When and how to wean your baby is a hot topic with moms, grannies and experts. And like many baby-related stages, there are a lot of strong and conflicting opinions on the topic. Transitioning your baby from an exclusively milk diet to solid food can be stressful – when is the right time? What should be my baby’s first food? I know I had loads of questions before I tentatively aeroplaned that first spoonful of puree towards Oliver!
Traditionally there are two schools of thought on the topic of weaning. The first being parent-led weaning where rice cereal or puree is introduced 6 months. The second is baby-led weaning where you allow your baby to self-feed whole foods from the time that they show an interest in food. Both come with completely contrasting advice and both come with their own pros and cons. At the time I was starting to think about weaning, there was loads of talk about Meg Faure and Kath Megaw’s new book, Weaning Sense. Their approach to weaning is to find a middle ground between the two opposing views – an approach that suits both mom and baby. Their research suggests collaboration or COLLAB weaning which considers the needs of your baby in terms of their age, development and sensory personality but also allows parents to guide their babies to ensure that they are getting a healthy, balance diet – and building a healthy relationship with food. COLLAB weaning takes the pressure off and allows you and your baby to work out what works for you. And that’s exactly what we did.
There are a couple of cues to follow which give you an indication of when your baby might be ready to start solids – including taking an interest in your food. Oliver never really showed much interest in our food until much later on but at around 5 months, he was struggling to stretch four hours between breastfeeds. He had also reached an acceptable size and weight that our pead was happy for us to start introducing solids (with him being prem, a lot of milestones needed to be adjusted accordingly) What I found the most tricky to work out was when to actually give solids. A few people had suggested giving solids in the evening as this helps them sleep longer at night while others had suggested mid-morning so that they have the day to process new food. I decided to go with mid-morning as Oliver has always had a fairly sensitive tummy and I would rather he niggle during the day than keep us all up that night.
As it turned out, my timing was exceptionally poor as we gave him his first taste of solids on the day we headed out to Stellenbosch for a wedding, leaving my mom to babysit… And despite being one of the go-to starter foods, sweet potato gave him a really sore tummy (and still does). While it took me a little while to figure this out, it shows that every baby is different and will respond differently to certain foods and it is sometimes a bit of trial and error.
I made the decision to cook all of Oliver’s food and it’s something that I thoroughly enjoyed doing. The first few purees were single veg so that he could try each of the individual flavours before mixing them together. In the beginning we did lots of baby marrow, gem squash and peas as well as apple and pear purees. One thing for sure, Oliver LOVED his food and I am exceptionally grateful for not having a fussy eater on my hands as I can only image how stressful that must be. I always introduced one new food at a time and waited a few days before trying the next new food so that I would be able to pinpoint if a food caused a reaction. As we got more adventurous, we moved onto oats, fruit puree and yoghurt or scrambled eggs for breakfast and chicken or mince and veggies for dinner. I used lots of the recipes from Weaning Sense as they have so many great ideas that are quick and easy to whip up but also offer loads of variety if you feel like things are getting a little boring. I also followed their guidelines in terms of their feeding schedule and daily intake (although I used this a very lose guideline).
From my experience of starting solids, here are a few tips I’d recommend:
- Use a stick blender instead of a mixer. I found it so much easier to whip up a variety of different meals at the same time and just rinse off the head of the blender. For the first few weeks I used our smoothie maker and very quickly got over all the washing!
- Once your baby has tried a a range of different veggies, buy a mixed bag of veggies to pop in the oven and roast. You can also add steamed or roast chicken and blend. It saves loads of time and makes for a really delicious meal with lots of variety.
- Use ice trays and freezer bags. Fill the ice trays with the puree and once frozen, pop them into the freezer bags to store. It saves lots of space and you don’t need to buy hundreds of Tupperware containers. I did have a few food trays from Clicks which I would fill and use when I needed a meal on the go.
- There is nothing wrong with a squish or on-the-go pouch when all else fails! If we were going out or I had run out of puree, I would give Oliver a pouch and he loved them (and they still my go-to as now he loves the novelty of holding the pouch!) Second time around I will probably buy a few reusable pouches to fill with my own puree to keep on-hand.
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. In the very beginning, milk is still the priority for babies and solid food won’t replace milk feeds so don’t stress to much about how much they are eating. It’s all about exposure and getting your baby used to different foods and textures.
- Embrace the mess – there will be lots of it! This was a challenge for me in the beginning but once you get past it, it is so cute 😉 And make sure you have a camera on hand when they are trying something new!
Our Trendlings long-sleeved bibs have been an absolute feeding essential for us (they are one of my Trendy Toddler Essentials) They have saved loads of scrubbing and soaking and I only wish I had one from the very beginning! As a loyal reader of Boots, we have a site-wide discount code for you to use on your next Trendlings purchase – use the code bigcityboots at the checkout to get 15% off your order (valid until 28 February 2019).
Now that Oliver is older and he’s down to two milk feeds a day, he is eating three full meals a day and snacks in between so I’ll be sharing a post soon on our current go-to meals, snacks and fingers foods. Toddler eating is a whole different ball game and it’s hard to keep things interesting!
What was your go-to when you first weaned? And how did you wean? I’d love to hear what you did so leave a comment and let me know.