Traditional Weaning VS Baby Led Weaning

I have two boys, aged 4 and 1.
When my eldest was ready for solid food, he was traditionally weaned, purees and spoon-fed weaning.
While for my younger, I adopt baby led weaning approach for him. 
The most asked question I got regarding both my boys' food journey is do I prefer TW or BLW. 
I'm taking some time to pen down my thoughts and views ;)

My eldest was spoon-fed, started with purees, he was introduced to a variety of different food, mixed puree combo which is loaded with nutrients, and he loved eating. He was slowly progressed to mashed/chopped texture food over the next few months, and started to introduce some finger food to him. If i remember correctly he hardly have difficult time with eating when he was young. It was when he turned 2 years old, and we wanted him to self-feed, and there the headache came. He would take forever to swallow his food, not wanting to scoop and eat, not wanting to eat this and that, every meal time is a battlefield with him. Really sick of those yelling and threatening so that he eats, properly. 

I wasn't aware of baby led weaning during my eldest time, the word "baby-led-weaning" was only came to me after a few month I'd introduced solid food to him. My understanding of baby led weaning back then was as simple as it implies - a kid feeding himself, never did i know that the real meaning behind it. I knew that if i have a no.2, i would like to start him with baby led weaning after hearing all the goodness of blw and how well a child can eat. And there come baby no.2, i started to do some research to prepare myself better. And now it's been a year since my younger adopt blw and he is doing good. Nevertheless there are sweats and tears along the way but it is all worth it.

(Julius at 6m, first food is avocado puree) 

My thoughts on traditional weaning, it is easier to prepare the iron-rich or other nutrients-rich food for baby, LESS messy than baby led weaning, more suited to feeding on the go, easier for parents who worried about choking and gagging, and you are making sure your kid has a full meal. However, your kid might be "lazy" to feed himself as he is used to spoon-fed, not concentrating when he eats, tend to walk here and there (my eldest still do), and you gotta spend alot of time to instill the correct eating habit and teach him to eat properly. He would be gagging a lot when he started to eat textured food, because he is used to swallowing his puree, so when he tried to swallow textured food he would gag.

(Jayzee at 6m, first food is avocado slice)

As for baby led weaning, there is no purees or mashed food, baby is not spoon-fed, he chooses what to eat, how much to eat and eat at his own pace. For parents who chooses to use blw approach, have to have strong heart. When he was first introduced to solid food, and every single time when he eats, i gotta watch him like a hawk in fear that he might choke, the gagging at the beginning part always give me the heart attack. I have been watching the choke first-aid video for the N times and still feeling paranoid. Gagging is part of the process, as opposed to traditional weaning, they learn to chew first before swallowing it. And a lot of time i actually feel like giving up and just want to spoon feed my younger, as he is not eating. He'd munch a few bites and then stop, the sight of him losing weight is just so demotivating. Plus the mess, and the clean-ups, it is no kidding.

And then again, i tried to be persistent and remind myself of the principles of blw, just baby-led. If he doesn't want to eat, it could means that he is full or he doesn't feel like eating. Milk is his primary food, while solid food is supplementary in first year of life. I tried to increase his meal time frequency, giving him more chance to practice eating, and having meals with us adult. It takes time see his progress and his loves for food. And now he can sit and scoop and eat properly. When he is done, he will let you know he is full. No forcing to eat, no coaxing, just let him eat at his own pace.

So i think the difference for both approaches is: TW is hard work later; BLW is hard work first. Your choice. A lot of time i received message like "i want to let my baby eat like your son, what should i feed him first? can i feed him apple first" etc etc, when messages like this sent to my inbox for the tenth times, that actually frustrates me, cos obviously people just follow suit without doing much research. Feeding baby without knowledge is dangerous (apple is high choking risk food).There are lots of different approaches to weaning, what is right for one family, won’t necessarily suit another. And important point is, irregardless of which method you use, do some research first before feeding baby, equip yourself with knowledge and be comfortable with your choice of feeding.  

The more I do BLW the more I feel it is the natural way to feed a baby, baby actually taste and see the real "food", carrot looks like carrot, broccoli looks like broccoli, not a bowl of... puree :) and he is so happy to explore different texture with his hands, it gives senses of independence too. Due to him always picking up his food, my younger' fine motor skill is much better than the brother. If given another chance, I would still do baby led weaning, despite all the mess, heart attacks and frustrations :) 


My Breastfeeding Journey

When others see my freezer full of milk they often ask what's my secret. 

I do not know which exactly is my secret so I will be sharing on what I did and still doing to ensure that I succeed in breastfeeding. Nonetheless, perseverance is one of the key. 

A little bit history and background profile on my breastfeeding journey. My first boy, i breastfed him up to two years old. Fully breastfeed till 21 months, then supplement with 1X fresh milk in a day, and continue to breastfeed until I was pregnant with my baby no.2 when my eldest was 25th month. And for my no.2, I have been fully breastfeeding him until now, he is going to 14 months. 

Breastfeeding my first boy wasn't really a pleasant one. Before I delivered my boy, I had this impression what's so difficult about breastfeeding, just nurse from the boobs. Never had I thought of the horror stuff behind it: engorgement, crack nipples, feeding round the clock, pumping consistently, lumps, sleepless night etc. As if being a first time mom isn't challenge enough, breastfeeding is making it more a lot more overwhelming.

I started pumping after one week of my delivery, when my breasts were so engorged and I had to empty it before I have blocked ducts. First time breastfeeding, I had not have a full 6 hours one stretch sleep in the first 6 months. I woke up every 3-4 hours to pump diligently. My first pump yield this 5oz.

That's a lot, they said. 

During my maternity leave, besides nursing directly I still pump to empty my breasts. If I remember correctly, my pumping schedule is every 4 hours round the clock. My supply built up and I had oversupply issue, I had to donate my milk out every two to three months. 300-400oz out every time. When my boy hit 6 months mark, I dragged it to every 6 hours gap and my supply started regulated then. 

After delivery of my no.2, I started pumping at day 3 post delivery, and pump only when I feel engorged. No midnight pumping as I'm nursing my little boy throughout the night. (Oh for my first boy, I slept train him when he was 3 months old, so he skipped his midnight feed around that age, and I still pump every midnight to ensure I have sufficient supply)

Second time breastfeeding is a breeze. My supply regulated quite well and I didn't have all these ulcer, stone breast issues. After I got back to work force, I pump three times a day, morning before I go to work, lunch time once. And night time once. And my supply are enough for both my boys. 

(My highest record, 20 oz/session) 

No secrets, below are few points that I think would help in breastfeeding journey:

1. Nurse your baby. Pump. 
Baby's tongue is a powerful pump. Their suckling stimulate milk production. Having first breastfeeding experience, I know I wouldn't want to feed the freezer like I used to. I would suggest first time mother nurse the baby on demand. And if you are going back to work force and have to stock up, pump diligently every 4-5 hours. And wake up in the midnight to pump. The breastfeeding hormone is high during midnight and that's when you can stimulate more milk production. 

2. Invest a good pump 
Back then I used manual single pump, like I said, I thought breastfeeding was easy and didn't factor in the importance of a good pump. I was using this damn pump for one whole month and got really depressed every pumping session. I had to spend at least one hour each session to clear the boobs, wash the bottles, sterilise. And I have 5-6 session of pumping everyday, so you can imagine how depressing it is. So during confinement, I was researching which pump is good, get feedback from forum and friends on recommendation. I then got myself Medela Swing Maxi and it has been my best friend since then. 

3. Diet. Plenty of liquid. And calories.
I drink at least 3L of liquid daily. Drink one glass of water after each pumping session. Every morning after I wake up I gush down a glass of plain water + few drops of lemon juice. Been drinking this ever since I tried to conceive my first boy. I read from somewhere that it helps to alkaline the body. Try to drink water every hour. Don't wait until you feel thirsty. And i eat a lot, I guess every breastfeeding moms eat like a cow. I feel that when I'm full, as in I eat a lot rice, and meat, I can product more milk. Eat healthy and balanced meal. 

4. Other liquid. Supplements. 
Other than plain water, one of the drink that I  drink daily is red dates water. I usually just boil red dates + goji + longan + honey date (optional) for about 20 minutes at night and keep in thermos until next morning. And I drink soup every alternate day, often are black bean soup, chicken soup, ABC soup. One more thing, I love milo! I have nursing tea and nursing cocoa drink on standby. I prefer nursing cocoa drink than nursing tea. I love avocado milk too! As for supplements, I take oil (fish oil/coconut oil/sacha inchi oil), multivitamin, calcium and probiotic. 

5. Breast massage 
Before I gave birth to my first boy, I have friend told me that massage your breast in circular motion during shower time, it helps with milk production later. I did that and also shower it with alternate hot/cold water during shower time. Not sure if that contributed to my blessed supply. You may try ; ) 

6. No stress. Chill. And sleep more 
Stress is my bigger milk killer. When I'm tired and stressful, my production drop. So I'd just tell myself, whatever stress is no stress. My baby is utmost important. Stay calm and do one thing at a time. And I realised when I got a few hours of good sleep, I will have my supply back. I think mindset is important, don't be too extreme, take a deep breathe, just do whatever you can and within your control. 

Keep calm and breastfeed. Xoxo