When I had my son eleven years ago, baby-led weaning wasn’t even a thing. In fact, I’m pretty sure the phrase “baby-led weaning” didn’t even exist. The principle may have though. Fast forward a few years and it’s everywhere and very much the “in” thing to do.
I’m not really one for following all of the latest fads but I love the idea of allowing babies to explore and to some extent control the tastes and textures of their food from a very early age. Zak would have loved this and so I thought I’d give it a go with Sophie when she hit the all important six month mark.
I did a lot of reading up and research on why it’s so good for babies, what to give them to eat and how to go about making the whole experience as stress free as possible. There are a lot of brilliant resources on the internet and this was actually how I came across one of my favourite bloggers. You can read Donna’s post on baby-led weaning here if you are about to start the process or thinking you might like to try it.
Imagine my disappointment then when Sophie hit six months and showed no signs of wanting anything more than her milky business. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
She was sitting up, half-unsupported but she wasn’t putting anything in her mouth whatsoever (a massive problem if you expect your baby to feed themselves). There was no waking at night, watching us when we were eating or anything. In my opinion, she wasn’t ready.
However, our health visitor told me I needed to feed her more than just milk for the various vitamin and iron levels that she needed etc and so we tried her with some mushed up banana for her first meal. After pushing it around her mouth she did oblige and gobble a few spoonful’s up (who doesn’t love banana, right?!) and this marked the start of our weaning journey.
As all new parents are, I was terrified of choking and felt incredibly nervous about feeding her anything but pureéd fruit and vegetables for the first few weeks and so that’s what we did. I felt like a big fat baby-led weaning failure even though it was painfully obvious she couldn’t put anything in her mouth herself. What a wally I was.
Click here for a PDF ‘first food’s meal plan’ 6-month-first-meal-plan
I suppose it was somewhere around the seven month mark that she started to put things into her mouth and I tried her with a bit of toast in her hand. Now, Sophie is ten months and she is gobbling everything up the same as us. Baby-led weaning, if you want to call it that, is well under way and Sophie eats a varied and balanced diet like the rest of us.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it? So save yourself the worry and learn from my mistakes. Here’s what I’ve learned about the whole baby-led weaning thing:
- Wean your baby when they are ready. This is such a contraversial topic so do some research based on medical evidence and facts, not on the opinion of your mother’s, best friend’s, twice removed cousin.
- Baby-led weaning is a fad term for what babies do naturally…eating. Sometimes your baby will eat with gusto and sometimes they will throw it on the floor and sometimes they will only take it off a spoon, mouth open, waiting to be fed like a tiny baby bird. It all results in the same thing – a full tummy. Or not if it ends up on the floor.
- Do not stress about following any of the parenting fads and all of their so-called rules. Find a way that works for your baby. Baby-led weaning textbook style, spoon feeding all the way or a bit of both as I did. Just muddle through like the rest of us. Nobody will ask your twenty year old man-child whether they first ate from a spoon or managed to feed themselves in a job interview.
- Focus on what your baby is eating – not how they are eating. I’m a big believer in a really healthy diet. Babies are a blank slate so why give them the taste of junk food before their first sugar-induced hyperactive birthday party in soft play hell?
- Try to eat as a family. Busy work/school/life schedules make this a tricky thing to do I know but if possible, try to eat your meals with your baby so that they pick up on the social cue’s of eating together as a family. As they get bigger and gain an awareness of themselves, I think it must be so disconcerting to be sat on your own with one parent shoving food at you and watching your every mouthful. Talk about pressure. At least eat with them yourself.
If you are starting off on the weaning journey then I hope that this might have been mildly helpful. Let me know if you would like anymore meal plan templates as I have lots!
If weaning is a thing of the past for you then why not leave your top weaning tips below in the comments box?
Until next time