How we prepared for childcare with a fully breastfed BLWer?

How we prepared for childcare with a fully breastfed BLWer?

Ava was nearly a 1 year old when we put her into childcare full-time as I was going back to work…

I was so grateful having spent one whole year with Ava all day every day, I would not have had it any other way. For me, I think the perfect time for going back to work was around 1 year old. Ava was just starting to walk, she was into everything, wanted to socialise with other babies and wanted to discover more and more, and I knew I was ready as I missed the adult communication you get through work and needed focus on my career alongside family life.

I was mainly concerned about TWO things… and it wasn’t me using my brain again or working for a new company and role, it was Ava’s food at childcare and our baby led weaning, Ava’s milk and how would she take this shift… 

  1. I was worried about the food at childcare, primarily because most babies around Ava’s age were still spoon fed porridge and purees at childcare and Ava had always fed herself and always decided what food went in her mouth. I did not want the childcare workers to take control of Ava’s food choices by spoon feeding her. We had put so much time and effort into Ava’s baby led weaning journey from 6 months old, she was now a fantastic eater, she was always in control of her food, she decided how much or how little she wanted to eat, we had left it all up to Ava and had never fussed – no pressure on mealtimes.
  2. My breastfeeding dilemma – Ava at this point in time was 100% breastfed, we never had any success with bottles, probably because she was such a good breast feeder, she only had the boob as her milk feeds. At around 12 months old Ava was on 3-4 breastfeeds per day, however things had to change as I was going back to work full-time. We had practiced a couple weeks before with breastmilk in the cup, which she avoided, so we then tried cow’s milk in a cup several times over and over… and still – NOTHING. She would just throw the cup or turn her head away.  So I thought when the crunch comes to it and i am not around at childcare she would take the cup with breastmilk or cows milk… was I wrong!  🙂

So how did we tackle the food concern? 

After visiting a few childcare centres… we found one that had a good feel and most importantly respected our needs for Ava to continue her baby led weaning journey with them. The child care we chose had heard of baby led weaning and were comfortable with this way of Ava self-feeding. So how did we prepare?

  1. We explained the concept of baby led weaning: explain the concept of baby led weaning (some childcares have heard of BLW & some haven’t!). We sat down with the childcare principal and addressed our concerns about ‘no spoon feeding’ and control of food intake by Ava, I gave them a copy of the Gill Rapley Baby led weaning book for them to read up about it which they were very interested in doing.  
  2. We showed them how bub eats! After our first couple of meetings with the Principal, I wanted them to see how Ava eats. So we came back for another visit with Ava and we all sat together and ate lunch. Doing this showed them how Ava liked to control her food, she would simply pick everything up herself and eat it (or sometimes, squeeze it or play with it – but at 12mo Ava was way past the messy BLWing phase), no spoon feeding, control with bub at all times, gagging etc. Don’t be afraid to ask and demonstrate. 

Menu selection – they gave me the option to provide food for bub daily or bub could eat solid food they have available. I took a look at the menu and checked the healthy approval ratings. A lot of the food was still a little mushy and a lot was processed so we decided to provide Ava’s breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea each day, and she was able to eat any fresh fruit snacks for morning tea.

How did we tackle our breastfeeding dilemma?

water and breastmilk
water and breastmilk

Week 1 of childcare – i provided childcare with 2x cups – one with breastmilk, one with water. She loves her cup of water and she loves water. She always has and will always sip it with most meals. As for my breastmilk she avoided it and didn’t want it in the cup. I was expressing at work during my lunch break so Ava could have a cup a day, but this whole first week she kept throwing it on the ground and not drinking any of it. She would wait for a breastfeed when i picked her up at 5pm after work.

Week 2 of childcare and breastmilk – still avoided drinking my breastmilk… but I kept expressing and Ava kept throwing her cup onto the floor and not drinking it out of the cup. I would still breastfeed her in the morning before work and after work 2x feeds per day and no other times.

Week 3 of childcare and breastmilk – still avoided drinking my breast milk… So i decided to stop expressing every second day as there was no point. Ava wasn’t drinking it out of the cup so it was being wasted. I would still breastfeed her in the morning before work and after work 2x feeds per day and no other times.

Week 4 of childcare and breastmilk – I stopped expressing all together at work, and childcare started to offer cow’s milk (as Ava was over 1 years old). But she still didn’t want milk from the cup. I would still breastfeed her in the morning before work and after work 2x feeds per day and no other times.

Realisation hit…

Ava was happy breastfeeding twice a day, I was getting so stressed for no reason about Ava not drinking my breastmilk out of a cup at childcare. I should have just listened to her in the first place… she didn’t want a cup full of milk, she was content with water all day at childcare and was happy to wait to breastfeed when we got home after and before work/school.

Ava's first day of childcare
Ava’s first day of childcare

week 3 of childcare… and Ava’s 1st birthday

 Ava is now 17 months old…

Still now at 17 months old, Ava absolutely LOVES going to ‘school’. She loves socialising, she loves the teachers, and she loves playing, learning and discovering every day!

Ava’s food: I am still providing Ava’s food every day, i pack her breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, she eats a variety of healthy choices. She is also now trying her best using metal cutlery (which i also provide, so Ava gets use to metal cutlery rather than plastic) and is eating all her meals (except of course when she is sick or does not feel like eating a certain food).

Sleep: It took a couple of weeks for Ava to get use sleeping at childcare in the beginning i.e. she found it hard to transition so quickly to 1x sleep a day and would come home overtired, but that improved after a few weeks. 

Sickness: she has been sick on and off now for 7 months but i keep reminding myself she is building up her immune system.

Milk: Ava never ended up taking any bottles of milk, no cups of milk so she just stuck with tap water from 12 months old throughout the day in her cup and I breast feed her in the morning before work and when we got home after work. This was enough for Ava from 12 months old and beyond… and still now at 17 months old Ava may have 1x feed a day after work or 2x feeds a day if she wanted it in the morning as well. We are very happy how this is going. I have not ‘dried up’ on one feed a day – the human body is pretty amazing!

Some example foods I pack for Ava:

breakfast and lunch child care 12mo
avocado on toast, blueberries and lunch risotto balls 12mo
childcare food 12mo
Yo-yo balls and chicken curry 12mo
Banana wheels, salmon and steamed greens
Ava’s breakfast loaf with blueberries
bfast: eggy muffin with strawberries, lunch: meatballs with soba noodles and veg, kiwi and porridge balls for afternoon tea


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