Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Update on baby led weaning (BLW) and Elimination Communication (EC)

Isn't it funny how we have to title everything? Like, we can't just be parents who like to cuddle their kids, we have to be Attachment Parents, and we don't just feed babies table food we do Baby Led Weaning, and etc. It's helpful to have a name for things, it just seems sorta compartmental. A bit funny! Anyways. I'm reeeeeeally loving BLW with Riley. We've had a few hiccups--namely, Riley sometimes gets too big a piece in his mouth and has actually puked to remove it a few times...which I would say is maybe us rather than BLW that is at fault. Once it was on cooked carrots, which I cut in half so they wouldn't be such a choking hazard, but I wanted to leave him big enough pieces to grab in his fist, but he just gagged on it and threw up because it was too big and maybe not the best idea. Or chunks of cracker, which he sucks on but sometimes bigger pieces break off and since it is a normal cracker and not a baby cracker that dissolves quickly, he has gagged on those too. But for the most part it has been really neat to see how Riley digs into mealtimes and joins in with us, because we model what to do and let him do his own thing with regards to food. It seems to really work. He loves soup, presumably because it is soft and has lots of flavour but generally is not overwhelmingly strong. The other night I made chicken pot pie (which, btw, was borderline inedible because the top came off the salt as I was shaking it above the pie filling...we've renamed it Salt Pot Pie...) and gave Riley a bowlful and he went to town: two fisted, couldn't get enough. Tonight I made chili (borderline inedible again, this time due to my lack of experience making chili, so I put tomato paste in which made it just a really thick lump of beans and meat that tasted like tomato) and gave him a bowl with no large chunks, and he went to town again, double fists, and got really mad at me when I tried to take away his bowl! Of course, he can't handle cutlery yet so I just let him use his hands. It's so great! I am holding off exposing him to dairy and to nuts so if we have a meal item containing those I just give him some of whatever else we're eating. Rice, steamed veggies, couscous (not a hit!), etc. If we are having an all-in-one meal with veggies cooked in the dish, he has cheerios. I also really LOOOOVE the high chair we have for him; it is wooden and has no tray, and pushes right up to the table. So he really fits right in just like his big brothers. So sweet! :)
Also, my friend commented that if a baby indicates a desire to eat before it is 6 months, it may be prudent to follow their lead and let them have solids before 6 months. Both Riley and Ayden indicated an interest in food at around 5 months. But babies' guts are physiologically different before six months, which makes an all milk diet the most appropriate and digestible diet during that stage in their lives; after six months the cells lining the gut knit themselves more tightly together, providing a stronger barrier between the gut and the outside world. Research surrounding infants' exposure to foods suggests that babies are on average less likely to develop food allergies if solids are not introduced until between 6 and 8 months of age. One recent study (one study does not a truth prove, but it was an interesting find) showed a correlation between waiting until 7 months to introduce solids and higher hemoglobin levels in the baby. The concern often cited with waiting past 6 months to introduce solids is that the iron stores a baby had at birth are exhausted by 6 months and breast milk is low in iron, so there is a concern that babies who are exclusively breastfed past 6 months may not get enough iron.
Well, the iron present in breast milk is tailor made for infant absorption. And this one study showed that waiting until 7 months to introduce solids actually increased the iron levels of the babies in that study. So I tend to lean towards waiting to introduce solids. I think both Ayden and Riley were ready to participate in mealtimes and were curious about eating, but not necessarily ready for food themselves. Early readiness to participate in mealtime MAY correlate with an early closure of the gut lining, but since I can't open their little tummies and check, I felt it prudent to wait. Well, this time I did. Ayden had solids a bit earlier--5 1/2 months, and I did the traditional infant cereal, puree your own baby food and the whole 9 yards. This time I found other ways for Riley to participate at mealtimes: he sat with us, he had a sippy cup with water, and we gave him baby cutlery and plates/bowls/cups to play with while we ate. This seemed to satisfy his desire to participate without introducing food rather early (in my opinion). I also read about one mom who froze breast milk in ice cube trays and mashed it up so her baby could 'eat' that at mealtimes in the month or so before she wanted to introduce solids but during which her baby was interested in joining in.
And then it was hilarious to me that when we did let Riley reach out for our food, he often recoiled or shuddered when he touched it for the first time! He still does that if food is colder than he expects it to be. I think he just really needs time to explore and warm up to a food before he will eat it...though the past few meals this week he hasn't been hesitant at all, and just got down to business! I think this style of feeding really suits him because he doesn't like to be fed. He wants to go at his own pace and really get comfortable with the texture of things before he puts them in his mouth. So BLW is working out really well!

As for EC? Not so much. This is what I've determined about EC:
-in a warm climate, EC would be easier than in winter in Canada.
-to do EC in a cooler climate, one has to be quite committed.
-I wasn't very committed.
-EC is, I think, easier to learn with your first child...if I already knew how to do it, and how it would likely work out, and what to expect out of it, doing EC with a third child maybe wouldn't seem so difficult and overwhelming
So, despite several early successes I've decided to let EC go. :( Bye bye, EC. It was nice that you visited. I learned some valuable stuff, and I appreciate your philosophies. I'm just not that into you!
I will put Riley on the potty occasionally so that he has a good sense that this is something he will grow into doing, and if he ever changes his pooping schedule I just may be able to encourage poop-only EC? But right now catching poops would mean getting out of bed before I'm fully awake in the morning and I'm just too tired!!! Or lazy!!! Or whatever!!! I mean, I only postpone the agony by a few minutes because once he's poonamied it has to be changed pronto because it stinks and his skin is so sensitive, but when I'm aware that he's working on a poop it just seems SOOOOO not worth it to leap out of bed and get the stinkin' potty and rip all his layers off and try and catch the darn thing.
Riley hates the potty, too.
Here are the things I've learned from EC that I appreciate:
How often my baby pees
How much he dislikes sitting in it
Pooping cues
(no pee cues, but we didn't really work on it enough to develop much awareness in him that it was coming)
Volume of an average pee
An appreciation of the communication, commitment, and work involved for parents who practice EC
A new appreciation for the communicative capabilities of infants

So there you go, an update on the INs and OUTs of the baby of the Vose Team.

1 comment:

Asheya said...

I've mostly given up on the EC we think of (taking the baby to the potty). I'm just focussing on communicating right now and trying to change her as soon as she is wet or poopy. Like you, I can't seem to haul myself out of bed those extra 5 minutes early to put her on the potty, plus she doesn't stay there and ends up pooping in a diaper anyway. I just don't have the energy. But she does still have an awareness of when she is going pee or poo and will sometimes communicate, so I'm kind of hoping ot do some early potty training this summer, and if that doesn't work then to definitely do it once we're in Central America and a WARM climate! It will be interesting to see how EC goes with the new baby in a warm climate where we can go outside and baby can be diaper free.