Weaning is a tricky journey. Although there are a million and one books and websites telling you how to do it, babies are all so completely different it’s essentially down to you and your beloved squidgy one to muddle along this unexplored path together.
My Little J has just gone ten months old now, and eats three square meals most days (as well as a few breastfeeds obvs, being the boob monster that he is!). I’ve weaned him on a mixture of spoon-fed meals and baby-led finger foods, proving that a combination of the two methods is entirely possible (and works quite well, I think).
When i was pregnant, I was kindly given two books – one copy of Annabel Karmel’s Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner (signed and presented to me by the lovely Annabel herself!), and one copy of The Baby Led Weaning Cookbook. During those long four-hour marathon breastfeeds in the early days, I read both books voraciously and I decided quite early on that I might give a combination approach a go.
Spoon-feeding babies with purées and the like is pretty easy and you know what they’re eating and how much they’re getting, but baby-led does have many advantages and I liked the ethos behind letting them become masters of their own destiny, food-wise. They eat until they are full and stop when they want to – and they generally learn to be much less fussy (apparently, anyway!). They also learn how to chew rather than just swallow, and they get used to lots of different textures.
When we started our weaning journey, I always found it interesting to read what other real-life mummies fed their babies, and what a typical “food day” looked like to them. So, here are my experiences for you to read. I’m certainly no expert though, but this is what we did, so if any of it gives you any ideas or inspiration, then that is just grand!
Here’s a brief history of our story so far…
From six – seven months
I started weaning J just before he was six months old. He developed an interest in food and seemed ready to me. I gave him baby rice once, and then didn’t bother again as it looked a bit rubbish! I moved straight on to porridge in the mornings. I gave him just breakfast for a few weeks, before progressing to giving him a little something at dinner time too.
From seven – eight months
I kept up the porridge for breakfast, and introduced first-tastes style foods for dinner – home-made roasted butternut squash purée was his absolute favourite. He started trying bits of my lunch too, things like toast, sandwich fingers, cucumber and tomato slices (or even bits of cake on occasion!) It was lovely to see him getting to grips with feeding himself (although mildly terrifying at first!) He didn’t take long to get the hang of it though – buttered toast fingers went down a treat. As did the cake (takes after his mum).
From eight months – present
From around eight months old, J has been eating three proper meals a day (although once, for two weeks, he refused all foods apart from mashed banana. The health visitor told me that the canny little beggar had realised that, if he held out, he would be rewarded with his favourite food – which was, is and probably always will be – banana. Monkey!)
Here are some pick-n-mix examples of his current meals to give you a few ideas…
Banana porridge with whole milk
Weetabix with whole milk
Scrambled egg and toast fingers
Toast with strawberry jam
Home-made egg mayo sandwich fingers and cucumber sticks
Wholemeal pitta fingers with houmous and red pepper sticks
Cheese on toast (or, let’s be honest, Costa Coffee Mozzerella and Pesto paninis) 🙂
Home-made cauliflower cheese
Home-made Bolognese sauce and baby pasta shapes
Hipp Organic Pasta Carbonara (he loves this!)
Home-made watercress soup, thickened with baby rice (it does come in handy for some things!)
Annabel Karmel’s Lovely Lentils
Home-made corned beef hash with peas and carrots
Hipp Organic Pasta with Tomato and Pork
Home-made sweet potato mash and salmon
I tend to give him fruit after lunch, (sliced grapes, blueberries, melon sticks or apple slices), and for his dinner he has a proper dessert like mashed banana with cinnamon, rice pudding or a fruity fromage frais yogurt.
You may notice there are a few sneaky jars in there – I’m not adverse to them at all! J absolutely loves most of the Hipp Organic range and they seem well made with no overly processed nasties. They are a real life saver sometimes and I’m confident he’s getting a filling meal. Hats off to mummies who make everything from scratch – but I’m just being honest 🙂
Whenever I make anything for the family nowadays, I leave out the salt and make a few freezer meals for J. It’s second nature now! It’s surprising what he likes sometimes; I made a medium-hot chilli recently, but I thought I’d let him try it just in case and he wolfed it down, spices and all!
Here are my top ten tips for weaning:
– Try a bit of baby-led weaning if you’re brave enough, you may be surprised at how quickly they get the hang of it! Read the books first for the know-how.
– Use baby rice to thicken home-made soups for easy baby meals. No idea if this is the done thing or not but it works! Watercress and spinach soup is a clear favourite of Little J’s.
– Don’t cook with salt – use black pepper, herbs and spices for seasoning and flavour instead.
– Always make a few freezer meals for baby from each home-made one-pot dish. You’ll have a freezer full in no time.
– Don’t be too scared of the odd Ella’s Pouch or Hipp Organic jar – I’m not anyway 🙂 Baby foods are pretty good nowadays and have come on in leaps and bounds over the decades. I’ve tried most brands and I like these the best – they taste like real food.
– To introduce finger foods, share your lunch with your baby (as long as it’s not too salty or sugary). Cheese on toast, sandwich fingers, salad (tomato/pepper/cucumber) veggies, houmous and fruit are all good choices.
– You know your own baby. Some of them progress faster than others on the weaning journey. There’s no right or wrong. Just let them develop at their own pace.
– Let them stop when they seem full or get distracted. Allow them to take the lead.
– Let them try all sorts! Little J loves surprising things like extra mature cheddar, olives, spicy chilli, curry, mango and avocado slices.
– Don’t be worried if some days they eat like gannets and other days like sparrows! I can’t feed J enough sometimes, and he crams down Organlx snacks and rusks and all sorts as well as his three meals. Other days he’s not that interested in food at all. From what I hear from other mummies, this is pretty normal.
Like I said, I’m absolutely no expert at all but it’s always nice to share your experiences with other mummies.
Do you have any weaning tips or nice recipes to share?
For more weaning tips, check out this fab post by Mamamim.com who did 100% baby-led weaning with her first baby…