Dear Future Adopter of Baby Girl,
It may be that right now you're thinking, "BLW? What on earth is that?!" If that is the case then I can reassure you that it's nothing you need to worry about and you can move right along. Nothing to see here.
However if, as I am sure is the case, you have been preparing for becoming an adoptive parent by finding out everything there is to know about adoption, parenting and adoptive parenting, then you will probably know all about BLW - Baby-Led Weaning. You may even be wondering whether your future child is experiencing this latest and most marvellous trend in weaning technologies.
Let me reassure you. This house is definitely a BLW house.
Well, in theory at least.
Admittedly, Baby Girl is only the second child I've weaned. Still, I suppose that makes me about as experienced as the average person. My first was my very own OB. I was nervous; anxious to make the right choices. I read up on things. I waited the required six months despite OB's seven-bottle-a-day habit which included no less than two night feeds.
I was aware that feeding your child jar after jar of pre-prepared baby food from the supermarket was no longer considered the 'done thing'. A friend of mine had pureed her own organic, healthy meals and frozen them in ice cube trays ready for instant nutritious defrosting. I thought this looked good. I pureed a few things in advance of the big day. Admittedly, as I didn't own a blender, it was a pretty arduous task. I seriously wondered whether I would be able to keep up with OB's voracious appetite.
Then I found out about BLW. It's amazing. Seriously, the long-term benefits to your child are too many to enumerate. I'm pretty sure that following BLW correctly can actually achieve immortality for your infant. The basics are simple. Since we now wait until babies are at least six months before weaning, the vast majority of them are able, by that time, to put their own food in their mouths, move it round, chew (or gum it) it and swallow it. So instead of giving them baby rice, mush, puree, jars or whatever, you simply give them, well, food.
I was transfixed by blog after blog showing images of tiny infants chomping their way through pasta, fruit, veggies and the odd chicken leg. "My 8-month-old loves to dip her organic rice cakes in my home-made hummous!" You know the sort of thing.
The recommendations and lists of supposed benefits for the child were inspiring. But, if I'm honest, what won me over were two major factors:
a) it's easy - no blending or pureeing required
b) it's cheap - compared to sachets of Ella's Kitchen Organic Mush for Babies anyway
So I went ahead enthusiastically with OB, steaming chip-shaped veggies, slicing fruit into handy grab-sized chunks, depositing tiny morsels of pasta, meat and other delicacies onto his bumbo tray and waiting excitedly for him to pick up, move to mouth, chew, swallow, etc.
Only problem was, at six months, OB could neither pick the things up, nor guide them to his own mouth. With BLW, putting food in the child's mouth yourself is a massive no-no, so we faffed about for two whole weeks with him shoving food helplessly around the tray until it fell on the floor, drooling longingly over his steamed carrots, and maintaining, nay, increasing, enormous quantities of milk feeds until the Health Visitor was practically ordering me to stop feeding at night. Yeah, I thought, you come round here at 2am then and listen to two hours of screaming!
In the end I got a fork out and squashed his food into a plastic bowl and fed him with a spoon. And yes, the claims were true - he managed to gum and swallow the lumpy food with no problems whatsoever. Yay for BLW!
Baby Girl is a whole different proposition though. Well before the magic 6-month mark, she was ably picking up everything in sight and ramming it into her mouth. BLW is going to be a doddle with this one I thought.
But sadly, no. It turns out that Baby Girl is a gagger. She gets the food to her mouth and gums away on it just fine, but should so much as a crumb fall off and actually hit her tongue then she starts gagging uncontrollably. It just goes on and on. Now, I know that a baby's gag reflex is much further forward in their mouth than an adults, and gagging during BLW isn't necessarily anything to worry about, but when every mealtime ends in a gag-attack so severe that it results in vomiting not only the few morsels of solid food that might have accidentally made their way to her stomach, but also the milk feed she had two hours previously, then you know you're not onto a winner.
So I'm feeding her with a spoon. And because I'm so over standing in the kitchen for hours pureeing bits of veg, Ella's Kitchen has a convert. The roast pork dinner is a particular favourite!
Don't worry though. Baby Girl has serious skills in the fine motor department, and we're working on the gagging thing, so I'm sure by the time she comes to you, she'll be a dab hand with a chicken leg.
I might have ruined her chance of immortality though!