Feeding a preemie baby doesn’t stop being a bit different when you leave hospital. Weaning is one of the few things (immunisations are another) that are done on actual rather than corrected age. So, despite only having been home with my 24 weeker for about 6 weeks, and only really just feeling like we were finding some semblance of routine, we were advised to start her on solids.
Unlike a lot of other 6 month old babies, she wasn’t even trying to sit up, let alone be ‘high chair ready’. The answer for us was a good old fashioned bouncy chair, with occasional 5 minute sessions in a Mamas and Papas Snug seat wedged in with a blanket!
Then came the spoon problem, most weaning spoons were just huge compared to Sophie’s tiny little mouth! Fortunately, I had some Boots ones that I’d used for my son 4 years earlier that were just about small enough.
Eating out was an experience – both in logistics and in being on public display. People seemed to think it was fine to remark on how come such a small baby was having solids, usually to whoever they were with, but once actually to me. To be honest, I got a bit used to that.
Sophie is on home oxygen therapy and the tubes were very often a talking point for complete strangers. On the plus side I think that the tubes prevented a lot of the unwanted touching that preemie mummies often struggle with. As for the logistics, I found that a fabric highchair that ties over the back of a chair was good when it wasn’t possible to feed her in her car seat. Once she was in the buggy, I could feed her in there, but when we started weaning she still fitted in the carrycot and I was getting my monies worth!
Lumps….don’t even think too hard about baby led weaning a preemie! Whilst her tummy was ready for solids, her throat and chewing couldn’t cope with even the smallest lump. Fortunately, I’d previously weaned my son born at 34 weeks, (yes, I am a NICU repeat customer), so I was ready for pureeing everything!
I found it hard not being able to give her some finger foods to buy me 5 minutes while I got her meal ready, but I just got more efficient with the freezer and defrosting ice cubes of puree.
Sophie is one now and coping with lumps nicely, she managed a finger of toast last week!
When I was told that I had to wean at Sophie’s chronological rather than corrected age it felt like another loss of a baby stage. It was one of the times I really felt the loss of those first months in hospital, (going back to work was another) which is why The Smallest Things campaign is so important. That said, preemie babies need to grow and food is the best thing for that!
With special thanks to Sarah for sharing her experiences of feeding a premature baby – part of our “Feeding a baby born too soon” 2017 series 9-15th January.
If you like Sarah’s blog and would like to help us raise awareness then please hit the Facebook and Twitter buttons to SHARE!