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Baby weaning reflections

Need to check the underside of the plate, evidently! Toast

So, I had three comments expressing an interest in weaning chat, and that’s more than enough for me! So:

The original plan had been to do baby led weaning. As I understand it, baby led weaning involves two things (1) you don’t feed your baby, your baby feeds itself – hence baby led. You just have to give them the opportunity to do that (2) your baby eats when you eat, and ideally what you eat as well. You just need to avoid salt, sugar and chokable things.

It is often said that baby led weaning is about giving finger foods rather than things on spoons, but I actually read the whole official baby led weaning book (v repetitive, could be about a quarter of the length) and they actually explicitly say that they have no problem with spoons and purees. Just that purees shouldn’t be all you’re giving and that you don’t just shove the spoon in the baby’s mouth. But you’re ok to hand the pre-loaded spoon to them.

first food Melon munching

You’re meant to start baby led weaning from six months, or when the baby can sit up and pick up food itself. Also before six months they can’t digest solid solids, everything has to be pureed. Six months is also the time recommended by the World Health Organisation and the NHS, though in many European countries it’s still four months. The NHS website is pretty hardline on not weaning before six months actually, which is funny because its staff are really not. All the new mums I know said that health visitors kept asking them if they started weaning yet from about five months, and the nurse that does my weighing clinic (who is very nice but totally vague and random and seems to know nothing about anything when you ask her questions) actually said to me ‘He looks like a boy that needs some food’. That wasn’t why I started early though.

Basically at just after five months he seemed interested when other people were eating and he was shoving anything into his mouth he could get his hands on, so I thought he would want to start and could handle it. Also we though it would be nice to be able to take it really slowly, and to just give him a taste of things, so that when it came to offering him food all the time he at least would know what it was. It was five months and ten days when we eventually started, but that wasn’t even particularly planned, I was eating my breakfast, banana-apple-orange-joghurt-oat smoothie, and I thought it seemed like baby food, so we decided to give him a spoonful of it and see how it went. The picture above with the underwater animals bib is from then. As you can see he smeared it all over his face, but did eventually manage to find the mouth and I think he may even have swallowed some.

Avocado on nom nom Messiest baby competition, anyone?

Obviously what we gave him isn’t typical as a first food, which tends to be fairly bland single things, and also because it includes dairy, which is not recommended under six months. I’m not sure why actually. I felt a bit guilty and I have asked absolutely everyone this question, and all anyone ever says is ‘because of allergies’. But what about allergies? Is it meant to cause dairy intolerance? Or because it’s worse if they have an allergic reaction if they’re wee? I do not know! I also asked the health visitor, who also did not give me a straight answer but pretty much implied that that’s just part of the new guidelines not to give anything before six months, though that doesn’t explain why milk products particularly. She also pointed out that formula is made from cows milk and breastmilk has got lactose in, so if they were lactose intolerant you would know about it. What a nightmare that would be!

Anyway Milo seems to have no problem and generally is om nom nomming everything happily, including strong flavours. Only thing he really didn’t like was this potato and spinach puree I made. Turns out potato goes revolting and gluey when pureed, you should only ever mash it. That’s my top tip: Don’t puree potatoes!

Anyway, now he’s six months, I’m not making and pureeing stuff especially for him any more, I’ve been trying lots of soft fruits and bready things as finger food and also giving him a bit of whatever we were having the night before on a spoon. Melon and grisini the most successful things!

Untitled Untitled

One issue I am having with all of this is the amount of time it takes! I am aiming to give him food three times a day, but this rarely happens. I do mostly give him breakfast and lunch when I’m having it, but his take a million times longer than mine! It takes ages to pick up the things for him and hand them back, he could go on with this forever, usually I stop before he’s had enough, and then there’s all the clearing up afterwards, because it does make an almighty mess! It’s definitely a bit easier with finger food, but I think it’ll be a good while yet before he can just share in family meals. Plus of course we have our evening meal after he’s in bed. I have been considering whether a later bed time would be better, there are pros and cons to that, but in any case he throws such a wobbly when it comes to 7 o’clock, moving it back isn’t really an option just now.

oh and another thing: watching Milo eat fills me with ridiculous parental pride. I’ll see him pick up a piece of toast and shove it in his mouth and I’ll go ‘aaaawwww….’ and ‘he’s SO clever!’. I thought the excitement would wear off, but thankfully it hasn’t.

So there you have it, my brain dump on weaning!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Melizza 20 June 2013, 1:28 am

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m quite interested in doing this with our little guy. I was under impression that baby led weaning discouraged purees and spoon usage. Nice to know it’s not off the table.

    • Franca 20 June 2013, 2:29 pm

      I think it’s commonly understood that way, but the original source doesn’t define it like that. Ultimately I think the best advice is to just do what you want and what your baby goes for!

  • Melizza 20 June 2013, 1:29 am

    Also, HOW cute are those pics of MIlo!
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  • Sarah 20 June 2013, 9:06 am

    Hey, we are doing baby led weaning too, mostly because my son wanted food (at about the same age as Milo) but simply would not let me feed him at all! And yeah, meals were really messy and took ages, and only really got neater when L was around 11 months old – I think he got more coordinated and more hungry too. Sometimes now when he is really tired and/or hungry he even opens his mouth for me to feed him, so cute! But I only take dry foods when we go out, the mess does my head in otherwise. I think the thing with non-human milk is that the protein is really hard for young babies to digest. The milks used in formula are treated to make the proteins digestible. But my reading suggested that introducing small amounts of common allergens (like dairy, gluten and eggs) from six-ish months is fine. If the child reacts, avoid the foods but try again at about a year old. But I can’t remember where I read up on this, sorry! So anyway, with cows’ milk and cream, small amounts won’t hurt. Cheese and butter are fine too, I think the way they are processed changes the protein so it’s not as hard on the system. Good luck with the food and getting over the constant scrubbing and wiping!

    • Franca 20 June 2013, 2:27 pm

      Thanks for your comment, how annoying it takes so long, I was hoping for some less mess before I go back to work at ten months. Oh well! Milo is the same with being fed, he refuses to open his mouth if I try to feed him, though if I hand him the spoon, he will let me hold onto it and guide it to his mouth.

  • Veronica Darling 22 June 2013, 6:57 am

    In Australia, the nurses all encourage us to start feeding at 4 months, but looking at Felix at 4 months, I don’t think he was interested, and for some reason that’s why we liked Baby Led Weaning (we have the cookbook – which explains it very briefly, and has recipes my Husbie likes to follow) because it pointed out they should be sitting up & interested. He was sitting up by 5 months, and showed a strong interest to hold a spoon and put in directly into his mouth by around 5.5 months, so we gave him banana and all the rest from that day forth.

    I reckon the amount he eats varies greatly day to day, and we just go with the flow. Up until 8 months, in the States, we started to order (when we ate out) or make up a meal for him – but it’s still a very small meal… a kids meal! And I’m not bothered by what he eats or doesn’t as a few people have said ‘Food is fun, until they’re One’… so it’s a learning & playful experience until then. And yep, Felix has had milk mixed in with other stuff, cheese (ooh loves feta) and dahl and mild chilli broccoli (just yesterday at the pub!) and yep, I think most flavours. It’s good for them!

    As for the loaded spoon, I spoon-feed him a little yoghurt (homemade stuff we make) and then give him the spoon to feed himself. Mix it up!

    You’re an amazing Mama Franca! Milo is a sweetie heart boy and growing well! What a looker!