Baby Lead Weaning - a little rant lol!

Claire - posted on 04/17/2010 ( 38 moms have responded )

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Has anyone else in the UK had experience with baby lead weaning? I have had a very positive experience and would love to share it but no one seems to know what it is. Is it common place in other countries? I assumed that it was a natural progression for those who have breast fed but I think education and information in the UK is letting us mums down yet again! I am so impressed by the amount of mothers on here who breastfeed and I would love to see the same popularity grow for BLW - lets take parenting back from the huge formula and baby food companies who try to tell us how to raise our little one's!!!! They only help for their own profit which I find disgusting especially as the information they supply is inaccurate and products they produce entirely unnecessary. There, got that off my chest now. Any one else feel the same or want info on BLW or if you think I am crazy - please comment :-)

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Ashley - posted on 04/19/2010

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BLW means letting children start with solids that aren't pureed, but rather a chunk of banana, a steamed broccoli floret that they can hold, or etc. Weaning does not mean the final breastfeed, it means the transition from one food to another. The minute you give your child anything other than breastmilk, the weaning process has started.. again, weaning being a transition that could take 3+ years!!



Until 24 months of age, breastmilk can still be up to 90% of a babes diet... with complimentary food being jusst that - COMPLIMENTARY to the breastmilk :)





also, bananas, avacado, steamed carrot sticks - these are all quite convenient without being junk foods :)





Type baby led weaning into the search bar on YouTube :) There are great videos!

Lauren - posted on 04/19/2010

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Baby led weaning can mean two things: either letting the baby decide when to self wean from the breast or bottle OR (less commonly known) the process if introducing solid foods whereby all food is finger food and the baby learns to self feed and chew before they learn to swallow (www.rapleyweaning.com)
I am not sure which type the OP is referring to but we do both.. :)
BLW (food wise) is better for babies developmentally as they are using hand /eye coordination and learning to control the food in their mouths while they ate younger and their gag reflex is still quite far forward (gag reflex is an in-built safety system to stop the baby from swallowing or choking on foods that aretoo big.. As a child gets bigger it moves further back on the tongue ) Purrees are only really of benefit to small babies who are under the age of 6mths and can't put food in their mouth themselves (starting solids at 3-4 months is no longer recommended anyway) but once babies reach about 6 mths and can put things in their mouth, they can start exploring food. The idea is no pressure to eat, let the baby explore and offer a wide variety of things. As latest research has shown that delaying foods after 6mths due to allergies actually has no affect on allergies, your baby cab basically eat whatever you are having, in the same form (cut into very large peices to start with) minus the salt.
We have found it very easy as we eat together as a family and don't have to 'feed him first' and there are no fights or refusing food, he LOVES food!
Compared to many other babies his age, he us probaby eating more quantity and variety and mealtimes are exciting as opposed to a battleground. Last night he had a peice of salmon, avacado, veges and a sweet potato & cinnamon mash. He went crazy for it!

Nicola - posted on 04/19/2010

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Oh, and by the way....the saying goes 'food before one, is just for fun!'. So, don't worry too much about how much food your under 1 year old is getting if you're doing BLW....some babies may play with it more than eat it, or sometimes your normally good eater will just mess around with lunch, but that's OK. Most of their nutrition under 1 year old still comes from breastfeeding or formula apparently.

Pamela - posted on 04/19/2010

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hi there, I'm in the UK and we used Baby-led weaning for G who is now 26 months. He was breastfed till 22 months (and only because it hurt so much - and then I realised I was pregnant!) - he still likes to 'hold the boob' but that's it. BLW was great - we started when he was 6 months old and although we still shovelled food into him on spoons (cereal, baby rice, mush), he was happy to hold his brocolli, breadsticks, cheese, carrots etc. He has always been a really good (adventurous) eater and we didn't do mush for very long. I think it depends on the child's personality, but also encouragement from the parents (who eat together with him) helps alot.

We had friends over on the weekend with a child the same age and whilst G was having the rice and brocolli and chicken, the other child wasn't - and I think it's got to do with being exposed to a variety of foods at a young age. He's since had curry (proper one, not baby one!), jalepenos, toufu, tortillas, sushi, noodles - a whole load of 'normal' food.

BLW is a good option - and think families should be given much more info than they currently have - thank goodness for the internet!! :)

Max - posted on 04/19/2010

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In New Zealand BLW is promoted by La Leche League and attachment parenting groups but is not in my experience promoted more widely by general baby/child services. I think it was devised by a UK social worker and pertains to the baby led introduction of solid foods, not weaning as such. The idea is to allow the baby to decide what/if they will eat, and that the baby learns to chew before they swallow. A range of foods from all food groups are given (excluding nuts and honey) in large pieces for the child to manipulate and chew at. One 'catch phrase' used here is "food is fun until their one" so essentially babies are encouraged to explore food gradually begining to eat it when they want. Some spoon feeding is ok, it'd be mad to eat yoghurt any other way, but the idea is not to force it into the babes mouth if they are not interested. I'm planning on giving it a go, in a couple of months when my daughter reaches 6 months

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Stina - posted on 04/22/2010

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I'm nursing my 3rd baby and she will be my first to truly lead the weaning process.

I thought I had let my first decide when it was time to wean, but thanks to the posts here and some helpful websites about child led weaning, I understand now, that I started him down the road to being fully weaned a few days after he turned one. I remember being so heartbroken that the boy I wanted to nurse till 2 yo gave up his last morning feed after his birthday.

My second child seemed to be mutually weaned. I definitely pushed the process along with her because at 10 mo, she had a poor latch and I didn't have the energy to work with her- although I knew it could be helped. She was and is strongly independant and didn't seem to mind when I started giving her more and more sippy cups during the day.

This time around, #3, I know what went awry with the first two and look forward to at least another year of nursing her... (hope) She just turned 1 yo today and is nursing often in addition to her gradual increase of solids. I hope she'll nurse till her 2nd b-day and even beyond.

I think Child Led Weaning in the US is rare. Education is key to increasing success at nursing for new mothers and then to increasing the number of mothers willing to let their babies nurse until they are ready to wean.

It's easy online to feel like there are SO MANY nursing moms but in reality, most of the Mom's I know in my community give up nursing before 6 months or even worse, don't even make it to the first month because "they don't make enough milk." At the same time, these mom's who don't make enough milk are taking bad advise from doctors to supplement with formula. It infuriates me to then hear they "lost their milk." Shame on the doctors and pediatricians who encourage supplementing without ensuring the new, young mom knows how to keep her supply going! Sorry. Rant. I know a young mom who "Lost her milk" recently after her doctor told her to supplement in the first week.

Child led weaning- I'm loving it. I hope people will continue to become aware of the benefits and the how to's of nursing.

Ashley - posted on 04/22/2010

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It is very normal for all 15 month olds, Irina. Breastfeeding toddlers often reconnect with mom overnight after a day of being busy and apart from her! Also, the immunological properties within breastmilk change according to your child's needs... often babies nurse more often do medicate, in a sense. They drink in the antibodies and are capable of fighting off illness before it sets in because of it. Many breastfed babies 'never get sick' but in fact, they do catch the same virus/bacteria but fight it off before symptoms come about.

Breastmilk is a living system, it is considered 'live' and is just full of good things for older babies and toddlers. The more they get, the healthier they can be! my kids do that too - pull at my shirt to let me know they are ready to nurse. Even at 19 months and 33 months, we nurse on demand. If they fall at the park, the first thing I think to do is nurse them! No tears, no trauma, just happy experiences... at the breast :)

I love the La Leche League... every BF mom should join their local group!

www.llli.org

Irina - posted on 04/21/2010

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well, I just learned something new! I never heard of this method, but I have gone to a few LaLeache Leauge meetings. Very helpful and supportive of breast feeding moms. I breastfed my first until 13 mo. Since I work he didn't want to take it as he was full with other food. My daughter on the other hand was a totally different story. She never wanted to stop. Even though she likes to feed herself and is very independent minded. I decided to stop. Because she would not let me sleep at night. She would be at my breast for at least 3-4 times at night at 15 mo. of age. Is that normal for BLW babies/children? She would also get very upset and when upset will want me to nurse her and will try to pull off the shirt or pull it up no matter where we are. That's way to embarrassing. One of the older ladies told me that her irritability came from attachment to being breastfed and if I stopped doing it she will be calmer. To some extent that is true. Now we sleeps through the night and still eats well. But I barely bought any baby food. I tried to feed my kids whatever we eat. Kids do force you to improve your diet. I like that!

Claire - posted on 04/21/2010

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There is loads of info out there - try the book that is suggested in one of the posts - sorry can't recall who has given the title and author but its on this wall :-) - good luck

Claire - posted on 04/21/2010

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Yes Rachel I think that there is some confusing over the word 'weaning' in different countries thanks for pointing that out :-)

Claire - posted on 04/21/2010

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Hi Sammy, baby lead weaning is where a baby weans when ready and isn't forced - that's correct but it's more than that it involves the slow introduction of food (no earlier than 6 months) that are in a form that they can hold and feed to themselves. so the food is in big chunks not pureed at all. Also the baby is allowed when ready to spoon feed themselves items such as yoghurt etc so the mother never feeds the baby food it does it entirely itself and this is supported by breast feeding on demand until the baby eats enough solids to support itself :-)

Claire - posted on 04/21/2010

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My baby had a strong gag reflex and we were still able to do BLW just takes a bit more patience and not panicking. You need to remember that they are gagging not choking and you need to take it very slow. Their gag reflex does lessen with time. I found that my little one was worse for gaging on food when I fed her with a spoon than if she was given full control herself. When she was in control of feeding herself with chunks of food or with a spoon she was far less likely to gag. The biggest problem I came up against was pressure from my parents and husband who were convinced that my little one was choking. In fact Lucy has never choked to date, just gagged occasionally which is natural and prevents choking :-). It took about 2 months for her to stop gagging altogether and now nearly a year on she practically never does. It all depends on your own comfort zone as a mum though and it isn't for everyone I jusy wish that there was more info out there so us parent can make a properly informed choice that's all I ask :-).

Amanda - posted on 04/21/2010

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i weaned my first too early (i think) as he was just a little over 1 yr when i did. foolishly i thought that i shouldn't be nursing when i was pregnant. would have let my second self wean but by then she was almost 2 and was causing nipple damage. for my sanity and to allow my body to heal i had to cut her off. #3 weaned herself by 14 months. would have loved to nurse longer but she was only really coming over to 'touch base' and take a few sips. lol. pregnant with #4 and i'll let him self wean as well. i think it's the best method (if you can do it that is).

Dee - posted on 04/20/2010

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kind of, as breatfed until 6mths ish then couldn't cope with feeding every 2 hrs so put him on bottle. i started weaning at 5 mths to see if i could lengthen time between breastfeeding to no avail. this is why i just stopped breastfeeding and after that he went from strength to strength.. i fed him cow n gate as well as my own homemade baby food, and we've now found out that most of the food from cow n gate wasn't too great! which makes me a little mad to think that i painstakingly chose what i thought were nice meals which my little one would eat and enjoy, opening his experiences to the world besides what foods i gave him.. more fool me!

Anna - posted on 04/19/2010

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I was hoping my son would want to fully nurse longer. He started wanting solid foods at around 4 months old, but i held off until 5 months. He is 13 months old now and is on mostly solids and also mostly feeding himself. I was hoping he would nurse longer, but for the last two weeks he's only wanted to nurse maybe once or twice a day and then for only a few minutes. I make all our food from scratch and do tons of veggies and fruits so at least I know he's still getting the nutrients he needs!

Connie - posted on 04/19/2010

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with my first, i did blw and he started cereals and mushy baby food about 7 1/2 months. he didn't stay long on the mushy stuff cuz he was way more interested in what i was eating. he's 27 months now. he still nurses throughout the day (i night weaned him a couple of months ago) and will continue to do so until he doesn't want to nurse anymore. my youngest started in on baby foods at about six months. he's way more interested in eating the food as opposed to playing with it. he still nurses alot as well. with my oldest and our housemates daughter, they basically eat what they want when they want (we don't have a ton of crappy food in the house, so their selection is limited to the nutritious foods we buy). we have a low drawer filled with appropriate foods and snacks for them. they're huge fans of fruits, cereal, and eggs. they can get into their drawer whenever they're feeling hungry or tell us when they want something from the fridge. we don't want to make eating a fight and it's worked well so far.

Lisa - posted on 04/19/2010

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i do BLW, and I make my own baby food--I have a grinder that I put whatever I'm eating into, minus the salt. We eat organic too. I also co-sleep as in baby is IN the bed with me, I love having their little bodies up against mine, we sleep so much better that way--unless one is a kicker. then I sleep so much better with them snuggled up against my back...lol (that's my almost 3 yr old) my baby as a baby always sleeps in front of me.

Stephanie - posted on 04/19/2010

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I am in the US and my 9 month old is strictly breastfed! She is very picky about foods though. I have never heard about BLW and would love some info on it. I don't want her to think eating is a chore. I would like it to be something she likes to do not needs to do!!!!

Nicola - posted on 04/19/2010

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Hi,

I totally agree! I am a HUGE fan of BLW....I breastfed my son exclusively until 6 months, and then introduced solids 'BLW style' and am still breastfeeding when he wants it too. It's the best thing I ever did....he is so relaxed about food and tries everything! He has eaten all sorts of fish, meat, veg, fruit and has had a much more varied diet as a result. I don't have to cook anything special for him, or spend hours pureeing stuff and my dinner doesn't go cold while I spoon feed him. He's a very 'portable' baby as a result! He just has a little of whatever we're having when we're out and about, and it makes us eat more healthily too so that we can avoid the no-no's for him e.g. too much salt. I also have really enjoyed taking the time to sit down and eat with him at mealtimes. There's a really good book called 'Baby-Led Weaning' by Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett. Good luck!

Brenna - posted on 04/18/2010

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I'm in Idaho, USA. The community I live in is very pro-BLW, and cloth diapering, and all that. I am a firm believer in BLW, though by 2 years I start encouraging it. Or at least, that's the plan; my son (3) weaned himself when he was about 20 months. My daughter is still nursing, but at 1 she's decreased the quantity significantly. It's mostly bedtime ritual, and the usual night time feedings now. I'm hoping she doesn't stop altogether too soon, because I'm not ready to wean yet.

Molly - posted on 04/18/2010

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To clarify, "weaning" in the UK means the introduction of solid foods and while it also eventually leads to the child giving up nursing that's not what the immediate intent is.

I live in the US and I found out about BLW online, and I'm so glad I did! My first son played with his food more than ate it for longer...not so with my second son! Within a few weeks he was eating real meals, and REALLY putting the food away! We started a bit before 6 months because he swiped food from me.

No commercial baby food for us! No nasty Nestle, which owns Gerber, sorry to say.

Krystle - posted on 04/18/2010

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Hi! I live in Canada, and found out about BLW on a UK website (as I was searching for ways to feed my baby without resorting to the evil commercial baby food). My son (who is 9 months) won't open his mouth for a spoon, he wants to grab everything himself.

Although so far, I find it's more "baby lead playing with food" then "weaning" at all. Does anyone have tips or suggestions?

Allison - posted on 04/18/2010

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Hi Lauren, My son was also down to just 3 nursings a day by age 1, but kept 2 nursings a day until almost 2.5 :)

Rachel - posted on 04/18/2010

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I'm in the US and I never hear of it with my first (he's almost five now) but we did it naturally since he hated purees :p And I refuse to give baby cereal (nasty stuff!!). I am seeing lots of mommas online talking about it now and there's even a baby led weaning group on LJ :) My current nursling has been doing BLW since he started eating about six months and he loves it :) He especially loves it when we eat things that are little, like lentils, because he gets to show off his awesome pincer grasp ;) We do cheat a little because while he can handle a spoon to feed himself yogurt, he's really messy at it so most of the time I work the spoon and he tells me when to pop it in :p



I think more people probably do BLW without knowing the label for it, much as I did with my first son :) Here, weaning means getting baby off the breast so I think some moms may steer clear of something with the word weaning in it at such a young age ;)

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I've been determine to let my son wean himself when he was ready since he was born. He started eating food very early, because that was what he was signaling that he was ready for. I was determined to hold it off until he was ready, thinking it would be later.....but I guess the entire idea is letting baby decide when he/she is ready for things. My son is now a little over 10 months old and is weaning himself from breastmilk.....he nurses in the morning and then often only once during the day and once at night. I have not been pushing it and thought I'd be the one nursing a 4-year-old, but I guess he has other plans.

Sammie - posted on 04/18/2010

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Hmm, either im confused by this post or others have misunderstood.
BLW - baby led weaning. Meaning the baby weans when he/she is ready to wean.
Not forced to wean when not ready, because the mom wants to stop.
Others have been mentioning different foods, but that really has nothing to do with BLW. My son is 3yrs old and i hope to let him wean himself, but he eats every kind of food imaginable also.

Ellie - posted on 04/18/2010

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My daughter has been offered finger foods from 6months, although some foods are a bit easier to spoon feed, like yogurt. She's always offered something to feed herself at each meal and at 9 & 1/2 months, we're amazed at her dexterity at managing to feed herself. She's been very good at managing not to choke on large pieces of food she's bitten off We've bought a few dry snack foods to keep in her changing bag for emergencies when we're out, and pots of fruit puree to mix with natural yogurt if our fruit bowl is getting empty, but by preparing our own foods and feeding her what we are eating ourselves she's she's never had problems with food textures and is keen to try anything. We can also keep an eye on the salt and sugar content of what she's eating. My fruit and veg intake is better since we started weaning too! LOL!
She does get messy, but that's part of the learning process!

Sarah - posted on 04/18/2010

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I think it's interesting that others have mentioned a strong gag reflex. I have noticed that my 7 month old son has that! I don't know much about BLW, but would love to learn. I started giving my son Gerber fruits and veggies consistently at about 6 months of age. We would try once in the morning & once in the evening. And he is NOT interested at all. He gets more food up his nose than in his mouth. I am from the US and honestly I haven't heard much about it.

April - posted on 04/18/2010

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Hannah, Thank you for pointing out that some babies do have a stronger gag reflex than others. I never realized that. My son actually never really gagged on anything at all, even as a newborn and I had a super fast flow! I always thought anyone can do BLW, but now you have changed my mind!

[deleted account]

I agree! Even the birthing programs on TV (sponsored largely by fornula companies) make nursing seem like the hardest and most unnatural thing! I'm still breastfeeding my 23 month old and if I hear,"Ugh, you're still doing that!" one more time, I'll scream!

Allison - posted on 04/17/2010

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I am in the US, and no one in my family seems to do BLW, but it just seemed more natural to me...and it was! My son did at about age 2.5 (with just a little encouragement from me) with no tears, and my family was quite surprised :) I only read a little about it online, but found it just came naturally. Now I am a BIG fan and now an avid advocate for it, it can be SO easy! Nothing compared to the tears and battles my friends and family went through to wean just 6 months to a year earlier than I did!

Jena - posted on 04/17/2010

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I'm in the US and fortunately heard about it while I was looking up homemade baby food and am doing BLW instead. My son loves it, but I do have some baby cereal and some fruits like pears on hand incase I'm eating something that I wouldn't want my LO eating (like fast food, which is a rare occasion) and he loves the Gerber graduate puff things. They also come in handy if we're out somewhere like a park or restaurant waiting for the food. I do agree that it's disgusting how the baby food industry has become so huge and profitable. He's been EBF until this point and I'm hoping to let him self-wean, so this seems like a natural step in the process.

Camille - posted on 04/17/2010

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I am 100% for BLW. I guess it just runs in my family. My mother breastfed me until I was 3 and I plan on letting my baby girl breastfeed until she is good and ready to stop.

Karen - posted on 04/17/2010

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Well I'm in the US and didn't learn about it until my 3rd child :( . I wish I had done it with my others. I love the fact that I never had the need to go down the baby isle in the grocery store. Never needed formula or mushy food or powdered cereal lol. I did get the little puffs in the beginning though when we first started, other than that they never got my $$.

Sammie - posted on 04/17/2010

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Yes i agree. In a perfect world EVERY baby would get to practice BLW. Thats what i do with my children.
Some people just dont realize how beneficial it is, for the baby AND the mother.
It is a shame that every child doesnt get this opportunity.

Hannah - posted on 04/17/2010

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I am Uk based and yes I had heard of it, and I loved the idea, but it didn't really work with my baby as she had a strong gag relfex and would try to eat but then throw up! Yes it is easy for people to say that she was just not ready for food, but trust me she was hungry and needed more than milk (I was up every hour every night, I couldn't keep that up, sorry!)
What I find most people do is a mix of BLW with offerring a bit of what they are eating, and then offerring traditional baby cereal or whatever afterwards to make sure baby has had all he/she wants.

Now my baby can finally handle finger food and manage to cough on crumbs without her gag reflex kicking in, I have been doing BLW and I think it is the most natural, obvious thing to do. If we are eating alongside her but she is having something different, she just looks at us like 'hey I want some of THAT!'.

It's funny that she likes to eat brocolli, spinach, pretty much anything, and sometimes I'm thinking hmmmm are you sure, that doesn't look very tasty to me, but go for it, it's good for you!

But I'm aftraid I do feel there is a place for baby jars..... not as 100% of babies diet, but mums need a bit of convenience sometimes, and my baby especially enjoys being able to feed herself the Ella's kitchen satchets.

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