This scared me so much. It’s like you get into a routine with milk feeds and then you’ve got to start introducing food…! Where do you even start? I had no clue (still don’t really). With no real support from a health visitor we were going it alone. One of my biggest concerns was choking. How could they possible not choke on food? They only know how to drink milk. Well, they are much cleverer than we even think! Before I started weaning I knew I wanted to do a first aid course so I’d know what to do if anything happened. I had looked into it before I even gave birth and there wasn’t loads of options. After I’d had Marlie just before Lockdown 1.0 I had struggled with breastfeeding and attended a free online course with @blossomantenatal. I noticed they had started offering first aid courses so I booked onto one of them. It was online on zoom (of course it was, it’s 2020) and it was a couple of hours long. It was all really interesting and helpful but I was particularly there for the choking part. It still scares the life out of me but I do feel much more confident now, I know the differences to look out for between gagging (which is a regular occurrence at first) and choking and I feel like I’d know what to do if she was to choke (god forbid).
I got a couple of books (Wean in 15 and What Mummy Makes) and looked for all the advice online. I ordered a very plain and understated highchair to go with my kitchen, because, why not? (her bibs may or may not also match the decor… ha). I then started giving Marlie a different vegetable every day (blended up) in the two weeks before she was six months. The advice for weaning is being able to sit up properly, loss of the tongue thrust reflex and co-ordination of the hands, eyes and mouth. She has been staring us out whilst we eat ever since she could see past her nose, so i’m not sure that alone is a sign haha. Every baby is totally different, some could be ready earlier, some later. However the NHS advice is 6 months so I tried to stick as close to that as possible. As we suspected, Marlie, like her Dad and I, LOVES her food. There’s only been one thing so far she’s refused and it was avocado & butterbean mash – however we added some blended broccoli to it the next time we offered it and she inhaled it…strange child. She wasn’t overly keen on prunes either – but who is!
So, where do you even start? Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner?? I’d read to start with one meal a day and the build it up as they’re ready. (As they’re ready? What does that even mean?! Isn’t everyone always ready for their next meal?!). We initially started with lunch but that didn’t work well. Mainly because she made such a mess an outfit change was required and there’s already enough risk of them happening throughout the day without throwing another one in the mix. So, we moved to Dinner (Tea – whatever you call it). Then at least we could throw her in the bath and put her in her PJ’s straight after. We started just offering puree’d food, then I would add in some very soft veg as finger food (so that they can squish it between their fingers) and we’re just working on making it chunkier as time goes on.
After a couple of weeks we brought in breakfast and then lunch (my most dreaded) came a few weeks after that. I really didn’t want to introduce lunch for ages because it felt like such a burden. As I mentioned before the mess is just something else. Then I thought about being anywhere other than at home was going to be impossible. How easy is it just to feed them milk?? But guess what…now we’re in Lockdown 2.0 we no longer have that problem! Lunch is now probably the easiest because we do mainly finger foods so she keeps herself occupied for a good while and I can potter around her (whilst obviously watching every mouthful).
The next issue was milk. There’s so much conflicting information out there… ‘milk first so they are still getting all they need from that before they eat’ or, ‘milk afterwards so they are hungry for the food’…how about milk feeds stay the same AND she eats three meals a day…god knows if that’s normal but that’s where we got to. So we’re working on that. By the time she weaned I was breastfeeding her twice a day (morning and afternoon) and she was having formula twice a day (lunchtime and bedtime). This carried on for quite a while and she’s only recently started fussing at the afternoon feed so we’ve cut that out and now just trying to reschedule her day around that to make sure she doesn’t get too hungry. They say they will tell you but I genuinely think she would just eat/have milk as much and as often as you gave it her so that’s not helpful. Other conflicting advice is ‘food is just fun until one’ vs ‘babies need vital vitamins from food after six months’ ?? What the ?! Who actually knows?!
We (like with most things) have just taken a ‘bit of everything approach’. We try to make her things that we’re having as much as possible, as, well its just easier. We tend to just take her portion out before we add things like salt, too much spice or anything with a lot of sugar (Thai ingredients *rolls eyes*). But if not, we’ve found the ready made food pouches really handy and I’m not being funny but she’ll be lucky if I don’t eat her pasta bolognese ones for her soon as they smell so nice. We haven’t really gone with solely spoon feeding or baby led weaning (to be honest i don’t actually get how you can solely do just one), we do a bit of both. Spoon feeding is great for when you’re in a bit of a hurry or you know they are really hungry as you can control what they eat to an extent…but also offering finger foods helps them develop a good pincer grip and they can have a play around with different textures and shapes.
It’s so hard to know what to do. There’s really no right or wrong which I found really difficult because I’d rather someone just tell me what to do and when. There is literally SO much conflicting information to wade through and I wish I had the answers but I don’t. This is just what we did after many a night frantically googling/reading books and it seems to have gone alright so far…