UPDATE #2: BABY-LED WEANING PROGRESS

It has been six weeks since I last updated on Oliver’s progress with solid foods. At that time, Oliver was still primarily tasting and sucking on foods, and had not yet lost the protective gag reflex that prevents babies from swallowing foods before they are ready to do so. He was eating only one meal with us each day — supper on weekdays and brunch on weekends — and was essentially still obtaining all of his nutritional needs from breast milk.

About a month ago, we noticed a sudden decrease in incidences of gagging, and Oliver began to eat small, but observable quantities of soft foods (observable in terms of both intake and, er… “output”). The decrease in gagging coincided with Oliver being able to pull himself, unaided, from prone or supine lying into a seated position.

With five teeth, Oliver is now able to ingest food either by biting it or by scraping it along his teeth. He “chews” food with his gums.

I recently added a mid-day snack to Oliver’s schedule, in order to give him additional opportunities to take in solids and develop his self-feeding skills. We would like to eliminate his 11:00 P.M. “dream feed” in the next couple of months (as the final stage of sleep training; not as a stage of weaning), and this will be predicated on Oliver consuming sufficient amounts of solid food to carry him through a 12-hour period of sleep.

There have also been a number of behavioural changes since my last update. Oliver has started to delight in deliberately dropping and pushing his food on the floor, pounding his food on the table and splashing his hands in spilled water. We give him only one or two pieces of food at a time in order to minimize the temptation for him to discard it.

He has also learned how to blow bubbles in his water — which is great, since I’ve been trying to teach him this skill at the pool; not so great when it’s done at the table.

Oliver has become acutely aware of his ability to elicit reactions from others, so we are careful not to react to these — and any other — undesirable mealtime behaviours. This means not flinching and not saying “oops” or “uh-oh” when food falls on the floor, which requires incredible restraint on our part! Hopefully these behaviours will lose their novelty when he becomes more interested in actually eating his food.

Aside from not giving reinforcement or attention to the behaviours we would like to eliminate, we have also been careful to keep our language as neutral as possible when it comes to introducing foods or responding to Oliver’s reactions to foods. For example, instead of labelling foods as tasty or delicious, we comment on their more objective qualities, for example, “Cucumber is refreshing,” or “Steak is juicy.” When he indicates he is not interested in eating something, we don’t say, “Oh, you don’t like it?” and instead say things like, “I guess you don’t want avocado today.”

Oliver sits nicely at the table for anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes (sometimes even longer), which is age-appropriate, and enough time for J and me to enjoy our meals. He is still eating a one hundred percent Paleo diet, and we have no plans to introduce grains, dairy, legumes or treats anytime in the near future. We just don’t see it as necessary, and he has no idea what he’s missing. We will, however, have to rein in our own “cheats,” since Oliver is keenly interested in everything he sees us put into our mouths. That can only be a good thing for me and J — we need all the help and motivation we can get! 🙂

6 responses to “UPDATE #2: BABY-LED WEANING PROGRESS

  1. Did you ever think you would be so interested in someone’s poop? 🙂

    I don’t know much about nutrition and even less about the paleo diet but I was wondering what your plan was with respect to Oliver’s calcium needs as he grows and eats more and takes in less breast milk. In our modern food culture, calcium has pretty much become synonymous with dairy products and it would be great (for me, I’m selfish) if you could point me to some non-dairy calcium-rich foods…I think broccoli and almonds but I’m getting that from a yogurt commercial!

    • I never imagined I would greet J by telling him how many times Oliver used the potty or what I found in his diapers. Yup, it’s kind of sad we’ve come to that. 🙂

      From the reading I have done, the issue with the standard North American diet is not so much a lack of calcium, but a deficiency in magnesium, which is a cofactor in calcium absorption/usage. Leafy and green vegetables are high in magnesium, as are almonds. It’s also really easy and inexpensive to supplement, if vegetable intake is less than optimal. Robb Wolf writes about magnesium in great detail in “The Paleo Solution.”

      The best dietary source of calcium that I know of is homemade bone broth — the kind that is simmered for 12-24 hours, to the point that it becomes gelatinous when it is cooled. We try to make a pot of that every week, and either drink it straight up, or use it in our cooking.

      Finally, grains and legumes are believed to interfere with the absorption of minerals via the intestines (especially for people who are sensitive to lectins, such as gluten), so eliminating these food groups can help to ensure that the body absorbs whatever dietary calcium and magnesium is taken in.

  2. I’m wondering if you could add a section to your blog where you share the resources you use to get all this information. I love all of your tips, but I’m a preparer/reader and would love to see the original sources! Books, websites, etc. would all be appreciated. Thanks!

    • Amy, that’s a great idea! I used to have a “links” sidebar, but it disappeared when I reformatted the blog. I’ll just add a page to the menu at the top, and I think that should do the trick. I probably won’t get around to actually adding any resources to it in the next couple of weeks, as we are headed off on vacation, but I’ll work on it when we get back.

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