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If you meet with any new parents in the first few months of parenthood, talk will inevitably turn to weaning. Hours will be spent discussing the merits of baby-led against the traditional puree approach, and vice versa, and usually one will be chosen over another.
What many first time parents don’t anticipate is that their baby will have their own, very decided, views on the matter. Many of the parents I have met have been super keen on a particular style of weaning, only for their little darling to have an entirely different plan in mind! I have known very neat and tidy mothers, who had intended to go down the purée route, taking newspaper (as a splash mat just isn’t big enough) wherever they go to place around their baby-lead loving (and extremely messy) babies. However, help is at hand with the ‘Multi Use Water Resistant Playmat’ from JoJo Maman Bébé. It is an inspired item as it is larger than most splash mats and can be used when weaning at home or as a picnic blanket that tucks neatly under the buggy when on the go.
On the other hand, some mothers (and I might just be referring to myself here) absolutely loved the idea of baby-led weaning but found they had a child who systematically push every bit of finger food off their tray and then sat with their beak open, eyeing a puréed spoon and making little uh uh uh noises, until food was spooned in. I found the Brother Max 2nd Stage Weaning Pots to be fantastic for this. They are a good size (170ml), click together so there’s no need for lots of ice cube trays in the freezer, are microwave and dishwasher safe, free of chemical nastiness and the frozen food pops out very easily (much better than bashing a frozen ice cube tray on a work surface until something cracks!). Most importantly they are fab for taking purees out for lunch or can hold small snacks instead.
Of course, in most cases, babies like a little (or a lot) of both approaches and if they are fiercely independent then they learn to use a spoon for those tricky (I have yoghurt in mind, here) things. In any event, whether you have a mucky pup or an open beak, the following top tips for first time weaners are invaluable:
- Don’t worry too much. Just think, everyone you know has learnt how to eat and so will your baby. The first couple of months are about introducing food to your baby in a fun and enjoyable (and just a little bit messy) way. They are still getting everything they need from their milk and some babies take longer than others to adjust to solid food. Just make sure you have some handy Brother Max 3-Pack Catch and Fold Bibs to deal with the mess!
- Make weaning fun. If you haven’t flicked the radio on and danced like a dervish, pulled silly faces and played hide and seek behind kitchen cabinets then you just aren’t trying hard enough! General rule of thumb here- if you would be embarrassed if another adult saw you, then you’re doing it right.
- Variety is the spice of life! It can become easy to get set in our ways and forget to vary a baby’s diet. Aim to introduce new foods on a regular basis. In this way you will have a child who is happy to try lots of different things and avoid fussy eater territory.
- Get into food swaps. Once you have weaning firmly established you will want to vary you baby’s diet as much as possible. If you have a group of friends who have babies of the same age, make one large batch of something each and then swap it over. Hey presto- lots of tasty meals for your little one to try.
- Try a range of beakers. It’s a good idea to introduce a range of different beakers to your baby after 6 months and see which one they prefer. I’d recommend the Sippy Cup and Doidy cups from JoJo.
- Don’t push it. It is never a good idea to force a baby to eat. It will probably come flying back out anyway. If you are feeding purees, a good idea is to hold the spoon to your baby’s lips for 10 seconds. If they don’t open, stop there. You can always try again a bit later on.
- Keep an eye on their weight. It’s a good idea to take your baby to be weighed a few times in the first year. If they’re keeping on their percentile line then you know weaning is going well.
First time parents, you have been warned… oh, and always preload that spoon.
Rosie Wright runs weaning workshops for first time parents in Brighton.