Since I started to share Arlo’s weaning adventure on Instagram I get a lot of messages asking for tips and help. So it seemed fitting my first blog since my small hiatus should be focussed on my top tips around weaning. (I have a lot of other blogs sitting in my drafts which I will eventually get around to publishing!)
Disclaimer: I am not an expert, the following tips are from my own experience and opinion. Do your own research and consult your doctor/health visitor where necessary before beginning your weaning adventure.
Before I begin let me state that we are incredibly lucky and I am fully aware of that, also trust that if I happen to forget how lucky we are even if just for one moment I’m promptly reminded by a lot of people! Since Arlo has been eating he has not once refused food. Again I know we are lucky! But I also like to think that the following may have helped that. Some children just aren’t that into food and nothing you do seems to help, if this is you, know that it’s nothing you have done and just keep persevering.
Another thing is to not feel pressured into starting on purées or diving head first into baby led weaning. Neither is wrong. Research changes and evolves all the time so you find what works for you. We do a mixture of baby led and purées. It works for me and it works for my son and that is the main thing.
My top tips.
- Initially stick to one flavour for a few days. I started with one vegetable / fruit. Not only does it make it easier to notice if your baby has a reaction it means they have a few days to get used to a flavour.
- Don’t start with acidic foods straight away, they can increase nappy rash and reflux.
- Where possible make your own vegetable purées. Not only is it a lot cheaper but you know what’s going in them. A whole head of broccoli will make at least a weeks worth of food and is cheaper than one pouch. That said if you want to solely rely on pouches and jars then don’t feel like a failure! We haven’t all got time to steam veg.
- Notice I said vegetable each to their own but I choose not to stew fruits. I buy my fruit purées in pouch form! I just choose the 100% fruit options and make sure there is nothing else added.
- Don’t mix your sweet and savoury flavours. We all like sweet things. But vegetables are bitter. Masking this with sweetness will get your baby used to the sweet taste so then when you later offer broccoli (for example) on its own they may turn their nose up.
- On the subject of broccoli- be prepared for horrendous poo. Perhaps not in texture but definitely smell!
- If you are going to use pouches read what’s in them. I love an Ella’s Kitchen pouch but all her mixed vegetable pouches also have fruit in them.
- I never really warmed Arlo’s food. People may argue that’s mean, who wants cold cauliflower! But now Arlo will happily eat warm food and cold food, which makes it so much easier when out and about.
- When your LO hits 6months don’t be afraid of finger foods! Do your research, book a first aid course if you need peace of mind but just remember babies are resilient they also have an extra sensitive gag reflex to stop them chocking! Follow the guidelines (cucumber sticks not rounds, grapes in half lengthways not down the middle etc) and don’t leave your baby unattended.
- If you are very very nervous then start on food that melts, give them some mashed potato and let them feed themselves. Try baby veg crisps or wafers that melt and dissolve.
- I went for it. Arlo had to learn sooner or later so why not get him used to finger foods early rather than put it off.
- Be prepared for mess. Clothes can be washed, walls can be cleaned. Just let them go for it. If a food is messy (spaghetti bolognese for example!) then I feed Arlo in the kitchen in his highchair as my floor is wipeable in there. Cream carpets probably weren’t a good idea! At dinner time I’ve also started to whack the heating on and feed Arlo in a nappy, then he can get as messy as he wants.
- Food is fun! If they don’t eat a lot don’t worry. As long as they are drinking formula/breast milk they are getting everything they need. A lot will go on the floor but that’s ok!
- Get inventive with your ideas. Instagram and Pinterest are my friends! I also think of what flavours I like. Babies can have spices so don’t be afraid to add a sprinkle of cinnamon or paprika (or whatever) just remember the guidelines and avoid salt.
- Crinkle cut your veg and fruit sticks. Arlo often struggled to keep hold of his fruit, it was just too slippy so as an experiment I crinkle cut it and what a difference it made! No more sticks of melon shooting out his chubby little hands.
- Don’t compare. Some babies eat a lot. Some don’t. Some mums prepare everything from scratch. Some don’t. Find what works for you and your little one.
- Some people like a routine (me being one of them) Arlo is fed roughly every two hours. Bottle / breakfast / bottle / lunch / bottle / dinner / bedtime bottle. Some just go with the flow. Arlo has always been happier and more content with a more structured routine, every baby is different.
- Find what works for you. If your baby has just had a bottle/feed then chances are he is going to be happily full up and won’t be interested in any food you give him. Find a good time when he’s not too full, not too hungry and not too sleepy to introduce some food.
- Don’t be embarrassed to stay in the house while you establish your new routine. I’m not saying become a hermit but be at home for when they have food. Familiar surroundings will help when they are trying new things. Eating a new strange food in a new strange environment is probably a bit confusing for them.
- Now Arlo is eating three meals a day I like our home days. Yes I still go out and see people/get fresh air but I also don’t feel guilty if I stay in for a few days in a row. Trying to fit in three meals, bottles, naps and the occasional snack is stressful enough without adding in the pressure of being in public.
- Finally make sure to offer foods you don’t like. I do not like avocado, Arlo loves it! Let them make their own mind up.
I will update this if anymore pop in to my head but that’s probably enough for now! Let me know your top weaning tips/experiences in the comments.