It’s hard to believe, but Baby Girl’s now been chowing down on proper food for just over a year. Early stage weaning seems like both a lifetime and just a second ago, just like with everything kids and time related.
Early weaning with our second baby was a bit different to our first. With Frog, I read all the books, joined the forums and agonised over what to feed her and when. I had daily routines of feeding times written out on a little list on the fridge and I was a militant Baby-led Weaning mum.
Second time around I had no plan, there were no lists and weaning began very much as it continues – with me flying by the seat of my pants. Baby Girl has always been a far less reliable sleeper than her older sister. She was exclusively breastfed until weaning began, but we started to introduce food around a month earlier than we did with Frog, from five months old. At the time, this was a desperate attempt to see if we could get more than an hour’s sleep in a row. Sleep deprivation drove the decision to introduce food, as we thought she may be waking due to hunger.
As it happens, it turned out to be a good decision. Although it didn’t solve the sleep issue, it turned out our baby was more than ready to get stuck into something other than milk. We started off with spoonfeeding mush – pureed fruit and veg – but that quickly turned to offering finger food once bubs started stealing the scraps from her sister’s plate. We had no specific “approach” this time. We just winged it from day to day.
One thing that was similar with early stage weaning with both girls was the fun (and the mess). I never worried about “how much” either girls were having, because I knew that as long as they had milk they wouldn’t go hungry. Gradually, as they learned to chew and swallow food, to get used to the different tastes and textures, it became a real part of their diet and they relied less on milk.
This could potentially be one of the hardest parts of weaning – trusting your baby’s own pace of discovering food and learning how to eat. After all, it’s not like they get a memo when they turn 6 months old that suddenly turns them into mini eating machines overnight. It’s easy to forget this at times.
Here’s a video we made just over a year ago, about those early day discoveries with food – including a tip for preparing banana as finger food. Seriously, the banana tip is life-changing…
If you’re about to start weaning there’s lots of advice on the Organix page, including a downloadable book packed with really useful information. Organix have been working with food expert Lucy Thomas to create a fun set of activities to make this potentially quite stressful early weaning stage fun. Fun is the key to a future love of food, I reckon, so I’m totally down with this.
My favourite activity that Lucy suggests is to hold a mirror in front of your baby so they can see themselves while they’re exploring the food. Lucy recommends putting out a mixture of purees and finger foods with different tastes and textures, then offering lots of smiley encouragement to get them going. Even better, invite some baby mates round so they can play with the food together, watching themselves watching each other in the mirror. This is the start of turning food into a fun and sociable experience. In these early days it’s about the learning and fun just as much (if not more so) than actually eating the food.
Here are some of my biggest tips if you’re about to start the weaning process:
- Make it fun. Although it’s messy, try not to get too hung up on how much food your baby gets all over themselves and instead encourage that early day exploration.
- Don’t get stressed about “how much they’re having”. Remember, as long as they’re still having their milk feeds then they’re still getting nutrition. Gradually, they’ll learn to eat the food and the milk feeds will decrease.
- Invest in a big plastic sheet if you’ve got carpets and, in the summer, eat outside as much as possible (your house will thank you for it).
- Make eating a sociable experience. Try to eat together as a family whenever possible – even if it’s only one meal a day. We tend to all eat breakfast together.
Are you just beginning the weaning process? Or maybe you’ve done it all before – if so, what tips would you add?
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Disclosure: I’m an Organix brand ambassador. All opinions and word remain my own. For more information about how I work with brands check out my work with me page.