Weaning. In theory, it sounds simple- give baby food, baby eats food, everyone’s happy. Except when I began to think about weaning my little one, I found a mass of conflicting information both online and from well meaning friends and family. Every man and his dog have a view on how it should be done, and I’m no expert. All I hope to do is share how I have chosen to do things, and the purchases I have found useful so far. I will state from the start that I have not done ‘baby led weaning’. This is the method promoted by many a health visitor these days, and it has a lot of research and evidence in its favour. I am totally supportive of this approach but it wasn’t right for me and my baby, chiefly because as he was born two months prematurely it would have meant me delaying weaning for some time in order to get a smidgen of grub down his chops.
In anticipation of the start of our weaning journey I did what I always do- bought a load of books! Knowing that I was going down a puree route initially, I opted for books advising on this approach- Ella’s Kitchen and Annabel Karmel (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ellas-Kitchen-First-Foods-Purple/dp/0600629252; http://www.amazon.co.uk/Weaning-Annabel-Karmel/dp/1405348240). To add to my confusion, both advocate slightly different ways of doing things and different ages at which certain foods ‘should’ be given (e.g. dairy, meat etc). I opted for the Ella approach initially in that I only gave vegetables for the first two weeks, the theory being that this reduces the chance of your baby only accepting sweet things. I am continuing to use formula in my cooking rather than cows milk, though many sources state that this is fine from six months (only in cooking, not as a drink until after 12 months). I am also planning to buy the Gill Rapley baby led recipe book for use when I have moved on from purees.
There’s a lot of stuff out there, and obviously I haven’t tried it all! I’ve found these bits and bobs helpful so far:
- Soft tipped spoons (http://www.jojomamanbebe.co.uk/sp+6-pack-weaning-spoons-in-weaning-and-mealtimes+b3151)
- Weaning pots (http://www.jojomamanbebe.co.uk/sp+2-pack-small-weaning-pots-with-trays-in-weaning-and-mealtimes+b3148)*
- Sippy cup** (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tommee-Tippee-Essentials-First-Blue/dp/B00ABF6V70)
- Bibs- MAM bibettas are awesome. I got mine off amazon.
- High chair- we have the Ikea antilop on the advice of friends. The additional tray and inflatable insert mean that even a tiny like mine can fit in snuggly (http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/catalog/products/S29067293/)
- Microwave steamer- ours is a bog standard one that we’ve had for years but it does the trick nicely
- A hand blender- the kind you’d use to blend soup
- Small thermos flask for keeping food hot or cold when out and about
* Beware- these are very easy to overfill, in which case they will open when they expand in the freezer
** Free flow cups are generally recommended instead of no-drip as they encourage the development of sipping rather than sucking which will be needed when baby eventually drinks from a beaker
What I actually did
This is a rough guide to how I did it- everyone has their own way of doing it but this worked well for us. I did initially try baby rice but my littles was not a fan.
After getting to grips with the basics I blitzed up a load of different fruits and veggies and stored these in the freezer in weaning pots. After trying these one at time over the first few weeks, I then began to offer combinations by mixing two different pots. I started with one meal of day and experimented with the time of day that I gave this. Breakfast time (after the first milk feed of the day) worked best for us. After a couple of weeks I added in a teatime meal and eventually lunch, also gradually increasing portion sizes according to how much my little man was enjoying and adding in a pudding after his teatime meal as well. With time I will be moving onto finger foods and snacks as he appetite and skills develop.
Sample day week 1-2: Once a day, one size 1 pot of vegetable, blended with boiled water, formula or breast milk.
Sample day week 3: Twice a day, one size 1 pot of fruit or vegetables
Sample day week 4: Breakfast- one size 1 pot of fruit. Teatime- one size 1 pot of vegetables, followed by one size 1 pot of fruit
By week 4 my little man was easily finishing these portions and I began to defrost two pots for each meal and offering combinations (e.g. sweet potato and broccoli, or pears and apricots).
Around week 6 I began to introduce new food groups such as Weetabix and porridge for breakfast, and adding dairy to meals (e.g. potatoes, spinach and cheese). Now, at around 8 weeks in I’m also giving a small meal at luncg, and beginning to add in lentils, beans etc. A typical day now consists of porridge and banana for breakfast, avocado or fruit for lunch and lentils/potato/veg for tea followed by fruit and yoghurt. I’ve now moved up to stage 2 weaning pots, and I also offer water in a cup with every meal.
Every baby is different and I have followed my little ones lead in terms of when he seemed ready for bigger portions or new tastes. Some babies will be ready for three meals a day far earlier, whereas others are satisfied with the odd bits here and there for months. It’s often said that ‘food is fun’ until the age of one i.e. milk should continue to provide their main source of calories and nutrients, with food as a supplement, so I have not yet dropped any milk feeds. I will also add that my purees have never been anywhere near as thin as shop bought ones- more like a mash really.
So there you have it. It might not be the ‘right’ way, but its right for us. And so far its actually been quite good fun!