Saturday, 27 April 2013

Food for thought

You may remember that my best friend's little boy is almost exactly five months younger than E. Not that long ago, she embarked on her weaning adventure and even though she'd done it once before, she struggled to remember what she'd done. She started asking me about what I'd done, and something that was so recent that I'd felt really confident about had started to slip from my mind. So this post is for me, for next time as much as it is for anyone else who might be interested in what our journey with food has looked like. 

E is a great eater. She's always had a good appetite and she's not faddy. The only no no so far has been rice pudding. I can live with that. I, however, am a faddy eater and D and I felt really strongly that we needed to do everything we could to try and ensure that her relationship with food was healthy, sociable and positive.


Let's go back to when E was born. If you read my first post you'll know what E was a big baby born by caesarian. On day zero, my colostrum struggled to come in... And not a great deal else happened. By day five, E had lost 17% of her body weight and we found ourselves, after 36 hours at home, back in hospital in SCBU. I felt that I had failed her. Feeding your baby should be so natural, yet the final thing I had wanted in this 'having a baby' lark (active birth, water birth, mobility, no induction, absolutely not a C-Sec etc etc) hadn't happened either. She was dehydrated and at risk of kidney damage. I admitted defeat. She knocked back 3oz formula in seconds. She really was starving. When my wonderful health visitor sees her now, her first comment is always 'Who'd have thought that this little girl who had such a shaky start in life could be this big and bold?'. It wasn't what I wanted, but formula hasn't harmed this baby. 

She fed well and regularly but by fourteen weeks old she was drinking in the region of 56-60oz of formula a day. 11oz bottles each time. We were getting through boxes of baby milk faster than the speed of light. So, on Alison's (amazing health visitor, we are blessed!) recommendation, we started weaning at 17 weeks. She was ready. And she just loved food! 

So. This was what we did....

There were rules
  • eat socially and together as much as possible
  • don't get angry
  • eat what you're giving her to show her it's ok
  • always offer water
  • celebrate as much as possible
  • get in the highchair as soon as possible (the first weeks were a little trial and error as she was only just starting to sit unaided)
  • It's not ok to show her our food fads and we'll eat it if it's presented to us. Bork.


End of July. 17 weeks. The rule here (another one, apologies) was home make as much as possible but buying pouches for convenience was absolutely fine too. Our favourites included Ella and Plum but I'm sure it wasn't limited to that. I would make flavours in batches and freeze them in cube trays and then defrost them as required, and would make them softer by adding formula or a little cooking water. Annabel Karmel's recipe book was useful, I could never get my puree to be as smooth or liquid as the pouches. E didn't seem to mind and it helped us move on quicker. Until I had E I had a strawberry allergy, so I avoided red berries, but we tried everything. Avocado & pear (AKA Green and Green), apricot, and root vegetable combinations. I never tried new things for three days before adding something new to the repertoire. I had an issue with puree-ing meat unless it was in a soup or something so waited until she could handle lumps or start finger foods.

Her dexterity wasn't good enough for finger foods at 17 weeks, but we would let her lick the spoon. It resulted in brilliant pictures to show her future loves.

Early days.

We just played around, starting with a bit at lunch and within three weeks she was having a solid "meal" three times a day, along side 3 x 110z bottles. The milk bill was getting cheaper...

Finger foods

These were more hit and miss and I guess after a few failed attempts at cucumber and the like, I backed off finger food a bit. My lovely friend Charlie is a baby-led weaning queen, and her success with her daughter inspired me to give it another go. By early September, about 6 weeks in, E was exploring finger food happily, starting with breadsticks and gradually getting braver. I think my mistake in the early days had been making what I was giving her quite small for fear of choking. As soon as I gave her bigger sticks of carrot, or whatever, she found it much easier to pick up and manipulate and this really helped. Her first tooth arrived around the same time, which must have helped, and I imagine veg sticks felt incredibly satisfying on those sore gums! Within a month, she would try anything put in front of her. Cold meats, all fruit and veg, baby crisps and the like. We'd make a point of making lunchtimes at home solely BLW, perhaps with a yogurt for afters. Dinners would be combination of finger food and something hot off a spoon.

Getting thicker

During this time, we'd been gradually introducing more flavours and tastes to E's repertoire, including trying to give her what we were having. The fruit/veg combos eventually being more like a mash and if she was having what we were having (casserole, or anything in the slow cooker being her favourite all time meals) we would never break it down more than what you could do by hand with a fork. Six months arrived so we started adding porridge and cereal and dairy stuff in there too. She was polishing off healthy sized portions of everything, and the milk quickly dropped to morning and evening bottle only. I have gotten over the smell of fish and cook her fish pie in portions for when we don't eat together. D might have tried banana. Once. 

6 months and the first encounter with yogurt.

Eating together

In light of how well she was doing, we made the decision that October half term (when she turned 7 months) we were no longer making her anything different, except "freezer meals" and she would eat what we ate. We stopped using salt when we cook (and now we don't even notice the lack of salt - good for us too!) and we all just dig in. I cut stuff into chunks for her and she uses a fork or her hands to feed herself. I administer yogurt as it gets thrown around otherwise and we let her have fruit pouches as a pudding straight out of the pouch. 

Sharing this journey has made us eat FAR healthier with more variety and more exploration of new things. E likes strong flavours, spice, and I call her fruit bat because she inhales fruit, satsumas in particular, in seconds. She also regularly refuses to eat cake and threw most of her easter egg on the floor. She has juice if we're eating out and when she's really poorly, but the rest of the time she drinks water like it's going out of fashion. At eleven months I took away bottles and gave her milk in sippy cups. We moved her over to cow's milk shortly after. At thirteen months she has bedtime milk and morning milk is intermittent. 

I am so proud of her. Mealtimes are a joy and she loves to try new things. I probably did lots of things the rule books said I couldn't, but it worked out well and she's just fine! Next step is mastering her spoon skills and then getting her involved in cooking. I'm not sure when kids start using knives as well as forks... If anyone could enlighten me that would be cool.

Water is better from mummy's sippy cup.

I think that's about right. I clearly am no weaning expert. This is just our experience. Pick my brains if something wasn't clear! I hope that we have helped her embark on a journey of loving food, loving eating and enjoying it healthily. I feel quite confident that we have.


  1. Great tips ... I especially remember with Reagan having to show her that what she was eating mom and dad were eating too. I made all her food when she was a baby.
    She is such an amazing eater now {she can be picky at times} but she does great with food!!

    Thank you for linking to Raising Imperfection.
    Please come back Friday to see if you were featured. :)

    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo

  2. Thanks Lanaya! Here's to happy hungry children!

    I will pop by. xx

  3. Hi Lovely, love your awesome blog. I'm your newest follower from blog hop. Followed you via GFC & Bloglovin'.

    Feel free to visit, follow and leave comments @


  4. Lots of good tips here, and she is adorable! I'm visiting today from Super Sunday Sync. :)

    1. Thank you and thank you! Super stuff, I'll pop over!

  5. Oh she is adorable and great tips!

    Thank you for linking up to Raising Imperfection!
    Make sure to check back on Friday to see if you were featured.

    1. Thank you! I shall check back... X

  6. Hey, I'm a new follower from the WW hop. She has the most amazing pair of blue eyes I've seen! So bright!

    I'd love it if you can follow me back :)


    1. Thank you - we both have brown eyes, so they're super special...

      I'll go and take a look! Thanks for stopping by. x

  7. Hey H! This blog is really awesome, you have done soo well with E's feeding...i cant get James to eat much healthy things. he wont eat veg unless it is mashed, he seems to have completely gone off lumps, and wont eat ANY fruit!! this frustrates me as I eat EVERYthing!
    I am gutted as I have a feeling this may be because we don't eat all together as our working hours dont allow it.

    Any tips for me?!

    Proud of you old school bestie :) xx

  8. Hey Maxine!

    Firstly I'd say really try and eat with him when you can, I know sometimes E is hesitant to try stuff if she can't see us having it too, but once she sees us eating it she quickly joins in.

    What happens if you give him a tray of food and leave the room?

    I think perseverance is key here, and I think, as James is a bit older, a little bit of "no alternatives" could be worth a try. He'll get hungry. Although, I know that sometimes it's hard to even think of letting them down without a full tummy!

    A friend of mine uses "I bet you can't eat all that *carrot* or whatever with her little boy and that's really effective as he sees is as a challenge. I guess it depends how good his understanding is. Have you looked on Pinterest for exciting ways of presenting food? Making pictures and stuff? Coloured bowls?

    Finally, E can't stand bland stuff. She loves strong flavours but hates rice pudding and stuff that doesn't have much taste. Could you jazz it up? A little sweet chilly or garlic perhaps? E enjoyed roasted veg in a couscous salad yesterday with LOADS of garlic. No vampires here.

    Does he go to daycare at all when you're working?

    Don't give up, he will get there! Xxx

  9. This is a lovely post - thanks for sharing it Mrs H! I think I need to bookmark it for myself. It's so funny how quickly it changes though - I just get the hang of one thing and then he turns 1 and he's meant to be having more food, less milk, more lumps, less mush, more feeing himself, etc. you get the picture!

    And just when I get the hang of this, something else will change!

    It's interesting that you took E's bottles off her at 11 months - Reuben is well and truly attached and I also find it really useful for signifying nap and bedtime, so to be honest at the moment I'm not in any hurry to take his bottle off you think I should be?

    Anyway, lovely stuff and we are embracing the chaos and mess, I promise...!


    1. I think that's what parenting is all about! There's always something new to tackle isn't there?

      I took advantage of her being particularly amenable when it came to bottles, I really wouldn't worry about them for the time being. We were down to two bottles by then (still are), one in the morning and one at bedtime, and we are fortunate that she's a sucker for sleep and has self settled from tiny, not needing milk at nap times. But you might find that you can find a good beaker that he still finds comforting and IOU may be surprised that milk alone is a good enough signal for sleep. Worth trying? Worst that can happen is that it doesn't work out... E doesn't care so long as its milk!

      Enjoy it all while its still acceptable to have mashed potato up the walls. I've gotten good at dodging catapulted spoons!!

      Thanks for popping over. Xx

    2. You, it IOU. Silly iPad!


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