Having a sibling with multiple allergies automatically puts Charlie at higher risk of having allergies. With current findings in reducing the risk of allergies it is now advised to start solids before six months, providing Charlie has ticked all the boxes for being ready. (Apparently since everyone started waiting longer before introducing high risk food, allergies have only got worse.) We have been told to give all "high risk" foods from six months, and to continue breast-feeding while introducing foods, in hope this will aid in the protection of a reaction.

This put us in a predicament as baby-led weaning is not started until six months. I've been watching Charlie from around five months looking for ready signs, at about five and a half months I thought she was ready, Because we really want to do BLW, I went ahead and started twelve days short of the recommend age of six months. I'm going to be sharing each food we give Charlie here, as well as any tips we pick up along the way.

For anyone considering baby led weaning, this book is where I started, as well as the wonderful world on google.

Day one, Banana: When giving babies bananas make sure they are ripe, Yellow with black spots are best. Green or plain yellow can cause constipation, overripe can cure constipation. Ironic right? Anyhow we cut the banana in half (across the middle) I removed the peel, then cut out some groves so she had something to hold on to. Given it was her first attempt, I think it worked pretty well. She managed to pick it up a couple of times.

Week one
Apple: cut into quarters, peel left on. I steamed it in the microwave first. (Chocking risk) She loved the flavour of apple, but I found even steamed it broke off in chunks. Next time I'll be trying grated.
Beans: steamed, she enjoyed sucking these but didn't manage to eat any.
Mandarin: I removed the seeds and gave her a slice, she enjoyed sucking it and manage to break it in half after moving it around in her mouth it fell out.
Broccoli: steamed, it was easy for her to hold and she managed to swallow some.
Banana: given peeled with groves cut out for holding.
Teething rusks: major hit, she loves them & it gives her practice at getting food to her mouth.
Finger of toast: left to cool down so it goes hard, given Un-butted.
Carrot: cut in half and roasted.
Grape puree: put onto highchair tray, she loved putting her fingers in and licking them clean.

I'm amazed at how quickly Charlie is learning to find ways of getting the food herself. Nappy changes have proved she has managed to eat banana and broccoli. Bibs are hard, they get in the way and Charlie ends up trying to eat the bib, so for now we're not using one. I'm using the Bumbo seat with the attached tray as a highchair, We tried the big highchair but she just slips down. I was going to test run cows milk this week, but I lost my nerve. I try to stay calm, but after what I've been though with Harper introducing foods is proving to be incredibly stressful. Although Charlie is not yet sharing our meals I'm slowly cutting salt out of our diet, giving us a chance to get use to it, if needed we can season our food on the plate.

Week two
Sweet potato: roasted, spread on toast fingers. Also given as a finger food (skin removed) Charlie loved the flavour of this super food, but it was hard to hold.  Next time I'll try rolling it in bread crumbs or corn crumbs to make handling easier.
Tomato: roasted, again hard to hold, I spread some on toast.
Toast fingers: A great easy stable, I've been giving Charlie the crust of my toast each morning. This week I've topped it with avocado, sweet potato, banana and mashed carrot, all worked great. When giving bread to a baby Charlie's age (just 6 months) make sure its toasted, fresh bread can become a choking risk. 
Steamed carrot sticks and broccoli trees: this week I steamed a big batch and froze them in single serves in zip lock bags, if I'm busy I have something ready.
Cows milk: I gave 1 ml on day one then doubled it each day, (we are on day 3) this is the safest way to trial high risk foods if there is an allergy in the family.

At the beginning of this week I was ready to throw in the towel. I was so stressed out about trailing Charlie on foods Harper is allergic to, that I wanted to give up. I began worrying about not spoon feeding Charlie... was I making the right decision? Did I have the time and patience to keep up BLW? It is so much easier to just get a spoon, grab a puree and feed your baby, no mess, done. 

I thought about it some more and it became clear the real problem was my anxiety about giving her milk, so I ripped the band-aid off and just did it. And the best news, everything was fine! Charlie is not allergic to cows milk. We are so, so happy.

This week I've made sure Charlie is having one meal each day, breakfast. As soon as she wakes up she eats, then I get her dressed for the day and wash her with a face washer. 
Charlie's eating more this week and it's showing in her nappies, I'll spare you the details, but she is definitely managing to swallow food. Charlie gags most days, sometimes more often than others. We had our first gag and vomit this week, I shock myself at how calm I've become with trusting that Charlie will not choke, with Harper I was so worried every time he gagged. For me what helped the most was reading about choking, in the BLW book there is some great information explaining choking and the way our body works, providing the food is safe. It taught me gagging is good, it means your body is working as it should, I wish I had have know this when Harper was younger. 

week four and five
I'm so behind on my BLW posts. Its week 7, or is it 6?  I'll throw in week 6 too. Last week I tried doing pre loaded spoons, I was shocked at how easily Charlie found her mouth with the spoon, first go, bam, straight into her mouth. It is super crazy messy, but Charlie enjoys it so every couple of days we do a few pre loaded spoons, normally consisting of store brought pre-made organic baby fruit.

Orange: slices, mostly she sucks the juice then spits out the orange.
Strawberry: given whole, managed well.
Watermelon: cut into large triangles, black seeds removed.
Mandarin: seeds removed.
Chicken: drumstick, I have found the softer more moist leg meat is far easier for a baby to manage. In saying that I first gave Charlie a really large slice to try to avoid her swallowing it whole, but she did anyway, guys she didn't even gag. Just swallowed that slippery meat down ha ha. My mummy fears got the better of me and from then on I gave her smaller slices, she really enjoyed it.
Bread: every morning Charlie has bread toasted, I top it with topping such as, mashed banana, sweet potato, pumpkin, avocado, carrot. If I'm in a hurry and can't deal with a messy meal she eats it dry.
Beef: from a slow cooked casserole, this girl likes meat.
Avocado: sliced rolled in corn crumbs, the corn crumbs make it far more manageable, not as slippery.
I have continued with foods I've mentioned before such as carrots or Charlie favourite broccoli, which is always a winner but makes my house smell, in a bad way.

At 7 months and one week, I'm still giving breakfast each morning. As soon as we get up, she eats in the bumbo seat, I then change all her clothes, nappy, and wash her with a face washer. This has been the easiest way for me to deal with the mess. Some days she still needs a bath. I must admit the mess is still hard to handle, I'm hanging out for summer so I can sit her in a nappy on a towel, take her outside and hose her down.
As soon as her clothes are off I rinse and spray them before starting a wash right away, this mostly avoids the stains.

I have been trying hard to give a 2nd meal since she turned 7 months, it might just be a crust off my sandwich at lunch or a strawberry. To be honest it probably only happens every 2nd day but I'm working on this.

I let Charlie have a sip of water, straight out of my glass but plan to keep this to only once or twice a week. When we decide to increase the water Charlie drinks I've read about how well a baby does with a shot glass, so I'll be trying that.

When your baby chokes, it sucks!
It wasn't always like this...

When I had Harper I was worried about choking, all the time. If you had asked me if Harper ever choked when he was younger I probably would have said yes. But then I read this great book on baby led weaning, it explained in detail the difference between chocking and gagging. It really opened my eyes and made me realise gagging is good, it's not choking, it's our body working the way its meant to, to protect us from choking.

When I started baby led weaning with Charlie, it wasn't as scary as thought it would be, watching the way she handled food blew me away, I'd watch her in amazement feeling proud for having the courage to be trying something different, something a little out of my comfort zone, I felt proud of her and the way she ate.

This week was a real turning point for us, all week Iv'e been putting a post together in my head. It was going to go something along the lines of, wow I'm so glad I did BLW, I love it, it's amazing.

And then she choked, for real.

Charlie and Harper has just finished eating their tea when I thought I'd give Charlie a slice of watermelon, i'd given it to her before and it my mind it was a safe food, who chokes on watermelon? No one right? Wrong.

I don't really remember how it started... I think their was some gagging, I wasn't concerned because like I said before gagging its normal and happens a lot. But then she started going very red and her eyes begun watering, I left her sitting in the highchair knowing she had the best chance of getting it out herself, and waited for more gagging, but the gagging stopped, she kept changing colour, I could see the panic in her eyes, then she spewed.
I thought maybe she had cleared it, she was making noise so I knew it wasn't a full blockage, then she started going pale and blue. Matt grabbed the phone and I laid her across my arm giving her 3 blows to the back, I checked her mouth still nothing. Her colour was getting worse, her head went floppy like she was going to faint, by this stage I was fully panicking. I told Matt to dial 000 and just as he did she vomited again, and this time she managed to dislodge the watermelon, she cried and I cried with her.

It has given me such a fright, this happened earlier today and I'm still feeling very stressed and upset. I hope I can remain confident and continue with BLW, but I think there will have to be some changes. I'm going to be really weary of making sure her food is ripe and steamed well. I picked up the piece of watermelon she choked on and it was very hard.

Later in the week I'll be putting together another BLW post, talking giving Charlie three meals a day and whats she's eating. I'll also be posing about the new highchair we brought as well as the best bowls I've found for BLW.

Family meals
I've started Charlie on three meals a day. Today I'll be sharing typical foods she eats as well as the highchair and bowls that work best for us.

At 8 months old Charlie went from having one, sometimes two meals a day, to three. After we got a Highchair and stopped using the bumbo seat things got easier. 
I read online the Antilop Ikea highchair was great for BLW and it is, its perfect. This is the third highchair we've owned, and by far the best. The only downside is that it doesn't have a 5 point harness. 

Some of my favourite things:
-It's so light I can, (and have) lifted it into the shower if we have a crazy mess.
-No matter how dirty it gets after I wipe it down, it looks brand new. Which gives me loads of satisfaction. (I may have problems) 
-My suction bowls always stick. 
-The legs come off making it super portable.
-Little Charlie is sitting up well on a good angle and can reach her foods. 
-It was $30, with the tray. Seriously buy it.

Before 8 months Charlie was having a lot of finger foods, but since eating 3 meals a day she has been eating what we eat, with her hands out of a suction bowl, I use these ones.

Since Charlie choked I have been holding back more than before, cutting things up smaller than before. She seems to gag more than she was, or maybe I just notice it more now because I'm not as relaxed. I'll give you a run down of what Charlie is eating now.

- Toast with mashed banana or dairy free butter.
- Cereal, organic pure puffed corn, or  puffed rice with rice milk or soy milk. I microwave it so it goes soft before giving it to her.
- Fruit, banana whole or mashed with avocado.

Soy yogurt, sometimes mixed with fruit puree.
Tuna in oil, in chunks on the tray.
Left over tea, most days.

Beef casserole with couscous, she loved it and couscous works really well in a casserole to bind it together making it great for little hands.
chicken casserole, in the slow cooker, it works well because the meat and veggies are the perfect texture for BLW
Mince with mashed potato and peas, because she shoves handfuls of food in at once the potato seemed a bit claggy and she gagged a lot, I just need to keep giving her water to wash it down. Next time I'll be adding more mice milk to make the mash runny.
Chicken kebabs with salad, chicken breast cooked on the BBQ in olive oil and oregano, I grated carrot and cucumber for the salad. I also broke up the chicken before putting it into her bowl.
Roast chicken, with pumpkin, sweet potato and steamed carrot and zucchini. Roasts are the best BLW meal the veggies are the perfect size. I always give charlie leg meat that's moist rather than breast which can become hard to swallow or I give her breast meat but break it up.
Spaghetti Bolognese, I cut up the spaghetti, she loved sucking the little bits of pasta up, very cute.

So there you have it at 8 months old Charlie is eating what we eat at each meal, I don't add salt to anything if I know she's going to be eating it. Sometimes this means taking out her portion first. Overall it means we are eating far less salt which is great, salt seems to sneak its way into your life and it's not until you really look at your diet you realise, and your taste does adjust rather quickly.

It is pretty amazing watching Charlie eat, considering it's only been two weeks since she has been using a bowl, she is learning so quickly. She pins the food and her mouth against the side of the bowl and scoops it in, then she picks it out of the bib if it drops in there, Ha! I plan on doing a video soon so you can watch how she eats.
The mess is almost unbearable, luckily Nutella (my dog) helps with some of that. She is getting fat, no joke soon I'll have to stop her eating all the scraps.

Are you doing baby led weaning? I'd love to follow your journey.

BLW at 12 months old
I stopped updating because nothing much changed over the last few months, Charlie has been eating what we eat and slowly working with harder textures. She has not refused a single food I have put onto her plate and LOVES all vegetables and fruit. Really she loves anything. We are still dealing with a massive amount of cleaning. Charlie never got into pre loaded spoons, or me attempting to feed her (only messy foods like yogurt) so she feeds her self everything and I mop. a lot. 

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