Saturday, July 26, 2008

Baby Led Weaning and Bento

When I began the weaning process with Fifi, I decided to take on the 'baby led weaning' philosophy - basically, skipping purees and going straight to finger foods. The idea is that if the baby is allowed to choose for himself what he wants to eat, he will develop a more balanced and healthy approach to eating. He will eat when he is ready and hungry (and he will not choke if he is left to start solids until after six months, when the gag reflex is in full working order).

So we started with sliced pears and bananas and broccoli trees. It seemed to be going nowhere, but that is very normal with baby led weaning. At 10 months, she was still only eating a few things a day; I'm talking one or two peas and a yogurt (spoon fed by herself). I repeated the 'food is fun until they're one' mantra over and over to assure myself this was normal. And she was still breastfeeding and gaining tons of weight and was very healthy, so I tried not to worry.

But after a year came and went, and she still wasn't doing the solids thing, I started to worry. I decided with the next baby I wouldn't do this silly baby led weaning thing, because it seemed to produce picky eaters. (My friend who's kid is the same age as Fifi also did BLW and found the same problems with him.)

But suddenly, it clicked. Suddenly, she started eating. She'd eat a whole quarter of a sandwich. She'd eat a whole banana. She'd eat all the blueberries in a punnet. She started branching out from just fruit and yogurt to breads, meats and the occasional vegetable (though not much more than a few bites on the veggie side of things). Then it increased and increased and kept increasing. The breastfeeding went down too though that had more to do with my diminished supply due to pregnancy than anything else.

Now, the kid is eating us out of house and home. And while she loves her sweets, she also really loves good, healthy food. She's still picky with her veg, but that could be my fault as well, since I'm picky with my veg and probably don't offer it enough! I'm going to chop up some carrots today and steam some green beans and asparagus and bake those sweet potatoes to get a kick on trying harder in that department.

Just Thursday I made a fresh fruit salad for the whole family. Scott put it on her little table for all of us to munch on. Fifi pulled up her chair and proceeded to eat the whole salad. A family sized fruit salad, gone in about five minutes. Grapes, strawberries, bananas, pears and oranges. Gone.

I write this, because today I was just bewildered to see how much she was eating. She asks for fruit and yogurt (and cake) all day long, though she'll settle on almost any alternative you offer, but it still amazes me to see her actually eat her proper lunch. I made a grilled cheese sandwich for her today, and she happily ate the whole thing (minus the crusts). I'm just so pleased.

I also write this to introduce you to my latest craze: bento. Bento is a Japanese thing (see the link), but it's become quite a craze amongst Westerners, some who remain true to the Japanese theme and some who have Westernised it. While I'm afraid that to begin with, I'll be a very Western bento-boxer, I'm very excited about the prospect of supplying my husband and children with healthy lunches, full of well-balanced, bite-sized meals. I bought a bento box for Scott (a manly black one) and one for Fifi (a cute, kiddie blue one). In them I plan to pack anything from fruits and veggies to sandwiches to left-overs, with the occasional cute onigiri, just to be sort of Japanese about it. For Fifi, I can cut sandwiches and fruit into adorable shapes with cookie cutters. Maybe I'll occasionally do the same for Scott, just to make him laugh - and make his friends laugh at him. I'm really excited about starting these bento lunch boxes. It's encouraging me to think very four-basic-food-groups. It's getting me excited about putting lunches together. It's making me feel like a good wife and mummy. It'll be really fun to send the kiddos off to school with bento boxes as well, even though that's many years away. That is, if the excitement doesn't wear off by then...

Anyway, long may the bento live on in our home. And the baby led weaning will most likely get another go with Baby #2.

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