Whether your baby is breast or bottle fed, at some point, you have to take the leap into the world of weaning. Read about how Rachael has made the move from liquids to solids with baby Freddie.
Trying to teach a human how to eat can be pretty tricky, especially when their sole nutrition thus far has been liquid based. Here’s what we’ve learnt so far...
...Oh the mess. We are literally going through packs and packs of wipes. Food gets in his eyes, hair, ears, on the tray, on the floor. I swiftly moved from small bibs onto the long sleeved smock affairs. I’m going to have to start stripping him down to just his nappy before mealtimes to save on washing!
Wear your old clothes too
Whatever gets on them usually ends up on you too. I’m considering inventing a full sleeve bib for weaning parents! Stick your posh designer gear back in the cupboard and get your scruffs on. Don’t find out the hard way when your baby sneezes on a spoonful of puree...
Porridge is like superglue
Seriously, next time you smash an ornament just stick it back together with some Readybrek! Unless you want to be scrubbing the baby and highchair then wipe it clean before it dries. Daddy was in charge of breakfast this morning and Freddie spent all day with a porridge smeared eyebrow. Despite repeated attempts there was no way to get it off until bathtime. You have been warned.
Give them their finger food first
An important part of the weaning process is allowing babies to learn how to feed themselves by providing them with finger food. Freddie loves chunks of pitta bread, fingers of banana and apricots. Often though, babies will literally bite off more than they can chew. This causes them to gag (more on that in a moment) and if they’re a bit sicky anyway like Freddie, then this will make them sick. Not a problem at the start of a meal. Very much a problem if you’ve just fed them a lurid green puree and they are wearing a cream top and trousers.
Watching a baby gagging on food is terrifying
But it’s a totally normal part of weaning and it’s just them learning how much they can swallow in one go. You’re meant to let them get on with it so they don’t get frightened of swallowing lumps, so I’ve had to develop my best poker face when Freddie starts to do it. Sometimes my nerves of steel still buckle though and I whip him out of the high chair and whack him on the back!
(N.B. Gagging and choking are different things. Gagging is always accompanied by noise. When actually choking, babies go silent and do need swift intervention to dislodge whatever is stuck.)
Weaning can be a frustrating process
You spend hours crafting a wonderful homemade meal, carefully mashing it up, only to be met with a face like you’ve just offered them a spoonful of poison. Deep breaths are required here and a cupboard full of Ella’s Kitchen pouches (other organic pouches are available!) on standby. Not sure how ‘Ella’ does it but her recipes seem to top mine every time in Freddie’s opinion. I have a love hate relationship with her!
Don't spend a fortune on a high chair
Before we starting weaning I found the range of high chairs on offer overwhelming. They go from the cheap to anything up to £400! Don’t be fooled by the fancy styling. We got the cheapest one from IKEA for less than £15. It frequently makes the lists of the best high chairs and I can now see why - it’s moulded plastic and so easy to keep clean. I imagine the level of annoyance of cleaning puree off a high chair directly corresponds to the amount spent on it!
High chairs in restaurants are rank
Definitely not so clean you could eat your food off them. In fact they really should come with a health warning! Always have a packet (or two) of anti-bacterial wipes in your nappy bag to give them a full wipe down before placing baby in them.
If all else fails resort to yoghurt
I’ve yet to come across a baby that doesn’t like yoghurt. If you’re crying with frustration into your recently refused broccoli and lentil puree just reach for the yoghurt. We’ve started buying huge pots of natural yoghurt to mix with fruit purees. I’m convinced Freddie has a separate pouch in his stomach for the stuff as no matter how full I think he is he can woof a whole pot in seconds!
And finally... remember to have fun
As much as it can be a difficult process it’s also great fun watching a baby learn how to eat and begin to enjoy new flavours and textures. Oh and enjoy watching them eat their vegetables while you can. I’m reliably informed this desire for healthy fare does not last into toddlerhood!