Sunday, November 18, 2012

Baby Led Weaning, Part Two?

Calliope found this random Santa hat and decided it was a stuffed animal
and thus carried it around with her, hugging it and saying "aww!" 

Here she is being busted out of her "secret" hiding place behind
the glider where she had retreated here to cuddle with her new
friend the Santa hat.

Baby led weaning is a phrase coined to mean "letting your baby learn to eat solids by sharing your food with you."

We tried this and it was pretty much a dismal failure. As an infant, Calliope was very hesitant to try new tastes and textures, and seemingly repelled by the prospect of actually touching any food with her hand.

She now eats quite well, but it is still quite limited in what she will try. Our local mom's group was discussing popular quick foods to serve toddlers; suggestions included: lassagne, quiche, enchiladas, all sorts of beans, lentil soup, and scrambled eggs. Calliope won't touch any of these foods.

Correction: she ate a black bean once. Well, she tasted it. And promptly spit it back out.

She also had her first taste of pizza last night, and likewise, spit it back out.

I think she still prefers foods that are made up of single ingredients. Or two. Like toast with peanut butter, or slices of cheese, or chicken-apple sausage (cut into strips). Pizza or casseroles are way too many flavors mixed up together.

But anyway, in this case, when I say "baby led weaning," I mean weaning from breastfeeding.

I have been wondering when weaning will happen, because she greatly enjoys nursing. In the evenings, when I ask her if she wants "neh neh," she starts fake crying immediately, as if I've been refusing her all evening. When she hasn't even asked for it.

But today, after a long nap which left her crying hysterically (should I have waited to go in to get her until she stopped crying? I never know what to do in this situation), she outright refused to nurse. Usually nursing in this situation is a magical "reset" of the situation, so I was disappointed. This morning, before her morning nap, she only nursed on the right side. We missed the afternoon nursing because we were out with friends (at this point, I try to avoid nursing in public). So at bedtime, I was sure she would nurse enthusiastically, so I started again on the right side (the left always has more milk so I always start on the right). But she refused the left side again.

Leaving me an evening spent cozying up to my crappy mini breast pump (the good one is at work), because I was afraid of getting a plugged duct or mastitis if I went twenty-four hours without emptying my left breast.

I'm planning to pump two more days at work, Monday and Tuesday, for my friend's baby.

And then, that is it!

She clearly doesn't need the calories from milk, since she's obviously filling up on table food and just using the nursing as a quick comfort. So there's no point in my trying to maintain my supply by pumping (she's refused to take expressed breast milk by cup or bottle since the end of last school year).

I'm curious this is baby led weaning (of nursing), or if a decreased need for milk won't mean a decreased desire for comfort nursing?

I thought I'd be sad to wean, but I think that if it happens because she initiates it, and it's gradual, that I will be fine with it. I suspect that as a working mother, I can see all the advantages of her increased independence. I felt like my sister prolonged my nieces' babyhoods in some ways and I wonder if some of that is because, as a stay at home mom, so much of her identity was (is) wrapped up in their needing her?

This is not to say that my sister nursed too long because of being a SAHM (that's too intimate of a relationship for me to judge... she nursed the older one to 28 months and the younger to one day shy of four years), more that I saw her doing other things for them that I suspect I won't do, like carrying them a lot even when they could walk well, particularly the younger one (who was very small and thus easy to carry), and "wearing" her in a baby carrier long after others have stopped (she sent me a picture of my niece strapped to her back on a fussy day when my niece was seven). I love it that Calliope can walk now, and just today let her push the stroller instead of ride in it on our way to a friend's car, and when we arrived at our destination, I opted to leave the stroller in the car in favor of letting her walk or be carried.

Time will tell how weaning works out. But I do think it's funny that I was just wondering about this issue, and worrying she would never wean and that I would have to force the issue... and now it looks like maybe she will take care of it all on her own. Growing up is an amazing thing!


  1. Carys is similar with food - quite picky. It's frustrating! She's allergic to milk, and I suspect other thing(s) I haven't been able to figure out yet, so that complicates it. She loves all fruit, and she loves pasta, so those are her staples. She still eats quite a lot of purees (squash, sweet potatoes, etc) - which is weird because Fiona was done with "baby food" WAY earlier. But Carys is later in teething too, and I guess there's only so much you can do with 7 teeth! Nursing - I'm now down to nursing her in the morning, and pumping (about 10 oz) each night, which she drinks the next day at daycare. Otherwise it's almond milk in bottles and sippy cups (suspicious of a potential soy allergy too). I'd be SO happy to be done pumping, but I really want her to have the health benefit of breastmilk through the winter, especially since she can't have dairy - I like the protein and fat it gets her. But it is TIRING! I love that second photo of her, such a cutie.

  2. Weaning was such a whirlwind of emotion & indecision for me. Tho I was anxious to have my boobs be mine again, I didn't want to lose that bonding time & closeness, & yes I guess dependence on me. But Elena was ready obviously because when I stopped, she only asked maybe once or twice afterwards. Be prepared for the hormone ride! That was the hardest for me.

  3. Love that mischievous grin when she is hiding behind the chair!!

    No advice on the weaning or the food. Elsie eats anything that doesn't eat her first!! Have a great Thanksgiving if I don't see/chat/blog with you before then!