In class we have a lot of discussions about weaning. I think the way you wean your baby is such a personal choice and something you have to feel comfortable with. Once you feel like your baby is making signs to insinuating they are ready then it’s over to you to decide if you want to;
- do purees,
- baby led,
- what cutlery to use,
- which beaker or cup to try.
Weaning can be a minefield and for some it can fill you with dread, stress and anxiety on what to do when things don’t go as well as you had hoped.
In this post I aim to break down some baby weaning options so that you can decide what is right for you and your baby.
To me there is no right or wrong way to wean your baby, I am going from my own experience as a mummy ( I am not a health care professional trained in weaning) I just followed my own little way and did what I felt was right for me and my children.
Baby led weaning
What is baby led weaning? Baby led weaning in a nut shell, is when you have your little one sat in their high chair or *bumbo and literally just
chuck place food on their tray in front of them. This whole bloody messy amazing process is so that your baby can explore different textures, learn to self feed, gain hand eye co ordination and apparently they are meant to be less fussy if they feed this way, but let’s be honest I think it just depends on the child if they are fussy or not. The good thing about weaning this way is, while your little one is feeding themselves, you can stuff your face eat your dinner using both your hands, (while broccoli is being thrown around you, saying that my niece threw a piece of curried cauliflower at me today, yum! lol)! Another good thing, you can make your own dinner and hopefully they can eat the same. One of the biggest worries as a parent doing baby led weaning, is choking! which is bloody scary to think about, so no wonder many parents can feel stressed and anxious about it. There are mini first aid courses you can attend to give you the tools you need in paediatric first aid available in Bedford.
Do what feels right for you, if you are worried and stressed about baby led try doing a combination of both baby led and purees. I would give mine a meal with a spoon either mashed up/pureed and they would have snacks and pudding baby led as it would be something soft and squashy, they are still getting all the benefits from baby led but just not for every meal when you may be worried about them chocking or not eating enough.
*Bumbo – a squishly little bucket chair with tray, ideal for when you first start weaning. However they aren’t in it for long, so always look out for a second hand one or borrow off a friend.
There are many different options with purees, (actually I can only think of 2). You can pop to your local supermarket and pick up jars and pouches of ready made meals for your little one, super quick and easy especially being a busy mummy these are very handy meals to have, especially if you are going on a long journeys. When I took my daughter on holiday we took the ready made pouches with us, which where a life saver as some of the food there was not baby friendly.
You can also make your own Purees at home, selecting what fruit and vegetables you want to start weaning with and steaming/boiling them, blending them and popping them in to little ice cube trays, so you have a fresh batch ready for the week ahead, this does take a bit of planning and time, but you know exactly what has gone in your puree and I am pretty sure it works out cheaper to buy the vegetables/fruit as it can go along way. I used a handy little gadget which was an all in one steamer and blender which saved a lot of time when prepping.
Weaning a baby with an allergy is a whole different ball game! my nephew has a dairy intolerance and I know from what my sister in law has told me, it is a long and very slow process to building up his tolerance to dairy, but he is doing absolutely amazing and the dietitians say most of the time it is something they can eventually grow out of.
In my experience……….
Now when I weaned my first, I used a great book by Annabel Karmel, I would spend hours and hours steaming and blending little concoctions to put in to little ice cube trays. I started with the good old baby rice, going on to porridge and then moving on to Weetabix, which they had nearly every breakfast time until they where about 4, now they can not stand Weetabix and will not even try it,I have no idea when this transition happened. When it came to meals, we did not add any salt or chilles, (being indian we add spice and chilies to everything!) her food basically probably tasted like
crap nothing. So now roll on to a 8 year old who can not handle any spicy food and drowns it all out with plain yogurt.
My second however ( Oh god how terrible that I can never quite remember what I did with my second) I started with purees and then I am pretty sure he self weaned, and just ate what ever we where eating, with the whole shibang of spices and chilies! Roll on to my now 5 year old, who loves spicy food, and prefers indian food over a chicken pie, although he does love a good roast dinner. I did struggle from transitioning from milk in a bottle to milk in a cup, and since he was small and gave up his bottle he does not drink milk. I did try adding flavorings in to his milk to make mini milkshakes but that did not work, so we just make sure he eats lots of other dairy products to make up for the lack of milk, he does drink water by the gallon, so I can not complain really.
*Please Note – I have never forced my children to eat anything, if they didn’t want to try a certain food one day we would skip it for a few days and try again. Now they are older I have never told them they have to finish everything on their plate before they leave the table. I want them to be able to understand when their tummy is full, that worry and pressure of finishing everything on your plate, could cause anyone to feel anxious about meal times. Now before you all think my kids must get away with leaving loads of food, they don’t, I do not put to much on their plate so when they see it they do not feel overwhelmed of the mountain of food they have to eat. (I wish I had that problem, but I love my food too much, lol) After their dinner they get a
kinder surprise fruit salad, and if they still say they are hungry (even though they had just said they were full from dinner) I just tell them they should of eaten a bit more at dinner. Most of the time they say it to try their luck so they get to stay up later.
So there we have it, a little breakdown of the different types of weaning. Remember do what feels right for you both. There are weaning workshops you can attend around Bedford which will hopefully help you on your weaning journey if you are still unsure of what is right for you.