Before we started, the process of weaning was both scary and exciting. As always (because I am who I am), I wanted to be fully prepared, so I read every article I could find, watched every video, downloaded apps, consulted my paediatrician, and did a Paediatric First Aid Course (which I couldn’t recommend more!). But no matter how much I read, watched, asked… nothing could really prepare me for how things have actually been.
The whole process has been interesting, and quite a learning curve. And I’m not just learning about weaning itself, but I’m also learning about Ben, about food, and a whole lot about myself. So I thought I’d share with you some of my “findings” over the past few months throughout our weaning journey.
It’s a lengthy list (I didn’t plan on it, the points kept coming as I went along), but I really suggest that every new parent gives it a read. Some points are based on my own personal experience, and others are general notes that are useful to know. 🙂
I’ll start with some general points about the overall process:
- A lot more about this process is decided by the baby than it is by the parent. (We wanted to start with purees mixed with a bit of BLW but Ben refused purees so we had to go straight to finger food.)
- My responsibility is to choose the food I give him. But it is not up to me to decide how he eats it, how much of it he eats, or whether he eats any of it at all.
- A lot more food often ends up on the tray, in his bib, on the high chair, and on the floor, rather than in his mouth.
- Ben knows what he wants and knows what he doesn’t. He absolutely refuses anything with a spoon unless he uses the spoon himself – but most times he shakes the food off and then puts it in his mouth the wrong way round. In other words, trust your baby and just go with it. It’s useless getting frustrated.
- Force feeding a baby is a BIG no-no. This will set you up for failure and can increase chances of fussy eating and even eating disorders later in life.
- It’s not as scary as I thought. But when it’s scary, it’s so important to know at least the basics – which is why I recommend that every parent/guardian does a first aid course.
- Apps, articles, books, any info you find – they’re all very useful, but they are GUIDES. Meaning that ultimately, you need to follow your baby.
- Aside from following your baby, you also need to follow your instinct. Do what feels right.
- Messy is good – and important! (A pain in the ass to clean, but very good learning for your baby).
- Not all babies are the same. Say it with me. NOT. ALL. BABIES. ARE. THE. SAME. 🙂
- It’s okay if your baby doesn’t eat much, as long as you keep encouraging (not forcing) by simply providing the opportunity for them to eat, and also letting them eat with you at the table so they can watch and observe.
- Ben loves tasting, squishing, and experimenting with different foods, flavours, and textures, but has only just started properly swallowing his food. It takes time, and that’s okay. There’s no rush.
- Weaning is unfortunately very wasteful. It’s part of the process and something we need to accept. (Though I often find myself eating Ben’s leftovers, even when covered in drool, just for the sake of not throwing it away. Not really sure that’s wise, but hey, I’m trying.)
- It’s okay to sometimes offer ready made food like baby wafers, biscuits, or melty puffs (as long as they’re adapted to your baby’s age. I got most of mine from What’s In Store For Kids.) Food prep can be time consuming and sometimes it’s just not possible. Don’t torture yourself. You’re a great parent.
Terrified of choking? Here are some useful points:
- Gagging and coughing is good – your baby is learning how to control the food in his/her mouth.
- Your baby will gag, cough, vomit, and possibly cry, especially in the early stages of weaning.
- Baby Led Weaning does not increase chances of choking in babies – it’s just important to follow safe practices when it comes to what foods you offer and how you offer them.
- Do NOT stick your finger in your baby’s mouth to remove food. Chances are they’ll move their head and you’ll push it further back or increase chances of choking.
- Remember the saying: “Loud and red (face), let them go ahead. Silent and blue, they need help from you.”
- Also, please, do a Paediatric First Aid Course. It will give you so much knowledge, preparation, and peace of mind. I personally recommend the one by MyMama, which is done in person and you get to practise techniques on a mannequin.
- You’ve got this. ❤
Now let’s talk about food itself:
- Allergies are more likely to come up the longer you delay introducing certain foods. It’s scary, but it needs to be done. And once it’s done, you’ll find that it’s not as scary as you thought it would be.
- Severe allergies are unlikely to happen the first time your baby is introduced to something – keep a look out for any signs of allergies to prevent it getting worse the next time round.
- Cow’s milk (ideally full fat) can be mixed in with baby food as long as it’s cooked.
- Honey is poisonous for babies and shouldn’t be introduced before 1 year of age.
- Salt is also very bad for babies and can damage their kidneys so be sure to never add salt to their food and avoid naturally salty ingredients on the regular.
- Not all babies prefer sugary things. Ben loves savoury food and enjoys bitter things. He likes some sweet things, but so far it’s mostly savoury items that he consumes.
- Milk (breast or formula) is still the most important food for babies under 1 year and must remain their main source of nutrition.
Other general personal recommendations:
- When it comes to cleaning up, I recommend using damp face cloths instead of wipes for your baby’s hands and face – far less wasteful. (I know it’s added laundry but we’re drowning in laundry anyway so what are a few extra face cloths going to do?)
- Bonus point for the above is that if you wet the face cloth with drinkable water, baby will probably enjoy sucking on it so that’s more water consumed! 🙂 Just be sure to keep their bib on cause they’ll end up soaked. And speaking of bibs…
- Silicone bibs with a pocket are a must-have. I’d love to try a bib with sleeves but haven’t found one in Ben’s size yet, but I roll up his sleeves and cover the rest of him with a large muslin cloth to avoid as much staining as possible.
- If you’re looking for a great weaning set, I love the silicone one I got by Gloop from t’Angelina Baby Superstore. It’s got a bowl and plate; both with suction underneath, a spoon and spork, and a cup that’s easy to shape to your baby’s mouth. They also have matching bibs with pockets available. (Not sponsored, I scoured every shop in the country until I found exactly what I wanted and this set ticked all the boxes!) 🙂
- If you haven’t purchased your high chair yet, prioritise ease of cleaning and posture of baby when searching for yours. Ours isn’t particularly ideal in either of those things so I wouldn’t really recommend it, if I’m honest.
- Download the Solid Starts app and follow their account on instagram (if you’re Baby Led Weaning), it’s super informative and gives great tips on how and when to introduce new foods, along with lots of other tips and advice about weaning in general.
- There are many local services, courses, and informative articles related to weaning that you can follow and sign up for, such as those of MyMama or Island Bebe.
- And I know I sound like a broken record, but seriously, do a first aid course.
I hope you’ve found this helpful or interesting! Be sure to let me know if you think I’ve left anything out.
Wishing the best of luck to any parents who are about to embark on this journey! It’s exciting, messy, fun, and frustrating and scary at times, but it’s a beautiful and special milestone that brings with it many memories (and funny photos!).
If you’re still here, thanks for reading this! Let me know if you’ve enjoyed it and if you think I should post similar informative articles more often. I’ve always got lots to say. 🙂
Until next time,