When Hayden was about 4 months I started to look at how I’d wean him. I was sad as food meant that his new born days of just needing milk were quickly slipping away but also so excited to see his reactions at a whole new world of flavours and textures for him.
We started weaning when Hayden was just over 5 months. I know, not the recommended 6 months but I really believe that as a parent you need to do what you think is right for your children when they are ready and Hayden was so ready for food. He could grasp objects and accurately bring them to his mouth, pretty much sit up on his own and he’d stare longingly at us when we were eating. He also just didn’t seem satisfied with milk anymore. Although who could blame him as at this point we were pretty much now solely on formula milk. Have you ever tried formula milk? It tastes just as bad as it smells! And to prove he was ready when we first gave him some ‘solids’ he gobbled it up and swallowed it instead of spitting it out.
Obviously being first time parents we didn’t really have a clue so in true Megan fashion I researched a lot of the different ways of weaning, bought a couple of books and went to a class about it and then after all that I was still just as confused as I was having not known a thing! So we decided to do what we’ve been doing well so far and just wing it.
We started off with baby rice mixed with formula. Why I don’t know because it tasted rank but I’d read that it was a good thing to start with so just went a long with it. And logically it makes sense, the taste is what he’s used to it’s just a different texture but I think that just really confused him. However after a few hilarious faces at this new strange feeling he had in his mouth Hayden seemed to really enjoy it and was soon opening his mouth like a little baby bird wanting more. So all in all a rather successful start. Start being the operative word there. Like most things parenting, weaning hasn’t been all plain sailing.
That face! I think he liked it…
After the success of the baby rice I knew Hayden was ready so we decided to plough on with the process. I picked up an Ella’s kitchen weaning book which I had a voucher for as part of the boots parenting club – who doesn’t love a freebie! We followed the first tastes guide introducing a new vegetable everyday. So that was it – I’d turned into a puree making machine! I didn’t focus too much on having a set meal time but it happened to be around 5 which is now his dinner time. That was just a time that he wasn’t hungry or especially tired yet so he was usually in a good mood which was important as I wanted him to enjoy food. The purees went down really well and on most occasions he’d finish the whole portion. His favourite had to be courgette, sweet potato and parsnip. We carried on with purees but by 6 months however you could tell he was getting bored. I had bought some of those puff crispy things. You know the ones similar to Wotsits but because they’re targeted at babies they’re double the price! He loved feeding himself and I think he was getting frustrated at not being able to do it. So at 6 months we decided to give baby led weaning a go. I’d read about it and seen lots of examples but I couldn’t quite get my head around it and I was very scared of him choking. There also seems to be a bit of snobbery and superiority amongst mums who choose baby led weaning from the start. Again – why are we judging each other when all we’re doing is feeding our children or perhaps it’s just my own anxiety that makes me believe I’m being judged every time I buy a pouch of puree as we haven’t yet mastered baby led weaning out of the house.
For the first few weeks of baby led weaning it went well. He enjoyed steamed vegetables, pasta and toast and found his favourite food – banana. Then again he decided to get bored and so was I as I didn’t really know what else to give him so I turned to the internet. I found a simple recipe for pea fritters. He had liked mashed peas so I was sure these would be a hit. Well Hayden loved them. A bit too much and he tried to shovel about 3 nicely cut finger sized strips of fritter into his mouth at once and then he choked. And yes, it was a choke, not a gag. Luckily I’d been paediatric first aid trained at work and I had looked it up again for what to do if a baby chokes. Hayden was fine, in fact once we’d got the offending piece of fritter out he then instantly tried to reach back up to his highchair table for more! I however was not fine and it was back to purees for a few weeks after that.
So we didn’t get stuck in the boring rut of vegetable purees again it was then that I decided to introduce breakfast. Mainly in he form of porridge, wheat biscuits or fruit and yoghurt. He loved everything. Still does in fact. I then decided to branch out and make banana and oat pancakes. He loved them, I loved them and then BOOM just like that we had our baby led weaning mojo back! I’m not saying we exclusively do but now at 9 months and having 3 meals a day with sometimes the occasional snack in between it’s mostly baby led solid food. Plus Hayden is just happier when feeding himself and that’s always been my biggest driver for doing it. Certainly not the mess or the half past 4 panic of trying to figure out what i can cobble together for dinner that’s suitable for a baby who didn’t have any teeth until 9 months old!
I’m not going to lie I love an instagram photo and quite often do put pictures up of his meals – especially the ones I’m particularly proud of – he eats better than me for goodness sake! But it hasn’t always been instagram photo perfect. There have been many times that I’ve made him a delicious meal and he has just not been interested at all and it’s just been played with and thrown on the floor. Yes I will confess I have eaten some of this left overs – why would you leave sweet potato fries? Why? Although in the past month he’s been so good, we’ve dropped two bottles and he LOVES breakfast, lunch and dinner so I hope it continues. He pretty much eats everything I put in front of him apart from cucumber oddly enough. Not matter how i try to cut it he’s not fooled he just doesn’t like it.
So for anyone who’s interested (or not because I’m going to tell you anyway) here are my weaning essentials. I’m also going to post a few pics below of some of Hayden’s favourite meals.
1.The Antilop highchair from Ikea which was, by the way, only £10!!! £10, how can you go wrong with that! But seriously it has been amazing. I’m so glad we bought it against other ones we were looking at which where costing £40 upwards. It’s perfect as it’s also exactly the same height as our kitchen table so he can eat at the table with us. Although if you come round for dinner, be warned his table manners are less than perfect. It’s so easy to clean and is really light so we can move it out of way when needed but also sturdy.
2. The double bib combo. It’s a must and something I wish I’d discovered at the beginning. Long sleeved coverall bib and then over the top a crumb catcher bib. It’s been an absolute game changer as now most of the food that Hayden used to drop on the floor now drops in his bib and he eats it from there, it’s like a second plate for him.
3. Do be led by your baby. Some babies want to feed themselves while others are happy to be fed with a spoon. It’s important they enjoy food so do what’s right for them and you and don’t introduce finger food until you’re both ready.
4. Look at places like instagram and pinterest for ideas but don’t feel like you’re inadequate if you haven’t arranged your baby’s dinner in the shape of an elaborate swan swimming in a sea of naturally, organically died blue yoghurt. I cannot be bothered and even if I could Hayden wouldn’t let me. He gets very hangry and impatient when he realises there’s food coming. Also, I understand if you have a fussy toddler or older child who won’t eat fruit or vegetables so you have to make it exciting, but for a baby? I’d rather he knew that bananas were round not star shaped. Although if that’s what you like to do then good for you, I’m not judging, it’s just not for me.
5. Invest in some good weaning plates and bowls. I love the bamboobamboo range, literally the best silicone base. No plates being thrown across the kitchen in this house!
6. You’ll enter a whole new world of nappies when you start weaning so prepare to hold your nose and if you have a weak stomach best to avoid sweetcorn.
7. Do not, unless you’re a fan of afternoon bath times, do a messy meal at lunch time like we did once…
Follow us on instagram @amummyblog to see more of our journey