So I’m going to be controversial here and admit that I have started weaning Arlo onto solids early *dun dun daaah!* I have read everything under the sun on weaning: when to start, signs of readiness, baby led vs purees, food choices ect ect! So I am fully aware that the guidelines state to only start weaning from 6 months (Arlo is currently 5 months and we have been slowly weaning him for about a week and a half). I know many people strongly disagree with the choice to wean early and I know there are risks involved including; choking, infection, obesity, diabetes and development of allergies. However (you must have expected there would be a ‘however’) I am trying to trust my maternal instincts and do what I think is right for my baby, for myself and for our family.
Throughout my journey into motherhood I have worried far too much about what everyone else thinks and have tried to do as I’m told as I have felt clueless about what is right and what is wrong. But, I am trying to take the reins and gain control over important parenting decisions for my child. I am starting to realise that while advice from other people can be valuable I am Arlo’s mum and I know him the best. My mantra needs to be “I am the expert on my child”.
Arlo may not be 6 months yet but I do think he is showing some signs of readiness to eat solid food.
* He is able to hold his head steady and can sit up with some support. I realise the guidelines suggest that a child needs to be able to sit unaided and we are getting there but at the moment he is sturdy enough and the high chair helps to keep him upright!
* His tounge thrust reflex is pretty much gone.
*He is very interested in our food and is often trying to reach out and grab it!
*He is a hungry boy and breastfeeds mostly every 2 and half hours, day and night (and no it isn’t a growth spurt or phase as he has done this since birth). This is very draining to someone who is very sleep deprived and I don’t think I can increase his feeds as this would mean breastfeeding every hour or so!
* I haven’t had him weighed for 3 weeks but he is not far off doubling his birth weight (9lb 7!)
More than anything though the decision to wean was more to do with the dreaded… reflux. My lovely bubbly baby is made unhappy most of the time by gastro-oesophageal reflux. After a feed he becomes very irritable and uncomfortable and brings up his milk. This can be in one projectile spurt or little bits over the next hour after a feed and usually all over himself, me, my husband, over furniture and our family and friends or all of the above! I have become paranoid that people judge Arlo on this behaviour and class him as a ‘grumpy’ or ‘difficult’ baby when in actual fact he is incredibly uncomfortable at these times and the rest of the time he is lovely! If an adult had constant indigestion/ heartburn after eating I don’t think they would be too chirpy either. I have tried everything from different breastfeeding positions, keeping Arlo upright after feeds, giving him medications such as Gaviscon & Ranitidine, changing and monitoring my own diet, feeding him little and often and burping him often but some of these are just quick fixes and some only make matters worse. At times I have found it very difficult and it has really got me down as it seems no matter what I do I can’t make it better for him. I have been to talk to the GP on numerous occasions and have also been to seek advice from the midwives at my breastfeeding support group and the health visitors. All of these professionals have re-suggested all of the above and together we have come to the conclusion that weaning could be an option and it may reduce the reflux. The health visitor did suggest I try changing my diet again but this time to be more strict with what I am eating and cut out all cows protein for 3 weeks to see if Arlo had an intolerance to this. After walking around Tescos looking at the alternatives to diary I decided it was just too depressing to give up those foods especially when I had a strong feeling it would be a waste of time. Most children who have an allergy of intolerance show more signs of this through rashes or other problems with their skin, they may have diarrhoea and a very sore bottom and have problems with their weight. Arlo does not have any of these problems and there is no history of allergies in our families. I am also so exhausted from lacking sleep, cutting out a major food group would steal even more of my energy! I decided something has go to give…. let’s wean!
So to start with I followed the advice of the health visitor and midwives and I gave Arlo some baby rice mixed with breastmilk. I was not keen on baby rice as I know there is no nutritional value, it is very processed and just turns to sugar. But as it is so plain I figured with his regular milk mixed in, it would be something familiar to him and it would give me the chance to test the waters and see how he reacted to a heavier substance. It seemed to be going down OK and staying down but after a few days Arlo was spitting it back out, probably because it is pretty tasteless! I tried mixing in some pureed banana which he preferred but then I thought “this is pointless” and just gave him the banana puree (again I mixed in some of my milk to water it down and provide a bit of familiarity). It has been just under 2 weeks since we started and I must say Arlo is loving it! We are taking things slow and for the first week Arlo was eating once a day and only one teaspoon of food. We have increased this to two mealtimes and a few teaspoons of pureed food. We have tried banana, sweet potato and pears and he enjoys it so much that he gets frustrated whenI’m not spooning it in fast enough! We have stuck to the each food for 3 consecutive days just to make sure Arlo does not have a reaction to it and so far, no problems. More importantly….. I think there is an improvement with the reflux! I have been offering him a milk feed, waiting a short while (15-30mins) and then giving him the solid food as a dessert. 9 times out of 10 the solid food appears to be keeping the milk feed down, HOORAY!
I know it is still early days and the reflux is still there but I am hoping as the amount he eats increases and the texture of food develops the reflux will disappear. I was originally keen on baby-led weaning (before I discovered I had a baby with reflux) but once he turns 6 months old I plan to dive into baby-led as it looks like so much fun.
Please share your weaning experiences whether you weaned early or not, did baby led or purees, your baby reflux or no reflux. I will keep you posted about Arlo’s journey with food.
Thanks for reading!
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