You’re about to start weaning but where do you start? There are hundreds of books, millions of websites and blogs and discussion forums as far as the eye can see. It’s a daunting world out there. You’re so excited to embark on this weaning journey but you’re overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information. How to digest it all? Where do you start?
Every parent is different when it comes to weaning in terms of pace, variety and feeding style. Some choose baby-led, where they let their little ones set the pace and choose what they would like to feed themselves, others follow the spoon-fed weaning method and some prefer to do a mix. There is no set formula when it comes to weaning so take time to absorb the facts and go with your instinct and what feels right for you and your baby.
Today I’m going to focus on spoon-fed weaning but I’ll also be writing about the baby-led methods and special diets, so fear not if you’re unsure about which route to follow, hopefully my blog posts will help you to decide.
First things first, when it comes to starting to wean your little one you don’t really need a lot of equipment. There are tons of weaning products out there but all you really need are some bibs that are easy to wash – the plastic ones are great for a quick hose down after a meal, some soft tip feeding spoons, we particularly like the Munchkin ones, and a bowl, this can be plastic or one from the kitchen cupboard, your baby doesn’t mind! While having a high chair is great, it’s not always the most practical when it comes to starting weaning especially if your little one is on the small side and you choose to start weaning around 17 weeks. Things like a Bumbo seat with a tray or simply using your baby’s bouncer chair will suffice for the first month or so until things start to get messier and then it’s time to move on to the high chair.
So how does it all work? Firstly, you need to choose a time when your little one is settled – it’s a good idea to base things around your baby’s feeding pattern but don’t worry if they don’t have a set pattern as once you start weaning things start to fall into place. Just to give an example: my little one wakes at around 6 / 6.30 am, I give her a half feed and get her dressed and at around 7.30 I look to give her some breakfast as she’s had her initial feed and she isn’t starving. If you want to offer food around the time of your baby’s feed then give them an ounce or so of milk to calm them so they aren’t overly hungry, and then look to start weaning. An overtired or very hungry baby might fuss and not be particularly interested in trying out any new foods. Try to keep the environment as calm and relaxing as possible. If it’s lunch, aim for around 10.45 – 11.30 and if it’s dinner it can be anything from 3 – 4.30 pm. Ideally, you want to leave a decent amount of time before the last meal and your baby’s bedtime / bedtime bottle. I’ve based this around a 7am to 7pm schedule with your baby going to sleep at 7pm and waking around 7am, but if your baby refuses to play ball like mine, then this all goes out of the window so don’t panic and go with your baby. If you feel your baby is calm, happy and ready for food at a different time, then by all means go for it. Timings can always be adjusted when they are older or to fit into a nursery schedule.
Now we come to food and the question: what exactly do I feed my baby? I’m not the biggest fan of starting off with baby rice as it’s particularly bland and it tends to leave them constipated, so I have always skipped that phase and started with vegetables. Keep it simple and remember you don’t need to stock up your fridge as you will be starting off with one meal a day and gradually over the course of a month or a few months begin building up to three meals. Initially your baby will only take a few small spoonfuls of food, so don’t panic buy as you will have plenty of time to work out portion sizes and how much fruit / veg you need as you go along. You can buy jars or pouches from the supermarket for convenience but check the labels carefully as you want to keep things as simple as possible for the first few weeks. Ideally you want something that is 100% carrot or sweet potato and not mixed
When you start out weaning, it’s a good idea to offer the same food three days in a row just to make sure your baby doesn’t have a reaction to it. Once you have established they are ok, you can move onto the next food and so on. When you have a selection of foods that they are used to, this is when you can start to mix and match and make something like carrot and parsnip or sweet potato and butternut squash puree.
So how do I make the puree? First you need to wash and peel all vegetables. Where possible, you want to steam them to lock in all of the goodness. You will also need a small blender or hand blender to make the smooth puree with. Simply peel and slice up some carrots, steam them until soft, then blend them into a puree. Hard fruits like apple and pears need peeling then steaming properly to make them soft and mushy, before they can then be blended into a puree. Another tip is that things like avocado and banana are great for when you’re on-the-go, as all you need is a bowl and a fork and you can mash them into a puree ready for your little one.
To avoid food wastage it’s a good idea to batch make your puree then pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze it so when you want another meal, you pop out the cube, warm it up over a bowl of boiling water and voila, fresh puree all ready to go. You can pop the cubes into freezer bags but make sure you always label them clearly with a date so you know how long it’s been in the freezer.
Our weaning plan looked a bit like this:
|7am||Wake up and part feed|
|7.45 – 8 am||Breakfast|
|8.30 – 9am||Rest of the feed and naptime|
|10.30||Part feed an oz or two|
|10 45 – 11am||Lunch|
|11.30 – 12 noon||Rest of feed and naptime|
|3.30 – 4pm||Dinner plus feed if wanted|
There are a lot of milk feeds included in this timetable for now but gradually your baby will start to drop their feeds and follow a more rigid pattern. It’s also good to offer sips of water with a meal to help digestion.
In terms of first foods, here is a list of our first foods:
|Day||Meal / food|
|1||Lunch – carrot|
|2||Lunch – carrot|
|3||Lunch – carrot|
|4||Lunch – sweet potato|
|5||Lunch – sweet potato|
|6||Lunch – sweet potato|
|7||Lunch – apple|
|8||Lunch – apple|
|9||Lunch – banana|
|10||Lunch – banana|
|11||Lunch – carrot|
|12||Lunch – sweet potato|
|13||Breakfast – baby rice with formula milk and apple
Lunch – sweet potato and butternut squash
|14||Breakfast – Organix banana and mango porridge with formula milk
Lunch – sweet potato and butternut squash
|15||Breakfast – Organix banana and mango porridge with formula milk
Lunch – carrot and parsnip
|16||Breakfast – Organix banana and mango porridge with formula milk
Lunch – apple and pear
|17||Breakfast – apple and pear with baby rice and formula milk
Lunch – avocado and banana
|18||Breakfast – apple and pear with baby rice and formula milk
Lunch – carrot, parsnip and apple
|19||Breakfast – baby rice with formula and mango
Lunch – sweet potato
Dinner – pear
|20||Breakfast – baby rice with mango
Lunch – courgette
Dinner – avocado and banana
|21||Breakfast – baby rice with apple
Lunch – courgette with potato
Dinner – Carrot and parsnip
|22||Breakfast – baby rice with pear
Lunch – broccoli and apple
Dinner – sweet potato and butternut squash
Do try to keep a log of foods offered, timings and also your baby’s reaction so it’s easy to see if / when they have had a reaction to something and to isolate the troublesome foods.
I hope this is helpful and feel free to ask any questions in the comment box below. I’m not a dietician but I’ll do my best to help you out. Over the coming weeks I’ll be looking at delving more into Baby Led Weaning and also Weaning with special diets: for example lactose / cows’ milk protein free diets as well as gluten free etc.