First of all... I’m NOT an expert... I’m just a mum, a mum of three... a teen, a toddler and a baby (@mrs.p.plus.three). I can’t give a secret solution or provide all the answers but this is a blog by mums for mums... I’m here to share my experiences and my tips from our weaning voyage!
Alfred: 8.5 months
Sure, you’ve read the weaning books with perfect timelines and homemade meal plans... they’re great if you have one of those ‘text book babies’ that do everything they should when they should and you have all the time in the world to prepare a million tiny morsels for baby to taste (and probably spit back out)! #Weaning my babies had to fit around our #lifestyle... and despite various good intentions I’ve never managed to prepare and freeze tiny meals in cute mini Tupperware... yet both my boys were/are complimented on their eating regularly and I’m often asked how I got them to eat this or that. The important part for me was not what they ate but how they ate.
My biggest advantage... I’ve always been a #foodie and therefore have always loved #mealtimes, it’s often been how my days were defined... (much easier to get through the morning at work when you have a good lunch to look forward to!), I hoped this would filter through to my children... and going by my big boy... it’s working! It’s simple if you like food and enjoy food your kids will too!
Alfred: 23 months old
Ok... background first (tips coming... promise!)... My eldest, Kobe was a preemie 14 years ago and despite being advised to wean from 4m he survived solely on #breastmilk until 7m. Second, Alfred also #ebf started solids at 5.5m... third, Beatrice is currently 4.5m and gut tells me she’ll be somewhere in the middle! Babies don’t all walk or talk at the same age, why should they all eat at the same age? So... first TIP: wait until they’re ready, mothers instinct is usually the best judgement but a couple of things to look out for: baby is able to sit unaided and has good hand/eye coordination (able to hold an item and bring it to their mouths independently), think of it like this, if they’re physically able to feed themselves then they’re probably physically ready for food.
What to start with?
TIP: keep it simple, there’s no prizes for the best first meal! Its an exciting milestone moment but setting up the video camera and spending time preparing that first home cooked mouthful for it to be spat out is a little disheartening... keep the first few tastes easy and simple for your sanity! If they do push food straight back out can mean they’re not quite ready so... next TIP: it’s ok to stop, babies grow and change so quickly that a couple of days really does make a difference so if baby doesn’t seem ready on the first try it’s ok to wait a few days before trying again. So back to ‘what’... when Kobe was little ‘Baby Led Weaning’ wasn’t even a ‘thing’ and Ella and her kitchen were yet to exist. With Alfred #BLW was all the range... both boys were weaned exactly the same and both started with baby rice. Baby rice suited me as I could mix it up with breastmilk in seconds, I could mix up a spoonful or a bowlful and I could choose the consistency too, so first few ‘meals’ were pretty boring... but not to him!
What next?...and after that?
Porrige became our first staple and is still our go to breakfast (even for the teen), I like knowing they’ve started the day with a good meal... easy to change to suit everyone by adding fresh/dried fruit, nuts etc. Moving on we played around with flavours, textures and consistency. Often using baby rice as a base and adding mashed fruit or veg. I literally mashed a teaspoon of whatever veg we were having with dinner that day, or if we weren’t having anything that could be mashed then some fruit or a bit of a pouch stepped in. Along side this I added finger foods, where possible it was pieces of cooked veg from dinner or sometimes pieces of rice cake, cereal, toast etc. or when I was more organised banana pancakes or vegetable fritter (recipes below). Meals were just a small version of what we were eating with some bits left out/added in accordingly which meant I could prepare it at the same time as preparing our food. I cut out all salt from cooking so that on the whole our meals once modified were ok for the baby, occasionally I’d make a separate ‘baby’ version along side but generally the baby ate the same as us just mashed! Next TIP: keep it stress free... eating the same as us meant I didn’t waste time preparing different meals, some days I’d make double and freeze a meal for the whole family - I still aspire to do this more regularly! Some of our fave meals are spicy, we love Mexican and Indian foods... baby does too, just add a spoon (or 2 or 3) of plain yoghurt to the dish when serving, similarly add coconut cream/milk to Thai dishes! Make sure you have a few back up meals for those last minute take-away meal days - wether it’s #homemade in the freezer or an Ella pouch in the cupboard, if it’s easy for you, there’s less stress... less stress means happier baby... happier babies are more likely to eat! Equally, if you’re stressed, baby is likely to become more agitated... another TIP: keep it fun... you want them to enjoy mealtimes, even if they don’t eat the food that day.
Next tip: Leftovers! I love #leftovers, they make lunch the next day super easy, having leftovers for lunch has saved me soo much time! TIP: mix it up while they’re little it’s fine to try out different combinations in one sitting, as long as they get what they need it’s fine! As they get bigger keep trying new things... or the same things in different ways... love fajitas? Try it with an Indian twist... Indian spiced meat & veg in tortilla wraps, swap salsa and guacamole for raita and mango salsa/chutney. Left over chilli con carne? Top with mashed sweet potato for a twist on cottage pie!
Alfred : 6months
On to my absolute biggest bestest tip of all... probably the most obvious, yet often the most overlooked... BEST TIP EVER: Eat together! How often do we see littles mimicking actions they’ve seen, whether we like it or not they learn from copying us... they watch everything you do so give them a good show! Beatrice doesn’t even have a high chair yet but she already joins us at the table for every meal (unless she’s asleep!!). It doesn’t have to be every meal every day but try to to eat with them as often as possible, ideally eating the same too so they can see what you want them to do. Forget the washing up etc. put the kettle on while you’re prepping lunch and make the most of sitting down with a cuppa and your little person!
Beatrice’s first BBQ dinner! 4 months
This too shall pass!
“He’s going through a phase of...” we hear it all the time for everything when it comes to little people... try to remember how much they have going on... growing at a rate of knots, #teething, #tiredness, colds and illnesses, new things/places/people... these can all affect them in different ways, they may stop sleeping or maybe they’ll go off their food. Alfred recently went through a two week ‘#phase’ of barely eating anything at mealtimes... as in not even a spoonful one dinner! TIP: Don’t worry (yet!), easier said than done but it’s normal for them to go off eating sometimes, you may spot the cause, you might never get to the bottom of it, but it’ll pass, (obviously keep an eye on their health etc. always seek help/advice if you are worried), try to ignore the fact they haven’t eaten and focus on other aspects of mealtimes so it’s still a #positive experience... don’t forget we have days we don’t feel like eating too... This goes for #fussy eating too, if you notice your little becoming picky try not to draw attention to it (they love to get under our skin!) often, the more fuss I make, the more fuss Alfred makes! Kobe was a big fan of octopus by 3.5yrs but would only eat tomatoes “from Croatia” for a while (10 years on he still avoids tomatoes where possible... but loves squid/octopus!). Try not to stop foods they’ve taken a dislike too, try adding in an alternative to decipher what they genuinely don’t like and what they just don’t fancy today. Or cook it in a different way. If they’re really persistent... hide it! It’s amazing how much veg can be squeezed into a bolognese! Whatever sauce you use spaghetti is an easy way to hide veg... spiralise courgette/carrots etc to mix-in with the spaghetti. Mix carrot or parsnip into mashed potato or try finely chopped cauliflower in with rice.
Too much... not enough!
TIP: Portion sizes, remember how small they are and dish up accordingly, it’s better to give them more when they want it than getting into the habit of not finishing, it also makes it easier to work out how much they’ve eaten. A big plate can be overwhelming even for an adult and if they’re already feeling fussy they might not even attempt the challenge.... too little is better than not at all!
Alfred: 9.5 months
All hands on deck!
TIP: get them involved! This may help with fussy eaters and can improve enthusiasm for eating all round. It doesn’t have to be long tiresome involvement... let them put veg into the pan, stir a sauce, pour out the rice, or even just watch you checking what’s in the oven!
Follow the leader!
They may be little but they quicklu work out what they want... follow their lead... if they want to hold the spoon, let them or have two! Seize the little opportunities when they’re motivated by something... if pear is their most favourite thing ever (for today), maybe use that to encourage using the spoon. If baby is eyeing up your lunch, let them taste even just a lick... ok ok not everything, as they become more aware of your food try having foods they’re allowed to taste on your plate and save the things you don’t want them eating for when they’re not looking! Hiding in the cupboard to eat biscuits is totally acceptable!
To be honest my bag is usually stuffed with #convenient prepacked snacks out and about and I’m fine with that... it’s got to be a balance, and sometimes there’s not time to cook meals and make pretty snacks! Some of our go to snacks... Rice cakes (plain if were out, sometimes topped with hummus/cream cheese etc), omelette (favourite home lunch too), hard boiled eggs - Alfred loves them chopped or whole, oat cakes, Jacobs crackers (with or without cheese), malt loaf (homemade or shop bought), plus fruit - melon and mango are current faves, cooked and cooled carrot sticks were a firm favourite too before teeth (Fred didn’t have any until 13m!).
I’m rubbish at decision making, I usually go for the “I’ll have what you’re having” option! Little people can struggle with it too, so another TIP: keep choices minimal, it’s great to get the choosing but try to give a couple of options rather than giving them free reign... after all they’ll probably choose something you don’t want them to have anyway! Let’s see... “What would you like for lunch?” For me... cake, crisps, chocolate please! Versus... “Would you like pasta or sandwiches for lunch?”
As they get bigger it should get easier as they’ll just eat the same as you with less faffing! In my experience boys just eat more... and more... and more as they grow... once teenagers they pretty much eat everything in sight... well apart from all that fruit!!
Finally, my other biggest bestest tip of all: Do it YOUR way! However you decide to feed your children and whatever the reasons behind your decisions it’s up to you, make it work for you and go with it. Don’t compare yourself/your children... everyone’s different... as long as you/your baby are happy and fed that’s the important thing. If ready meals suit you, that’s fine, if you only buy organic, cook everything from scratch and never give your children sugar that’s fine too...! Do it YOUR way!
Keep an eye on our insta stories to see Fred in action helping with dinner and more... And also to join us for Trixie’s upcoming weaning journey! @mrs.p.plus.three
Less ramblings... more useful stuff!
Fave quick easy meal: ‘cheat’ carbonara
cook pasta/spaghetti as normal
Stir in creme fraiche and cheese
That’s it! Easy peasy! We usually have it with courgette, broccoli, bacon and Parmesan. Chicken & mushrooms works well too. So quick and simple and you can choose what to add, also perfect for spaghetti and spiralised veg!
Breakfast/desert/snack: Banana Pancakes
mash a banana and mix in an egg
Heat a little oil and pour in small amounts... think American pancake style not crepes!
Again very versatile... Eat as they are, with bacon & maple syrup, with chopped fruit & yogurt, with ice-cream/frozen yogurt etc!
Vegetable fritters: https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-fritters-out-of-any-vegetable-231408
sugarfree malt loaf : http://www.redonline.co.uk/health-self/nutrition/davinas-malt-loaf
For lots of ideas, inspiration and recipes:
https://www.feedinglittleones.com or on instagram @feeding_little_ones
Google & YouTube!