Now that Archie is fully weaned (and entering the “fussy toddler” stage – more to come on that another day!) I thought I’d write down some things we’ve learnt along the way in the hope that they might be useful for someone else. If I’ve missed anything, please feel free to let me know in the comments.
Please note that the below is based on my experience only – I am not a health professional. Seek a dietician’s advice where necessary.
I have to say that weaning is very much like parenthood in that it’s an unknown world where you’re thrown in with very little advice and you’re expected to just “learn on the job”. It can be pretty overwhelming and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve worried about whether we’re doing it right and whether we’re making any progress.
One thing I would say is it’s very easy to forget where you started and us mums are renown for giving ourselves a hard time so if I could offer just one piece of advice it would be to try and be as relaxed as you can about it. You will get there and as long as you’re giving your baby a variety of different tastes and textures then you’re doing a great job!
So, where to start?
Personally, we started with some baby rice and smooth fruit purees. Then we added in some soft finger foods such as banana, sweet potato, peach, avocado. Moving to pieces of buttered toast, crumpets, teacakes which he would mostly just suck.
Once he’d had a taste of a variety of single flavours, I made a few mixed vegetable purees and gradually added in protein (beans, lentils, chicken etc.).
In terms of making batches of purees, I tried to make 1 or 2 batches each weekend which I then froze in small pots as I found this the most manageable way of doing it. I also mixed in some pouches to add variety and for ease when out and about.
What to buy?
- Highchair – The Ikea Antilop is by far the best in our opinion and very reasonable too
- Bibs – We prefer the popover bibs as they can’t be pulled off – these ones from Sainsburys are great
- Spoons – Longer ones tend to be easier for you to feed your baby and the shorter ones when they can feed themselves – I’ve linked the ones we prefer
- Hand blender/ blender – Any hand blender will do the job but may leave behind lumps so in the early days I just used our Nutri Ninja
- Free-flow cup – In the early days we used the Tommee Tippee first cup and then moved on to a Munchkin 360 to avoid spillages when on the move
- Tupperware for batched food – you can use ice cube trays in the early days but I found I needed a bigger portion size so I used the Tommee Tippee food pots
- Face wipes – if your baby has sensitive skin like Archie did, then it’s well worth looking into some cloth wipes rather than using baby wipes which can irritate the skin
- Recipe books – not essential (and lots of recipes online) but I found this one by Annabel Karmel really useful
From around 6 months
- Some good first foods include:
- Baby cereal/ rice (once your baby is 6 months, then Ready Brek is great mixed in with some fruit puree)
- Cooked fruit and vegetables, pureed
- Soft fruit as finger food – banana, mango, melon, avocado
- Mashed or as soft cooked vegetable sticks – sweet potato, potato, carrot
- Finger food:
- Sticks should be the about the size of your finger – big enough for baby to hold in their fist
- Make sure to halve anything round in shape (tomatoes, grapes etc.) to prevent choking
- Should be soft enough to crush on the top of your mouth so some fruit and veg will need to be steamed (and possibly skins removed)
- Introduce a cup of water with food (free-flow cup)
- If not formula feeding (and also as soon as baby takes less than 500ml of formula) you may need to give your baby a daily vitamin supplement – check with your health visitor
- Small amounts of whole milk can be mixed in with food plus your baby can have other forms of dairy as food – cheese, yoghurt, custard
- Check with your health visitor any foods to be avoided
From around 7-9 months
- Your baby will gradually move to 3 meals and you can start to drop milk feeds – for reference we moved to:
- 4 bottles at 7 months and 3 meals a day
- 3 bottles at 8 months and 3 meals, 1 snack a day
- Try to make sure that each day they have a variety of: fruit and veg, starchy foods (bread, rice, potatoes, pasta), protein (meat, fish, beans, pluses, eggs), dairy (yoghurt, cheese, custard)
From around a year
- 3 meals a day – generally eating what you eat
- Your baby can have whole milk as a drink
- For reference, we moved to:
- 1 bottle at 12 months (bedtime) and 3 meals, 2 snacks a day plus milk in a cup in the morning
- Your baby may want to start feeding him/ herself
A few things to remember
- In the early days don’t worry about set mealtimes – you will still need to fit food around your baby’s milk feeds (until they’re eating enough to drop a feed) so don’t worry if they’re eating porridge at 3pm!
- Gagging is very normal– if you’re worried about choking then I would highly recommend doing a first aid course to put your mind at ease and so you can recognise the difference between gagging and choking
- Pouches are fine but check the label – personally I don’t see a problem with adding pouches into the mix for some added variety and convenience but it’s worth checking the label because often the savoury ones contain mostly fruit and should be considered more of a sweet (e.g. this Ella’s Kitchen pouch suggests it savoury with the name “Broccoli, pears and peas” but in fact it’s 79% pear!)
- Include finger foods alongside purees – I know it can be daunting in the early days because of the fear of choking but it’s so important that they have a mixture
- Don’t be afraid to try new textures as soon as baby is willing – because of Arch’s strong gag reflex I think I probably didn’t push him enough on this so he was slow to adapt to new textures
- Mess is annoying for you but generally a good sign that your baby is enjoying his/herself so try to just go with it!
- Make eating a social event – the more relaxed an environment you can make it and the more they see everyone else eating and enjoying food, the more interested they will be
- It may take a few tries for baby to like a new food – it can be really disheartening when you’ve gone to the effort of making something and then your baby won’t even entertain it but don’t be afraid to try again – sometimes it takes a while for them to become familiar with new foods
- A note for reflux babies – Arch had reflux as a baby and I found his gag reflex was pretty strong so he couldn’t tolerate some textures – scrambled egg, rice pudding, egg mayonnaise – I just ensure he is having egg elsewhere (in scotch pancakes etc.) to try to prevent allergies
- Try as many tastes and textures in the first year as possible – after a year they tend to become fussier (I can definitely vouch for this!)
- It won’t be a smooth upward journey – illnesses and teething can sometimes feel like you go 10 steps back but don’t worry about it, let your baby guide you, they will go back to eating when they feel ready 🙂