Breaking the Mold

Becoming a parent will always be a life changing experience, one moment your an individual or part of a couple, the next you are charged with the responsibility of a new life. When pregnant you will try to visualise how your life will change and how you will parent but when the vision becomes reality things can go very differently.

I often sit back and think about when we were pregnant with Quentin how I expected things to turn out, and now realised that some things we thought would be easy were harder than expected and others much easier than we could ever have anticipated. We turned out to be much more baby-led than we expected. Many of the choices we have made have raised a few eyebrows as they’re not considered ‘mainstream’ but generally they’re well received!

Baby-led?

Although parenting will always involve some parent-led decisions for example Cloth nappies or disposables? a baby-led decision would be to respond to a babies reaction to say ‘chemicals’ in disposables and switch to cloth nappies instead.

Following your babies cues are the important thing!

Being baby-led

I have found compared to some of our friends that our style of parenting has come more naturally to us. We do have routines but these fall into place by following Quentin’s cues rather than there being a strict timed routine.
For instance bed-time can vary from 6pm-7.30pm depending on naps during the day. But we always follow the same method, Bath, Pj’s & Sleeping bag, Breast-fed supper and bed. This normally sees him through til the early hours. For us the bedtime routine has been key. Others just slip into place around the day we’ve planned.

Breastfeeding

Traditionally science has tried to interfere with the womanly art of breastfeeding. Timing the length and number of feeds that your baby should be having and limiting access to the breast, this often interfered with the bodies ability to produce enough milk leading women to believe their milk wasn’t satisfying their babies.

Breastfeeding is by no means the easiest thing in the world as both you and your baby have to learn together.

Demand feeding is the most effective way of maintaining your milk supply and being able to meet his demands. In the early weeks I did feel a bit like a human dummy but it has helped keep our breastfeeding relationship a long and healthy one (even though I am now back at work – I provide expressed milk) at almost 10 months we’re still going strong.

I plan on becoming a volunteer peer supporter for breastfeeding as I believe that early advice is key to success.

Weaning

BLW Baby led weaning is based on following your babies cues for readiness for solids. Quentin was almost 6 months old when we started offering finger foods. This method of weaning involves no purees or mush – your baby will eat normal food straight from the start. (obviously use your judgement of the suitability of the food).

This method of weaning does tend to raise a few eyebrows as people do expect you to produce a jar & spoon from your bag rather than join in with whatever we’re eating. Quentin is quiet a skilled eater now and has recently mastered the art of eating individual peas and raisins.

Always seek guidance before starting any type of weaning your health professional can help, we supplemented their advice with the Baby-led weaning Book by Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett as it offered much more specific advice towards our preferred weaning method.

Wearing

Baby wearing is nothing new, for centuries women have worn their babies whilst bustling about their daily lives. It’s only recently that it’s reappeared in the western world!

I love wearing Quentin, there’s nothing more satisfying to me than to have him close, and comfortable. We travel in the car quiet a bit and it’s so easy to get out the car and pop him in the sling for a few mins whilst I pop in to a shop, much quicker than faffing around with a pushchair or putting un-neccessary strain on my hips or shoulders.

There are many different types of sling/wrap/carriers that you can use. The earlier you start wearing your baby the easier it will be to adjust for the extra weight. Quentin is almost 21lbs now and I can still wear him comfortably for a few hours. Our pushchair barely gets a look in these days but if we plan on being out all day I will take it along to give us both a break.

More?

There are many, many parenting forums and discussion boards on the internet that will enlighten you to ‘baby-led’, ‘attachment’ or ‘natural’ methods of parenting like The Bundle Jungle.

4 Comments

  1. Lovely article! We have practised all these approaches with our 16 month old, guided by the attachment principle of getting to know our child and matching what we do to his needs, not to some imposed structure.

    Unfortunately, the staff at our clinic were very unhelpful about baby-led weaning. I had read Gill Rapley’s book that you link to above, and was able to stand my ground in the face of being told I had to feed mashed bananas to my six month old because he wasn’t getting enough iron, that breastmilk was no longer the most nutritious thing he could consume, that I had left weaning *very* late (at six months and four days) and other nonsense. I wrote to the clinic manager to complain and request better training for the staff, but they never so much as acknowledged my email.

    I have trained as a breastfeeding peer supporter and agree that early advice and support can be crucial for many people. Those early days can be so tough – the right support can make all the difference and save a lot of unnecessary suffering! Good on you for considering volunteering. ๐Ÿ™‚ I won’t judge women who choose not to breastfeed, but it saddens me to think of women who wanted to but ended up switching to formula due to lack of support for their first choice.

    Thanks for the lovely article and great links.

  2. Great article!

    We are just about to start the weaning process with our second little boy and going down the blw route this time!
    I have the Gill Rapley book on hold at the library, and luckily, a few friends who’ve done it with their children to learn from and ask for advice.
    Unfortunately, because it’s not the ‘norm’ and still seen by many as being a bit ‘hippy’ or ‘out there’ I’ve had some negative comments and strange reactions, including from my own mother and sister. But I choose to ignore them and know that what I’m doing is the best for us.

  3. Thanks Sioedwyn, I know the BLW can be daunting to start with but the results show for themselves. You’ll soon be able to grin like a cheshire cat once he’s feeding himself & joining in the family meal without anyones dinner going cold.

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