Weaning isn’t a stage I look forward to. I have felt each time that things are ticking along nicely, and then weaning throws things out for a few weeks, plus it is just so messy. When babies are born it’s (usually) either milk, sleep, wind, temperature, cuddles, or a nappy change if there is a problem, then steadily as they grow more factors come into play. O has definitely added ‘socialising’ to one of his needs. He likes to be where the action is – naturally, and solid food automatically adds another factor. It’s difficult to know exactly how much they are eating, and decide when to replace feeds with food.
I’m a Gina Ford fan when it comes to a weaning routine because the ‘weaning plan’ is designed to encourage sleeping through from 7pm-7am – every parents dream. Winston loved food within a week or so, and as a result slept through at 7 months, and was not interested in milk at 10 months. Rufus was less impressed with food, and it wasn’t until about 9 months that he was on three solid meals – totally different personalities. Ru didn’t want to rush anything, and he is exactly the same now. O has started joining us at the dinner table over the last week – he plays with utensils in his highchair. He has enjoyed sucking the odd apple and playing with a few vegetables.
There has been a big movement favouring baby-led weaning over the last few years, but I don’t feel the need to (or want to) subscribe to baby-led or the more traditional spoon feeding. I like both and I think they work in harmony. Spoon feeding is great as you know how much they have eaten, it is good when you are out as it minimises mess, and it is a little less nerve-racking. Baby-led weaning is great to encourage independence, experience textures and distract them if you need a bit of extra time.
Winston was only ever given bought baby food if I was totally desperate when out and about, but by the time Ru came along baby food had had a complete overhaul, and I often planned to buy it if I was going out for the day. Having said that, plenty of baby food still isn’t that great – yoghurts and cereal are particular pet peeves of mine. The amount of sugar some of them contain is eye-watering. I digress.
Aside from the usual recipe book, bibs, spoons, jars, and freezer pots – here are my essentials for weaning:
Highchair – We almost bought a wooden highchair, and I’m so glad we didn’t as it would have been a nightmare to clean. I love our IKEA antilop one because it is so basic, a dream to clean and the legs are easy to remove for storage, or if you need to take it somewhere. It is also £13, and the tray is easy to pop on and off.
Handheld blender – Much less of an ‘event’ than a food processor, and way easier to clean too.
Full sleeve bibs – These save on so much washing and IKEA do some great ones that aren’t too stiff for tiny beginners. I often put a small bib under the full sleeve bib just in case. Or just go nappy only if it’s hot!
Sippy cup – I always like to start on a cup as soon as weaning begins – just a really basic one with a lid. Mainly because I’m a bit obsessed with teeth – shape and keeping them healthy, and because it makes sense to me. They soon get the hang of it.
I almost forgot to mention that weaning is also a very exciting time – watching the reaction of your baby to new foods is wonderful, fun and highly amusing!
A few other tips:
- Give your baby a spoon in their hand when you’re feeding them so they don’t grab the one with food on (and so they can practice).
- You may want to consider placing a ‘splash mat’ under the highchair depending on what flooring you have. Ours is laminate so it’s easy to clean anyway.
- Don’t expect too much at first. It can take them a week or so to actually swallow anything. Jared and I fully expected Winston to eat his entire first meal, which we quickly found hilarious. How naive.
- Research how to deal with chocking.
- Get ready for lots of gagging – the gag reflex in babies is very strong and at first it can be unnerving. I remember freaking out more than a few times.
- Of course, it is essential that you are always with your baby when they are eating.
- …expect a lot of mess!