The wonderful world of weaning is daunting and exciting in equal parts to first time parents. Everybody and their aunties and their auntie’s badgers have an opinion on it so expect to hear things like “oh we never had / did / used that in my day” approximately 927 on your weaning journey. Here are my little snippets of wisdom I’ve learned along the way – and wish I’d known before I started!
F O O D B E F O R E 1 I S J U S T F O R F U N
Disclaimer: I did actually know this one before I started as it’s my sister-in-law’s favourite thing to say and is the lil nugget of wisdom that I now impart on everyone else. Baby’s are still having milk. They won’t go hungry if they don’t eat that delicious quinoa salad you spent 2 hours preparing for them. I promise.
W H A T ‘ S G O O D F O R T H E G O O S E
… isn’t always good for the gander. Just like you and I are different, babies are different too. You might have had an idea of what you wanted weaning to look like and you’re finding it doesn’t look like that. Don’t despair – just remember we are all different and to go at your baby’s pace, not Sandra from number 42 whose 7 month old is on three meals a day plus snacks and likes her quinoa salad.
I N S T A G R A M V S R E A L I T Y
Oh, Instagram, how we love you. And hate you. And love you again. You give us endless inspiration but also make us feel like the world’s most inadequate parents. Those accounts you follow who make rainbows out of crudités and animals out of legumes are nice to follow for inspiration but never ever let them make you feel inadequate. Instagram is not real life.
T H E R E W I L L B E T E A R S
And probably from both of you – it’s hard not to take it personally when you’ve slaved over a lasagne for hours and they’ve (literally in our case) thrown it to the dogs. There’s often a rogue tear from the gag reflex kicking in on the reg too (see next point).
L O U D A N D R E D L E T T H E M G O A H E A D
Silent and blue – they need help from you. This is a really important one: perhaps the one I should have started out with but I didn’t want to scare you off. Fear of your child choking seems to be a big one when it comes to weaning. Remember their gag reflex needs to develop and it will take time. I was all for baby led weaning but my baby’s gag reflex wouldn’t allow it so we started off with purees. Here is the NHS resource on choking – worth a read before starting out!
A D I R T Y C H I L D I S A H A P P Y C H I L D
And your floor isn’t going to be offended if it gets a bit dirty too. I think this is another one that people really struggle with – the mess. Food will literally get everywhere. It’s not the end of the world! And hey, if your kid makes a mess when they’re out, they make a mess. It’s just one of those things. Just don’t be a dick by leaving the floor a mess for the staff to clean up.
A L W A Y S B E P R E P A R E D
Make like a boy scout and always be prepared. Oh those lovely days when all you had to worry about was making sure you had your mammary glands attached to your body or a back up bottle of formula. Now you need: bibs, change of clothes, spoons, bowls, snacks and water – before you’ve even thought about what the hell you’re going to feed them. No judgment here if you need a couple of Ella’s Kitchen pouches in your back up bag.
I F A T F I R S T Y O U D O N ‘ T S U C C E E D
Try, try, try again. There are studies out there, like this one which have proven that exposure to food increases our likelihood of growing to like the tested food – in this case it was vegetables in children. As an adult, I’ve exposed myself to various foods, continuing to eat them until I grow to like them. The same is true for children and particularly babies who are not only getting used to tastes, but also temperatures and textures.
G R O U N D H O G D A Y
Yes, it will feel like groundhog day, day after day. No sooner have you cleaned the high chair after breakfast, it’s all of a sudden snack time? Then blink and it’s lunchtime. It used to be eat, sleep, rave, repeat and now it’s prep, feed, clean, repeat; prep, feed, clean repeat. Not only that but just as you’re getting into a routine with it all, they’ll be hit with a cold or virus and they’ll not want to eat at all. At least your baby is cuter than Bill Murray (well, I hope they are!)
E N J O Y I T !
This is a pretty special time, your baby is learning to self-sustain! You’ll be sad when they don’t need you at all and they’re cooking their own breakfasts at the weekend and trying not to give themselves food poisoning. Use this as an opportunity to sit down with your baby and enjoy meal times together.
Have you already weaned? What do you wish you knew before you started?