mark and we started discussing the introduction of solids.

With baby-led weaning, the two key concerns parents usually have are:

  • Choking. Most traditional weaning guides would advise parents to start with pureed or mashed food, or cereal. This is meant to help babies transit from a fully liquid diet, to one which consist of solid food, especially when babies are generally not able to fully coordinate chewing and swallowing of solid bits at six months and may choke on their food.
  • Nutrition. The second concern is that even if babies don’t actually choke on solid pieces of food, they are unlikely to be able to swallow them or polish off any substantial serving of solids. This may prevent them from getting adequate nutrition compared to if they were fed pureed food.

Based on my experience thus far, things seem to be ok:

  • On choking, I found that babies seem to be quite able to take care of themselves. BLW guides would suggest giving babies a large size of food cut in a way that is easy for babies to hold and to NEVER PUT FOOD IN THEIR MOUTH, especially small pieces. When I tried this, Isaac would gum off pieces of toast and pear and he gags sometimes, but always spat out whatever food he could not handle. So while the gagging might look scary, I have come to believe that babies are well able to manage solid pieces if they are given full control.
  • On nutrition, whether solids are introduced the traditional way or BLW way, all experts would say that milk (breast or formula) remains the primary source of nutrition in a child’s first year. By the end of the first year, a toddler should have acquired the skills to start feeding themselves so I wasn’t too worried about nutrition at this point. However, as I am fully breastfeeding, there are some concerns about iron deficiencies after six months (some total breastfeeding proponents would disagree with this). I am not particularly nazi about parenting (either on the total breastfeeding front, or total baby led weaning front) so I am quite happy to introduce a feed of rice cereal mixed with formula milk (both fortified with iron) while trying out baby-led weaning for other foods.

Anyway, it’s been fun! Isaac now munches on toast with us in the morning, and I try to introduce him to a cleanly cooked baby version of whatever I am having for lunch (boiled chicken, slices of fruits etc). And he’s getting better at holding the food and actually working at them, though he doesn’t ingest much! =) Here’s Isaac happily munching on a pear! You can see little bits that he spat out because he’s gummed them off but can’t quite swallow them yet.

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Luckily for me, Isaac hasn’t shown signs of allergies or sensitivities (FINGERS CROSSED! TOUCH WOOD! NO JINX (PLEASE!) so we have been quite chill about introducing whatever we eat to him, as long as they do not contain added salt, oil and sugar (or other preservatives) and are not among the clear no-s (e.g. raw food, non-fully cooked food, egg white, nuts, seafood). But there are good guides out there on what and how to introduce foods to babies in the BLW way (here’s a good leaflet)  and there are also Facebook groups and other blogs sharing BLW recipes. In any case, one good thing about BLW in my opinion is that babies are really developing their self-feeding skills, and tasting the food more than actually eating it. So the amount they ingest is less and I like to think that this makes it less likely to cause serious tummy upsets.

And because we’re adventuresome parents, we’ll probably start adding natural spices and flavors (basil, rosemary, paprika, cumin etc) to the food for little Isaac so he’s open to more tastes!