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Turkey made my baby cry, but at least she sleeps brilliantly

As usual, I have gotten my way in the care and feeding of our baby.

We proceeded with the baby-led weaning approach, despite the doctor’s objections. She does splendidly with feeding herself and I love the whole thing very intensely. Mr. Bunny seemed to have an epiphany when he was in charge of making dinner for once. He made a veggie burger for me, a hamburger for himself, and a tiny hamburger for Bun Bun. Gee, it’s nice not having to make her something special, he said. NO FUCKING SHIT.

(I also had an epiphany watching her nom down on beef for the first time. It made me both delighted and extremely disgusted, and I realized this is how my husband feels about vegetables.)

I love it because it means we can eat dinner together instead of one of us gobbling down food and then holding her while the other gobbles down food. I love it because it passes a difficult evening hour when she needs extra entertaining. I love it because it involves sharing. I love it because she seems to love it. She ate the fuck out of a pile of lentil stew and cornbread tonight. My almost-seven-month-old can pick up a lentil. I love it because we got to attach her little chair to the table at Thanksgiving and put some food in front of her and then carry on with our dinner, together.

Is it trashy to eat with my shirt off, Mama?

So far the only thing that she has declined to eat is turkey. It actually made her cry. Which was hilarious. We took it away, and she happily ate squash. She’s had chili and limes and meatballs and asparagus and butternut squash and tomatoes with hummus and all manner of fruits, and all SORTS of things.

Plus, my sister in law–a nutritional epidemiologist who studies childhood obesity–was most impressed with the whole thing at Thanksgiving. Of course, then her dog bit one of the children in attendance, so maybe I don’t care what she thinks.

And although I hate the BLW book (the one entitled BLW, because of the absurdly sweeping claims about the benefits of this approach–drives me totally nuts, even though I know it’s not meant to be evidence-based), I don’t care if it IS a fad. Sensible things can start as fads. And it’s normal in other places. And I love it. SO THERE.

I also love the fact that my baby once again requires nothing from me from 7pm until about 5 or 6 am. Operant conditioning is effective, and in our case, it was the silver bullet. She figured out what was happening quite quickly. Most nights are now 100% cry-free, and we are far less anxious about bedtime. And night in general. But I should confess that there have been two painful moments since the initial period. One night she cried at 3am for about twenty minutes on and off. I promise you that I thought all the horrible things about myself that anyone who believes this approach is unwise would want me to think, and I wept, and there was black despair. And on Thanksgiving night, when my sister-in-law was staying down the hall, Bun Bun felt the need to indulge in ten minutes of angry screaming before falling asleep.

Perhaps she feared the return of TURKEY.

I know this approach won’t work with all babies, and I know that it may not work long-term with MY baby, but every night that it does work is a night that it fucking works. I get to savor holding her at bedtime instead of hoping and praying that when I put her down, she won’t cry. I get to wallow in bed in the middle of the night instead of standing in her room wondering why she weighs a thousand pounds more than she does during the day, and why nothing I can do will make her go back to sleep. And I assure you, I am deeply, deeply grateful for this easy, cheerful, miraculous, lentil-grasping baby.

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oak #

    That's super awesome. I totally adore the BLW approach but since Mac went off the boob so early, I felt the need to give him some purees to make sure he was getting all the nutrients he needed. Frankly, he's still a bit of a pig when it comes to feeding himself. I would say 50% of it makes it in his mouth and the other 50% lodges itself in random places in his high chair or his body. You're nailing the perfect parent thing in my opinion because the perfect parent does what feels right and what works regardless of what "the norm" is.

    December 1, 2011
  2. I am beginning to suspect that Bun Bun is a bit of a super baby – the girl eats AND sleeps like a champ? If you detect a slight hint of jealousy in my tone it's probably because it is there. I haven't read anything about the BLW stuff but I have to say that it actually sounds to me the way all of the better approaches (as I perceive them) have sounded from the beginning – very common sense-like. Provide healthy foods and let them experiment with them at their own pace- hmmmmm, revolutionary? This way they learn to chew and experience tastes and, you know, EAT. I hope to get a chance to try this the next time around.

    December 1, 2011
  3. I'm jealous and envious (and also excited for you). Not going to lie. BUT I am so delighted that this is working out so well for you guys. I'm going to give this approach a try when I can which will hopefully be soon.

    December 1, 2011
  4. ana #

    Glad its all going so well, and eating together is really a wonderful milestone to achieve so early! So let me get this straight (because I want to try it with my little one in a few months), with the BLW you don't feed them anything with a spoon, ever? For instance, can you give her the lentils or oatmeal with a spoon, or are they supposed to eat with their hands until they can use the spoon themselves? Sorry if this is a stupid question, I can't bring myself to read any of the BLW websites because of all the B.S.

    December 1, 2011
  5. Ha! I know what you mean about the websites, ana. I give her stuff with a spoon, too. If I think she can pick it up, I give it to her in a little pile. She's had hummus and lentils that way. (Yeah, it's a bit disgusting, but so is spoon feeding.) With the spoon, I basically just hand the spoon to her so she still has some control. I think a lot of parents combine the two approaches with great success.

    December 1, 2011
  6. make you a deal: i will feed bun bun hamburgers if you will teach the bean to sleep. ignore everything i said before about teaching babies things; i take it all back if you get him to sleep.i am so glad you prevailed re: food. i have it on good authority from starhillgirl (who is an Infant Professional) that the lazy parenting methods are always the right ones.

    December 2, 2011
  7. Awww, a belated happy Thanksgiving to the Bunny Family! And I love a shirtless bebe at the dinner table! :)BLW really has been a ton of fun for us. I feel like mealtimes became insanely easier for us, too. Like, suddenly order and ease were relatively restored to our meals. Arlo was confined, but happily so, all distracted by food and the challenge of picking up little things. Can I say that I think he has *the* cutest pincer grasp ever? Also, is it strange to adoringly beam at your kid while he smears shit all over his face, hair and upper torso? Ana, we do a more modified BLW here when it comes to spoons. Arlo LOVES a spoon. He will hold an empty one in one hand while he eats with the other. Sometimes he doesn't use it at all, but I like that it introduces cutlery to the experience. Sometimes I will load the spoon for him for things like hummus, Greek yogurt, etc. and let him feed himself with the spoon. I know BLW purists may disagree with this (whatevs), but he's gotta use utensils one day, right? I never read the BLW book. Oh, about the turkey… Arlo cried the first time we gave him roast chicken, too! He moved it around in his mouth and got all distressed, like, "GET THIS OUTTA MAH MOUTH!!!" I know BLW purists say not to "hide" food inside of other foods, but I would take the bits of broccoli left on his tray and mash it into the bits of roast chicken, and he'd eat that little chicken-broccoli glob just fine. I totally think it was a texture thing for him. Anyway, he eats chicken and turkey with no probs now.

    December 2, 2011
  8. My principles, alas, met reality when Bug was little. [Insert long and boring story involving oatmeal, a 4-month-old who wouldn't take a bottle NO NO NO POISON, a spouse who was watching him all day, and me coming home to both weeping every day.] But he loved picking food up. We ended up starting with freeze-dried banana because he'd smush anything soft enough to not choke on, and then cry because he couldn't eat it… anyhow. Real food! Awesome for babies!Amazing how your spouse suddenly realized what a pain it is to feed babies…. Hah.(P.S. Operant conditioning is great! Also, it always makes me think of this.)

    December 2, 2011
  9. I'm so happy for you. Your perfect little sleeper doesn't even make me want to stab you in the face. Sleep training ended up being our piece de resistance after a whole lot of no-cry stuff. My little guy is a pretty good sleeper now too. He's practically diving for his mattress at bedtime. Now we can just kiss him, lay him down, watch him flip himself over in one fish-like motion, and walk out.

    December 2, 2011
  10. A lentil? That is truly astonishing. She's so little! It's so heartwarming to see her little figure at the table – it's unthinkable that only last year she wasn't even born. Ah!

    December 5, 2011
  11. Turkey makes me cry also. Well the turkey, side dishes and pies and cakes that make me fat so Bun Bun is advanced. I am beyond impressed that she is eating all these things at 7 months. I thout my baby was destined for crap baby food. You give me hope Bunny.

    December 6, 2011
  12. It sounds like the sleeping is ironing out. Personally, I'm in the self-soothe camp. I know you've written about wanting her to experience things and not wanting to cushion her too much – and self-sufficiency is a part of that. I know it's silly to talk about self-sufficiency at this age BUT I do think that babies who sleep are just happier babies. Period. And I think it's wonderful that Bun Bun has an opinion on turkey at all:) She's discerning. Won't eat just anything. (And, by the way, I never got a chance to comment on your post about the pediatrician and the eating thing, but you might be interested in checking out Nina Planck's "Real Food" book for mother and baby. She's a huge proponent of babies eating exactly what their parents eat, trying things. And the joys of getting down and messy while doing it.)

    December 6, 2011

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