Nathan’s Mumma says….
I couldn’t quite wrap my head around Baby Led Weaning (BLW) when Nathan was small. I was fearful that he would choke on what I gave him or wouldn’t get enough nourishment from that small amount of food. NOW I know that he wouldn’t necessarily have choked (although I’m still not 100% convinced) and he certainly would have gained all the nourishment he needed during weaning from this method. By this I mean that he was still getting all the vitamins and mineral etc from his milk, something I wasn’t aware of when I began the weaning process.
Therefore we embarked upon the puree route. I have to confess that in my daydreams of becoming a mother I always envisaged spoon-feeding my child. I don’t know why, maybe because that what I was used to seeing mothers do, and I wanted to join in. So that is what we did. Another confession…we began to wean Nathan at 5 and a half months, BEGAN. With a teaspoon on baby rice mixed with some of his milk to a yoghurty consistency. It made about a dessert spoons worth of goop.
NHS guidelines now dictate that you should NOT wean your child until they are 6 months old, so PLEASE don’t read this and follow my lead. I had reason to start so early, Nathan was draining 9oz bottles every hour and a half, I could not fill him up. However, we will stick to the guidelines for the duration of this blog, as that will give you the best information rather than doing as I did.
NB I don’t regret doing it a couple of weeks early, it was right for Nathan.
3 signs that your baby is ready for food:
- They can stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady (Although Nathan didn’t sit up unaided til 7 months?!)
- They can co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so that they can look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth, all by themselves.
- They can swallow food. Babies who are not ready will push their food back out, so they get more round their face than they do in their mouths.
There are always going to be messy and mucky faces when feeding children, especially at the beginning…look at the state of Nathan!
Signs which are mistaken for babies being ready for food (and can be completely unrelated to weaning. Speak to a health visitor for individual advice):
- chewing fists
- waking in the night when they have previously slept through
- wanting extra milk feeds
When you do start thinking about weaning, what should and shouldn’t you give them?
The ideal is to keep them on breast milk or infant formula until they are 6 months old and fulfill the criteria above. ‘Follow-on’ formula is not suitable for babies under six months, you don’t need to introduce it after six months either. Even then, their baby milk is perfectly good enough to give them until they turn 1 and can have cows milk.
Introducing solid foods before six months: if after checking with your health visitor or doctor, you decide to introduce solid foods before six months, you should avoid giving your baby certain foods as they may cause food allergies (Nathan had none of these and still has a severe allergy) or make your baby ill.
- foods that contain wheat
- tree nuts
- peanuts and peanut products
- cows’ milk
- soft or unpasteurised cheese
- Feeding spoons and bowls such as the Tommee Tippee Explora Soft Tip Weaning Spoons (5-pack) and the Tommee Tippee Explora Easy Scoop Feeding Bowls (4-pack) (Colours May Vary)that we used, and still do use the bowls.
- Bibs and muslins
- Steamer or saucepans
- Hand blender or food processor (we loved the Tommee Tippee Explora Baby Food Blender)
- Ice cube trays or containers (available at www.boots.com and www.amazon.co.uk)
- Highchair (we bought the www.kiddicare.com own brand ‘little weavers’ but we’ve found the ikea antilop one is brilliant)
- Splash mat, we bought a 2m long piece of oil cloth from dunelm mill but you can buy specific ones from kiddicare and amazon.
How to get started:
- Always try to feed them in a familiar and relaxed place
- Try to time feeding for when your baby isn’t too tired or hungry.
- Avoid giving sugary snacks and drinks like biscuits, sweets, jam, rusks, and juices (there are sugar free rusks available)
- Keep trying – if your little one rejects a new food, offer it again in a few days’ time. If they still say no, try again in a few weeks’ time
- Let them play with their spoon and squash and squeeze their food!
- Enjoy it, if you show enthusiasm for a new food, it’s more likely they will too
- Always sit with your baby when they are eating in case they start to choke (take a paeditaric first aid course)
- Let your baby enjoy touching and holding the food, they learn through all their senses
- Allow your baby to feed themselves, using their fingers, as soon as they show an interest.
- Don’t force your baby to eat, it’s all about learning at this stage
- If you are using a spoon, wait for your baby to open their mouth before you offer the food. Your baby may like to hold a spoon too.
- Start by offering just a few pieces or teaspoons of food, once a day.
- Cool hot food and test it before giving it to your baby.
- Don’t add salt, sugar or stock cubes to your baby’s food or cooking water (baby stock cubes are available from www.boots.com)
First foods,6-9 months: (mashed or soft cooked fruit and vegetables)
- sweet potato
- soft ripe banana
Banana puree – half a ripe banana (no green bits), peel, slice and mash to a smooth consistency.
Carrot puree – medium carrot, peel and cut into half centimetre thick slices. Steam for 8-10 minutes until soft. Cool, and then add 2 tablespoons of cooled, boiled water. Blend until smooth.
Pear puree – ripe pear…peel, core and quarter. Chop quarters into 3 pieces. Cook in 4 tablespoons of water for 10-12 minutes, stir occasionally until soft. Cool then blend until smooth.
Once they reach 6 months old your baby needs 500–600ml (17-21oz) of milk a day and still need their usual milk feeds.
9 month + foods: soft cooked meat such as:
- mashed fish (check very carefully for any bones)
- pieces of chapatti
- mashed hard-boiled eggs
full-fat dairy products (choose products with no added sugar or less sugar):
- fromage frais
NB Whole cows’ milk can be used in cooking or mixed with food from six months.
Adding meat and fish was where we hit a stumbling block with Nathan, he ate fruit and vegetable purees in various combination quite happily but once we added protein of any kind he flatly refused to eat it…unless it came out of a jar. I even copied the jar combination to no avail. So whilst he ate homemade veg and fruit puree, he got his protein from a jar until he mastered finger foods (see Leyton’s Mumma’s blog on BLW). We also used the pudding options when we needed something different to custard and yoghurt. Every baby is different though!
We really liked using these ready-made baby foods:
These products are available at most supermarkets and www.boots.com
Keep trying your baby with new foods, research suggests that a child has to be offered, and try, a new food up to 20 times before they will accept it into their diet. Don’t forget to check for seeds, bones and stones to prevent choking.
Drinks with meals:
Introduce a sippy cup from around six months and offer sips of water with meals. Using an open cup or a free flow cup without a valve will help your baby learn to sip and is better for your baby’s teeth (Nathan flatly refused to use free flow cups until he was 16 months old, he got drowned in the water. It’s more important that they are hydrated in my opinion)
- Throw away leftover food that you’ve fed your baby directly from, as it may have bacteria from their saliva.
- Once you baby has mastered purées, try moving on to mashed and lumpier textures, and then finger foods (ideas in the BLW blog by Leyton’s Mumma)
So good luck! Feel free to add comments with your experiences too!
Brilliant weaning guides: