More of our BLW Story

Posted by Arvi on Monday, June 30, 2014
I know I have been mentioning how much we love our baby-led weaning (BLW) story with our Ava but I just realized that I haven't completely shared some of the things we did that made our  journey successful. So I thought of making this post with high hopes of inspiring other families to at least consider the baby-led approach in feeding their babies.

Let me first give you a quick introduction about BLW, just in case the term is pretty new to you. Baby-led weaning is an alternative approach in introducing solids to babies at six months, we also call it baby-led feeding here in our country. Compared to the traditional way of solid feeding, BLW does not recommend spoon-feeding, mashing or puréeing food. Instead, it allows babies to pick up their food and eat independently. It also encourages a healthier eating habit, so no boxed or jarred baby food, just wholesome and all natural foods cut into chunks big enough for babies to grasp and gnaw.
Here are the things that will happen in BLW:
  • The baby sits with the rest of the family at mealtimes, and joins when she is ready.
  • She is encouraged to explore food as soon as she is interested, by picking it up with her hands - it doesn't matter whether or not she manages to eat any at first.
  • Food is offered in pieces that are the size and shape that the baby can handle easily, rather than as purées or mashed food.
  • She feeds herself from the start, rather than being spoon-fed by someone else.
  • It's up to the baby how much she eats, and how quickly she widens the range of food she enjoys.
  • The baby continues to have milk feedings (breast milk or formula) whenever she wants then and she decides when she is ready to begin reducing them.
- Excerpt from the BLW book by Gill Rapley.
If you are interested in reading more, the best way to start is read the Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods - and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett. Everything you need to know about BLW is in that book.

I thought of sharing our story based on the commonly asked questions I've read in the BLW group or from the questions that I've received from other mamas. I will also share some ideas and principles that we have practiced that made BLW easier and more fun for our family. :)

How did we learn about BLW?

I learned about BLW in one of the breastfeeding meet-ups we attended when Ava was just three months old. Solid food introduction was asked and I distinctly remember one mama sharing how her son eats fruits and vegetables, cut into chunks, independently. Hearing her story amazed me so much that I decided to do some further researches and discussed the things I've learned with Mr. T. He also liked the whole idea and the principles of BLW so we agreed on trying it with Ava. I also learned about a Facebook local support group for those practicing the baby-led approach in feeding their babies - Baby-Led Weaning Philippines. At that time, it was a group of just less than 500 members, and I was amazed at all the stories, photos and videos of babies eating on their own. Now the group has reached more than 8,000 members and it's so nice to see that a lot of mamas (and papas too!) are practicing the same approach and a whole lot more are interested in trying it with their babies.

Tips: It is very important that you understand the whole concept and principles of BLW. That way you will gain confidence in letting and trusting your baby to eat independently. You can also attend some first-aid classes about Infant and Child Safety seminar in case you are worried about choking. There are also a lot of materials online that you can watch and read as well. If you are worried about the thought of a higher choking risk in BLW compared to the traditional feeding, then you should know that it's quite the contrary. In traditional feeding, when you feed your baby mashed or puréed food, the consistency is not much different from their milk, the food can easily slide (or sometimes forced) at the back of their mouth. It does not allow them to chew first before swallowing. In BLW, babies learn to gnaw/bite, chew and swallow at their own pace. In between six and eight months, the gag reflex in babies are particularly sensitive. This reflex in babies prevents food from moving too far at the back of the mouth when they aren't ready to swallow. That's why it is important that you learn the difference between gagging and choking. Basically, if your baby bites a huge chunk and started making a lot of noise and if her face is turning red, that's gagging. Just allow her to manage the food and wait for her to spit it out. But if she's not making any noise (completely) and starts to turn blue, then your baby is choking. Give first-aid immediately and then call for help.

Ditch the Mama Guilt

Posted by Arvi on Wednesday, June 18, 2014
I have been working for nearly a decade now. Two companies, almost two years in the first one, and I'm on my 6th year here in my current office with only 2 or 3 months of unemployment in between. In case you're not familiar with what I do, I work as a designer in an architecture and interior design company. In our industry, regardless if we are designing residential houses, offices, commercial spaces, etc., all have something common. It's the flexibility and the long working hours needed to complete a certain project. In my previous job, I have experienced staying in the office for two-three days straight to finish a project presentation. But things are better where I am currently working, our company encourages maximizing our office hours instead of rendering overtime work. But as I have mentioned, our industry goes hand in hand with the need for extended work hours so there are days that I still need to stay a little longer just to get things done.

If you are unattached, single, in a relationship or even married without children, your time is pretty much your own. So working in the office until late at night or until the wee hours of the morning even, is really okay as long as you're able and and willing. But when you become a Mama, a baby enters the picture, then poof! Every second will count. Literally. And when the seconds add up to minutes, hours or even days for some, that's when the guilt starts. The guilt doubles up if you're coming home late not because of work, but because of some leisure time with your husband or with your friends. Trust me. I know how anxiety can get to you in the middle of a movie, or in the middle of a good conversation with your friends. It sneaks from below your spine up to the back of your neck. It will even give you goosebumps some times.

But here I am now, having a hot cup of hibiscus tea and a plate of sticky cinnamon bun while waiting for Mr. T to come off of work. I could have gone home earlier but since it's raining, traffic's bad for sure. I'm not that brave to commute at this time. Instead, I'm going to spend the next hour blogging and reading. Do I feel guilty? No.

Internet, hear me. I'm not guilty. Lol. :P

Ok, sometimes I still do feel guilty but not as much as before. And I know Mr. T has completely different views about this, he already knows that going home an hour or two later than usual is already ok. No need to beat ourselves up for it, just make the most out of it. After reading more about attachment parenting, I have come to realize that spending most (if not all) of my time and energy with and for my daughter brings no balance to my personal and our family life. I have to make time for my husband, myself and other things too. In order for me to do this, I needed to do some changes and I am sharing some of them to you.

We Love Human♡Nature! :)

Posted by Arvi on Thursday, June 12, 2014
It was during our first trimester when I encountered an article with a list of some ingredients found in beauty products that could be harmful to pregnant women. And some of those were found in the facial moisturizer I was using back then. With a little research, I stumbled upon Human Heart Nature (HHN) products. Two years later, I'm still using the same moisturizer, beauty oil plus more.

Here's a list of our much loved HHN products and know why we love  using them:

100% Natural Day Moisturizer - I don't really use a lot of facial products but there are three items I cannot live without - facial wash, scrub and a moisturizer. This HHN moisturizer feels really good on my skin because it's not sticky nor oily. I spend my whole day inside an air-conditioned office so just imagine how dry my skin can get. There were times when I would forget to moisturize and by lunchtime, my skin is already cracking. But with the HHN moisturizer, I only need to apply once in the morning and it lasts the whole day already.

Sunflower Beauty Oil - This one I used more when I was pregnant. See, Mr. T is not really fond of oils and lotions. He hates those sticky stuff. But this oil he didn't mind using while massaging my legs after a day's work specially when I was on my last trimester already. I also massaged this to my super stretched tummy everytime it itched. I love how my skin felt after using this oil, soft and smooth but not sticky nor greasy. Since it's an all-natural product, I also tried using it on Ava's legs to even out her skin from dark patches caused by insect bites. It worked for us because I saw the dark patches eventually lightened up to Ava's natural skin color.

When your child becomes mobile, you have to be ready with a lot of insect bites. The first few insect bites, you will question the universe how and why. Heck, you'll even chastise Yaya for it. Lol. But I guess insect bites are just part of childhood. So there's no use fussing over it. Just keep watch on the serious ones though.

On Poops and Pees

Posted by Arvi on Monday, June 09, 2014
As I was fixing Ava's diapers early Sunday morning, I realized how much she's grown. I wonder how much longer we'll be using these diapers. Our little girl has begun showing signs of readiness physically and emotionally.

For the first time, Ava said "poopoo" about a month ago. We thought it was just coincidence, then it happened again, until it became a routine without us even training her to say it. About 80% of the time we check, there's poo on her diapers. And about 60% of after doing no. 2 she would actually say "poopoo". We've also seen other signs of readiness like there was this one time, about a couple of weeks ago, when her bum was red (without rashes) all over. We let her sleep without diapers and woke up to a dry and clear bum the next morning. Predicting when to use liners (to catch poo) and what type of inserts and boosters to use for a specific time of the day are both easier now.

Ever since we learned and understood a baby-led approach into feeding Ava, our whole parenting style kind of followed. Instead of the parent-led ways that we both grew up with, we are following Ava's cues instead. We didn't do sleep training, we didn't schedule her feeding time, we didn't even made a special schedule for her activities. Surprisingly, she lead us to our own routines that fit our lifestyle as a family.

Things You Don't Say/Ask to a Breastfeeding Mama

Posted by Arvi on Tuesday, June 03, 2014
Yes, in case you have missed it, my darling daughter is now 19 months and still breastfeeding. :) It's one of the best choices we have made as first-time parents. We know we are providing the best for our daughter.

I remember when I first watched the movie Grownups, we weren't married yet. It was the scene when the group reunited for the first time at the coach's funeral. They were seating in a gazebo chatting when Kevin James' son walked up to the mom and asked to breastfeed. The group was taken aback, someone asked how old the boy was and Kevin James responded, 48 months, trying to downplay the age. Then the couple went defensive and explained that they're trying to wean him already.

That was a funny scene, or back then I thought it was.

Fast-forward to today, I am now a Mama to my beautiful daughter, and we are breastfeeding. I have learned a lot about the importance of breastfeeding not only during the first 6 months of a baby's life but also extended breastfeeding for a toddler. Anyway you look at it, breast milk is still superior to any other kind of milk being offered in the market.

See, here in our country, it is just recently that breastfeeding is really breaking through. Years before, milk formula companies together with their marketing ploys and ads did a great job at making people think that formula milk is as good as breast milk. Packed with vitamins and nutrients that they have studied that are supposed to be similar to what a child gets from breast milk. Before I got pregnant, I didn't know formula milk was all that bad, we even tried giving Ava formula milk before when I was about to go back to work just in case I don't get to meet her daily milk requirements by pumping. She was around 3 months then, and that was the only thing I regret doing as a parent. I was so misinformed.