A sane mummy brain is best - 24-26 weeks

So...I am pleased to report that food consumption with BB is going rather well (after a few false starts with too hard mango and overly roasted floppy aubergine – this is a learning curve for mummy too not just for BB). However, as previously 'reported', I had rather given up on the bottles, beakers, cups fiasco a few weeks ago and as the weaning process was going well so far I decided that I wanted to tackle milk feeds again – plus the fact that I had a rather important hen weekend that coming weekend that I was very keen to go to made me even more determined to get this cracked. My reasons included that all important weekend but also the fact that I had always planned to breastfeed up until around the 6 month mark if I managed to reach that far and that I was planning on going back to work and a recent discussion with Mr B about BB not taking a bottle led to my question: what happens if it comes to the time that I am due to go back to work and she still doesn't take a bottle? Mr B's response: You'll just have to not go back! Which just seemed ridiculous to me (and no doubt would be to my employer too!).

So I went back to basics and did some more research into the best ways to get babies to take bottles, even though I knew I had tried them all before. I read various forums and the thing that came up time and time again, which I hadn't had the nerve to try yet was going cold-turkey. This involved only offering BB a bottle (of either expressed milk or formula) and not giving in and giving her the breast if she fussed. Previously, after a few attempts with the bottle, I would feed BB from the breast as I did not want her to go hungry or get dehydrated. Feeling rather guilty for even considering this option I made a desperate telephone call to the HV and nervously discussed the issue. She patiently listened and re-assured me that I was not a bad mother for considering this. In fact she said that it was a very common problem and that many mum's find that this is the only way that a baby will take a bottle and that babies would eventually take a bottle because their wasn't any other option. She reminded me that a major problem with going cold turkey was the effect it would have on my breasts, most notably engorgement and possible mastitis, and my milk supply and that I would have to express as and when I felt I needed to.

The following day I gave BB a normal breastfeed first thing in the morning and carried on with the solids as usual. When it came to her next milk feed I offered her a bottle of formula (previous attempts with expressed milk which had not worked left me feeling rather depressed at having to pour it down the sink). This was rather grumpily refused but I kept persevering. As did she. An hour or so later BB started to get tired and I put her down for her lunchtime nap. I was feeling rather shaken and was doubting myself as to whether I should carry on with this. At her next milk feed, though, I offered her the bottle again. She fussed for quite some time so I offered her some food and water. After she successfully drained the cucumber slices from any water they had previously contained I offered the bottle to her again, which she slowly started to take. I was doing cartwheels and letting off fireworks inside but trying to hide this from my face as I didn't want to jinx this particular achievement! BB took the majority of this bottle but then only 4oz of the next. The next morning I offered BB the breast and then followed my new milk routine again – bottle at the next feed (which she took another 4oz) and again at the next – which again she refused. But that evening she took a whole bottle. And I have to say that we haven't looked back since. It essentially took two full days for BB to confidently take a bottle but it has allowed me to have a bit more freedom when out and about, no longer having to worry whether my breasts/nipples were on show to the world when getting into position, and others being able to look after BB if I needed them to.

For that following weekend, we were lucky enough that there were a couple of other new mum's going along to the hen do with similar baby feeding dilemmas/problems. It was agreed that we could all bring our babies with us and that our other halves would also tag along to look after the little ones whilst we were participating in the hen activities. Because a couple of barns had been rented we were able to get all the hens without present babies (or present partners) into one barn and the rest of us in the other, which made it easier for possible night feeds also. But if I had not gone cold turkey on BB earlier that week it would have been rather difficult for Mr B to look after her for any length of time – don't get me wrong, even though he was able to give her bottles, I still popped in to make sure they were all OK. And I have to say, although I was glad it was all working out, it did make me a little sad that I wasn't expressly needed anymore.

Food, Glorious Food - 22-24 weeks

I had a busy couple of weeks planned to try and catch up with various people but it turned out that my car had other ideas and packed up, which meant we were housebound (and village-bound). But we did manage to see the Health Visitor and discussed weaning further. I told her that I was interested in Baby Led Weaning and that I thought that BB was pretty much ready – but I wanted her reassurance that it would be OK to start – it is advised to start BLW when babies are 6 months old and BB was just shy of this. BB has shown all the signs of being ready, she can hold her head up, has been sitting up when supported (and sometimes unaided) for weeks, brings items to her mouth, has started waking in the night having slept well before and is showing an interest in our food. To my surprise the HV was very supportive and agreed with me that BB was probably ready and to just go for it – but to keep going with normal milk feeds as these will still be BB's main source of nutrition until she is a year old.

I felt rather relieved and yet also daunted at the prospect of having to come up with a varied and fun diet for BB, so I was keen to update our online food shopping trolley with lots of different fruit and veg to get her started on. But in the meantime I started BB on a bit of banana, which was a success at first, and then some steamed carrot and broccoli, which wasn't quite as successful.

That afternoon and evening we were all at a friend's wedding. When it came to the sit down dinner, I had BB on my lap who was smiling at the other guests and was generally quite happy. As soon as the food started to come out she was suddenly lunging towards the food and trying to grab it with her fists. So, with the guidance of a nursery nurse (who was also a mum who had done BLW) who was another guest at our table we held some bread to BB's mouth. Sure enough, she sucked on this rather happily until it became a sticky lump of mush. Two slices later and we had to go to the kitchen and ask for some more bread (it turned out that they had received the same request from another two sets of parents who were also starting to wean their little ones – their bread must have been particularly tasty to babies!).

So, the following morning, with the previous evening's success in mind, I offered BB some bread and some more banana – both were refused, hhmmpphhh. The following day I decide to give BLW a break as I wasn't starting to wonder if BB was ready. But Monday morning came, and with a fresh week a fresh start on the BLW came about. Some bread, apple slices, banana, pasta and avocado were all offered and I am pleased to say were all happily sucked and chewed on by BB.

The rest of the week carried on in the same vain. Food was offered. Some was accepted. Some was turned down quite robustly. Perseverance, which I am learning as a parent is an essential required 'skill', is key here. If BB doesn't fancy something then I have to try and hide my disappointment and offer her something else and trust that she (and her body) knows what she needs.

Calm, cups and cradle cap - 20-22 weeks

I took BB to a local toddler group again this week. It was our second time there and we brought our next door neighbour and her 22 month old boy with us. There were a lot more mums and children this week which was lovely but it also made it much noisier for BB, which she didn't particularly enjoy. It made me realise how calm she likes it at home and how much she is like her father in that respect.

BB, who is usually a pretty good sleeper (will typically go from 7:00pm till 6:30am), has now been waking at around 3:00am for an extra feed for the last week. At first we thought it may be further signs of teething or possibly being a bit cold as the temperature outside has dropped quite a bit in the last few weeks. But I am now thinking that it may be due to her getting ready for solids. I have not started BB on pur̩es as yet as I am quite keen to give the whole Baby Led Weaning a go and until now she hadn't really shown the signs of being ready. But she is now very sturdy in her sitting up, her hand eye coordination is also very good (so much so that anything that is anywhere near her ends up in her mouth), and she has started to lunge towards food Рmaking me more aware of what I should be eating in front of her and what I should be eating when she is asleep (or not at all really but where's the fun in that!). So I have made another appointment with the Health Visitor to get BB weighed, have a further discussion about the BLW and to clarify when would be a good time to start Рit is advised to start at 6 months but some people go by the baby's actual birth date or 26 week mark, which may be a few days out of the birth date, and others I have heard opt for the 24 weeks mark. All very confusing. But no-one seems to mention if it makes any difference whether the baby was born early, on due date (give or take) or was late. BB was two weeks late so does that mean that she may be ready for solids sooner than the 26 weeks from her actual birth date?

And whilst on the subject of feeding, I have given up on the bottles totally, as we were getting nowhere with those and feeds always left both BB and myself annoyed and having to resort to the breast anyway. I am, however, persevering with cups and beakers (with and without the flow valve). By far the most successful to date, and the messiest, is the Doidy cup. BB is able to hold onto the cup handles and does seem to know what to do with it by bringing it to her mouth (sometimes jolting it quite hard, so spills are very common) and will then either sip the milk or take a few gulps. BB has had a couple of very good sessions with the Doidy cup and others have been total disasters with her pushing the cup away and arching her back and scrunching her face up in disgust. Up until recently I have only been trying the cup once a day to introduce it slowly but I am going to try and use it at every day time feed (apart from the first feed of the day and the last one before bedtime) and top her up with a breastfeed afterwards as well to make sure she is full – maybe this is a mistake but I will keep trying with this for a while and speak to the HV to see if she has any other tips.

BB has had a bit of cradle cap for a little while but it hasn't seemed to bother her and it just flakes away every so often. But recently it seems to be getting a little worse so I am now dabbing it with a bit of olive oil and using a soft brush to loosen the flakes – but I will get this checked out by the HV also.