Baby Led Weaning…aka The End of the EBF Era

Lately, I find myself feeling incredibly conflicted and the phrase “six months old” scares the crap out of me. You see, my little girl is growing up SO quickly, and I’m just not sure if I am ready for it.

For me, the first big step towards letting her grow up is related to breastfeeding. For the past six months, every single day I have nursed or pumped at least eight times (yes, she still eats about every 3 hrs). That’s roughly 1500 feeding sessions over the past 180+ days. 1500. Wow. It’s no wonder I’m having a hard time letting it go – it’s such an integral part of my relationship with Stella.

Sure, there are days that I hate that pump. There are days that I just want to hang out and have drinks with my friends and not be the one that has to go feed the baby.

But most of the time, I love it. I love the quiet moments in the middle of the night and the cuddles on my lunch break. I love the way she strokes my chest and my face and stares into my eyes while she nurses. I like that food is always available, always warm, and always ready, not to mention it’s the perfect food and balance of nutrients (and it’s free!).*

But now she had to go and grow up and I’m supposed to start giving her solid food. SOLID FOOD!

I’m thinking we’ll be doing mostly Baby Led Weaning, which basically means we’ll let Stella feed herself from the very beginning. (“weaning” in this sense means “adding complementary foods” – the British definition) I might do some purees, we shall see, but so far the plan is to just give her chunks of food and let her go at it. Avocado, sweet potato, banana, bell peppers, broccoli – basically anything we eat (as long as it doesn’t have salt on it).

On one hand, I’m excited for this new adventure (soon-to-be stinky diapers be damned)…but I’m also kind of nervous about how this will affect me and us. Does that make sense? Even though I have never intended on doing extended breastfeeding, I also cannot imagine stopping, and having to let go of some of that connection with her already is freaking me out.

After struggling with a lot of disappointment with my body during TTC, I am so grateful that my body worked for me for this. I’m proud of my breasts, and I’m grateful that I’ve always had enough milk. Sure, I’ve been frustrated to never have much of an oversupply (5 months of pumping and I still only have about 100 oz in my freezer stash), and I have oddly lopsided production (probably 1oz on the left for every 3 on the right), but I read horror stories of thrush, clogged milk ducts, bad latches, fast letdowns, not enough milk, etc…. and I think WOW, we really got out of this easy. Sure, my nipples are sore from time to time, but in all reality, breastfeeding has been pretty easy for us, and I’ve enjoyed it. I’m afraid to let it go. I’m afraid to let Stella go.

So we shall see. We made it to six months exclusively breastfeeding, and now I’m not sure where the path is going to take us. I might nurse for a year, I might not. Maybe longer, maybe shorter. In the meantime, we are starting this solid food journey, ready or not, so wish us luck!

Mmmm….avocado. 🙂

*I totally get that not everyone can breastfeed (or wants to, for that matter). I’m just relating my experience with it here!

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33 comments

  1. Good luck with solids! I obviously didn't have the same experience you did breastfeeding, but I can say solids are much messier. 🙂 Have fun watching her explore all these new foods!

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  2. Good luck with the new food phase! Breastfeeding didn't work with my first son and it was a huge source of anxiety and feeling like a failure. Thankfully it was easy-peasy with my second son. My original goal was 6 months but by then I didn't want to stop! Then it was a year – it was so awesome to nurse him on his first birthday. I had a hard time when he weaned himself at 13m. I loved the bond we shared while he was nursing. But he was ready to move on to big boy food! Each milestone is bittersweet.

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  3. Good luck. I can totally understand why this would be hard for you. I just couldn't make Bfing work, but I can imagine what a huge change this is for both of you daily!

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  4. I'm barely 3 months in with Baby G and I've started thinking about the 6 months mark already! I like being able to use BFing as an excuse to not stay long when I have to be somehwere I don't want to be or to even have time alone with him if we're visiting family that insist on being the ones to hold/entertain him all day. I can't wait for the solid food phase (I'm hoping it will give us a great excuse to start eating right), and I never really saw myself BFing beyond 6 months (teeth scare me!) but I'm also not sure if I'll be ready to let go of that exclusive baby-and-me time you get when you're BFing. I also want to pump the remaining 6 months so he at least gets his milk from me and I'm not thrilled at the idea of exclusively pumping.

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  5. Oh this is the hardest thing to get over as a nursing mother. We are in our final month of nursing now and I'm finally OK with it – but I'm still sad about it. Because of the BLW, you'll still be needed quite a bit by Stella to get the nutrition she needs! She'll still look forward to nursing quite often even though she's eating solids. With babies who are exclusively breast fed, I think it takes work on Mom's part to get them to give it up, even when they're just nursing a little bit at a time. You have many more snuggles ahead of you!!!My husband keeps asking, "won't he just decide he doesn't want to nurse anymore?" If it was only that easy 😉

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  6. I'm so excited to hear how this goes for you! We're planning to do BLW as well, so I'll be following along and eager to learn! 🙂 I hope the transition goes well for you both!

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  7. Nice work making it 6 months so far! I wish breastfeeding would have been easier – glad to hear that it's gone so well for you two. The pics of Stella eating the avocado are great!!!

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  8. Good luck with the transition. I've been reading up on BLW as well since we're just a few weeks away from 6 months too! I know exactly what you mean about cutting back on BF. We've had such as amazing experience BF too, I can't imagine what it will be like when it ends.

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  9. Those pictures are fantastic! I didn't BF, but I can imagine how hard it must be when that is all you've done…I hope the transition is as easy as possible…for both!

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  10. I feel like I could have written this post. Alexis is only about 5 months old, but we are also EBF until she reaches 6 months and I am already feeling some anxiety about weaning. I love the connection I have with her and hate to lose it. At the same time I am excited for her to reach that milestone. So many conflicting emotions! Love the pictures 🙂

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  11. I haven't been able to get on very much lately with our transition of moving but I love this post because it's exactly how I feel as R just turned 6 months. We are doing BLW all the way, and avacodo was his first food as well 🙂 The pictures make me laugh because he just wanted to play with it. He still nurses every 2 hours, hungry boy he is just not for real food, lol.

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  12. Hahaha – yeah, we've noticed that. Two nights in = two baths down. Yikes! We're used to maybe 1-2x/week for bath time!

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  13. Definitely. Right now when she is starting to meltdown and I can see it coming, I just sweep in and grab her with a "looks like she's hungry – I'll bring her back after we nurse!"… and no one can argue with me. It's kind of nice. 🙂 Same here for the pumping until 1 year… we will see what happens.

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  14. Last week my husband actually said to me, "When will you stop breastfeeding so you can relax a little more and be fun again?" Um, WHAT? Solid foods and milk or formula supplementation are WAY more stressful to me than breastfeeding! Crazy guy.

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  15. I skipped the book and got the cookbook instead (after reading lots of reviews on amazon that said the cookbook did a great synopsis of the book, plus had recipes), and so far it seems to make a lot of sense!

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  16. That's it, I declare we share the same brain. I was just talking about this with Brian. While I look forward to most of her accomplishments and milestones, this is the only one I've been dreading. She has been eyeing everything I put in my mouth for the last few weeks and it makes me so sad. Though I am hoping to do Extended BF'ing, I am still a bit sad to lose this bonding time with Leah too.It really is insane how quick they grow up.

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  17. I'm glad that BFing worked out great for you after the trouble with your body TTC. Six months go by so quickly, but it looks like you've got the introduction to solid foods down!On another note, glad you liked the sweet potato recipe. When I bake the potatoes, I always think if I did it plain with no seasoning, it would be a yummy puree, or baby bites.

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  18. So did she like the avocado? haha It was hard to tell! Awww lil stella's growing up. If I could push a button and make Samantha stay a baby forever, I would push it! 🙂

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  19. babies loooovvvee avacado!

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  20. I couldn't help but smile at your husband's comment…

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  21. I actually agree with you on the advantage of breast milk…pre-mixed, warm and very intimate.I am looking forward to how your weaning adventure would be. Life would become simpler, plus busier as well!Take Care, Josey!

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  22. HGB HATED avocado at first pass. Even now, I have to hide it in things. Gotta cram those good fats into my too-skinny baby!Thanks for link above and the British definition of BLW. I have been seeing some posts about this and was really confused as to how this was 'baby-led' or evening weaning, and not simply introducing solids (vs. mush). Totally common sense with a sort of misleading name if taken literally (which, obviously I did). I get it now!

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  23. Oh, but solid foods are fun, too! My little guy looks at the bottle now like, "Really, Mom? I'd much rather some avocado, sweet potato, carrots, or even green beans!" The pictures are priceless, but it is hard to watch them grow up. 😦

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  24. That last picture is the BEST!I remember freaking out too. I mean, I knew my kids wouldn't be grabbing a quick BF before they walk down the aisle but man it just happened too quickly! I look back with fondness of those quiet times and cherish it. But now I'm loving my incredibly sassy little girl and big boy that craves knowledge and while our special time isn't in the same shape as before, I love it all the same. Good luck!

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  25. Agreed. I just read your post, and I think if my body cooperates, we'll probably do extended BFing as well (like you said, morning and night nursings or something). We shall see.

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  26. Yep – that's my plan tonight. Sweet potatoes are food #2!

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  27. Yep – the title BLW confused me as well, so when I read that definition it was like a light bulb went on. AH-HA!

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  28. Two months into solids and STILL nursing and pumping almost as much as before the solids… so it doesn't necessarily mean that phase comes to an end! I love the thought of BLW but the problem is that I never cook and don't have things at home to do it:[ I plan on trying some things out when I'm out of work for a few weeks this summer. We do some (small) portions of oatmeal & avocado at lunch and (again small) portions of rice cereal & sweet potato/apples/pears in the evening. LB is more content and loves eating solids but the constipation is horrid! Of course I'll be following to see how the adventures in new foods goes… fun times!

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  29. 6 months already, holy crap time is flying by.

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  30. Gosh, she's cute. Love the avocado hanging out of her mouth! 🙂 I'm sure these emotions are very conflicting! I'm proud of you for being so open about it though. She has a wonderful mother!

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  31. Congrats on getting to six months of EBF. I have a feeling that you'll come to truly love this phase as well. We've done a mix of BLW and pureed stuff (daycare) and I've found that Sofi really enjoys eating and trying new things. It's fun to see what preferences she has already. And after being on vacation for a week and basically letting her eat whatever we were eating for lunch, etc., I can say that it's one of my favorite things, this exploring her palatte with her. So have fun!!

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  32. I'm thinking we'll do some pureed stuff at daycare as well – it just seems easier/less messy for them. I can't wait until this progresses to the point that we can basically feed her off of our plates!

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  33. I remember feeling the exact same way. For us, it was so gradual, he didn't really ramp up the solids til 9-10 months, so there was a lot of time in there were he would eat solids great, BF less or BF more less solids, so it was an very long transition period. It eased us both into it, and I just read my son and felt comfortable with the transition. But yes…get ready for stinky poops, oh man, and pastey poops until it's actually solid…ugh!! not fun to spray out, for sure. Good luck!

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