Monday, 25 June 2012

Baby Led Weaning and Breastfeeding

This is my fourth and final blog post for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt. The theme this week is breastfeeding beyond the first month so I am writing about my experiences of breastfeeding during the weaning process.

Baby M's introduction to food has been via baby led weaning. I love this method of weaning because it is so easy and relaxed. In case you aren't aware of it BLW doesn't involve puréed food or spoon feeding. You offer normal healthy foods to baby and they feed themselves, or ignore it, or throw it on the floor, or mush it up. I've blogged about it before so in this post I'm going to just focus on how it works with breastfeeding (and to some extent bottle feeding).

The following are common questions I've heard and responses based on my experience.

Food or milk first? 

Following the advise in Rapley and Murkett's Baby Led Weaning book if Baby M is hungry I nurse her before offering her food. This is important in the early days because they are just exploring food and if they are hungry they are unlikely to be in the mood to play. It also takes babies several months before they begin to understand that food can stop them being hungry. 

In practice I continue to nurse Baby M on demand and give her food when I am having a meal. This means that sometimes she will have a breastfeed just before a meal and other times there will be a few hours gap. 

How much milk should my Baby be having? 

This tends to be less of an issue for mums of breastfed babies than bottle fed ones because you aren't counting ounces in the same way. As always if you are feeding on demand you can't go wrong. 

I have been logging the length and frequency of Baby M's feeds for most of her 9 months. When she started solid food at 5 1/2 months she started swallowing food from the first meal. The amount she eats varies considerably from day to day, but there has been a small increase over the last 3 months. The amount of time she nurses decreased from about 90 minutes a day to about 60 minutes pretty much straight away. She always breastfeeds for at least 60 minutes, but sometimes it goes right back to the pre solid levels. The number of feeds hasn't reduced, but the duration has meaning she hasn't dropped any feeds yet. I've heard of other babies only having 2 breastfeeds a day by 10 months, but that doesn't seem likely for us.  Some babies don't get to grips with food until 9 or 10 months so how much milk they need won't go down until then. 

Between 6 months and a year babies get increasingly active which uses up a lot of energy. Baby M started crawling at 6 months and never stops moving, but the small amount of food she eats and continued breastfeeding has actually meant her weight gain has been ahead of the curve she was following.  The great thing about breastfeeding while weaning is I know she continues to get the majority of the nutrition she needs in my milk: anything she eats is a bonus. 

Are there still benefits to breastfeeding once a baby is eating solids?

Yes, yes, yes. Food before 1 is just for fun, and even after 1 breast milk provides a huge number of benefits to baby. If you aren't aware of what these are you need to go and read the earlier posts as part of this scavenger hunt. 

Should I be offering water as well? 

Before solids are introduced at 6 months breastfed babies don't need any water: breast milk is a drink as well as food, but opinion is divided on the importance of water during weaning. I want Baby M to have as many calories as possible during the day in the hope she will want less at night. Water has no calories so I was concerned that by offering water it would reduce the amount of calorific milk she had. On Kelly mom it is suggested that a few sips of water with food might help prevent constipation, but it is not required by all babies.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my posts for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt. If you haven't read my earlier posts please check them out. Before 29th June you can win a breastfeeding necklace from Baby Beads, a nursing cover from SoftBots and a Nursing Vest from Boobiemilk. Below you have another chance to enter for the grand prize of over £500 of goodies.
More chances to enter to win the grand prize can be found on the following blogs:
Life, Love and Living with Boys
Little Scribbles
Mama Geek
Mummys Little Peeps
Mummy Constant 

Please also check out BabaSlings who have contributed a BabaSling baby carrier to the grand prize. These award winning hammock style baby slings are simple to use and easy to adjust.

Ensure you have the best chance of winning the grand prize of over £500 of goodies by commenting on this post and letting the rafflecopter widget know you have done so.

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  1. My goal is to feed for as long as my daughter wants to (currently 15 months).

  2. Currently my goal is to feed as long as my daughter needs me! We are also doing BLW and loving it. She is seven and a half months now so still early days but still breastfeeds a lot! Especially at night. Some food is definitely being swallowed now but not lots. It is fabulous to watch her working out how to pick up things like rice or spaghetti and her face when she tastes things for the first time!

  3. Pickle & I are going strong at 10 months & I'm hoping to keep going as long as he wants too. In fact, I'm more in tuned to the bonding time and more relaxed as we go along.

  4. Thanks for this post, I really enjoyed it. I am just starting to wean a breastfed baby so this was really useful for me. My goal is to keep feeding until she is a year old, I hope it all works out!

  5. Fab post, I love how baby led weaning means breast milk is still the main source of nutrition for as long as baby needs it to be. I hope that both of my boys (currently 4 years old and 10 months old) wean when they are ready to and not before.

  6. Great post I baby led weaned my first and plan to with this one when it's time as its a great way to do it! My oal is to feed my baby for as long as he wants and needs,would loveto get to two.

  7. Samantha Holloway27 June 2012 at 20:53

    With my first I breast fed until he was 6 months, and with my second only a few weeks, so with the next one I would like to go longer than 6 months, hopefully 1 year.

  8. I was intending to breastfeed for 6 months, but after reading such fabulous blog posts for breastfeeding week, I think I'm open to feeding for a bit longer than that.


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