Category Archives: Feeding

Weaning

Today saw a very low-key introduction to weaning for V. And to cleaning up after weaning, for me and my wife.

It started last week when we bought a high chair. F. had assembled and installed it in our small kitchen along with a little table. It had been fun to prop V. up in the chair for a photoshoot for the grandparents. But up until today, the chair remained in the kitchen, undiscussed.

It was only today, just before V.’s afternoon feed, when F. turned to me and asked “shall we try and give her some banana?”.

So into the high chair went V. and we cut up a banana. As I had read, we cut a short length of banana and left a little skin on the bottom for her to hold, like an ice cream cone.

With cameras ready, we presented V. with her banana. She immediately took it and gave it a good suck. Particularly the skin; her screwed up little face showed she didn’t care for the bitterness.

So we looked around the kitchen for something else. We cut up some apple – which went down well – and a tomato. That was a bit too soft to handle right now.

And that was that. At nearly 6 months, babies aren’t going to do anything with food except drool on it. Most of the fruit ended up smothered over V.’s onesie or on the table. Why we didn’t put a bib on her, I don’t know why. We do that a lot: focus so much on one milestone, we forget what we have previously learned.

So after about 15 minutes, we called it a day and V. went on to have her regular feed. I’m not sure what Mrs D. and me were expecting. For the record, we handed her those pieces of fruit. Does that count as baby-led? I don’t think it does.

Breastfeeding for men

Breast is best. Babies can’t get a better start. The mother and baby bond is stronger. All true.

What they don’t tell you about breastfeeding is how frustrating, painful and upsetting breastfeeding can be. And how sometimes it doesn’t go according to plan. In fact, if you look at the statistics, most of the time it doesn’t go according to plan.

At our NHS antenatal class, I remember F. raising a question with the midwife about breastfeeding. What if it’s painful? The midwife said very definitely, that it should not hurt if you are doing it right.

F. gave birth to our daughter at home and with no pain relieving drugs. Not even an aspirin. And she did it with an amazingly positive attitude throughout the labour. So when she tells me, in floods of tears, that the let-down and the latch-on she experiences when breastfeeding are both too much to bear – then that is what it is.

However, my wife is also a determined woman. And she had decided that V. was to be breastfed. We tried different positions for breastfeeding, for both mother and baby. We read books, and watched demonstrations on YouTube. Nothing worked. And for two months – several times a day – F. endured the pain and discomfort, even though it was getting worse and worse. Finally, F. would wince even before she put V. to her breast.

Finally, we found an understanding and experienced lactation consultant. She told us we were doing everything we could. She suggested a plan to try block feedings. Her proviso was that this approach reduced the number of feeds per day and that possibly we might experience a reduction in milk supply. But it might also ease the pain. We would supplement V.’s breastfeeds with formula. The strategy worked. Its been six weeks since then and the pain associated with breastfeeding has almost gone.

At that antenatal class, the midwife was a perfectly fine teacher. But, when it came to breastfeeding, we experienced a dogmatic response that seems quite common on this subject.

Guys, if your woman is having problems with breastfeeding, don’t let anyone else tell her she’s ‘doing it wrong’. She’s trying her best. That’s enough.

It’s a two-handed world

In the eleven weeks since V was born, there have been many times I’ve had to do chores around the house whilst holding the baby.  And I have very quickly found out that some chores are made way more difficult by baby-friendly products that turn out to be not very print-friendly products.

Baby feeding bottles, surprisingly, do not seem to be very parent-friendly. We’ve used three different makes; Medela, Tommy Tippee and, at the moment, Philips Avent. With each of them, they have worked very well with feeding V.

But when you are trying to make up a formula or breast milk at 2am, whilst holding a rapidly-waking child, these bottles become complex 3D puzzles. For some reason, they all come with caps that are too tight to flip open with a thumbnaill. You then need to unscrew the teat to be able to pour in water or add formula. But as the bottles are too wide to grasp between your teeth,  unscrewing the top is impossible without two hands. And finally, when the water and formula are in the bottle together, the teat needs to be screwed back on and the cap snapped into place to give the bottle a shake…

If bottles are to remain screwtop, snap-fit and wide, then I suggest someone designs a rubber mount that attaches to the kitchen counter top. The base of the bottle slips into the mount, holding it firm like a vice. You can then screw and unscrew the bottle with one hand.

In the meantime, my advice is to completely make up the formula, shake it up then leave the cap loosened before going to get your baby.