Today, I was reading about baby-led weaning. Instead of providing your child with pureed mush, you give them pieces of proper food to eat. This is meant to help them learn how to eat properly, and encourage manual dexterity as instead of being spoonfed, they have to get the food into their mouths independently.
Now, I’ve nothing against pureed food. I like soup. It would be disconcerting if Felicity grew up to disdain all foods that were not soup, but if that were to be the choice she made, I couldn’t rightly stand in her way. Right now, of course, I’m too busy worrying about whether she’s been weaned too late, too early, whether we should have started her on fruitcake after all instead of mashed up banana and sweet potato, and whether we’re Terrible Parents for not having this all nailed down and planned out months in advance.
Potentially, one dumb thing we’ve done is giver her something different every day. She’s been fine so far, but introducing new foods too rapidly into her diet could lead to confusion and upset: if there’s something that disagrees with her, it would be harder to pinpoint it than if she’s had several days of the same thing.
Fortunately, we’ve got away with it so far (five days now, and counting). We haven’t been ladling food into her gaping maw; instead, we’ve let her have as much control of the spoon as possible. I hope that means she’s going to be ahead of the developmental curve when it comes to cutlery.
(Note to self: check for baby steak knives on eBay.)
We also tried to get Felicity to go to sleep by herself this week. This was a little tough on the first night. Up to six months, whenever she woke and wailed, she’d get a nipple in her mouth and more comforting food. While this quietened her down, she was only sleeping in multiples of 45 minutes (and mostly low multiples, at that) and we have been getting progressively more tired.
Apparently, you can train a baby from shortly after birth to sleep by itself, but we didn’t like the idea of applying any sort of discipline to something that’s not even aware of most of the world around it, so we held off. Perhaps we were knitting ourselves hair shirts entirely from hemp. Except that appears to be illegal in this country.
However, at six months we felt it was time; Felicity otherwise might get far too accustomed to manipulating her parents for food. So we tried the Ferber method.
(In the Gerber method, you stuff small cloths in your ears so you can’t hear any of noises.)
With the Ferber method, you put the child down to bed and leave. If she cries, after five minutes you go back in, say hello, and leave again, without picking her up, and while your tender heart is breaking. Then you wait another seven minutes or so, then go back in, and leave once more. Then another ten minutes of soul-destroying howls ensue.
The visits to the child are to reassure it that it isn’t entirely alone in this world. The increasing gaps between them are to demonstrate the futility of constantly crying for attention. After 45 minutes on the first night, she capitulated and went to sleep. She woke four hours later and this rigmarole was repeated, but after only three days of this appalling parental behaviour, she grew accustomed to it, and since then she’s been sleeping remarkably well.
She keeps rolling over onto her front, which we don’t like so much, but we’re finding it hard to roll her back, worried as we are that it will wake her up again. A woken child, or worries about SIDS… More parental terrors to unfold.
All this sleep training may be utterly pointless, with the impending arrival of the Chinese New Year of The Incredibly Loud Noises. Sorry, Horse. What can I be thinking?